The crew of a Malaysian crude oil tanker bound for India is held hostage by armed men demanding a hefty ransom in Isaiah’s debut thriller.
When a group of men sporting Uzis storms the Green Endeavour, her 18 crew members, including Capt. John Lopez, become their hostages. The hijackers are more organized than typical pirates since it’s clear that they’ve specifically chosen the vessel for its deep-pocketed owner—multibillion-dollar Global Shipping. Satu, the leader of the armed men, uses Capt. Lopez to communicate with the company and demand that $25 million be delivered in three days—or else there will be consequences. While Global Shipping president and CEO Vincent Lee decides whether to pay the hijackers, Malaysia’s Ministry of Defense assembles an elite team to prep a possible rescue mission. But they must be cautious: when Global Shipping violates the baddies’ instructions not to contact the vessel (and instead await further direction), Satu confirms the severity of the situation by executing a crew member. The novel sometimes has the feel of a report, delivering the narrative in an unadorned style with minimal dialogue. It’s shocking, for example, that Global Shipping seems more worried about the legal ramifications from the crew’s families if anyone is killed, while First Bank, which is handling the ransom payment, sees the incident as a way to promote the bank. Isaiah does take time to focus on human interaction. In one of the best scenes, Satu forces Capt. Lopez to choose which crew member will be killed. Though much of the novel is spent on the Green Endeavour, there’s also a good deal of perspective from outside the ship. As a consequence, readers don’t always know what the hijackers are planning, which leads to a superb twist and a delightfully memorable ending when the ransom drop doesn’t go quite as expected. Those unfamiliar with nautical terms, however, might be confused by the abundant seafaring jargon.
A sometimes-clinical narrative relays a smart, unquestionably regaling tale.