I met K.J. Howe at an author event and bought her book based on her comments. I have no regrets on that purchase. K.J. is the Executive Director of ThrillerFest, held annually in New York City. This event is a gathering of writers who produce books in the thriller/mystery/adventure genre. These include Robert Dugoni, Steve Berry, Clive Cussler, Lisa Gardner, Karin Slaughter, Jeff Ayers and more. Many of these writers are already on my “Books Read” list. K.J. Howe is a welcome newcomer to this list.
The Freedom Broker centers on a little-known group of people who negotiate the release of international hostages (business people, most often) whose captors are looking for money and/or favors. If negotiating does not work, violence may then ensue. K.J. interviewed both hostages and negotiators for this book; she did her homework well.
Meet the Paris family. Father Christos is a Greek/American oil billionaire whose empire spans the globe. Son Nikos was taken hostage at age 12, was rescued after nine months, and now leads a dual life. On one hand, he works with charities that support children in oppressive societies. On the other hand, he is an international weapons dealer who sells advanced weapons to Third World countries to help repress their populations. Daughter Thea is a military trained, civilian hostage negotiator. She is equally at home at the bargaining table or in the field as an operative using any and all hand held weapons. She also suffers from Type 1 diabetes. I am not sure that I have ever read a story in this genre where the protagonist suffers from a chronic disease.
Father’s company has discovered an oil deposit in the African country of Kangi that is second only to the Saudi Arabian oil fields. His company is competing with a Chinese company to secure the rights to this huge oil field. All parties are to meet in a hotel neat Victoria Falls to make their case to the Kangian government. Before this can happen, Christos is taken hostage off his yacht while cruising the Greek Islands on the way to his 60th birthday celebration. Agents from the Greek National police, the United States’ hostage rescue agency and Thea’s international hostage negotiating company try to find Christos before the oil negotiations are finalized in Africa.
Along the way, the reader is made privy to Nikos’s time as a 12-year-old hostage and Thea’s guilt about that. Revenge plays a major role before the story is completed. The ending paves the way for future stories. The action is intense throughout the story. The plight of the citizens of the poor African countries is brought to life.
GO! BUY! READ!
–Jim Harris, retired book sales rep
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