Beach book of the week
The Mob is about to make Police Chief Jeff Talley an offer he can't refuse. If only he can keep from unraveling long enough to play along. When a botched robbery erupts into a hostage standoff, the former L.A. SWAT negotiator panics, paralyzed by memories of the bloodbath that drove him off the squad and into sleepy suburbia. But if Talley thinks all that's at stake is a family at gunpoint, fuhgeddaboutit.
Unbeknownst to all, the hapless hostage-takers have holed up in the home of a top Mafia accountant. Bada bing, the nervous dons want their trove of incriminating secrets back before the cops catch on that the bust of the century is a few feet away. Soon a goodfella "FBI" team storms the house. And to make their fake badges sparkle, they've done their homework on Talley.
In Hostage, Crais has delivered a blockbuster-ready tale so vivid, you don't read, you watch. But the price of the blistering pace is a dearth of description; characters sometimes lack depth, and there are stage directions where there ought to be scene-setting. Even so, this is a speedy, fun read that whacks the competition and already has Bruce Willis calling his agent. (Doubleday, $24.95)
Bottom Line: Captivating