cover image The Standoff

The Standoff

Chuck Hogan. Doubleday Books, $23.5 (306pp) ISBN 978-0-385-47716-1

Calling up chilling images of the hostage fiasco in Waco, Tex., this beautifully paced debut opens with a bang, as white supremacist (and federal fugitive) Glenn Ables, holed up on a Montana mountaintop with his wife and five children, ambushes local law officials who have come to serve an eviction notice. Through a computer blunder, former crack FBI hostage negotiator John Banish, recently discharged from alcohol addiction treatment, is assigned to handle this hostage situation-and attendant media circus. The ensuing struggle between Ables and Banish forms the nub of this tension-filled tale, peopled with compelling-albeit somewhat stereotypical-characters and crackling with true-to-life bureau-babble about politics and turf wars on both local and national levels. Hogan's primitive frontier setting boils with an ill-assorted array of religious fanatics, arms-bearing zealots and skinhead neo-Nazis. (A trigger-happy, African American U.S. marshall and a Native American sheriff add to the potent mix.) A heart-tugging subplot, about Banish's hope to reunite with a wife and daughter estranged because of his violent past, brings an added edge of humanity to this finely crafted and compelling read. BOMC feature selection; major ad/promo; film rights to New Line Cinema; BDD audio. (Mar.)