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Today we are really pleased to welcome back bestselling author, Jen J. Danna!
Exit Strategy by Jen Danna
Exit Strategy by Jen Danna is the first in a new series. It is a refreshing police procedural in that it introduces readers to the world of a police hostage negotiator. At a time when police are looked down upon this story is inspirational, showing readers the good deeds many in the police department do. The author allows readers to get into the head of the police to understand what they are thinking and how they come to a decision.
The story opens with a family gathering, showing how the main character, Gemma Capello, feels that family means everything. Her four brothers and father are a tight-knit Italian group. Three of her brothers, her father, and Gemma all work for the NYPD, and the fourth brother works for FDNY. Gemma became a hostage negotiator after watching her mother die. At the age of ten she saw her mother sacrifice her life as the gunman shot her point-blank in a hostage situation.
Now she is called to help negotiate a hostage situation. It becomes quickly apparent that her boss is unable to connect with the hostage taker. Gemma then takes over talking to the gunman, establishing a link of trust between them. She must juggle a number of variables that include the hostage taker’s volatile attitude and the NYPD tactical team who wants to go in with a show of force. To make matters worse, the hostages were taken in City Hall. She must risk it all in a last-ditch effort to save the hostages that includes putting her life on the line.
An added bonus is the author’s descriptive scenes of an inoperative City Hall Subway Station, with its decorative glass skylights and its colorful tiling, the foods and landmarks of Little Italy, and the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, with its Gothic architecture and catacombs.
The attention to detail, the psychological thought process of the police and antagonist, and the tidbits about an Italian family make for an interesting read. But the story is also riveting with its suspenseful, fast-action pace.
Elise Cooper: How did you get the idea for the story?
Jen Danna: It came from the FBI canine book, Lone Wolf. In the story there was a hostage negotiator that was only on one page, but it got me thinking. I thought how a mediator has to handle different sides and aspects.
EC: It reminded me a little of the TV show “Blue Bloods” with the Irish family replaced by your Italian family?
JD: I have not seen a single episode of “Blue Bloods.” Gemma’s background is based on my Italian background. Our ancestors came from the same small town in Sicily. We also have in common that each of us lost a parent at the age of ten. While my dad died of a heart attack, her mom died in a hostage situation. I have two brothers and a sister, while she has four brothers. My brothers are definitely present in the personality of her brothers.
EC: You write ensembles?
JD: I enjoy writing ensemble groups. In my FBI canine series, there is a work ensemble, while in this series it is a family ensemble. Gemma is able to interact with them not only on a personal level, but also a professional level.
EC: People seem to not understand that there are good and bad police?
JD: The law enforcement officers I write about are not anti-heroes. They have the best of intentions and really want to do the best job, making sure to find justice for the victims. In any job people’s personalities and traits play into how they view others. Rightly, the negative aspects of some police are being highlighted, but let’s not forget the positive aspects as well.
EC: Readers can get an understanding of the thinking of a hostage negotiator?
JD: Their goal is to keep everyone alive and to solve a situation without bloodshed. The idea is to resolve it peacefully. For a better understanding I put in this book quote, “It was always a fine line to walk; a large show of force could make a suspect insecure and desperate, while a small show of force could leave the suspect overconfident and unwilling to work with the negotiators.” This is a real strategy and technique.
EC: How would you describe Gemma?
JD: She is a nurturer. Being the only woman in the family she sees herself as a peacekeeper who tries to resolve situations. She is also caring, in some sense a risk taker to save lives, determined, brave, stubborn, and has a lot of qualities of an Italian.
EC: Why Jiu Jitsu?
JD: I wanted to find a way for Gemma, who is a petite woman, able to go up against a larger man. She needed some skills where there would be no weapons involved, basically a hand to hand combat situation. This was a realistic way she could over power someone.
EC: Are you a Trekkie because you have the Spock quote, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few?”
JD: My husband is. I wonder how many people will catch it? He is one of my early readers and he did make a comment. I thought this was the perfect quote for the scene. Her mother was doing exactly this when she sacrificed herself for others. Throughout the series her mother will pop in and out.
EC: What about the chocolate seven-layer cake?
JD: This is a very traditional Sicilian dessert. After the book came out an author told me about this website, Mysteryloverskitchen.com. I was asked to make this cake. I actually made it, but it took me forever. Gemma is definitely a better baker than I am.
EC: Can you give a shout out about your next books?
JD: The end of December will be the next FBI Canine book titled, Leave No Trace. It will take place in Blueridge Georgia. The plot has someone hunting humans instead of animals and does it with a bow and arrow.
The next book in this series comes out in August 2021. Its title is Shot Caller. A riot takes place in an enclosed unit in a prison. Prisoners cannot get out, but it is also very difficult for people to get in. Gemma must mediate between the rioters, warden, director of corrections, and the NYPD tactical team.
If you liked this interview
Exit Strategy by Jen Danna
“Tense and tightly plotted, Exit Strategy pulls you in and doesn’t let go. A compelling
—New York Times bestselling author Marc Cameron
In this taut new suspense series featuring NYPD detective Gemma Capello and her close-knit law enforcement family, a madman brings a halt to the heart of the city that never sleeps . . .
After her mother’s death during a bank robbery when she was a child, Gemma Capello grew up to become one of the NYPD’s elite hostage negotiators. In a family of cops, there’s rarely a day when a Capello isn’t facing down some form of threat. Still, despite their unpredictable schedules, they always find time for their annual family summer picnic. But this year, a sudden phone call changes everything.
A heavily armed gunman has taken hostages at City Hall. Gemma races downtown to join the rest of the Hostage Negotiation Team as they scramble to identify the captives – fearing the mayor may be among them. But as they scramble for answers and struggle to gain control of the circumstances, it becomes clear that the mayor is at the center of it all, just not in the way they initially believed.
With several lives on the line and a criminal who always seems to be one step ahead, Gemma is the only one able to connect with the suspect. Soon, she finds herself engaging in a battle of wits while enduring a battle of egos in the command center. With time running out and a mastermind who has proven he’ll do whatever it takes to get what he wants, Gemma risks it all – her career and her life – in a last-ditch effort to save the hostages. Now, she needs to figure out how to save herself….
Exit Strategy by Jen Danna
Book Beginnings / First Chapter First Paragraph / Tuesday Teaser!