Review

Hostage Zero

by John Gilstrap

Permit me to tell you at the outset that John Gilstrap is a very
entertaining guy. If you ever have the opportunity to sit and
listen to him, please do so. He tells great stories well, has a
terrific sense of humor, and is extremely personable. And his
books? They are even more fun than he is.

HOSTAGE ZERO is the second of the Jonathan “Digger”
Grave novels, a fabulous one-sit read that goes down page-by-page
like your next favorite --- and intelligent --- action-adventure
movie. Grave runs a firm in the vicinity of Vienna, Virginia, known
as Security Solutions, which provides the same to major
corporations. He also has a firm within a firm, known to but a few
key employees, that runs operations off the radar. He is assisted
in these endeavors by Boxers, a giant of a man with a propensity
for danger to match, and Venice Alexander, who is a master at
intelligence gathering, among other things. Grave uses Security
Solutions as a means of funding Resurrection House, a residential
school for children whose parents have been incarcerated.

The book kicks into high throttle when Jeremy Schuler and Evan
Guinn, two students from Resurrection House, are kidnapped in a
late-night raid on the facility that leaves a beloved employee
barely clinging to life. Understandably, Grave takes the invasion
as an act of war and proceeds accordingly. Schuler is left for dead
nearby, while Guinn is spirited away to the South American jungles
of Colombia. The kidnappings present several puzzles. Why were
these two boys taken? Why were they treated differently after their
abductions? Do they have anything in common, other than the fact
that they were students at the same school? Grave begins to slowly
unravel the multiple threads that lead from the kidnapping with the
assistance of his team and an unlikely ally in the form of Harvey
Rodriguez, a Marine Corps medic who is down on his luck and then
some. It is Rodriguez who discovers Schuler after the abduction,
and his subsequent encounter with Grave and Boxers results in an
uneasy alliance that gradually gives way to trust.

As Grave’s investigation proceeds, he discovers a plot
that originates at one of the highest levels of the newly installed
presidential administration and stretches back in time to an
incident that changed the course of a senatorial election. And when
Grave learns that Guinn has been sent to the cocaine fields of
Colombia, he launches what can only be described as a suicide
mission to bring him back, throwing himself, Boxers and Rodriguez
against a well-armed and tightly controlled criminal army on the
enemy’s turf in what turns out to be Guinn’s last hope
of survival.

There is enough heart-stopping action here to easily fill three
books. Gilstrap somehow makes a three-man assault against a heavily
fortified compound seem plausible, and, believe me, in his hands it
seems like the most natural thing in the world. Of course, anything
is easier to get into than out of. And be warned: not everyone who
charges into the drug compound walks out. Still, there is much to
keep Grave, his team and the reader busy from beginning to end,
with plenty of suspense mortar to fill in the intervals between the
explosive bricks. Add some memorable characters and Grave’s
continually unfolding backstory, and you have an action series
worth staying with and waiting for.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011

Hostage Zero
by John Gilstrap

  • Publication Date: July 1, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Pinnacle
  • ISBN-10: 0786020881
  • ISBN-13: 9780786020881