After a brutal hostage taker invades St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a team of misfits led by the emotionally damaged Eve Rossi takes charge in this fast-paced thriller.
Although known for period crime novels, Pintoff successfully transitions to the present when she recruits the reluctant FBI profiler Eve Rossi to help defuse a mystifying hostage situation at the iconic New York City landmark. The city’s Christmas season is brought to a standstill as Eve negotiates with a mysterious man whose demands seem nonsensical. He wants five individuals brought to the scene to act as “witnesses” to the ensuing events. Eve’s reluctant to get involved: she’s still mourning the death of her beloved stepfather, a former CIA operative. But she grudgingly comes back to work when the hostage taker asks for her by name. The first order of business is to re-establish her old team, a special secret squad known as the Vidocq Unit. The members are an eclectic group of criminals saved from long prison terms by virtue of their assignment to the unit. But, as the hostage crisis drags on, moving closer to the deadline, things start going wrong, and for one team member, a personal issue becomes entangled in the crisis itself. Pintoff’s reliance on the tired trope of a band of misfits coming together under a charismatic leader isn’t especially innovative or well-done; Rossi’s team could be straight out of clichéd network television. And Rossi herself isn’t really all that charismatic. In fact, even though she’s touted as a crack negotiator, readers will marvel at the bad calls she makes and the very human fallout that results. But the characters aren’t really the stars of Pintoff’s novel; instead, it’s the cathedral, with its complicated history, complex structure, and religious significance.
Readers won’t be dazzled by the forgettable Rossi or her team of scalawags, but the galloping storyline and behind-the-scenes view of St. Patrick’s make this an addictive read.