Hostage: A Novel
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.
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
Barnes and Noble
The author of L.A. Requiem and Demolition Angels deals a setup that possesses the escalating intensity of a ticking time bomb: Still nursing psychic wounds from his years as an LAPD hostage negotiator, small-town police chief Jeff Talley is unexpectedly forced to negotiate with three hostage takers, one of whom is certifiably insane. As Talley struggles to guide the situation to a peaceful solution, the unthinkable happens: The hostages are kidnapped!
Action superstar Bruce Willis (Sin City, Die Hard, Unbreakable, The Sixth Sense, Armageddon, Pulp Fiction) powers a nail-biting thriller that crackles with action and suspense! When Jeff Talley (Willis) became chief of police in a sleepy town, he thought he’d left behind the traumas of his career as a big city hostage negotiator. But when a random crime escalates into a deadly standoff, Talley finds himself thrust into a situation far more volatile and terrifying than anything he could ever imagine! Also starring Kevin Pollak (The Usual Suspects, The Whole Nine Yards), Jonathan Tucker (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), and Ben Foster (Six Feet Under, The Punisher), this acclaimed hit is based on the best-selling novel by Robert Crais.