Days before Christmas, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City is seized by a hostage taker who threatens to kill the captives and blow up the landmark if certain demands aren’t met. The first demand: negotiations must be handled by Eve Rossi, an FBI agent who heads up a division made up of ex-cons.
The hostage taker wants Eve and her team to bring five specific people—who have no obvious links to each other—to the scene to witness an event the perpetrator has planned. The task must be completed within hours or the church and everyone inside will be lit up, but not by Christmas lights.
In Hostage Taker, her first contemporary thriller, Edgar Award-winner Stefanie Pintoff (In the Shadow of Gotham) pulls out the big guns, literally and figuratively, by taking aim at one of New York City’s most iconic landmarks. Though several characters lean toward stereotypes (one of the five witnesses is an actress who behaves in a self-centered, spotlight-grabbing way), and the narrative occasionally states the obvious (“she saw the telltale red marks on his wrist. The sign of having been recently bound”), the suspense level is high as Eve and her unit race against the clock to prevent a catastrophe.
Eve’s tactics offer an interesting glimpse into how a negotiator must walk the thin edge between placating and outwitting her opponent. And the hostage taker’s motivation resonates, giving dimension to a character who, despite committing dastardly deeds, may not be completely heartless.
This review originally appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers and is reprinted here with permission.