FREEDOM BROKER: Kimberley Howe
Would you risk it all to save the life of someone you love? What happens when the person you care about the most is there one minute and your return from a morning run and realize he is gone? What happens when you have to use all of your training and skills within your job and purview to bring back the one person that has always been there for you? Kidnap negotiator Thea Paris has spent her entire life living in a world she created hoping that she could recover some day from the unspeakable things she witnesses as a child. Watching at the age of 8 her brother and best friend disappear in front of her eyes, Niko, was kidnapped and taken from their home in Kanzi, Africa, tortured, beaten and fearing for his life as the author within the novel shares his words, his feelings, his story and what he went through so that readers can experience it once again with Niko. Found and returned home nine months later when you read his thoughts, his diary and what he went through you will understand why Thea realizes she was the prime target and he got in the way. Becoming an operative in that exact field and trained in the field of kidnap and ransom consultancy when returning from her morning run after having breakfast with her father and wishing him a happy 60th birthday you can imagine her fear when she returns and he is not there. Finding the right gift a special box of cigars and watching his face light up when she realizes he was kidnapped she uses all of her energy, resources and skills to begin the hunt for her father. Thea known as “Liberata,” because she was able to secure the safe release of a captive held by the Sicilian mob without her client having to pay a cent in ransom, she travels the world to bring those that were kidnapped and taken hostage home. Things are about to change drastically as her safety is now in question, her brother’s abduction was 20 years ago but when Christos Paris, her father is taken right before his birthday celebration from the yacht that is moored at Santorini, and the entire crew is decimated and killed, for no apparent reason, the anger that wells up within in and the adrenaline drive is so great that she won’t stop not even to eat or sleep until her father is safely returned home. With her team at Quantum Security, Rif her boss’s son and her brother Nikos at her side plus Hakan running the mission Thea hopes to find her father but following protocol, they break down her father’s life, look for leads, take apart his interests, realize he was about to make the largest oil deal ever would his competition be behind the kidnapping? Her father has imprinted his designer shoe on many people’s backs on his road to success and before this one huge deal is made he is gone.
Thinks do not go as smoothly as Thea would like as she puts together a team to try and find her father, enters the area but instead finds that a close member of her father’s team betrayed her. No one is asking for money. No group is taking responsibility. No prisoner release. No appeals. The kidnappers remain silent except for strange Latin quotes in sent in text messages from burner phones that cannot be traced? Is this someone close to him? Is this for revenge of some type? The story becomes more entwined as author Kimberley Howe shares more of Nikos enslavement as the general turns him into a child killer and forces him to shoot to kill and kill or be killed. A great shot and definitely able to hold his own Nikos becomes marred and cold by physically and mentally as Thea begins to understand what happened to him, reads pages from his journal that someone makes sure that she sees while trying to sort out who poisoned the crew of her plane and then at the gala that the General planned to entertain her and the remaining passengers managed to poison her CFO, Peter. Happening right in front of her yet blindsided with the help of two other agents Max and Gabrielle, she hopes to find answers but just who is behind the kidnapping and murder: ISIS, ARES, HAMAS or another terrorist group? Who is right in front of her hiding in plain sight?
When Nikos comes face to face with the man who kidnapped him and turned him into a killer the scene is tense, the words and actions quite compelling as the two men share a secret and the end result will shock readers and Thea too. Calling Hakan, her remaining staff and the CEO of the company she prepares for the meeting with the oil executives. Could the fact that she is now running the meeting hurt the deal? Explosions that take lives. Her father’s wife Helena killed just before she was about to convey who might have taken her husband, someone wants this covered up and does not want Christos found. Could Thea be the primary target if so why? Why didn’t they take her and instead Nikos sleeping soundly in his bed? Just what damage was done that cannot be repaired? As the author shares the fact that Nikos became difficult at times and his father sent him away to boarding school but the end result will change it all.
The negotiations are tense so why is Nikos at the head of the table and what is he really doing? When Thea realizes that maybe he is the one behind the kidnapping will she believe that her brother could be so ruthless and cruel. With the Chinese in charge and one interested in Nikos for other reasons what happens next will change it all as the Chinese minister, the CEO of Paris Industries begin once again. General Ita Jemwa was a smart and very dangerous man who kidnapped Nikos twenty years before and now they are coming face to face. But, things spiral out of control and Thea winds up at his mercy as her plane explodes and the two pilots are poisoned and Rif is there to land it but where and how do they become unwilling pawns of the General and just what is Nikos’s really up to sidling up to this man? The General showed them some unusual hospitality and although Thea distrusted him her goal was to allow him to return her and the rest of the survivors to Victoria Falls and hopefully her boss had information about her father. Sharing Nikos ‘s diary will make you shudder as you hear his voice and understand what happened to him but was he justified in hating so many and those that loved him are no different than his enemies. The Quan family wants the oil rights as the head of the family Chi Quan and Xi-Ping who is loyal to Nikos. Xi-Ping according to Nikos is a brilliant negotiator never letting on their true relationship.
Max Heroes and his partner Gabrielle are working to find Christos but something happens that will alert readers that not everyone is what they seem and the truth behind Christos, the kidnapping and the end result gives new meaning to treachery, deceit, lies and betrayals. When the players are all in one place and the truth comes out Thea will have to decide where her loyalties lie as will someone else. The Chinese had exhausted every argument and now it was Thea’s turn but what happens next alerts readers to the fact that someone want to take over the government, kill the Prime Minister and rule himself. Who remains to be seen? Will it be successful? Will Thea be able to save the Prime Minister and what happens if her blood sugar falls below the proper level? An ending so horrific and explosive you won’t believe who is behind the kidnapping, who thought they would complete the job and the end result will allow readers to understand what happens when someone finds themselves in a situation that changes them forever. With minutes to go and only one shot to take will Gabrielle take out the kidnapper or will she fold? Will Thea be able to save her father before he plunged to his death? Freedom Broker by Kimberley Howe has extensive research dealing with hostage rescues and crisis and she even shares the do’s and don’t’s of a hostage’s experiences and how you are supposed to comply with the kidnappers to stay alive. Lives hang in the balance and Thea has to decide and make one decision that will change it all. Freedom Broker: The person who is in charge of hostage negotiations and had a team deployed along with a SWAT team or sometimes alone to hopefully free the person who is the prisoner of someone who threatens to kill them if they do not get what they want or demand. True to life and ripped right out of the news headlines as this happens everyday and the author shares her research, her vivid descriptions of how Thea and her team free hostages, how she works tirelessly to find her father and how she is a strong character along with Rif that we would like to see more of. Let’s hope there is more in store for Thea and her team.
Fran Lewis: Just Reviews/MJ Magazine