Title: Hostage Taker
Author: Stefanie Pintoff
Publication Date: 18 August 2015
TERROR STRIKES AN ICONIC CHURCH – AND BRINGS A CITY TO ITS KNEES.
In the hushed quiet of early morning Manhattan, in front of the towering brass doors of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, a young woman holds a sign that reads: HELP ME. For one FBI agent, a madman’s terrified hostages, and an entire city, a long and harrowing day is about to unfold.
The hostage taker’s identity is unknown. But he knows who FBI agent Eve Rossi is – and everything about her past. Along with her presence, he demands five witnesses: ordinary people with some hidden connection. Defying her superiors, Eve begins a deadly dance with an adversary whose intentions are surely sinister, whose endgame is anything but certain, and whose cunning keeps him one step ahead at every turn.
As Eve manages a taut hostage situation, she relies on the combined skills of her team – a secret unit inspired by France’s most notorious criminal and made up of ex-convicts with extraordinary talents, oversized egos, and contempt for the rules.
Eve is up against a rapidly ticking clock. But the dangerous man calling the shots has a timetable of his own – and a searing question for his targets: What are you guilty of? As shocking revelations surface, so does another crisis nobody could anticipate – one not even Eve and her team may be able to stop.
I was initially reluctant to actually try Hostage Taker until I read some rave reviews of the book and finally decided to dive in. I quickly found out what a fool I had been because the book was gripping and I flew through it in less than 3 days. I know that it is a cliché but there actually were times when I couldn’t put the book down because I was so engrossed and just had to know what happened next.
Pintoff is well-known for her Simon Ziele historical mystery series and that is what originally put me off Hostage Taker, the first book in her new series about hostage negotiator Eve Rossi. I assumed that this book would also be focused on history, as the setting is a cathedral, but I’m glad that I couldn’t have been more wrong. Hostage Taker is definitely the modern, electrifying thriller it claims itself to be.
Hostage Taker focuses on a hostage situation at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. The hostage taker first demand is that he wants FBI special Agent Eve Rossi, a hostage negotiator on personal leave following the death of her stepfather. Rossi, initially reluctant to get sucked back into work, eventually reforms her old Vidocq unit, a diverse bunch of characters who act under the proviso that the best people to solve crimes are criminals themselves.
Normally I am reluctant to read books featuring a ragtag bunch of misfits coming together to fight crime, but Hostage Taker shows that it can be done effectively without coming off as cheesy or unrealistic. The characters are the real strength of the book. The dynamic between the characters feels real and the dialogue feels natural.
The other real strength of the book is the mystery. There are so many twists and turns that you’ll never see coming yet make perfect sense when you actually think about it. Believable twists and turns are some of the hardest things to do in a mystery novel but Pintoff has nailed them in Hostage Taker.
My only real gripe with the book is that it felt like I was reading the second or third book in a series rather than the first. There were some key elements in the backstories of some the main characters, mainly Rossi, that I felt should have been explained more because it made me feel like I had been missing something. However I am sure that some of these threads will be explained in more detail in future books.
All in all, Hostage Taker is a thrilling read and I am looking forward to reading more of Pintoff’s books featuring Special Agent Eve Rossi and her Vidocq unit. The next book in the series, Whistleblower, is scheduled for release in November 2016 and I already have my calendar marked.
Worth a read? Yes, Definitely. This is one of those books that I would recommend everyone reads. If you like a fast-paced mystery with twists and turns that you will never see coming, then you should love this book. But be warned, you might as well clear out a weekend because you’re going to find it hard to put Hostage Taker down.