Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Freedom Broker by K.J. Howe - Book Tour + Giveaway


The Freedom Broker
by KJ Howe


Genre:
Thriller

KIDNAP & RANSOM
IN-DEPTH RESEARCH FOR CANADIAN AUTHOR’S DEBUT INTERNATIONAL THRILLER
There are twenty-five elite kidnap negotiators in the world. Only one is a
woman. And she’s the best in the business. Meet Thea Paris in THE
FREEDOM BROKER.
With over 40,000 reported kidnappings every year—which
translates to five people every hour
—the
world of kidnap and ransom is taking on a newsworthy role across the
globe. Displaced military and police in third world countries have no
way to put food on the table, but they do have security skills, so
they have turned to kidnapping as a way of making a living. Also,
terrorists are using kidnapping as a fundraising enterprise, filling
their coffers with over 125 million dollars since 2009. Kidnappers
used to only abduct high net-worth individuals and executives of
multi-national organizations. Not anymore. Journalists, aid workers,
and family members of executives have now become high value targets.
Kidnapping is a growing international crisis. What tools do we have to fight
against this increasing threat? There are twenty-five elite kidnap
negotiators who travel to the globe’s hotspots to bring hostages
home, through negotiation or recovery, and they are called response
consultants or freedom brokers.
Local to Toronto, author K.J. Howe has immersed herself in the world
of kidnapping for the last three years, interviewing kidnap
negotiators, former hostages, kidnap and ransom insurance executives,
hostage reintegration experts, psychiatrists specializing in the
captive’s mindset, and the Special Forces soldiers who deliver
ransoms and execute rescues.
Howe’s research culminates into her debut thriller, THE FREEDOM BROKER,
published by the Hachette Book Group under the Quercus imprint in the
US, Canada, U.K. and many foreign territories. The book has reached
attention North America wide, and has led to reviewers such as #1
NYT Bestseller James Patterson
calling
it “fact and fiction at its best.”


K.J. Howe’s novel has received positive and international acclaim from some of North
America’s most influential mediums and authors including:

TIME Magazine called the book a “Dark Delight.”


#1 NYT Bestseller Lee Child endorses
the book: “Razor sharp and full of you-are-there authenticity—a
superb thriller.”


NYT Bestseller Linwood Barclay shares, “Breathless
action, great characters, and convincing details make Howe’s debut
a surefire rocket to the top of the lists.”


In The Providence Journal, USA Today Bestselling author Jon Land reviews,  
“TheFreedom Broker is a blisteringly original, superbly crafted thriller
that promises to be one of the major debuts of 2017. K.J. Howe’s
gut-wrenching foray into the world of hostage negotiation turned
upside down propels her straight into the league of Linda Fairstein,
Tess Gerritsen, Lisa Scottoline, and Karin Slaughter, thanks to a
tale framed by an emotional complexity and structural elegance both
rare for the genre. As riveting as it is bracing, this is reading
entertainment at its absolute best.”



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CHAPTER ONE
500 feet above Kwale, Nigeria
November 1st
2:30 a.m.
Thea Paris knew the drill.
If the mission failed, no one would retrieve her body. She’d be left to rot in the jungle, unidentified and forgotten. And that wouldn’t do. She couldn’t miss her father’s 60th celebration.
Her gloved hand glided over her flak jacket and M4 with practiced ease. Night vision goggles, flares, grenades, extra magazines—all easy to access. The weapon had been tested, cleaned and oiled, ready to combat the humidity of the jungle. Pre-mission checks done.
The hypnotic purr of the resurrected Hughes 500P helicopter set the tone for the operation. Black, in every sense of the word. Sound, movement, light, all kept to a minimum. They were flying Nap-of-the-Earth; low, utilizing the terrain to stay below the radar.
As operational commander, she’d led her seven-man team through endless rehearsals, using a model of the targeted area. Now it was time for execution. Brown listened to Hendrix in his earbuds, his way of psyching up. Johansson stared into space, probably thinking about his pregnant wife who wasn’t happy he’d accepted this mission. Team A, following behind in the other gutted chopper, consisted of twin brothers Neil and Stewart—yep, born in Scotland—and a wizened former French Foreign Legionnaire named Jean-Luc who could outshoot them all. She’d handpicked each one from the pool of operatives at Quantum International Security.
Except Rifat Asker, her boss' son.
Who was staring at her. They’d known each other since they’d been kids, as their fathers were best friends. Rif had serious combat skills, but they often locked horns on methods of execution. She traced the S-shaped scar on her right cheek, a permanent reminder of Rif clashing with her brother Nikos.
She pressed a special app button on her smartphone. The glucose monitor read 105. Batteries were fully charged. Perfect. Nothing screwed up a mission more than low blood sugar. She slipped her phone into the pocket of her fatigues beside her glucagon kit. Rif’s assessing gaze still focused on her. Did he suspect she had diabetes? She’d done her best to keep her illness under wraps. Competition was tough among this elite group, and she didn’t want anyone thinking she wasn’t up for the job.
The pilot's voice crackled in her earpiece. "Three minutes to touchdown."
"Roger that. We're green here."
The second helicopter followed somewhere behind them, but the stormy sky obliterated all evidence of its existence. She wiped her damp palms on her fatigues. Rain rattled the chopper's fuselage, and the turbulence unsettled her stomach. Flying had never been her strong suit. The reduced visibility worked in their favor, but the cloying humidity and heat degraded the airtime and performance of the chopper. To compensate, they'd reduced their fuel load to stay as light as possible, but that left only a minimal buffer for problems.
Rif shifted to face Brown and Johansson. "Okay, boys, let's grab this 'Oil Eagle'."
The hostage, John Sampson, an oil executive based in Texas, earned high six figures to visit remote drilling sites and increase their output. Sampson had two kids, and his wife taught third grade. He coached baseball every Thursday night, but he'd missed the last ten weeks because he'd been held captive in the swamp by MEND—Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta. Seemed like every terrorist group had some catchy acronym, like they’d hired PR firms to come up with them.
This Nigerian militant group wouldn’t budge from a three-million-dollar demand, and Sampson’s kidnapping insurance topped out at one mil. That left one option. Rescue. But one out of five was the success rate for extractions.
"One minute until touchdown," the pilot warned.
She slipped on her night vision goggles and clutched the straps anchored to the cabin walls.
"You sure there's no leak?" Black camo paint emphasized the tension in the lines around Rif's eyes.
"Roger that.” She concentrated on the positives—always better than bleak thoughts when descending into hellfire. They should have the element of surprise, and she’d selected a crackerjack team. Every member would put his life on the line for the others, and their combined combat experience read like the Ivy League of special ops.
The pilot threaded the riverbed using the narrow view provided by the FLIR camera mounted near the skids. Flying into the thick jungle on a moonless night was far from optimal, but their intel was time sensitive. They had to get Sampson out tonight.
"Thirty seconds." The pilot's warning was like a shot of caffeine injected into her veins.
They’d arrived at a small clearing in the triple canopy jungle two miles from the rebel camp. A film of perspiration coated her back. Her body tingled. Alive, awake, adrenalized.
"Ten seconds."
The pilot raised the bird’s nose, flaring to a hover, then settled onto the grass. She nodded to her team, and they hit the ground and rolled away from the chopper. Heat emanated from the rotorwash, as their transport rose up and away.
A moldy stench flooded her mouth and nose, the residual effect of endless rainy seasons. They huddled in the thick bush while the other Hughes dropped off Jean-Luc and the two Scots. She scanned the area. The choppers faded into the distance, their peculiar silhouettes showcasing the modifications for stealth.
Night sounds returned. Crickets chirping, water gurgling from the nearby river bed, the ominous roar of a hippo. She checked her GPS, signaled Rif, and entered the dense foliage. Forty-two minutes to execute the rescue, rendezvous with the helicopters, and get the hell out of here. She circumnavigated the heaviest brush, then froze.
A sound. Scuffling in the bushes. Her hands tightened on her M4. A sentry so close to their launch point?
She glanced over her shoulder. Rif's large frame crouched two feet behind her. Brown and Johansson squatted beside him while Team A covered the rear. The shrubbery to their left rippled in the brisk breeze.
Silence. A mosquito implanted itself in her neck. She ignored the sharp sting.
A branch snapped. She flicked off the safety.
Crunching footsteps. A shrill cry.
She scanned right, left. Movement flashed in front of them at ground level.
Her finger hovered beside the trigger.
More footsteps.
A porcupine scurried across their ingress route, its quills in full attack mode.
She exhaled a long breath and gave Brown a half-smile. Dammit to hell. She’d almost shot the prickly creature, which would have blown their cover. Brown touched the rabbit's foot around his neck and nodded. Good luck charms were an operational must. She always wore the St. Barbara silver pendant her father had given her on her twelfth birthday. It hadn't let her down yet.
The two teams traversed the unfriendly terrain, minimizing any disturbance of the bush. Animal sounds punctuated the night, the rainfall a constant backdrop. She scouted the path, moving cautiously in the darkness. At the edge of the ridge, she paused. Faint flames from a fire kicked her heart into overdrive. The outskirts of the MEND camp lurked below.
She scoured the area. No sign of sentries along the bluff. She squeezed Rif's arm, signaling him to lead Team A down the escarpment. They’d have a rough time of it. The earth was thick, muddy, slick.
Thea, Brown, and Johansson remained on the curved ridge. As commander, she needed a bird's eye view. Brown and Johansson flanked her, positioned to counter any patrolling rebels.
She cloaked herself in shrubbery and settled into her hide. They'd mapped all the major landmarks from satellite images: the rebels' weapons hut perched beside the acacia trees, a large shelter to the west sequestered in the jungle, and five small buildings rooted in the southwest quadrant. Outbuilding Tango held their hostage, a quarter mile away.
She waited and watched for what seemed to be an eternity, rain seeping into her shirt mixing with sweat, leaving her skin clammy and cold. Her mind went to the weirdest places during missions—she pictured this sodden landscape as an ideal backdrop for a waterproof mascara ad.
A tiny shiver darted across her shoulders. The world was preternaturally still, quiet—like death had already arrived. Twenty-five precious minutes had evaporated. Not good.
Precise and measured, she nestled her rifle into the overhang. Her breathing slowed. She scanned the area, pursing her lips, the familiar taste of camo grease comforting her.
A soft hiss whispered in her earpiece, then Rif came on. "Going for the Eagle." Team A hovered on the outskirts of the camp.
Muffled laughter echoed in the distance. A few rebels huddled by the campfire, undoubtedly trying to ward off the dampness with some kai-kai, a local palm liquor.
"Six hostiles by the fire with AK-47s. You’re good to go." Her voice was barely audible. They had to assume MEND had guards posted. Double-crosses dominated the rebels' lives, making them especially paranoid.
Footsteps sounded nearby. She froze. Definitely a human cadence. The soft glow of a cigarette caught her eye. A rebel headed straight for her.




Born in Toronto, Canada, K.J. enjoyed a nomadic lifestyle during her early
years, living in Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and the Caribbean,
which gave her an insider’s view into many different cultures.
While abroad, she read every book she could find, which triggered in
her a desire to create her own stories.
She attended Salzburg International Preparatory School, Neuchâtel Junior
College, and Albert College before earning a Specialists Degree in
Business from the University of Toronto. K.J. found success in the
corporate world, but her passion for travel, adventure, and stories
drew her back to school where she earned a Masters in Writing Popular
Fiction from Seton Hill University. She also won several writing
awards, including three Daphne du Maurier Awards for Excellence in
Mystery and Suspense.
While honing her fiction skills, K.J. worked as a medical, health, and
fitness writer. She then became involved with the International
Thriller Writers as the executive director of ThrillerFest, the
organization’s annual conference held every July in New York City.
In preparation for writing THE FREEDOM BROKER series, which focuses on
elite kidnap negotiator Thea Paris, K.J. spent extensive time
researching the dark world of kidnapping. She has interviewed former
hostages, negotiators, hostage reintegration experts, Special Forces
operatives, and K&R insurance executives.
K.J. is an avid tennis player, cyclist, and swimmer. Travel and adventure
still rank high on her priority list. She has had the pleasure of
riding racing camels in Jordan, surfing in Hawaii, zip lining in the
Costa Rican jungle, diving alongside Great White Sharks in South
Africa, studying modern combat in the Arizona desert, and
working with elephants in Botswana. Home is in Toronto, Canada, but
she is often missing in action.
K.J. Howe is available for interviews and appearances along with
presentations about kidnapping and travel safety. For media
appearances, interviews, speaking engagements, and/or book review
requests please contact mickey.creativeedge@gmail.com by email or by
phone at 403.464.6925.




Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts and a giveaway!





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