by Dee Henderson
Okay, so this is officially the first book in the O’Malley series. I talked a bit about it in my review of the prequel for this series, Danger in the Shadows. This series is about a group of seven adults who, as children, lived in the same orphanage. (A home for older foster kids who were basically too old to really be “adoptable.”) There, they became close friends, and adopted each other as brothers and sisters. When they became adults, they legally changed their last names to be the same–O’Malley.
The books start when they are all in their 30’s and well-established in life. They are still very close, and that family-ness is a large part of what drives these books.
In order to enjoy them, you just have to accept the fact that somehow, these penniless orphans have managed to become a group of highly-educated and important people. Kate, the heroine of this book, is a well-known hostage negotiator in Chicago. Marcus is a U.S. Marshall. Stephen is a paramedic, Jack a firefighter, Rachel a psychologist who works for the Red Cross, Jennifer a pediatrician, and Lisa is forensic pathologist. But if you can give Henderson that caveat, the books are excellent reading.
As I said in Danger in the Shadows, Henderson does an unusually good job incorporating realistic religious discussion into her books without being flippant, preachy, or shallow. Her characters struggle with very real problems, and she addresses those with serious answers, but in a way that fits into the natural flow of the book, helping the story move along instead of bogging it down.
At the beginning of The Negotiator, Kate finds out that her sister, Jennifer, has been diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer; her prognosis is bleak. However, Jennifer has just become a Christian. Her acceptance of this faith is the springboard for the series, as her sickness draws the family together and begins to force them to face issues that they have kept buried for a long time.
So, Kate is called into a negotiation situation–a man has strapped himself with explosives and entered a bank, and is threatening to blow the place up. One of the customers in the bank happens to be an FBI agent whose name is familiar to those of us who have read Danger in the Shadows–it’s Dave, Sara’s sister. Through a series of events, Dave and Kate continue to be thrown together as what appeared to be a straight-forward and isolated hostage situation in the bank is actually only the beginning of trouble; an airplane explosion throws everyone into the midst of major mystery.
This is a great suspense story. The story is well-paced, the characters very likable, the sibling rivalry and affection fun, the questions about life real. Definite recommendation, 4/5.