cover image Hostage Taker

Hostage Taker

Stefanie Pintoff, read by Tanya Eby. HighBridge Audio, unabridged, 9 CDs, 11 hrs., $39.99 ISBN 978-1-62231-968-8

Pintoff begins a new contemporary Manhattan-based series featuring unorthodox FBI negotiator Eve Rossi and her Vidocq team of ex-cons as unruly as they are talented, who have opted to behave like criminalists rather than criminals. Their seemingly impossible mission pits them against an apparent madman who has locked himself inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral with an unknown number of hostages and enough explosives to level the landmark. Reader Eby’s voice initially sounds too soft and cheery for a taut thriller, but that actually adds to the surprise when violence erupts. Her narration toughens and her pacing quickens as Eve arrives at the crime scene, issues terse orders, and begins to form a plan, ignoring the blustery demands of a boss more concerned with appearance than action. As Eve reassembles her disbanded team, Eby shows off a vocal versatility that ranges from the street-talk of Mace, a highly competitive ex-gangsta from the South Bronx, to the charming honeyed brogue of Irish cyber and code expert Haddox. Pintoff’s novel is packed with shocking surprises and populated by a large portion of N.Y.C.’s 8.5 million residents, but Eby handles the plot’s twists and turns and the myriad of voices with seeming ease. A Bantam hardcover. (Aug.)