Hostage Taker: A Novel by Stefanie Pintoff

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Hostage TakerThis is a different story and a good one but somewhat tough to follow. It basically all occurs in and around St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. A man, Amos MacDonald, is heading into church when he spots a lady standing outside the huge doors of the church. As he walks up toward her he notices a cop slip past her and quickly enter the church. Amos nears her and asks if she needs help or is she waiting for someone. However he also quickly notices a red dot appear on her forehead and then bang! She is shot, falls over dead as Amos quickly hits 911 on his phone.

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From there the story moves forward as Eve Rossi is leaving the graveyard after burying Zev, her stepfather, she is stopped by two FBI agents who inform her that there is a problem in downtown NYC and her expertise is needed. Eve is a profiler and in this case the Hostage Taker in St Patrick’s has asked for her specifically to be on the scene because of her knowledge, background, and talents.

Though she doesn’t want to do so she does go along and then she, after getting her orders, quickly assembles the former members of her Vidocq squad. This weird assembly of quasi-criminals has helped her on other cases. They each have their own talents and quirks but she knows how to handle them as they work together.

This case is completely different as there is a Hostage Taker who has commandeered this huge Catholic Church in the middle of NYC. No one can get in or out as he somehow has managed to not only lock down all the doors but to have each of them wired with bombs of one sort or another. Repair and maintenance type work has been going on at the building so there is scaffolding all around in different places. Somehow this assassin manages to get into a position, sight unseen, on the scaffolding and fire off expert shots when he decides to and no one can see him when he does.

He begins talking to Eve by phone but doesn’t give her any real idea as to what he is doing or trying to do. He does give her a list of five names that he wants brought to the area so that he can deal with them directly. But in the meantime ever so often another hostage is let out the front door. Sometimes he takes the hostage back in after a spell of conversations with Eve and other law enforcement personnel. But sometimes after the hostage has been standing there for a bit a shot will ring out and another one is shot between the eyes.

Eve and her squad with help from other law enforcement personnel work frantically to find a way into the building without provoking the Hostage Taker into some other rash moves.

All of this goes on while they work feverishly in the background to determine who he is and what does he really want. The tie- ins between characters and their places in his and their own lives gets fairly complicated but does build more and more anxiety for the reader. As they say there is a method to the madness!

The climax is almost completely unexpected but is cleverly worked out by the the author. A great ending to a great, though somewhat complicated, read!