Featured Review: ‘Skyjack’ by K.J. Howe


unnamedK.J. Howe follows up her brilliant debut novel (The Freedom Broker, 2017) with another heart-stopping thriller starring kidnap and ransom specialist Thea Paris.

For twelve-year-old Jabari and his nine-year-old brother, Ayan, their first time flying turns into an absolute nightmare. Having previously witnessed their parents being killed by members of Boko Haram, the brothers were forced into becoming child soldiers against their will. With Thea’s help, the boys ended up being adopted, and it’s now her job to escort them from Africa to London, where they will meet their new parents. 

Things don’t go according to plan, though, and Thea once again becomes an unwilling participant in a much larger game. 

Trying to remain calm as the 737 experiences major turbulence, Thea is also simultaneously attempting to keep one eye on her blood sugar and one eye on the brothers, when she notices that another passenger is in distress. A large man in front of her suddenly slumps over in his seat and appears in need of medical attention. Thea, a diabetic, knows all too well the annoyance of a sudden medical issue rearing its ugly head during an already high-pressure situation. She goes to help the man, as does the co-pilot, who’d slipped out of the cockpit to relieve himself. The two agree that the plane should make an emergency landing, but the co-pilot reveals to her that he’s been locked out of the cockpit, and doesn’t know why. 

A short while later, the 737 lands somewhere in the Libyan desert. Thea discovers that the pilot had previously been approached by mysterious men who threatened the safety of his loved ones in order to strong-arm him into landing the plane at specific coordinates provided to him. Thea is tricked off of the plane, which then takes off without her, before coming face-to-face with Prospero Salvatore, the head of the Sicilian Mafia and Thea’s longtime nemesis. 

Salvatore proposes a trade, offering Thea the brothers — along with the rest of the hostages on board the 737 — in exchange for her help with a job.

The job, as it turns out, is to intercept a truck full of Syrian refugees who are en route to Budapest. Seeing no other viable option, Thea agrees to the terms — then ropes in her team at Quantum International Security to help her not only locate the truck but to also figure out Salvatore’s true intentions. . . which turn out to be more sinister than she previously imagined.

With a limited amount of time to act and multiple moving parts, Thea once again has her work cut out for her as author K.J. Howe dazzles readers with her deftly plotted, expertly-written story that’s packed with action and intrigue. 

Howe, one of the top debut writers of 2017, burst onto the thriller scene in a big way last year by introducing readers to Thea Paris, who is perhaps the strongest female protagonist in the genre right now. In Skyjack, Howe continues to develop her heroine, who is complex and layered, giving her more soul, while also filling readers in on more of her backstory. All of this, of course, is in addition to the hard-hitting action and multiple plot threads (some of which involve characters from her last book) that weave their way together to reveal a shocking conspiracy. No matter what type of thriller you typically enjoy, there’s a little something for everyone here — including an awesome HALO skydiving scene that tops the bungee jump over the Zambezi River in The Freedom Broker

In a genre that predominantly features alpha male characters, K.J. Howe re-writes the rulebook by making her protagonist a strong female operative with a medical condition, adding realism without sacrificing any of the action. Thea Paris can throw down with the very best the genre has to offer, and so can Howe.

From start to finish,  Skyjack is one wild, twisting, and flat-out entertaining thrill ride. If you’re searching for a great new series to jump into, look no further. 

Book Details

Author: K.J. Howe
Series: Thea Paris #2
Pages: 400 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1681443015
Publisher: Quercus
Release Date: April 10, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 8.5/10




Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck is the editor-in-chief of The Real Book Spy, and one of the thriller genre’s most well-recognized critics. He currently lives in southwest Michigan with his wife and their five children. For more information, make sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook


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