13 April 2017

Review #596: The Freedom Broker (Thea Paris #1) by K.J. Howe

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“I was amazed as people must be who are seized and kidnapped, and who realize that in the strange world of their captors they have a value absolutely unconnected with anything they know about themselves.”

----Alice Munro

K.J. Howe, the Executive Director of ThrillerFest, pens her debut crime fiction, The Freedom Broker which is the first book in her new thrilling series, Thea Paris. The story revolves around the kidnapping of a Greek oil tycoon, whose daughter, who is a part of a company that rescues kidnapped hostages from the mobs either by negotiation or often through violent means, jumps into the investigation along with her team to bring her father back so that history does not repeat yet one more time.


Kidnap negotiator Thea Paris has spent her entire life with survivor's guilt, following an unspeakable childhood tragedy. At eight years old, she watched, frozen in fear, as her twelve-year-old brother, Nikos, was abducted from their home in Kanzi, Africa. Although he was recovered nine months later, he was never the same after that; worse, Thea discovers that she was supposed to have been the target.

This defining experience drives Thea to become one of the top operatives in the field of kidnap-and-ransom consultancy. Nicknamed "Liberata" because she once secured the release of a captive from the Sicilian mob without her client paying a cent, she travels the globe trying to bring hostages home--mostly through negotiation, but occasionally through more forceful means. She is very good at her job.

Twenty years after her brother's abduction, Thea's worst nightmare is revisited when her father, oil magnate Christos Paris, is taken on his sixtieth birthday. He disappears from his yacht while it is moored at Santorini, the ship's whole crew slaughtered mercilessly.

Thea immediately calls in her team at Quantum Security International, premier K&R specialists. Following protocol, they break down Christos' life, looking for leads, but the list of enemies and business competitors is endless. Not surprisingly, Christos Paris has imprinted his designer shoe on innumerable backs during his journey to the top of the oil business. And he was abducted only a few days before the biggest deal of his career.

From there, the case only gets stranger. Unlike most abductions, there are no ransom demands, no political appeals, no prisoner release requests. Instead, the kidnapper sends foreboding quotes in Latin by text from burner phones. What does the kidnapper want?

And most importantly for Thea, will she be able to prevent a second kidnapping from destroying her family for good?

Thea Paris had no idea that history was going repeat itself after twenty years with the abduction of her darling Greek oil magnifico father, Christos Paris. When Thea was a kid, her elder brother, Nikos was abducted by the local mob from their family home in Africa, although he was returned back nine months later, yet Nikos never recovered from that tragedy that turned him into a human killing machine. And now Nikos hates his father, yet reluctantly and as per his hostage negotiator sister's request, he too joins the search team to locate and rescue his father from the kidnappers who just left behind a cryptic Latin message as a clue. With the body count increasing around Thea, she must find her father before it is too late and not to mention, she also needs to keep her diabetic side under check all while keeping her romantic feelings aside the whole investigation.

This story took me by surprise with its intensity and its intrigue that blew off my mind. There is so much fast-paced action, excitement, thrill, suspense, over-the-edge drama, sizzling moments that will only incite the heat of the story line. The story took me to so many places and I could vividly imagine the scenes right before my own eyes. While reading, not once I felt like this thriller is penned by a first time author, instead it felt like coming from the pen of a seasoned writer. This book is not going to let down any mystery or thriller readers.

The author's writing style is very eloquent and is laced with suspense and action to make it intriguing to the highest level. The narratives are engaging enough to keep the readers hooked till the very last page of the book. The pacing is really fast, as per me, way too fast and some scenes just needed a slower pace so that the readers can contemplate better with those, yet it makes one hell of a edgy and bumpy action filled roller-coaster ride that will compel the readers to stay glued till the very end.

The development of the mystery may not be of that top-notch level, but it has enough elements to entertain and satisfy the taste buds of the conventional crime-fic readers. There are so many priceless action scenes penned intricately and vividly by the author that makes this story truly a page-turning read. And to know what those scenes are, you definitely need to grab a copy of this book. Along with Thea and her team, the readers can too feel the rush of each and every scene and the constantly building tension in the story line. Through her tale, the author has managed to make her readers feel like they are a part of this story. So pretty much the entire length of the novel, I feel like running and rushing alongside the energetic female protagonist, Thea.

The characters are depicted in their raw form with their complexity and honesty to make them look real in the eyes of the readers. The main character, Thea Paris, is one hell of a kickass female heroine with a sass and a brain whose strong narrative and perspective makes the story a captivating one. Nikos too is an interesting character whose convoluted and multi-personality demeanor gives an added grace to the pack of the diverse characters. The rest of the supporting characters are also quite well developed.

In a nutshell, this action packed adventure is filled with romance, family drama, violence, murder, conspiracy and enough other key elements that make this story extremely enthralling.

Verdict: A highly recommended adventurous and stimulating thriller.

Courtesy: Thanks to the publishers for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book.

Author Info:
Kimberley Howe is the Executive Director of ThrillerFest. Thrillerfest is a conference of International Thriller Writers held every July in New York City. She is also a former medical, health, and fitness writer, as well as, a world traveler, cyclist, swimmer and tennis player.
Visit her here

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