The Unexpected Hostage

Fiction - Thriller - Terrorist
388 Pages
Reviewed on 08/17/2023
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Author Biography

Allison McKenzie has never shied away from adventure. She is at home skiing Canadian glaciers, exploring Scottish castles, and retrieving cultural artifacts from a Rarotongan jungle as she is at her writing desk. After graduating magna cum laude from Wellesley College with honors in English literature and attending the University of Cambridge’s International Art History Programme in England, she spent most of her career in the software industry.

Allison is the winner of the 2020 Pacific Northwest Writers Association Contest, and a Finalist for the 2021 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense, from RWA's Kiss of Death Chapter, for The Unexpected Hostage.

She currently lives in Seattle with her husband, daughter, and two rambunctious cats. She loves theatre, skiing, and Peloton biking to ‘80s New Wave music. The Unexpected Hostage is her first novel.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite

What better way to kick off your writing career than with a story that ticks all the boxes when it comes to compelling, realistic characters involved in current concerns like nefarious hacking and terrorism, neatly bundled into a thoroughly intriguing and complex plot and explored through a style of writing that never bogs you down in unessential details? That’s what Allison McKenzie offers readers, along with a touching love story in her engaging debut novel, The Unexpected Hostage.

The last thing Tess expects when she stands in for her boss at a fancy reception in “peaceful” Canada is Russian terrorists shooting up the venue and taking her hostage, together with a Norwegian doctor, Mark. Thanks to the advice and training Tess got from her father at a young age, she helps them both, badly wounded, to escape their captors. But before they are fully recovered, as the result of a letter left for Tess by her now-dead fiance, Tess and Mark find themselves tracking down the Raven, a secretive Scottish hacker. The Raven sheds light on plans these Russian terrorists have to empty several major banks, but their hackers need a code they believe Tess’s security company can supply, and they will stop at nothing, including torture and death, to get it. But in Tess, Mark, and the Raven, the terrorists face unexpected and formidable opponents.

While the plot will have readers turning pages, the realistic characters, sensitivities, and humaneness engage our hearts even more than our heads. Equally impressive is Allison McKenzie’s knowledge of the devastation that cybercrime can cause. The possibilities are a long way from far-fetched. It’s also apparent the author is familiar with the various locations in which Tess finds herself: Canada, England, Norway, and the US. Here’s an author who researches her subject and settings and knows how to bring everything together in one unforgettable novel. Let The Unexpected Hostage capture you. It will hold you a willing hostage to the very last page.