I love Robert Crais, especially his Elvis Cole and Joe Pike novels. The two make a lovely testosterone-filled pair. There’s always lots of busted heads and snarky commentary to go around when Elvis and Pike are on the job. But Hostage is one of Crais’s standalone novels. A few years ago it was made into a movie with Bruce Willis, but I recently saw the trailer, and I don’t think it’s anything I’ll want to see any time soon. It looked rather silly. But “silly,” dear reader, the novel is not.
Hostage tells the story of Jeff Talley, a former LA SWAT hostage negotiator who left the job after a hostage situation went bad and Talley became consumed with guilt. Now he’s the chief of police in the sleepy California town of Bristo Camino where the only legal infractions are the occasional speeding ticket.
All that changes when three criminals on the run are forced to stop in Bristo Camino to steal a car. As you might suspect, a hostage situation ensues, but it’s far more complicated than you might think. I’d rather not give anything away here, but suffice it to say that Crais is a master of the slow boil. Just when you think the situation couldn’t get any more dire or more complicated, Crais throws another wrench into the gears. This isn’t a simple hostage story. This is a story about the lengths one man will go to save the people he loves. It’s lots of fun, and although it’s loaded with more gore and language than you typically get from Crais, it’s still a wonderful ride.