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Dead Line by Chris Ewan
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250047076
Date: 05 August 2014 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Daniel Trent is a professional negotiator in kidnap and ransom (K&R) situations; he also sells K&R policies. One night, Trent drives through the winding roads on the outskirts of Marseilles, France; he is tailing one of his wealthy clients, Jérôme Moreau, who is headed home after attending the ballet. Trent witnesses the swift, brutal kidnapping of his own client. Now Trent must risk his life in order to locate and rescue Jérôme--the only man who may know what happened to his fiancée, Aimée Paget, who mysteriously disappeared several months earlier.

Chris Ewan, the best-selling author of the highly suspenseful Safe House brings us another superb stand-alone mystery, Dead Line. Daniel Trent must negotiate the amount of ransom paid to an evil villain, Xavier, who was responsible for the kidnapping of another of Trent's clients; Trent has a deadline for delivering the money before certain parts of Jérôme's body are cut off and shipped home to his beautiful, abused wife, Stephanie, and his spoiled, underachieving son, Philippe. Trent must struggle to keep concealed his true motivations for rescuing Moreau while dealing with a callous, amoral household that doesn't trust him.

Aimée Paget is the love of Trent's life; he cannot live without her. Recently, he asked her to marry him after learning of her pregnancy. Trent has been living a nightmare since her disappearance. (Barely able to function, he has been neglecting to clean his home until it now looks like my own--a rat nest.) Readers can't help but join Trent in his agony. Everyone, it seems, is against him. Someone from his past, someone who intends to do him harm, is constantly watching him. The only person he can trust is a former police detective, Luc Girard, and they must meet in secret. Trent feels remorse and guilt over the men he kills; he keeps telling himself he is doing it for Aimée.

The novel's unique setting is beautiful, picturesque Marseilles and its surrounding farmlands and mountains. Somewhere in the Calanques, Jérôme is being held. It is a secluded, barren land with rocky inlets and beaches, high limestone cliffs and numerous caves--perfect for outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, diving, swimming, rappelling, and spelunking. It is also perfect for hiding a kidnap victim. A confusing maze of roads crisscrosses the Calanques. Trent finds himself in dire straits to locate the gang's hiding place.

Hopefully, Dead Line will have a sequel because there are some unanswered questions. We live in the age of sequels. Every profitable novel or film must have a sequel. In the seventies, numerous films abruptly ended, leaving the viewer in limbo; for example, they would forever wonder what happened to the damsel who was lying in a semiconscious state while the serial killer, presumed to be dead, arose from the floor nearby. Nevertheless, I recommend Dead Line to fans of novels and films involving hostage situations. Readers will be provided an interesting crash course on hostage negotiations. A unique setting, emotional drama, blood and gore, a good body count, and numerous shocks make Dead Line a good summer read.

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