(Reviewed by Eleanor Bukowsky AUG 17, 2008)
"If you put down the weapons and come out, you have my word that you will not be harmed in any way."
"You can go first, last, and always, Chris. It doesn't matter, because this is not a negotiation. We'll leave when we want to leave, and if your cops try to stop us, we'll kill a few hostages. End of story."
As Lisa Black's Takeover opens, thirty-eight year old forensic scientist Theresa MacLean is working a murder scene along with her cousin, homicide detective Frank Patrick, and his partner, Theresa's fiancé, Paul Cleary. The deceased is a middle-aged man whose head had been bashed in. His name is Mark Ludlow, and he had worked as an examiner for the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Coincidentally, two armed men later enter that same bank in an apparent robbery attempt. Since the Federal Reserve is no ordinary savings and loan, the perpetrators fail to get their hands on any ready cash. Knowing that they cannot escape without being gunned down by snipers, the two criminals, Lucas Parrish and Bobby Moyers, take hostages while they consider their options. Much to Theresa's horror, her future husband, Paul, is among the people being held captive. Paul is not in uniform, and Theresa prays that the gunmen do not figure out that he is a cop with a weapon of his own. Meanwhile, the city's foremost expert in hostage negotiations, Sergeant Chris Cavanaugh, is summoned to the scene. Cavanaugh, along with the Cleveland Police Department, the Federal Reserve security force, and the FBI, hope to end the standoff without bloodshed.
Black skillfully creates a claustrophobic and tension-laden atmosphere. Most readers will be bewildered by a crime that seems to make no sense. Why try to steal money from a heavily guarded fortress that is protected by the federal government? Why plan a theft with no exit strategy? Are Lucas and Bobby just two dumb thugs who got in over their heads? Whatever the case, it is Cavanaugh's job to gain the criminals' trust and convince them to release the prisoners and surrender. Unfortunately, the hotheaded pair is in no hurry to give themselves up; as the face-off continues, the possibility of someone getting hurt increases.
Theresa desperately tries to keep her emotions under control, but she cannot stop herself from fearing the worst. Cavanaugh is a bit cocky and self-important, since he has handled hundreds of similar situations without a fatality, and has even written a book called "Secrets of Hostage Negotiation." Unfortunately, he is unprepared for the scenario that he faces and soon realizes that his past experience may be of little help this time. Bobby and Lucas are loose cannons who are unfazed by the army of sharpshooters that are waiting to take them out. It appears that they will not hesitate to kill any or all of their captives if their demands are not met.
The author provides fascinating details about the workings of the Federal Reserve Bank, evidence gathering, and the ways in which the police try to defuse confrontations. The action never flags both in the bank and in the public library where the cops establish their command center. This is an exciting psychological thriller with hidden layers and some clever surprises along the way. Although the plot is a bit far-fetched, Takeover is a terrifically entertaining and engrossing thriller, a guaranteed page-turner.
- Amazon readers rating: from 39 reviews
Read a chapter excerpt from Takeover at author's website
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
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- Official website for Lisa Black
- Denver Hub review of Takeover
- The Mystery Gazette review of Takeover
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About the Author:
Lisa Black grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. After ten years as a secretary, she went back to school to get a Bachelor's degree in Biology from Cleveland State University. In her job as a forensic scientist at the Cuyahoga County Coroner's Office, she analyzed gunshot residue on hands and clothing, hairs, fibers, paint, glass, DNA, blood and many other forms of trace evidence, as well as crime scenes. Then she moved to Florida with her husband and now works as a latent print examiner for the city of Cape Coral, Florida police department.
She is a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and has been certified by the American Board of Criminalistics. She has over 520 hours of instruction in forensic topics and has
testified in court over 50 times. She is a
member of Sisters In Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers.
She lives in Cape Coral, Florida.