Captives is worth reading for the moral dilemma it presents and the quirky ideas it offers up. Daniel, a Hollywood screenplay writer, finds himself creatively blocked unless he is detailing brutal assassination scenarios involving real life business leaders and politicians. The vividness of his fantasies scares him. His wife won’t speak to him about work related issues and his agent is incapable of listening to him, so he seeks the advice of a young rabbi. Since readers’ reactions to the rabbi will vary wildly, I recommend Captives for reading groups for the discussions it will provoke.
So we have a spiritual crisis and a twisty plot, but the novel harms itself by being excessively stylized. The clipped dialogue would be perfect for the screen, and perhaps the author exaggerates this to tell the story the way a screen writer might live it. Unfortunately, it keeps us at a distance and Daniel and his ordeals remain superficial.
Sara Leopold Spinnell is a co-founder of Travelujah.com, a website that promotes Christian travel to Israel. She lives in New York City with her husband and two children.