Joel Rosenberg has demonstrated an ability to write fiction which is centered upon his analysis of what is actually happening or going to happen in the volatile middle east. The First Hostage successfully follows this trend and continues to be centered on the rise of Isis, which Rosenberg described in a previous book, The Third Target.
J.B. Collins, a reporter for the New York Times, had been covering Isis as an emerging offshoot of Al Qaeda. This book’s opening finds him covering an attack by the terror group on Amman, Jordan, in which he puts the entire world on alert about Isis. During the attack the leaders of Israel and Palestine are critically injured, the president of the US is missing and presumed captured, and the king of Jordan has to fight for his kingdom and his very life.
Rosenberg places Collins in the most important salient of the ensuing battles. In the course of his coverage of the events, Collin’s Israeli love interest, Yael, meets up with him again as she appears carrying out action for the benefit of her country as well as getting the injured Israeli leader home for medical care. The two find that in the midst of all the horror they are more and more attracted to each other and will probably work side by side in future novels.
The blame for the success and advance of Isis falls on Collins due to his incendiary stories about them and the horrors they perpetrate in moving forward. He is pursued by the US and finds he has to work with the Secret Service in finding the president as well as clearing his own name.
Rosenberg’s description of Isis and their aims and methods is spot on with what the west is discovering about the terrorists as publicity shows them beheading victims, destroying towns, killing innocent civilians in their path and looking to martyr themselves in order to kill their perceived enemies. He paints the group as completely uninterested in negotiating with their enemies, only killing them.
The writing is hypnotizing in its jet fast progress through the action. An all nighter does not do it justice since it’s a non-stop express ride. The ending certainly sets the stage for the next book in this series, and readers will await it with bated breath.
1/16 Paul Lane
THE FIRST HOSTAGE by Joel C. Rosenberg. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (December 29, 2015). ISBN 978-1496406156. 448p.