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Hostage: A Novel [Mass Market Paperback]

Robert Crais
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 25 2002
The bestselling author of Demolition Angel and L.A. Requiem returns with his most intense and intricate thriller yet.

As the Los Angeles Times said, Robert Crais is “a crime writer operating at the top of his game.” His complex heroes and heroines, his mastery of noir atmosphere, and his brilliant, taut plots have catapulted him into the front rank of a new breed of thriller writers. Hostage proves his earlier success was no fluke. It’s an unstoppable read.

An ex-con with delusions of grandeur and his tagalong brother unwittingly team up with a psychopath one wrong word away from meltdown. When their late afternoon joyride turns into a random act of violence, they take a family hostage in the affluent bedroom community of Bristo Camino. Enter Chief of Police Jeff Talley, a stressed-out former LAPD SWAT negotiator who is hiding from his past. Plunged back into the high-pressure world that he desperately wants to forget, Talley soon learns that his nightmare has only begun.

The hostages are not who they seem, and the home contains secrets that even L.A.’s most lethal and volatile crime lord, Sonny Benza, fears. As Talley tries to hold himself together and save the people inside, the full weight of Benza’s wrath descends on him, putting the police chief and his own family at risk. Soon, all involved are held hostage by the exigencies of fate and the only one capable of diffusing the standoff is the least stable of them all.

Hostage is a blistering stand-alone thriller with superb characters in crisis, multistranded plotting, and pitch-perfect Southern California sensibility.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Robert Crais is the real thing: a writer who keeps topping himself. Last year, after eight popular books featuring private eye Elvis Cole (including L.A. Requiem and Voodoo River), he produced Demolition Angel, his first standalone suspense novel. Its complex, multidimensional hero was a damaged cop haunted by her past failures. It worked in that book, and it works even better in this one.

Jeff Talley, the police chief in a small Southern California town, still has nightmares about the young hostage who died when he made the wrong call in his previous job as a negotiator for an LAPD SWAT team. Now, three smalltime punks go on the run after a grocery store robbery and killing in Talley's town. Soon his deputies have surrounded the house where the inept robbers have taken Walter Smith and his two children hostage, and Talley's back in his worst dream again: until the county sheriff's full-fledged SWAT team arrives and takes over, he has to negotiate for their lives.

Crais keeps the point of view moving from Talley to the punks to the hostages as the situation unfolds in the house and on the ground. Then he ratchets up the dramatic tension: there's something in Walter Smith's house that a ruthless Mob boss wants, and he'll sacrifice anyone to get it--which puts Talley's own family in danger. The action speeds to its climax with the velocity of a heat-seeking missile, which makes it almost criminal to slow down long enough to savor the great writing. Take this passage, from a scene when Talley's face-to-face with the man who's holding his own wife and daughter hostage:

Talley ... had stepped into the Zone. It was a place of white noise where emotions reigned and reason was meager. Anger and rage were nonstop tickets; panic was an express. He had been all day coming to this, and here he was: the SWAT guys used to talk about it. You went to the Zone, you lost your edge. You'd lose your career; you'd get yourself killed, or, worse, somebody else.
Crais belongs in that tier of writers whose novelistic gifts transcend the thriller category--writers like Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, and James Lee Burke. Hostage is a breakout. --Jane Adams --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

The title of Crais's fiery third thriller (after L.A. Requiem and Demolition Angel) can refer not just to the two sets of innocents held at gunpoint in the story but to the reader, who will be wired tight to the book. The novel launches with a familiar (as familiar as Demolition Angel) premise: a soul-scarred cop here, former L.A. SWAT hostage negotiator Jeff Talley, now chief of police of smalltown Bristo Bay, Calif. plunges into an assignment that forces him to confront his demons. The devil clawing Talley's brain is the dying gaze of a young hostage he failed to save in L.A. Now three outlaws two lowlife brothers and a homicidal maniac have, after botching a robbery-homicide, taken refuge in a swank house in Bristo Bay. At their mercy are the family's dad, whom they've knocked unconscious, and his teen daughter and preteen son. The whopper of a complication is that the dad serves as bookkeeper for Sonny Benza, West Coast mob kingpin, and Benza will do whatever's necessary to retrieve the incriminatory records secreted in the house before the cops storm the place. The narrative ticks with suspense as Talley negotiates with the three outlaws, and as they and the kids they're holding respond with panic, fear and courage to the escalating tension. It snaps into overdrive as Benza and his goons snatch Talley's wife and daughter, holding them ransom for the records; the flow is marred only by a couple of cheap turns obviously devised for the silver screen. Thriller vets will have seen a lot of this before, but every virtuoso is allowed variations on a theme, and Crais, with his record and with the smart suspense offered here, has proven himself nothing less. (On-sale date: Aug. 7)Forecast: Crais sells more with each title, and this will prove no exception. A 15-city author tour will enhance his visibility, as will forthcoming film versions of Demolition Angel and of Hostage, which has already been bought for Bruce Willis and MGM; Crais is writing the screenplays for both films.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
It was one of those high-desert days in the suburban communities north of Los Angeles with the air so dry it was like breathing sand; the sun licked their skin with fire. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars An exciting thriller June 30 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Robert Crais' "Hostage" is a stand alone thriller that at first glance, didn't seem like it could hold my interest because the action occurs over one night. But Crais does a masterful job of creating enjoyable characters and injecting enough twists to carry the novel through the slow middle parts.
The action begins with losers Kevin, Dennis and Mars deciding to rob a convinience store in the suburbs. The robbery goes bad and a man is shot and on the getaway the car breaks down, forcing the thugs to escape through a ritzy neighborhood on foot. They plan to steal a car and make their getaway but the police are on their tail. Before they can escape, the police have them trapped. Dennis, the older brother and the leader, Kevin, the younger brother who really is an okay kid if it weren't for the influence of Dennis, and the loner Mars are all trapped in a house and they hold the Smith family hostage.
Jeff Talley, chief of police, is called to the scene. Talley has experience in these situations as a hostage negotiator. One bad experience forced him to quit the SWAT team and caused him to lose his family. Now he has to overcome his fears to ensure the safety of the family inside the house.
The novel seems pretty straight forward up to this point when Crais throws in a new plot twist. George Smith, one of the hostages, is an accountant for the Mafia with evidence that would incrimate families in LA and NY. The mafia then takes steps to ensure none of the evidence reaches the police.
The story moves back and forth between the point of view of Talley, the mafia, the hostages and Dennis and Kevin. Crais does a great job with the characters of Dennis and Kevin. You really can understand why Dennis has turned to crime and why Kevin is following him.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A quick and interesting suspense thriller Feb. 8 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I can't say that Hostage is the best suspense novel I've ever read, but it kept me interested and made me want to keep reading. It was an easy read for a boring business trip!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Why six stars? Dec 5 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Why six stars to this book?
1) It has to many people involved, but the book explain perfectly who are these people and you know exactly what are they doing and why.
2) It never goes out of the story and it has three different stories that will keep you very busy.
3) You will be interested in all the people of the book, not only Talley or the terrorists.
4) You won't be able to put down the book until you finish it.
5) It has no sex scenes that many writers write just to fill pages.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read Oct. 12 2003
By Magster
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Why did I put off reading Hostage until long after I had zipped through the rest of RC's books? Perhaps it was because I was delaying gratification, not wanting to read the last saving the last peanut M&M. Wanting to savor it later on. Perhaps it was simply that "hostage" situations are probably my least favorite type of suspense. In either case, I just finished it. And while I feel slightly depressed that there are no Robert Crais left unread, I'm delighted that it's changed my attitude toward hostage stories.
The business of preserving and protecting takes its toll on those charged with the awesome task of policing. Case in point is Jeff Talley, former LAPD SWAT team negotiator. The price he paid was his heart... his emotions...his family, all the elements that give life short of the breath that keeps the body alive. The price was exacted from Talley the day he failed to talk down a perp in a hostage situation and witnessed the man put a bullet in his 9 year old son's neck.
After sitting on the couch for a year, Talley leaves his wife and daughter behind and takes a job as Police Chief in the small upscale community of Bristo Camino. A job that routinely involves little more than security work. Most of the local 14 man police force had never even had to draw their weapons. A peaceful little town where a man could heal and figure out his next move.
Then one day, all hell breaks loose and Talley is thrust into the middle of a high profile hostage situation. By page 40 the hostages have been taken, Talley's world had been rocked and you wonder, how can it take another 300 pages to resolve this? I can guarantee that there is never a wasted word as Crais reveals the complexities that makes this one of the best hostage stories ever.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Nov. 10 2003
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I got this book at the Atlanta airport while my flight was delayed. I had never heard of Crais but I loved this book. It was exciting and had enough twists to keep you guessing until the end.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fast, exciting action. Oct. 12 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is the best thriller that I've ever read! Robert Crais has excelled himself with this story of hostage taking and negotiation. Jeff Talley is a former negotiator with LAPD's SWAT team who has retired to a small town as police chief after the mental strain got to him and destroyed his marriage.Three small time crooks robbed and murdered a store owner and fled to a small community to hide out in a private house. Unfortunately for them, they chose a house of a Mafia accountant who was about to hand over very incriminating records to the Mafia chiefs. Ths accountants house contains a safe room, an elaborate security system and also a huge amount of cash which the trio of crooks are determined to take for themselves.The accountant is bludgeoned into a coma before he can identify himself so that the trio have no idea that they have stumbled into a bigger situatiin than they can handle. Talley is once again forced into the role of negotiator, trying to protect the 2 children of the accountant. It's tightly written with the pace never letting up and it's easy to see it as an action movie.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Stand Alone!!
Why did I put off reading Hostage until long after I zipped through the rest of RC's books? Perhaps it was because I was delaying gratification, not wanting to read the last... Read more
Published on Sept. 20 2003 by Magster
4.0 out of 5 stars page turner
This was my third Crais book. This book grab's you from the first chapter and does not let go.I read this book in one day. Read more
Published on Aug. 17 2003 by T. Corbett
4.0 out of 5 stars Crais strikes again.
As a loyal devotee of Crais' Elvis Cole series, I waited a while before reading this book - his newest "stand-alone" book - after the immensely entertaining DEMOLITION... Read more
Published on July 29 2003 by Charles R. Black
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Thriller
Author Crais remains in top form with this story, in which
a burned-out LA SWAT negotiator has semi-retired to a small,
quiet suburb, where he expects to remain as police... Read more
Published on June 3 2003 by bill runyon
3.0 out of 5 stars Why did Bruce Willis buy the film rights?
Which is a very legitimate question, since several better hostage negotiation novels have been written in recent years. Read more
Published on April 9 2003 by Robert Crawford
3.0 out of 5 stars Why did Bruce Willis buy the film rights?
Which is a very legitimate question, since several better hostage negotiation novels have been written in recent years. Read more
Published on April 7 2003 by Robert Crawford
3.0 out of 5 stars Predictable
This book started very well and I read word for word for about seven or eight chapters. At that point, I was pretty sure I could already write the basic synopsis for the rest of... Read more
Published on Jan. 25 2003 by Anna Klein
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