She’s a lieutenant with the New York City hostage negotiation team, a mother of two children, divorced, and a survivor of the Wilcox Cult Massacre in North Carolina when she was seven. Armed conspiracy theorists called the Watchers enter a local NYC high school and take hostages. How many hostages are there and what does the armed group want? Why did they enter the school?
While the book is mainly from Abby’s point of view (POV), it does switch to a few additional characters from time to time. Her character is well developed and shows both her strengths and vulnerabilities. Readers get insight into both her personal and professional lives. They also get great insight into Caterpillar, the screen name used by one of the armed Watchers, as well as Abby’s 14-year-old daughter. Other characters vary in depth, but provide support, conflict, or interest.
An intriguing and memorable opening scene will immediately pull most readers into the story. That scene is vivid and painful to imagine and leaves readers wondering how it fits into the puzzle. The suspense is built slowly initially as characters are introduced and readers begin to get a sense of what is to come. When the action started, this reader eagerly turned the pages with nervous anticipation. Who will survive? How will the situation be resolved? As Abby and her team work to resolve the situation, additional layers of mystery and deception are uncovered. What an ending! Will you guess what happens? While the main case comes to an end, there are plenty of threads that could be featured in future books.
A creative, complex, and well-paced plot with layers and twists will keep a reader guessing. High stakes and an all-too-real situation kept me engaged throughout the story. There are some shocking and disturbing scenes as it unfolds. The people in the story came to life, and I was cheering on the police as they worked desperately toward a resolution. Themes include work relationships, conspiracy theories, family relationships, PTSD, death, and hostage situations as well as how social media can influence people.
Overall, this was a gripping story with complex characters that kept me on tenterhooks. It’s intense and kept me turning the pages. There was enough background in this novel that it worked well as a standalone, but I have book one and can’t wait to read it while waiting on the next one in the series. Those who enjoy police procedurals and crime thrillers may want to check out this series.
Thanks to Thomas & Mercer and Mike Omer for a digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley and the opportunity to provide an honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently set for March 22, 2022.
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