The Hostage (2005)

Once again, I turn my attention to author WEB Griffin, the "poet laureate of the military." Having finished The Corps series, The Brotherhood of War series, and most recently, the Honor Bound series, it was time to turn my attention back to his most recent series, the Presidential Agent one. My entry into this one was less than spectacular, with By Order of the President, but after an extended hiatus of a year, I was determined to press on, and I'm glad I did.

The Hostage is a much stronger novel than its predecessor. With the background information out of the way, full force can go into the storytelling, with a few occasional side trips, such as why an American WW I General's statue is outside of a European embassy. The protagonist is again Major Charley Castillo, a first rate hero. While his role was less defined previously, he now is attached to the Department of Homeland Security under some cover division. He really is at the order of the President to get the job done, and cut through the bureaucracy. Increasingly, Castillo reminds me of Scott Harvath from the Brad Thor novels.

That said, this time out, he has his work cut out for him. A US diplomat has been murdered, and his wife taken hostage in Argentina, and the clock is ticking to find her with not . At points, there are plenty of references to places in Argentina that get referred to in other Griffin novels, so this kind of felt like going back to the old neighborhood (there's also a curious reference to an old, twin engine plane that fits the description of Lowell's from The Brotherhood of War series, but not specific enough to know if it's of any significance).

As the story unfolds, we get a glimpse into the corruption that went on during Iraq's "Oil for Food" program. In the end, while some poor Iraqis got some meager food, the administrators took more than their reasonable cut of the profits.

What we end up with is an international thriller, centered around Argentina, with multiple stops in Europe and in the United States. The prose is sharp, and this is quintessential Griffin. It still is not my favorite novel by him, but it's a big step up from the series. I'm looking forward to The Hunters, which is currently his latest book.

Overall Grade: B+

Reviewed by Jonas

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