Hostage by Kristina Ohlsson

By Ekta R. Garg

November 11, 2015

Genre: thriller

Rated: Bookmark it!

When an international flight comes under the threat of a hijacker, a trio of investigators must work together to uncover the hijacker’s identity and intentions. Despite a deep pool of collective resources, the investigators will need to navigate through the murkiness of various factions and international relations before they can douse the threat. Swedish author Kristina Ohlsson brings back characters from her previous books in the electric, compelling novel Hostage.

On an October day in the middle of the lunch hour in Stockholm, someone sends the police a tip: four bombs will go off starting at 5:00 that evening. The four locations mentioned endure high foot and car traffic every single day, ideal places for a bomb to go off. The police, led by Superintendent Alex Recht, lead the way in evacuating the targets. Then they sit and wait.

The appointed hour comes and goes, and no bombs erupt. Nothing blows Stockholm’s popular sites to bits. The police and members of the justice department as well as the counterterrorism unit wonder why anyone would call in a bomb threat and then let the threat go empty. While the residents of Stockholm quickly resume their lives, the police and other officials responsible for the security of the city start to consider just what the bomb threats mean.

Less than twelve hours later, a Boeing 747 bound for New York from Stockholm gets hijacked, and the note with directions for the captain are unsettling. He realizes the flight is under a tangible threat—that he truly has no choice but to follow the instructions. His co-captain doesn’t agree, but the captain refuses to budge.

The police, justice department, and counterterrorism unit on the ground start scrambling to figure out who issued the hijacking demands, which target both the United States and Sweden. Worse, the hijacker’s timeline only allows for the amount of time it takes for the flight to get from Sweden to New York. If the demands aren’t met by then, dire consequences will follow.

The demands, however, are unrelated to one another, and security officials can’t understand why the hijacker wants these demands met. Moreover, no one has come forward to claim responsibility for the terrorist event. How can security officials even begin to put together a recovery effort if they don’t know who has engineered the threat in the first place? And will this threat turn out as empty as the one from the previous day?

As the day wears on Alex Recht reaches out to former police colleague-turned-Justice Department employee Fredrika Bergman as well as new counterterrorism recruit Eden Lundell in an effort that crosses all previous known levels of tension. All three will need to handle the politics of their own individual factions as well as the politics that cross the ocean while watching the clock if they want to keep the passengers on the plane safe.

Author Kristina Ohlsson offers a novel that speaks directly to current headlines, which enhances its appeal. Readers will feel like they’re sitting right next to Alex, Fredrika, and Eden as they deal with their respective departments. Ohlsson’s experience as a senior terrorism analyst shines, lending immense credibility to the characters as well as the threats Sweden faces in the book. The pacing will definitely keep readers up at night and thinking through the day about the challenges that security officials face in these situations, situations that no doubt are playing out across the world today.

The one place where Ohlsson might have strengthened the book comes in the scenes aboard the plane, which are few and far between (although strong when they do appear.) For the most part, however, Ohlsson hits all the right notes for a thriller. I highly recommend readers Bookmark Hostage.

(I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest, objective review.)