Shot Caller

NYPD Negotiators Book #2

By Jen J. Danna

ISBN 9781496727916

Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie


In Jen J. Danna’s gripping suspense series, NYPD detective Gemma Capello is called to Rikers Island, where a prison riot threatens to become a bloodbath…

On Rikers Island, tensions always run high, especially in the Enhanced Supervision Housing unit. The ESH is home to Rikers’ most dangerous offenders, many of them members of rival street gangs. When Gemma Capello and her team get word of an uprising at the ESH, they know how much is at stake. Gemma also has her own unresolved feelings to deal with–this is the first case she and Detective Sean Logan have worked together since a siege at City Hall that ended with the hostage taker’s death.

Built to hinder escape, prisons are also especially difficult for a tactical team to invade. That’s a last resort for Gemma, but the longer the inmates remain in control, holding corrections officers hostage, the greater the risk. Gemma begins negotiating with Kill Switch, a young, aggressive member of the Filero Kings gang and the inmates’ spokesman. She can tell the stress level is escalating inside. That may give her team some advantages, but it soon leads to a brutal act of retribution–and threats of more to come.

Navigating assumptions on all sides, Gemma desperately tries to stop the body count from rising. But with disagreements and volatility increasing all around, the only certainty is that the next misstep may be a fatal one… (From Goodreads)


What a rush this riveting, edge-of-the-seat thriller is! It is a fast-paced novel set in a jail on Rikers Island that demonstrates the author’s talents with setting, dialog, excellent characters, and suspense that does not quit. While I wanted to see the outcome, I didn’t want to turn that last page and leave this expert Hostage Negotiation Team.

The NYPD has several detectives who are trained hostage negotiators and can handle a wide range of situations. Few are as challenging as the one Gemma and three of her team members now face. Gemma and all but one of her siblings follow their father’s footsteps in the NYPD. Gemma was only ten when her mother was shot in front of her during a bank robbery where they were hostages.

Rikers Island houses some of the most violent jails in the country. It is for those held over awaiting trial who can’t make bail and those with short sentences. Gemma and three other negotiators have been sent there due to a hostage situation in the harshest unit with mostly gang members from rival neighborhood gangs. One inmate, Rivas, got free of his shackles and attacked Burk, from a rival gang who allegedly raped Rivas’s sister. In the ensuing riot, eight officers from the jail were taken hostage.

The negotiators’ job is incredibly challenging. They must determine who the “shot caller” is, the inmate who has taken charge of the unit and determines what happens next. The primary negotiator then works with that person in a calm, non-judgmental manner, and resolves the conflict without losing any of the hostages or inmates. Some of the officers held hostage have been accused numerous times of abuse to the prisoners. Of the seven hostages, one is a woman.

This time, Gemma is the primary for the daytime team of four; there will be another team on the night shift. There are also two teams of NYPD A-Team detectives who are trained to, among other things, handle hostage events when negotiations fail. One of the men is Sean, who Gemma went through the police academy with. They have been close friends on and off over the years until a recent hostage situation ended in the hostage taker being shot. She has since refused to speak with him. Unfortunately, Sean is on the day shift A-Team, so they must work together. One day becomes two, then three. Tensions rise and tempers are short. Rivas has given their demands, and Gemma awaits a response.

The primary characters are defined so well that I felt as if I knew them. I like Gemma and her younger brother Alex. I can see from Gemma as well as the team what it takes to be a successful negotiator. I appreciate that Gemma is not in a relationship beyond those who are family or friends, and her focus while at work was on the situation, not outside relationships. Not just anyone can be a negotiator, and that is clearly portrayed through Gemma and the day shift team.

I was very impressed with this novel! It is well written, includes why or how things are done by the NYPD or city government and how the neighborhood gangs differ from those in jail. There are plot twists and turns that ratchet up the suspense and urgency for resolution for the situation. The writing style is excellent; I was very pleased with how well each scene was designed for maximum impact. The ending was also excellent, with loose ends tied up. I highly recommend this thriller and will definitely keep up with this series!