Desert Isle Keeper
Last fall, trapped at home and dreaming of flying far away—anywhere!—I picked up Hostage. I thoroughly enjoyed Mackintosh’s previous books, especially her first two, and was hopeful this too would be diverting.
Two days later, having alienated everyone I encountered—I did not want to be disturbed about anything that wasn’t definitively urgent—I put down this book, desperate for the rest of the thriller loving world to read it. In short order, I had my husband, my best friend, and my neighbor flipping its pages as fast as they could too.
Hostage may make you think twice about flying but, reading while grounded, you’ll be transported.
As the book begins, Mina, a flight attendant, is headed out on what will be the first nonstop flight from London to Sidney: Twenty hours in the air in a Boeing 777 filled with 353 press, passengers, pilots and other airline staff. Mina has pulled strings to be on this flight, not because it’s a big deal to her but rather as a way to temporarily escape her seemingly broken marriage. Mina loves Adam and their exceedingly precocious daughter Sophia, but she no longer trusts Adam—she’s convinced he was having an affair with their ex-au pair, a young Ukrainian woman who recently cryptically quit working for them.
Over the first ten chapters, Mackintosh introduces Mina, her family, and her coworkers as well as a terrifyingly matter of fact group of passengers who are on the plane to… you got it… hijack it. They’re eco-terrorists who plan to crash the plane if the airline industry doesn’t agree to significantly cut its carbon footprint. The reader is shown their thinking early on but has no idea who, on the plane, they are.
Shortly after the plane takes off, Mina is shocked to discover Sophia’s EpiPen in Mina’s flight bag. This makes no sense—Mina knows it is always kept in Sophia’s school backpack because her daughter has severe nut allergy. Mina thinks she must have made a mistake but then, less than 30 minutes later, a passenger suddenly and suspiciously dies and, while Mina is going through his pockets for his ID, she finds a picture of Sophia, clearly taken earlier in the day. Mina is freaking out when things get much worse. The hijackers slip her a note demanding her help in commandeering the plane. If she doesn’t do their bidding, Sophia will die.
Back in London, Adam and Sophia are also being threatened. Neither they nor Mina have any way to communicate, a situation used to great advantage by the terrorists. As their situations worsen, so does that of all on Flight 70. The chapters switch from narrator to narrator and though this is confusing when the book begins, soon the threads fuse, ensnaring the reader in a delightful web of menace, fear, and frantic curiosity.
Beginning in her first book, I Let You Go, Mackintosh has gifted readers with twists we didn’t see coming. Here, she’s never offered more stunning revelations. This is a book that, to the very end, is full of smartly rendered shockers. I enjoyed each and every one.
At the end of the novel, Mackintosh has a long and thoughtful note about the airline industry, global warming, and tough choices. It’s a fascinating take on a complicated conundrum and makes thinking about the issues raised in Hostage provoking.
Hostage–along with all those Karin Slaughter books AAR convinced me to read–is the best thriller I’ve encountered this year. It’s perfectly paced, genuinely perplexing, and almost impossible to predict. I predict readers everywhere will be held captive to its thrall and will be bereft when the thrill ride that is this book comes to its stunning, jaw-dropping end.
You can read our other review of this title HERE.