There are 25 elite professionals across the globe who travel undercover to the deadliest hotspots in the world to bring hostages home safely by any means necessary.
These remarkable individuals, called response consultants, leave their homes for weeks or even months at a time to insert themselves into a captive’s family at the height of the crisis. They take total control of the response, choose the best representative to interact with the kidnappers, direct the life or death negotiations, and when all else fails, plan and lead rescue operations.
This is the world I’ve been researching for the past two years, meeting with experts in Miami and London, two cities that serve as hubs for this industry. I’ve spent hours talking to former hostages, response consultants, K&R insurance executives, reintegration experts, and the Special Forces soldiers who deliver ransoms and execute rescues when negotiations break down.
Why did this world intrigue me? I’ve lived in many places, including Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Switzerland, Austria, Puerto Rico, and others. My education was eclectic–part school, part adventure, as I was introduced to different cultures, languages, and religions. Because of my background, I was always interested in international subjects and locales.
Which led me to kidnapping: a growing international crisis with over 40,000 abductions a year. Kidnapping is the ultimate purgatory, where everyone but the hostage and his/her family continues the routines of everyday life. During captivity, you’re alive, but you can’t live. The kidnappers control every aspect of your life while inflicting verbal and physical abuse. You wake up every morning wondering if this day might be your last.
And experts report the most difficult day of a kidnapping is the day you’re set free. You’re not the same person you were before you were taken; it’s impossible to move on like nothing has happened. Hostages often delineate their lives in two parts, life before kidnap and life afterwards. Kidnappers steal more than the time you’re in captivity. They rob some individuals of their entire future–and that can destroy a family.
This is the theme I explore in THE FREEDOM BROKER, the first book of the series about elite kidnap negotiator Thea Paris. Nicknamed Liberata because she once brought a hostage home from the clutches of the Sicilian Mafia without paying a cent. Thea has intensely personal reasons for choosing this career, and they motivate her to do whatever it takes to bring people back home.
As we move forward with the Rogue Women Blog, I hope to share some of the things I’ve learned about the dark world of kidnapping. It has been a fascinating journey, and I’ve integrated some interesting facts into my novel. Please visit me at www.kjhowe.com. THE FREEDOM BROKER will be out in February 2017, but the pre-orders should be available soon.
One last question before I go: What would you sacrifice to bring your loved one home?