Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Hostage Taker by Stephanie Pintoff

First Sentence:  What are you guilty of?
It’s Christmastime in New York City, and almost time for the tree in Rockefeller Center to be lit, but it’s going to be late this year.  Across the street, a woman is shot in front of the doors of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Rather than random violence, she has been planted there by someone who has taken over the landmark Cathedral, sealed it off, and is demanding that FBI agent Eve Rossi bring him five “witnesses” or he will kill more hostages and destroy the church.
If one is looking for a tense, exciting opening, one will find it here.  Moreover, it is tension that does not let up.   Both the plot itself and “News Updates” keep the pace throughout the book.    

The ensemble cast of characters is an unusual mix.  Led by Agent Rossi, her team of ex-convicts may not play well together individually, but they have the skills to get the job done.  While it seems over-the-top, what makes it work is the fact that the team is based on Sûreté
(later the Sûreté Nationale) employing ex-cons as his subordinates.  Eve’s team of four are more than well-suited to today’s crimes and we meet them, as well as Eve and her boss, through a team file record on each of them.

Another clever device is the inclusion of a first-person narrative by the “hostage taker” providing one with a bit of insight—“I’ve never liked bullies.  I’ve also never liked standing by and ignoring a problem… that’s how I live my life, I take matters into my own hands.  The fat girl was a little brat, but I took no pleasure in hurting her.  It wasn’t about that.  There are no good options in a bad situation.  But inaction is still a form of action.  Indecision is still a decision.  And justice is in short supply these days.”

In some ways, St. Patrick’s becomes another character.  The analysis file is fascinating even to those who have been there as it provides information of which most are unaware.  The floor plan is an excellent added touch.  Not only does it provide an orientation, but it helps make one feel they are part of the action.  And maps are always good.

The plot is filled with coincidences and a stereotypical bureaucrat, but it also has tension that is palpable.  It definitely keeps one reading.

Hostage Taker” is one exciting read filled with twists and red herrings. 

HOSTAGE TAKER (Pol Proc/FBI-Eve Rossi/Vidocq Team/NYC/Contemp) – G+
      Pintoff, Stephanie – 1st in series
      Bantam, 2015

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