HOSTAGE by Robert Crais
Doubleday, August 2001
After a hostage negotiation ended in the hostages' death, negotiator and SWAT team leader Jeff Talley resigns from his life abandoning his career in the Los Angeles Police Department and becoming chief of a suburban force where writing traffic tickets is the ultimate thrill. He knows he isn't the man his wife and daughter need, not the man he needs to be, but he cannot recover from what he sees as his failure. What he doesn't need is a hostage situation right here in suburban Bristo Camino--a situation that quickly escalates out of hand.
Dennis Rooney is a small-time crook with big dreams. If only he could get a real break, he's sure he could make something of his life. When he robs a convenience store, the clerk pulls a gun and Rooney's life is transformed. One moment, he was waiting for his big break. The next, he has a broken down truck, the police after him for murder, and a family held hostage. The good news is that there is serious money in the family's home. There is lots of bad news including the fact that one of his two partners is a psycho.
Talley may start as a bit of a whiner, but when the pressure turns up, he pulls himself together. Because in HOSTAGE, there isn't just one family held hostage, there are two. The family being held hostage includes the man who does the taxes for an important Mafia family. The Mafia doesn't care who is hurt, but they'll do anything to prevent their financial secrets from falling to the police. Kidnapping Talley's wife and daughter seems like a good way to put some pressure on Talley and to make sure they get what they want.
Author Robert Crais delivers a tight, action-packed novel. Talley progresses nicely, if predictably, finding determination rather than despair from the growing danger. The parallel efforts of the skilled mob hitmen and the unskilled but hopeful Rooney add to the novel's complexity. HOSTAGE delivers pure action and excitement.
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