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The First Hostage


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Wonderfully researched, great setting, great plot, great characters, well-written



Bottom Line

Readers who like action-packed, page-turning political thrillers will love “The First Hostage” as much as I do.

Posted January 26, 2016 by

Full Review

“The president of the United States . . . is missing.”

With these words, New York Times journalist J. B. Collins, reporting from the scene of a devastating attack by ISIS terrorists in Amman, Jordan, puts the entire world on high alert. The leaders of Israel and Palestine are critically injured, Jordan’s king is fighting for his life, and the U.S. president is missing and presumed captured.

As the U.S. government faces a constitutional crisis and Jordan battles for its very existence, Collins must do his best to keep the world informed while working to convince the FBI that his stories are not responsible for the terror attack on the Jordanian capital. And ISIS still has chemical weapons . . .

Struggling to clear his name, Collins and the Secret Service try frantically to locate and rescue the leader of the free world before ISIS’s threats become a catastrophic reality.


I love reading political thrillers and every time I read a Joel Rosenberg novel I remember why. Besides being incredibly entertained, learning the constitutional structure of the American government and its foreign policy challenges is also intriguing and informative. In The First Hostage the United States and her government are fighting for survival in the face of a dark and deadly evil.

The First Hostage takes place in multiple Middle East settings, giving the novel an international appeal. To his credit, Rosenberg displays his in-depth knowledge of the various locations of Jordan, Israel, and Iraq. The detailed descriptions of the customs, landscape, and locale lend to the story’s authenticity and allow the reader to become immersed in the action without the burden of unnecessary minutiae.

The novel is told through a first-person point of view and is extremely effective. Rather than a limiting device, it allows the novel to move quickly while still imparting highly-detailed and pertinent information crucial for the novel to remain cohesive and coherent. Yet each character still maintains his own voice and personality.

The dialogue in The First Hostage is used to reveal the characters’ basic instinct for survival and, at times, to communicate important knowledge and information germane to the plot. This may bother some readers because it slows the pace of the plot in places. However, I found the information necessary for two reasons. First, it is helpful to understand the geo-political situation of the Middle East region, both in the past and present. Secondly, it allows the reader a break from the heart-pounding pace of the book.

The First Hostage has a suspenseful tone from page one. The characters are fighting for their countries and the people they love, as well as their own lives. The plot has many twists and turns, and the obstacles seem to increase with every choice and every consequence, while the characters attempt to do what is right at great cost to themselves.

The conflict in The First Hostage is based on external events and other characters’ decisions over which the main character has no control. However, these events force him to examine his own decisions, motivations, and spiritual condition. This not only allows character growth, but adds depth to believable and sympathetic characters who are easy to love, one of the most pleasing aspects of the novel.

There is a definite good-verses-evil theme throughout the book with no gray areas, and the characters aspire to their highest ideals. The spiritual message of the novel is one of its greatest strengths as it is tastefully understated, yet unmistakable. The references to the Bible in location and prophecy are fascinating, and Christianity is communicated authentically and authoritatively without a strident, preachy, tone.

The First Hostage is geared to a general Christian audience who like political thrillers and suspense. However, because of its spell-binding nature, it will appeal to secular readers as well.

There are a few graphic scenes that portray evil but are necessary in the context of the storyline. The book is the second in Joel Rosenberg’s J.B Collins series but a stand-alone novel in its own right.

Readers who like action-packed, page-turning political thrillers will love The First Hostage as much as I do.


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