Book Report: Hostage by Robert Crais (2001)

This book finally makes good use of the multiple points of view that Crais has been doing for the last couple of novels. This time, though, he goes a little further and adjusts the timeline, so when one point of view leaves off at a climactic moment, another will pick up a couple of minutes earlier and carries the story through the cliffhanger in the preceding section to the next cliffhanger, where the process repeats. For the most part, it works.

The protagonist, Jeff Talley, burned out as a hostage negotiator in LA and came to a smaller town to hide from the failures in his past and his disintegrating marriage. His undead lifestyle shatters when a couple of young toughs rob a convenience store, kill the clerk, commit a home invasion on their escape, and hold the family hostage after killing a cop. Unfortunately, the house belongs to a mob accountant who has evidence in the house that would put the local don away for life. So Crais ratchets up the tension, with a sort of “Oh, man, what else could possibly go wrong?” suspense that Clancy affords us, and then the story just kinda….disappoints.

Amid the tension, we get a couple of “Why would they do that?”s and a couple of blindsidings added for the sake of a couple pages of mock tension and an ultimate deus ex mobina that left me wondering.

So it was a good read but a disappointing book. Soon to be a major motion picture!, and I look forward to the movie. Not only because Bruce Willis stars, but also because it probably won’t be a lot like the book. It will take a similar premise (I hope) and not end badly.

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