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Takeover by Lisa Black
by Lisa Black

Forensic scientist Theresa MacLean has been called to the scene to investigate the murder of Mark Ludlow, a bank examiner with the Federal Bank. When her fiance Homicide Detective Paul Cleary goes to the bank as part of this case, in the flash of a moment, armed men take him and the entire bank hostage. Top notch hostage negotiator Chris Cavanaugh may brag that he has never lost a hostage yet, but despite his assurances, the robbers do the unexpected at almost every turn. To make matters worse, those surrounding the situation seem more focused on using the case to jockey into a better position in the midst of agency power struggles. Can Theresa stand by as an idle onlooker, trusting others to keep her fiance, the one man she truly loves, safe? When the unexpected happens, Theresa must make personal and professional choices that might change her life forever. Can her expertise and self-knowledge prepare her for the unexpected trail the clues take and the consequences? Was this crime an impulsive act from robbers who had no clue about the nature of the Federal Bank or is there a clever plot behind their bumbling actions?

Lisa Black's debut suspense novel TAKEOVER adds new dimensions to the classic hostage scenario with a gripping mysterious motive and a protagonist who gives an emotional, personal insight to the characters on both sides of the hostage negotiations. Although the narration gives the reader insight into motives and thoughts of several characters, the reader experiences the main focus of the drama through Theresa's unique perspective as a police insider, a forensics scientist who has clues into the case of Mark Ludlow's murder and as someone personally involved in the hostage crisis through her relationship with one of the hostages. Against the backdrop of the hostage negotiator, the FBI, the local police and several characters wanting to use this situation to make headway in their careers, Theresa must make decisions to stand up for the human side of the victims. As the minutes count down and the bank robbers are only too willing to kill without a second thought, not responding to the psychological analysis that Cavanaugh expects will tip the scenario to his favor. As clues to the first murder come in, the strange connections to the case magnify rather than defuse until the last thrilling moments. Although development of one red herring might have increased the mystery even more, Lisa Black's TAKEOVER is nail-biting suspense from start to finish. Even when Theresa takes a bold, dramatic step out from behind her safety to the middle of the action, the reactions of the robbers create more questions to the mystery to the motives and personalities behind the heist. Each step forward heightens the drama of the shocking final scenes.

TAKEOVER will have readers sitting on pins and needles as each moment magnifies the complexities of the case. Lisa Black's characterization and focused accompanying descriptions intensify the suspenseful tension and emotional connection to the readers. The reader feels the sweat pouring off Cavanaugh's brow, not just because it happened but because the preceding scenes create the nerve-racking dilemma he faces. Likewise, the reader feels the force of Theresa's attachment to Paul from the first pages to the end. Through her characters and their attempts to stack the deck in the favor of their individual survival, Lisa Black poses some interesting philosophical dilemmas about whose life should come first in hostage situations. Allowing the reader to see multiple perspectives from the police side to the hostage side, from the single person to the mother, from the child to the parent, the characters themselves raise the questions. Not all readers may agree with the answer Theresa comes to understand or how the annoying personality of one character tends to negate his perspective. Nevertheless, unlike many other suspense hostage scenarios, Lisa Black goes beyond the stereotype to provide a dramatic richness to the question through Theresa's character and heart-stopping action made from those choices. Unlike other all-action easily resolved hostage scenarios, Lisa Black allows the reader to feel the aftereffects of the hostage drama as Theresa herself changes from the first moment of the initial case to the last page. Lisa Black's TAKEOVER is fast-paced, riveting suspense with a gutsy protagonist, bold in her decision to take matters into her own hands and bold in her insights into the effects of the case on herself and her family.

Publisher:  William Morrow (August 12, 2008)
Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
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