Hostage: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – Jun 25 2002
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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. See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Denny, recently released from a correctional facility, robs a Southern California suburban convenience store with his whiny brother, Kevin, and an inscrutable new buddy, Mars. The cashier is killed, and Mars smiles watching him die. Making their getaway, the transmission of the trio's pick-up fails. So, it's out of the truck, over a wall, and into the home of an accountant, where the boys take hostages: the owner, Walter Smith, and his two children, 16-year old Jennifer and 10-year old Thomas. Soon the place is surrounded by the local, bedroom community cops headed by Chief Jeff Talley, a mentally scarred former hostage negotiator for the LAPD, who quit that gig because of burnout and a hostage crisis that went bad. Soon the Highway Patrol and the county sheriff's SWAT team join the fun.
What the police and the Bad Guys don't realize is that Walter isn't just any accountant. He's the personal bean counter for Sonny Benza, head of the Mob's regional operations. It's tax time, and Walter has possession of the books for both Sonny's legal and illegal businesses, each on a computer zip disk. Through them, a link could be made back to the Big Boss on the East Coast. After Walter suffers a severe head injury, the disks are unprotected. (Oh, and did I mention that army of troopers itching to storm the house?) Ain't nobody happy about this one. Except maybe Denny, who's wondering how to spend the oodles of bundled C-notes he's found in a secret closet - if he can just get away with the swag.Read more ›
Talley and his men set up a perimeter about the house as things start to get very complicated. The people whose records are in the house undertake action to send their own people, posing as FBI agents to the scene to recover the records. To neutralize Talley, his wife and daughter are kidnapped and are themselves hostages. Talley is contacted by their abductors and agrees to cooperate. Crais's plotting of this piece is materful and needs to be read to be appreciated. It is an absolute "cannot put this down" book.
Most recent customer reviews
An excellent hard boiled thriller with lots of twists and turns that will keep you guessing to the end. Another must-read by Crais.Published on Aug. 6 2014 by Jenifer Mohammed, Author of Resurrecting Cybele
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. Read morePublished on June 30 2004 by Bill Garrison
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!Published on Feb. 8 2004 by Marisa James
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. Read more
I got this book at the Atlanta airport while my flight was delayed. I had never heard of Crais but I loved this book. Read morePublished on Nov. 10 2003
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... Read morePublished on Oct. 12 2003 by Magster
This is the best thriller that I've ever read! Robert Crais has excelled himself with this story of hostage taking and negotiation. Read morePublished on Oct. 12 2003 by Beverley Strong
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 morePublished on Sept. 20 2003 by Magster