By Liz – and today I’m super excited for our “other genre” guest, Jen Danna! This post is right up my alley – I love reading action-packed stories where hostage negotiators are trying to beat the clock in a stressful situation. Jen takes us behind the scenes to learn all about their tricky, high-stakes job. Take it away, Jen!
Thanks so much to Liz for the invitation to join you all today!
Police procedural thrillers can be extremely entertaining—the intrigue of high stakes criminal acts, the heart-pounding ride of the chase, and the challenge of actually having to stick to legalities (unlike those lucky amateur sleuths and PIs who get to bend the rules!). But what if the lives of multiple victims regularly rest in your protagonist’s hands? That’s the world of hostage negotiation. It’s Gemma Capello’s world in the NYPD Negotiators series.
Hostage negotiators are a special breed of law enforcement. Within the NYPD, they are experienced officers; interested individuals can’t even apply to join the Hostage Negotiation Team until they’ve been on the force for at least twelve years. In that time, officers learn the human side of law enforcement—not just the crime, but the story behind it, and, more importantly, the people behind it. It’s that understanding of human nature and human frailty that allows them to connect with victim and hostage taker alike.
They’re called the Hostage Negotiation Team, but the emphasis is on the negotiation, not the hostages. These negotiators are also the first line of protection for distressed individuals, those wanting to take their own lives because they don’t see any way out other than stepping off a bridge or jumping in front of a subway train. That’s when the ability to make a personal connection can be a truly life-saving skill.
Of course, the most dangerous situations arise when the innocent are taken hostage. Then it’s the ultimate fine line to walk. In SHOT CALLER, Detective Gemma Capello is confronted with an extremely complicated situation: Inmates in a secure unit at Rikers Island have rioted and taken eight correction officers hostage. Gemma needs to negotiate for the live release of all the hostages, all while knowing her hands are essentially tied behind her back. There isn’t much she is allowed to offer as a trade for the hostages, and she’s dealing with inmates who were already looking ahead to life sentences, and therefore have absolutely nothing left to lose.
Like real-life hostage negotiators, Gemma carries a gun and a badge, but force and violence are not her tools. She uses connection, compassion, and empathy to bridge the gap between herself and the hostage taker. But in a situation like that, the ability to think on your feet, pivot adroitly in the face of constantly changing circumstances, and, above else, to stay calm when disaster strikes is paramount.
While most of us have never had to negotiate a life-and-death situation, have you ever successfully negotiated something in your life? A raise, an argument, a better price on your new car, or maybe your way into that peanut butter cup Blizzard you’ve been hankering for? Darn it… now I’m hungry! 😉
To celebrate the launch of NYPD Negotiators #2, SHOT CALLER, I’m giving away a hardcover copy to a random commenter. Please share your thoughts below and good luck in the draw! (Giveaway open to residents of Canada and the US; contest closes at noon EDT on September 25th)
A scientist specializing in infectious diseases, Jen works with a cutting-edge research group on three national COVID-19 clinical trials. After a day battling microscopic pathogens, she enjoys spending her evenings taking on hostage takers and serial killers. She is the author of the NYPD Negotiators thriller series, and, with Ann Vanderlaan, writes both the FBI K-9 series (as Sara Driscoll) and the Abbott and Lowell Forensic Mysteries. You can find her at https://jenjdanna.com/ and on social media:
SHOT CALLER Blurb:
In Jen J. Danna’s gripping suspense series, NYPD detective Gemma Capello is called to Rikers Island, where a prison riot threatens to become a bloodbath . . .
On Rikers Island, tensions always run high, especially in the Enhanced Supervision Housing unit. The ESH is home to Rikers’ most dangerous offenders, many of them members of rival street gangs. When Gemma Capello and her team get word of an uprising at the ESH, they know how much is at stake. Gemma also has her own unresolved feelings to deal with—this is the first case she and Detective Sean Logan have worked together since a siege at City Hall that ended with the hostage taker’s death.
Built to hinder escape, prisons are also especially difficult for a tactical team to invade. That’s a last resort for Gemma, but the longer the inmates remain in control, holding corrections officers hostage, the greater the risk. Gemma begins negotiating with Kill Switch, a young, aggressive member of the Filero Kings gang and the inmates’ spokesman. She can tell the stress level is escalating inside. That may give her team some advantages, but it soon leads to a brutal act of retribution—and threats of more to come.
Navigating assumptions on all sides, Gemma desperately tries to stop the body count from rising. But with disagreements and volatility increasing all around, the only certainty is that the next misstep may be a fatal one . . .
SHOT CALLER is available at these fine retailers: Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk, Audible, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, Bookshop.org, Hudson Booksellers, IndieBound, Indigo, Target, and Walmart.