The synopsis of the book (from the Amazon ) is as follows:
In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. His hosts hope that Mr. Hosokawa can be persuaded to build a factory in their Third World backwater. Alas, in the opening sequence, just as the accompanist kisses the soprano, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And thus, from the beginning, things go awry.
Among the hostages are not only Hosokawa and Roxane Coss, the American soprano, but an assortment of Russian, Italian, and French diplomatic types. Reuben Iglesias, the diminutive and gracious vice president, quickly gets sideways of the kidnappers, who have no interest in him whatsoever. Meanwhile, a Swiss Red Cross negotiator named Joachim Messner is roped into service while vacationing. He comes and goes, wrangling over terms and demands, and the days stretch into weeks, the weeks into months.
The book was exciting--the characters were well crafted, and the emotion felt real. I loved the interaction between the hostages and their captors, and was excited to read how it all played out. Although I did anticipate one part of the ending, I did NOT anticipate another part of it, and did NOT enjoy it. I felt like the book just ended--like Ms. Patchett couldn't figure out how to conclude the book, so she just ended it. And interestingly enough, I felt the same way about another one of Patchett's books--The Patron Saint of Liars. Actually, I've been feeling like that about a lot of the books I've read lately, including Wally Lamb's The Hour I First Believed. And I don't like it. Seriously people, if you spend 300 pages laying building up to that one last climatic event, you need to spend more than 5 pages resolving the event!