Review: Fearless kidnap expert star of new series

Correspondent

 

‘The Freedom Broker’ by K.J. Howe. Quercus, 400 pages, $26.99

K.J. Howe delivers a confident debut that combines a rip-roaring adventure, the contemporary issue of high-profile kidnapping with a story about a family fragmented by an unresolved crime. “The Freedom Broker” launches Howe’s series about Thea Paris, one of the top kidnap and rescue experts for Quantum International Security, which specializes in recovering those who have been abducted. Her martial arts skills and knowledge of weapons are superior, and she is fearless, never hesitating to go on missions.

In many ways, her job is a form of personal redemption. More than 20 years before, her 12-year-old brother, Nikos, was kidnapped, though Thea was the actual target. Nikos eventually was safely returned despite the grueling time in the clutches of a warlord.

Echoes of Nikos’ kidnapping return when Thea’s wealthy oil baron father, Christos, is kidnapped from his private yacht on his 60th birthday. Although Christos had a good reputation, he still had his enemies. But this is no ordinary kidnapping — no ransom demand comes, only cryptic notes in Latin. Thea and the security company will need every skill and every piece of high-tech equipment to find Christos.

“The Freedom Brokers” moves at break-neck speed as the window to rescue kidnapped victims narrows with each hour. Howe keeps the tension high while delivering in-depth character studies. Thea and company don’t live in a world we are used to, but Howe makes each person — and what drives them — completely believable. Howe excels at illustrating the business of international kidnapping.Thea and her business associates should make for a long series, as “The Freedom Brokers” shows.

Meet the author

K.J. Howe will discuss “The Freedom Broker” as part of the Palm Beach Peril panel beginning at 2 p.m. April 15 at the Hagen Ranch Road Library, 14350 Hagen Ranch Road, Delray Beach, 561-894-7500. Events are free but reservations are required; visit pbclibrary.org/writers-live-2017. The panel also will feature Meg Gardiner, “Phantom Instinct;” Ellen Hartwell, “One Dead, Two To Go;” Mark Spivak, “Friend of the Devil;” Kent Lester, “The Seventh Sun;” and Lili Wright, “Dancing With the Tiger.”

Oline H. Cogdill can be reached at olinecog@aol.com.

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