Don Brown's Navy Justice series continues in Hostage, the second installment. In the previous novel, Treason, Lieutenant Zack Brewer, a JAG (Judge Advocate General) officer in the United States Navy, is charged with the task of prosecuting three radical Islamic clerics who had infiltrated the military and inciting acts of terror from within. With the help of his longtime JAG rival, Lieutenant Diane Colcernian, Brewer manages to secure convictions on charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and treason in what the media bills as the "court-martial of the century."
Hostage begins with an attempt on the lives of Lieutenants Brewer and Colcernian. The JAG officers manage to escape, but a bullet meant for Diane Colcernian claims the life a young college student. The radical Islamic terror organization known as the Council of Ishmael is seeking revenge on Brewer and Colcernian. The Council is also seeking to drive a political wedge between the United States and the moderate Muslim nations that have been allies of the U.S.
In the Middle East, tensions between Israel and her Arab allies continue to bring them closer to war. The Israeli government requests that the United States Navy fly a couple of fighter planes over the country to reassure the people of Israel. This creates a dangerous scenario for U.S. pilots, as the mission involves flying low, placing them in range for terrorists wielding stinger missiles.
Two Muslim American pilots volunteer to fly over Israel. The pilots are Council of Ishmael operatives carrying out "Operation Islamic Glory." Islamic Glory is the Council's plan to turn the moderate Muslim nations against the United States and ultimately lead to the creation a single unified Muslim state. The plot involves an act of aggression that is unthinkable, even to many Muslims, killing both Israelis and Arabs in the process.
The aftermath of the terror attack finds the United States and the Israelis disagreeing on how the terrorists should be tried. Because the pilots are officers in the U.S. Navy, the Americans believe they should be brought back to the United States and court-martialed by the Navy. The Israelis want to try the pilots in their own courts. The two governments reach a compromise that involves a Navy court-martial being held in Jerusalem with Lieutenant Brewer prosecuting the pilots.
But Zack will have to proceed without the assistance of Lieutenant Colcernian, who has been kidnapped and smuggled out of the country by a Council of Ishmael operative. The Council informs Brewer that they are holding Diane, threatening to torture and kill her. Lieutenant Brewer is faced with a deadly dilemma: if he loses the case, a war could erupt, killing millions of people. But if he wins, it could mean death for the woman he loves.
Don Brown is a born-again Christian, and this book does have some instances of characters wrestling with faith issues. But this novel is largely about the case of the rogue pilots as well as the threat of war and Diane being kidnapped and held hostage. This a story that both Christians and non-Christians can enjoy. I would love to see these book adapted for the screen as a film series. Brown offers a lot of detail without becoming overly technical. This is a very fast-moving story with short chapters that are easy for the reader to digest.
Hostage is an excellent read, and a strong second installment in Brown's series, and I might even dare to say it's actually better than the first book. I strongly recommend this novel, but I suggest you go back to the beginning of the series and start with Treason. The Navy Justice series has been quite enjoyable so far, and I am eagerly looking forward to reading Defiance, the next installment.