A couple of ice cubes, first, then the apple that really started it all. A loft apartment in London's East End; cool but doomed, demolition and redevelopment slated for the following week. Ken Nott, devoutly contrarian leftish shock-jock attending a mid-week wedding lunch, starts dropping stuff off the roof towards the deserted car park a hundred feet below.
Other guests join in and soon half the contents of the flat are following the fruit towards the pitted tarmac . . . just as mobiles start to ring, and the apartment's remaining TV is turned on, because apparently a plane has just crashed into the World Trade Centre . . .
Iain Banks' daring new novel starts with a bang and then accelerates through one man's political obsessions, manic media manipulations and wildly dangerous private life, speeding through a London of pubs, clubs and geezers of extreme dodginess to a twinned climax of nail-shredding intensity.
A novel about politics, trust, paranoia and - perhaps - redemption, 'Dead Air' is Iain Banks at his coruscating best.