"Terrorism, recession, the proliferation of cheap weapons and the globalisation of organised crime have made kidnapping one of the most lucrative growth markets in the criminal world," writes Ben Lopez, a Kidnap-for-Ransom consultant (or K&R as he puts it) at the beginning of The Negotiator, before estimating that the business of taking hostages and demanding ransoms is now worth more than US$1 billion a year. He doesn't expect there to be a slowdown any time soon: "Bottom line," Lopez confides, "trying to stop kidnapping is like trying to stop oxygen. You can be against it, but it's everywhere."
Written as a series of episodes based on Lopez's years of experience as a K&R consultant, The Negotiator flits around the less glamorous corners of the globe - from Campo Grande outside Rio de Janeiro to Karachi, from Kandahar to Somalia - as the author uses sophisticated techniques to negotiate with the enemy. Throughout, Lopez is an engaging host, although he can't resist the temptation to write in the style of an airport thriller. Predictably, he infuses his pages with positive outcomes, too.