Thea Paris, the clever, action-packed protagonist of K.J. Howe’s thrill-a-minute debut novel The Freedom Broker, is sort of a cross between Tomb Raider, Catwoman, and Athina Onassis. Her father is a Greek oil magnate, she’s special ops trained and apparently, a vixen in high heels. Her only weakness: she’s diabetic and doesn’t want anyone to know, which can be problematic when you are one globe-trotting, kidnap-victim-rescuing, corporate-negotiating, rock-of-the-family babe.
Seriously, nearly every page of The Freedom Broker has some mortal danger on it. K.J. Howe, a fabulous writer, world-traveler and adventurer in her own right, is the Executive Director of ThrillerFest, an annual gathering of several hundred international thriller writers. It’s not surprising K.J.’s first book is such a great read.
[Thea] tapped her smartphone to call up her glucose reading: 105. Monitor batteries fully charged. Perfect. Nothing could screw up a mission more than low blood sugar. She slipped her phone into her tactical vest beside her glucagon kit. Rif was still watching her as she adjusted her vest, and she wondered if he knew. She’d done her best to keep her condition a secret, but he didn’t miss much. It probably wouldn’t change anything, but she didn’t want anyone on the team thinking she wasn’t up to the job.
The pilot’s voice crackled in her earpiece: “Three minutes to touchdown.”
“Roger that. We’re green here.”
The stormy sky hid the second helicopter from view. Thea wiped her damp palms on her fatigues. Rain rattled on the chopper’s fuselage, and the turbulence unsettled her stomach. Flying had never been her strong suit. The poor visibility would allow them to fly in under the radar, but the cloying humidity and heat could degrade the chopper’s performance. They’d reduced its fuel load to stay as light as possible, but that left only a minimal buffer if they ran into problems.
Rif shifted to face Brown and Johansson. “Okay boys, let’s grab this Oil Eagle.”
Thea and Rif, childhood friends, are part of a private military-style organization that rescues kidnap/hostages when governments do not, cannot, or will not. But after rescuing the oilman in The Freedom Broker’s opening sequence, Thea and her team have to find the one hostage she can barely begin to think about: her father.
I met K.J. at the Salt Cay Writers Retreat a couple of years ago, and I was able to persuade her to answer a few questions for daeandwrite readers.
There are some fabulous champagne-drenched parties detailed in The Freedom Broker. According to K.J. Howe, Thea Paris’ favorite food is “baklava, but she has to watch her carbs because of her type 1 diabetes.”
I’ve never made baklava, but I’ve tried making some dessert using phyllo dough and I’m going to go to the bakery on this one. I lack Thea’s courage.
Mehgan Heaney-Grier is an incredible talent, and I see her as Thea. Mehgan holds the world record for free diving, 165 feet. Would love Phillip Winchester as Rif, Rupert Friend (plays Peter Quinn on Homeland, brilliant actor) as Nikos, and Selma Hayek for Gabrielle.