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  • Published: 18 June 2024
  • ISBN: 9781787303836
  • Imprint: Harvill Secker
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 336
  • RRP: $34.99

The Negotiator


The bullet enters Tia’s thigh close to where her brother will look for the star-shaped mole when asked to identify her body.

The green carpet is moving towards her. Flung onto her side, Tia lands hard on her left arm. Pop pop pop sounds bounce between her ears. Flashbangs. The force of the grenades is knocking artwork to the floor. The heavy frames could be falling onto someone but it’s too dark, or too bright, to see properly, and there’s probably nothing she can do to help them. On the ground, Tia feels her way to the wall, any wall. A palm goes to each thigh: no wound. That was her own thumb which drove into her skin. The firearms team are in the room now, but the bullet was her imagination. She will not bleed out, and these aren’t her final breaths. Relief comes, but it isn’t much, because she has been thinking about dying all day. Death no longer frightens her. Fear requires energy and Tia is too tired for it now. They all must be.

Her hand finally hits something solid. She’s made it to the side of the room. Tia stands and leans against the plaster, making herself as flat as she can. She’s safe here, and now she has some sense of direction: the windows out onto the road are to her right, and the doors to the rest of the museum to her left. That’s where the specialist officers are coming from. Through the smoke in front of her, human shapes start to take form. There are bodies on the carpet. Alive? She cannot just wait here for it to be over and help to collect the dead. Back on all fours, Tia leaves the wall and crawls to the nearest hostage. Broken glass crunches underneath her knees. The noise of the police boots, the guns, the shields, everything, is so intense, her teeth gnaw into her cheeks.

Tia reaches someone – there’s a pulse. They’re shaking but they’re okay. She sees more human shadows. There is no real furniture in here and nowhere to shelter. When the police burst in, everyone dropped in place, and the unlucky were stood near the doors, or in the centre of the room, exposed. The white haze meant to disorient the gunman is stopping Tia from working out who is who. But it’s those hostages in the middle of the room who are most in need. Tia rises to her feet. Keeping as low as possible, she moves quickly. She sees two bodies lying in the path of the entering police. She’ll go to them.

Are they hurt? She won’t drag them out of the danger zone in case it makes their injuries worse. The pop, pops continue. The two hostages are about ten yards apart. She can’t get to them both. Suddenly it’s obvious who they are, and she must choose. Pick one hostage, shield them. The only thing she can give now is herself.

The Negotiator Brooke Robinson

Three Hours meets The Accomplice and The Silent Patient, The Negotiator is an edge-of-your-seat, heart-wrenching thriller that asks: can you ever free yourself from your past?

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