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Hostage by Robert Crais
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Hostage (2001)

by Robert Crais

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1,0352212,355 (3.66)18

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Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
I usually dislike prologues as their primary purpose is to establish the background or setting for the story to come. In this instance, however, Robert Crais captures your interest from the first paragraph and ends the prologue on an ambiguous note that leaves flexibility for the story to move in multiple directions.

The first page of the story introduces the nominal leader of the hostage-taking trio. His impulsive decision to rob a convenience store quickly escalates into the imprisonment of a father and his teenaged children and almost immediately the petty thieves find themselves surrounded by the police. From there the story expands to include organized crime, police corruption, psychologically compromised police officers, and another major development I will leave to readers to discover.

Unfortunately, just as you are snuggling into your favorite reading location the forward momentum is stalled as the introduction of a seemingly endless cast of characters creates an increasingly complex scenario. The major parties include the local police, the county sheriff’s multifaceted force, crime families and their “soldiers” in California and New York, a professional assassin, and the hostages. I was grateful there was no family dog.

There are some plot holes that nag at the reader but do not get in the way of our enjoyment of the story. Jazz (i.e., computer) disks are central to the plot and the crime syndicate is eager to gain possession of them. However, we are supposed to believe that they never realize that the disks could have been copied so mere possession provides no guarantee their ends will be met. Further, the henchmen attempting to gain possession of the disks are depicted as organized, and highly competent. The details each member is able to provide only two hours after receiving their assignments is truly impressive. It's a standard literary ploy to stack the deck against the "good guys" but in this case it is only a minor annoyance.

On the positive side, the central characters are interesting and multidimensional. Despite being frightened and abused, Jennifer, the teenaged daughter, and Tommy, the pre-teen son both showed courage, fortitude, strength of character, and resourcefulness. The members of the hostage-taking trio were also portrayed as more than lowlifes. Kevin is a weak but tragic figure and Dennis is not without some appeal.

The family is being held hostage, the police are surrounding the house, and somehow organized crime, damaged and bent police officers, and an assassin are all in play. How will this scenario play out? You'll never guess. I was not satisfied with the resolution in every respect but I give Crais credit for a plausible ending that still managed to surprise me.

Despite the slow pacing during the middle of the book I offer an enthusiastic recommendation of Hostage. ( )
  Tatoosh | May 25, 2017 |
From Amazon:

An ex-con with delusions of grandeur and his tag-along 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.

My Thoughts:

Robert Crais's standalone thriller, Hostage, can be read as a classic thriller about the ins and outs of hostage situations. For those who enjoy police procedural and seeing crimes from many perspectives...those of of the police as well as the hostages, and the criminals... will feel like they have a front row seat. But that is not all there is to this book. An especially interesting element is that you will begin to see yourself in the role of many of the characters, trying to decide what to do. It's a great mental and emotional challenge. Ultimately any novel lives or dies by whether or not you care about the characters and whether you find yourself inside the story. I was there by the third paragraph and the hold just got stronger with the turn of every page. I love his Elvis Cole and Joe Pike novels and this one...even without these characters stands right up there beside them.

( )
  Carol420 | May 31, 2016 |
Audiobook: What do you get when you mix three men, two of them brothers and the other a psychopath, who decide to rob a convenience store in a sleepy suburban neighborhood; a local chief of police, Jeff Talley, ex-LAPD hostage negotiator trying to recover from a hostage situation that went horribly wrong; and a house where the robbers take refuge just happens to be where a mob accountant lives? A really good story.

This book is not part of Crais’ Joe Pike or Elvis Cole series. Very entertaining listen. ( )
  ecw0647 | Jun 10, 2015 |
Another crackling good story from Crais. Jeff Talley was hostage negotiator who had what he considered a failed operation when a small boy was killed by his father. The stress eventually led to him quitting, destroyed his marriage and finally led him to become the police chief of a quiet town. When three deadbeats rob a convenience store killing the owner and end up holding a family hostage, the old stress comes back to Jeff.

The fallout from the hostage taking leads to Jeff's family being taken hostage and he has to use his negotiating skills to solve both situations. Fast paced with tension and frequent twists and turns. ( )
  lamour | Mar 27, 2015 |
Hostage is very exciting, very fast paced, and not predictable. The protagonist Tally finds himself in a situation where it appears he will have to choose between his family and his career as a police officer. He is introduced to the scene as a negotiator in a hostage situation. The lives at steak are not only those inside the home but his own wife and daughter are abducted to try to insure Tally's cooperation in retrieving not only the hostages inside the home but digital materials.

I love a good "who done it." This isn't exactly a who done it, it I more of a how is Tally going to get out of this in one piece and keep the innocent victims safe from additional harm. I've gone through a lot of books this year, but this one will not be put in the recycle bin to go to the next reader. It's one I know I will enjoy a second time around.

This is a book I would recommend to anyone who enjoys action, and thriller novels. ( )
  jlsimon7 | Mar 1, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345434498, Mass Market Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:38 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Former LAPD hostage negotiator Jeff Talley takes a job as chief of police in a small town far from the city, but his new peace is overturned when three young men, fleeing a robbery, invade a local home and take a family hostage.

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