I love character driven thrillers with a perfect sense of place. Tight plotting. Page turning. I read thrillers to transport myself. My love affair with (…the books of…) Harlan Coben, Lee Child, and David Baldacci is rooted in their characterizations of hero: Everyman against the world. Sinister sucks. These seasoned writers are tough to compete with, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Stefanie Pintoff has the potential to work her way into my heart with her Eve Rossi stories.
Hostage Taker was the first urban thriller featuring Eve Rossi and her unconventional team, the Vidocq unit, comprised of notorious criminals offered freedom in exchange for service to the FBI. Their crimes range from corporate espionage to murder, their talents are notorious. Bad guy turned almost good guy = interesting.
The action begins in Manhattan early one winter morning in front of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, where a woman holds a “HELP ME” sign. A baffling hostage situation unfolds at the landmark cathedral, and Eve attempts negotiating with a dark adversary in a booby-trapped church. While the sinister motives of the hostage taker become clear, the Vidocq team works behind the scenes to save the terrified victims inside. Some great descriptions of the life of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral are seamlessly woven into the story, providing a much-needed sense of place. Excitement ensues, and Hostage Taker comes to a well-executed conclusion.
The second novel in the series, City on Edge, boasts the same great cast and intrigue. When New York City Police Commissioner Logan Donovan’s daughter, Allie, is kidnapped on the eve of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Eve Rossi and her team are called in. As the kidnapper’s unreasonable demands escalate, the Vidocq unit discovers that charming Commissioner Donovan has dangerous secrets that make him – and Allie – the perfect targets.
Both Hostage Taker and City on Edge take place in Manhattan in a 24-hour time frame. Content is highlighted with transcripts of news updates and Vidocq team’s dossiers. The books are quick, satisfying reads. The author, Stefanie Pintoff, is an Edgar Award and Washington Irving Book Award winner. She lives in Manhattan, where she is writing the next Eve Rossi book. Her books are available through the Metro Library Network.