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  • Jeff Somers 3:00 pm on 2018/10/01 Permalink
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    October’s Best Thrillers 

    The Reckoning, by John Grisham
    Grisham’s latest is a compelling mystery set in the wake of World War II. Veteran Pete Banning, now enjoying civilian life as a farmer, gets up one day, has breakfast with his sister, and then drives into town and shoots the Reverend Dexter Bell three times, killing him. Banning makes no attempt to resist arrest, and only states that he has “nothing to say” about the murder. Is it connected to his wife, Liza, so recently committed to a hospital? Or is there a less obvious mystery afoot? As the community struggles to understand what’s happened, Grisham digs deeply into Banning’s backstory, following his journey through life and war on the way to a killing no one understands.

    Dark Sacred Night, by Michael Connelly
    Connelly pairs up two of his most enduring characters as Harry Bosch, now retired and working cases for his own reasons, and LAPD Detective Renée Ballard see their paths cross. After Ballard files a sexual harassment claim against the police department, she gets relegated to the graveyard shift. One night she catches Bosch looking through an old case file, researching the unsolved murder of a runaway girl in 2009. When she learns the girl’s mother, Daisy, is staying with Bosch as he helps her recover from drug addiction, Renée is moved to help. Meanwhile, Bosch’s other activities have put him directly in the sights of one of the most violent and ruthless street gangs in the area, Varrio San Fer 13, making the new partnership an extremely dangerous one—not that the detective is the type to spook easily.

    Ambush, by James Patterson and James O. Born
    When Detective Michael Bennett receives an anonymous tip that leads him into an attempted assassination, he quickly realizes it’s the work of a talented and mysterious professional, who soon targets Bennett’s family, while serving perfect red herrings clues to keep Bennett and his fellow cops chasing their tails. As Bennett puts the pieces together while protecting everyone he cares about, he realizes that while the assassin’s motivates are related to the rival cartels trying to corner the city’s drug traffic—cartels that may have joined forces to take out their main obstacle: Detective Michael Bennett.

    Paper Gods, by Goldie Taylor
    When Ezra Hawkins, a long-serving black congressman from Georgia, is assassinated, a hunt begins for both the killer and the congressman’s replacement. On the same day, infamous reporter Hampton Bridges is almost killed in a car accident that doesn’t seem so accidental, which drives him to dig even harder into the seamy underbelly of Georgia politics. Hawkins’ obvious successor would be his protégé, Atlanta Mayor Torrie Dodds—but dissatisfaction with Hawkins has soured Dodds, who resents a system controlled by wealthy white elites. As Bridges tracks down corruption and skulduggery, more killings ensue, and Dodds finds a mysterious link between the victims—one of whom is her own disgraced brother.

    The Night in Question, by Nic Joseph
    Paula Wilson works a rideshare gig to help with the medical bills that are crushing her family. One night she picks up her final passenger and is thrilled to recognize famous musician Ryan Hooks in her backseat. When she brings him to his destination and he’s met by a woman decidedly not his equally famous wife, Paula does something desperate—she suggests the best way to keep his meeting out of the papers is to pay her. But when it later turns out someone was murdered at that address, Paula realizes she might be the only person to know about Hooks’ secret affair, and thus the only witness to a terrible crime.

    The Trust, by Ronald H. Balson
    Balson’s fourth book following Liam Taggart and Catherine Lockhart sees Liam returning with reluctance to Northern Ireland for a funeral. He isn’t looking forward to seeing his family again, but is soon  astonished to find he’s been named the executor of his uncle’s secret trust, which can only be settled after Fergus’ murder is solved. Liam is forced to do the last thing he wants: take a deep dive into his family’s affairs, their long-standing connection to the IRA and the Troubles, and the skein of greed, resentment, and violence at the end of his every inquiry. Whoever killed Fergus is undoubtedly watching.

    Smile, by Roddy Doyle
    Booker Prize-winner Doyle returns with a fascinating character study that follows Victor Forde, a past-his-prime radio commentator who returns to his dingy hometown after separating from his celebrity chef wife. Abandoning his determination to make friends and do some writing, Forde drinks his sorrows away at Donnelly’s pub, spending time with the locals and then tottering off to work on a project he never quite gets started. One night at Donnelly’s, Forde encounters an old schoolmate, Fitzpatrick, a man he quite doesn’t remember from hisviolent years at St. Martin’s Christian Brothers School. Fitzpatrick forces Forde to revisit those dark childhood years, unraveling a decades-old mystery and memories of sexual abuse, and slowly becomes the man’s unlikely best friend, as Doyle builds to an ending both unexpected and inevitable.

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  • Jeff Somers 7:30 pm on 2018/08/28 Permalink
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    September’s Best Thrillers 

    Juror #3, by James Patterson and Nancy Allen
    Paterson, perhaps the world’s most successful and prolific thriller writer, teams up with Allen, a former attorney and seasoned writer to tell the story of Ruby Bozarth. Ruby is new to the Mississippi bar and the town of Rosedale, but she’s barely got time to find her bearings when she’s assigned to a sensational case. A rich girl is dead and a college football star stands accused, and the prosecutor and judge think Ruby’s inexperience will let them ram through a quick conviction. Ruby’s determined to prove them wrong, and with a little help from a well-armed fellow attorney and a short order cook with a lot of secrets she mounts a defense. But Ruby begins to suspect the biggest obstacle to justice might just be the jurors on the case, who have plenty of secrets of their own.

    Shadow Tyrants, by Clive Cussler and Boyd Morrison
    Cussler teams up with engineer and author Morrison again for the 13th Oregon Files adventure, which finds a mysterious group known as the Nine Unknown seeking to use ancient technology and knowledge to take control of the world for its own good. One member of the Nine, Romir Malik, dissents, however, convinced that the project—code-named Colossus—will destroy humanity instead. It’s once again up to The Corporation and the crew of the Oregon to put the deceptively-weathered high-tech ship on the front lines in order to save the world, as Malik’s solution is to use a network of killer satellites to destroy Colossus, a cure that might be just as bad as the disease.

    Lies, by T.M. Logan
    Logan’s debut begins with an innocent impulse. Joe Lynch and his son William are driving in North London when William sees his mother’s car and insists they surprise her. Joe follows Melissa to a hotel, where he watches her argue with her best friend’s husband, the wealthy Ben Delaney. Before he can confront her, Melissa drives off, so Joe confronts Ben instead, getting into a fight that ends with his phone missing and Ben unconscious. Joe leaves; when he comes back for his phone everything is gone. Melissa denies an affair, but when Ben is supposedly murdered her lie is revealed, and Joe finds himself framed for a murder he knows is impossible—because he knows Ben is alive. Behind the mystery is the real question: just how long has Melissa been lying—and why?

    Cross Her Heart, by Sarah Pinborough
    In Pinborough’s tense new book, Lisa is a tightly-wound overprotective mother. Her daughter Ava is a champion athlete who’s tired of being protected, and sneaking around with her first boyfriend behind Lisa’s back and communicating with a mysterious man online. Marilyn is Lisa’s bestie pushing her to ‛get back out there.’ But Lisa has secrets that have taught her to be careful, and when she drops her guard and lets her photo be taken when Ava is hailed a hero in the press, those secrets come crashing down on her, threatening her safety and her relationship with her daughter. She and Marilyn have to push through their own problems and join forces in order to save Ava from the past which has come back in terrifying force.

    The Labyrinth of the Spirits, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
    Bestselling Zafón offers up the fourth and final entry in his Cemetery of Forgotten Books series, catching up with the characters from the first three as they make their way under the repressive rule of Francisco Franco from the late 1930s to the 1970s. But the focus is on Alicia Gris, who survives a bombing as a little girl and carries the scars into adulthood as she works for the secret police as an investigator. Her final case involves the disappearance of the country’s Minister of Culture, Mauricio Valls. A rare book is her first clue in an investigation that begins to reveal the depth of cruelty and violence that Franco’s regime inflicted on the country—a truth so dangerous to the powers that be that Alicia’s soon has to make a choice: risk her life by pursuing the truth, or allow herself to be intimidated into silence.

    When the Lights Go Out, by Mary Kubica
    Jessie Sloane is 17 when her mother, Eden, passes away. Grieving and suffering from insomnia, Jessie decides to sell the house and move on to community college. But she discovers that 17 years ago someone filed a death certificate in her name, and now she has no official identity. As Jessie’s sleepless nights melt into a timeless nightmare, Eden’s heartbreaking story comes to the forefront. Two decades before, she and Aaron were in love and desperately wanted children, but couldn’t conceive. Eden’s obsession with having a child slowly transforms into a frightening compulsion, driving Aaron away. Separated by decades, a mother and a daughter both go down dark paths—and reach shocking conclusions.

    Leave No Trace, by Mindy Mejia
    Two fascinating characters collide in Mejia’s newest thriller. Maya Stark is a young speech therapist pushed by her former psychiatrist to take on a challenging case she doesn’t feel ready for. Lucas Blackthorn is a violent, mute man who’d been presumed dead for years after his father took him into the vast wilderness of Boundary Waters—until he was arrested after a botched robbery. Now Lucas wants nothing more than to escape back to the wilderness and tend to his father, and Maya finds herself being drawn to his perspective so strongly she makes decisions that are more than just ethically dubious—they might be extremely dangerous as well. As her secrets are revealed, Maya becomes increasingly determined to help Lucas no matter the cost.

    The Ancient Nine, by Ian K. Smith
    Smith’s followup to his debut, The Blackbird Papers, is a behind-the-scenes glimpse at Harvard’s tony secret clubs that drips with tension and bulges with secrets. In 1988, Spenser Collins is a champion African-American swimmer who gets a prestigious invitation to join Harvard’s Delphic Club. Intrigued by the idea of connecting with the elite, he begins to investigate the club’s history, discovering not only a mysterious disappearance by a student named Erasmus Abbott who broke into the club in 1927, never to be seen again, but also the existence of a secret club-within-the club known as the Ancient Nine. As Collins digs deeper he learns more and more about this secretive and powerful group—and about their dangerous secret agenda.

    Nomad, by James Swallow
    In Swallow’s newest surefire bestseller, Marc Dane is an MI6 field agent who’s very happy working the computers, far from the grisly action. When his entire team is wiped out and he’s framed for their deaths, he has little choice but to head directly into danger. Labeled a traitor, Dane makes contact with the Rubicon Group and their agent Lucy Keyes, ex-U.S. Army and exactly the sort of skilled agent Dane needs to help him clear his name. Their investigation reveals a historic terrorist plot that could result in the worst attack ever known—and none of the world’s intelligence agencies are looking at the right information to stop it. Dane and Keyes will have to put their own needs aside and risk everything to save the world.

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  • Jeff Somers 6:00 pm on 2018/06/30 Permalink
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    July’s Best New Thrillers 

    The Other Woman, by Daniel Silva
    Silva’s 18th entry in the Gabriel Allon series finds the art restorer and Israel’s most effective spy drawn back into the struggle against Russia’s to tip the balance of world power in their favor. When one of Allon’s best assets inside Russian intelligence is assassinated while trying to defect, he investigates—and is soon on the trail of one of the biggest and best-kept secrets of the last few decades: there is a mole inside the highest corridors of power in the west—someone who has bided their time and now stands at the summit of power. Allon will have to risk everything and give all in order to stop the unthinkable.

    Spymaster, by Brad Thor
    The 17th Scot Harvath book finds the skilled agent finally feeling his age—though he’s still the most dangerous and effective employee at private security and espionage endeavor The Carlton Group. Across Europe, someone is assassinating diplomats, and Harvath is ordered to find out who—and why. When it’s revealed to be part of a plot by Russia to leverage the NATO alliance to draw the United States into a war, Harvath is tasked with stopping the Russian plan, and he goes on the offensive, identifying and hunting down the assassins themselves. Meanwhile, the founder of the Carlton Group battles a declining mental state that means the secrets of his long career are at risk—and the new head, former CIA chief Lydia Ryan, must scramble to protect those secrets—as well as her agents in the field.

    Give Me Your Hand, by Megan Abbott
    As a teenager, Kit Owens isn’t particularly ambitious—until she meets Diane Fleming, a troubled girl with a troubled past who pushes herself to perfection in everything. Kit finds herself being pushed along with her as they both pursue an elite science scholarship, until one night Diane shares a secret with Kit—and Kit, horrified, turns her back on Diane. A decade later, Kit is working in a prestigious lab under a famous scientist and pursuing a coveted spot on the male-dominated team, and she is shocked to find herself suddenly competing against Diane. Kit struggles to keep the past in the past as she realizes her connection to Diane, so long buried, is as powerful as ever—and Diane’s secret, which she worked so hard to forget, is as terrible as ever.

    Double Blind, by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen
    The Johansens’ sixth Kendra Michaels novel finds the FBI agent drawn into a murder investigation when the victim, paralegal Elena Meyer, is found holding an envelope addressed to Kendra. Kendra doesn’t know Elena, and doesn’t recognize anyone on the video of a wedding reception contained on a memory stick in the envelope. She enlists the help of freelance investigator Adam Lynch—but the video suddenly disappears. As Adam and Kendra struggle with their attraction to one another, Kendra finds herself diving into a massive conspiracy—and tallying a rising body count.

    She Was the Quiet One, by Michele Campbell
    When their mother passes away, twins Rose and Bel are sent to Odell Academy, an elite boarding school. Rose is thrilled and immediately excels. but Bel falls in with a bad crowd. Both sisters forge unusually strong bonds with a married couple, Sarah and Heath, who act as both faculty advisors and dorm parents. When Bel gives in to peer pressure and hazes Rose, the bond between siblings is strained to the breaking point. Rose turns to Sarah and Bel turns to Heath, whose motives may be less than honorable. As the sisters’ relationship sours into violence, a deep and disturbing mystery arises, told through overlapping points of view and twisting timelines.

    Caged, by Ellison Cooper
    Sayer Altair, a talented special agent for the FBI, studies the patterns of serial killers in order to forget the tragedies that trail in her wake—parents dead in a horrific car crash, fiancé killed while working a mysterious case for the Bureau. She is forced to emerge from her research when she’s assigned to the case of Gwen Van Hurst, daughter of a senator who went missing a year before, who has been found dead in a cage in the basement of a booby-trapped house in Washington, D.C. Sayer learns that another victim may still be alive in a cage somewhere, kicking off a frantic race against time.

    Baby Teeth, by Zoje Stage
    Stage’s debut tells the story of fragile Suzette, battling with her distant, cold mother and the crippling effects of Crohn’s disease. Despite the physical risks, she and her husband Alex have a child. Determined to be a better mother than her own, Suzette tries her best, but Hanna is a difficult child. As the story opens, Hanna is seven years old and Suzette is home-schooling her because Hanna—who has yet to speak a word despite knowing how to read and write—refuses to behave. The only person for whom Hanna seems to have any affection is her father, and she views Suzette as a barrier between her and the total devotion of her dad. As Hanna’s behavior becomes more violent and unhinged, Alex doesn’t see the danger—but Suzette begins to fear for her life.

    Bound for Gold, by William Martin
    Rare-book dealer Peter Fallon returns along with his girlfriend Evangeline Carrington. At Peter’s son’s behest, the pair head out to California in search of the stolen journal of James Spencer of the Sagamore Mining Company, who searched for a legendary “river of gold.” Spencer’s story is one of violence and greed, racism and capitalism—in short, the story of America. And it’s a story that may not be quite over; as Peter and Evangeline hunt for the stolen book and stumble into a plot that threatens their lives.

    Four Dominions, by Eric Van Lustbader
    The third entry in Lustbader’s Testament series opens with Emma Shaw, artifacts expert, studying the recently acquired Testament of Lucifer onboard a private plane. Turbulence knocks lemon juice onto the parchment, revealing hidden writings that Emma reads before she realizes the danger—and finds herself possessed by the demon Beleth, who serves Lucifer’s plan to finally free Heaven itself from God’s tyranny. Beleth sets Emma to turning her brother, academic Bravo Shaw, towards evil as the demons plot their final victory.

    All These Beautiful Strangers, by Elizabeth Klehfoth
    Ten years ago, Charlie Fairchild’s mother Grace was seen on bank security cameras cleaning out the family’s safe deposit boxes—and never seen again. Now 17, Charlie is haunted by her mother’s disappearance, wondering if she truly abandoned her family, or if there is another explanation. Attending an exclusive boarding school, Charlie is pushed by the secret society she’s pledging to dig into her family’s secrets—and what she finds makes her head reel. forcing her to consider the possibility she never knew either of her parents at all.

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  • Jeff Somers 9:00 pm on 2018/05/31 Permalink
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    June’s Best New Thrillers 

    It’s summer, and things are heating up outside and on bookstore shelves, thanks to the arrivals of these 10 tightly-plotted, fast-paced new thrillers, including one from the dream team of former president Bill Clinton and James Patterson. Read on—only you can decide how thrilling your June will be.

    The President is Missing, by Bill Clinton and James Patterson
    Combining his personal knowledge of the presidency with Patterson’s knowledge of how to write a heart-pounding thriller, Bill Clinton spins a story about President Jonathan Lincoln Duncan, under pressure from all sides, besieged by unhappy and hostile congressional committees, a determined assassin, and an apocalyptic threat only he knows about—a computer virus that could roll the clock back to the stone age overnight. Duncan sees just one way to deal with these combined threats—he walks out of the White House, leaving his security detail behind, and takes matters into his own hands.

    Tom Clancy Line of Sight, by Mike Maden
    Vladimir Vasilev, chief of the Iron Syndicate, is dying, and the one thing he wants to accomplish before the cancer gets him is to see Jack Ryan, Jr.’s head on a platter. Ryan heads to Sarajevo on a mission for his mother, seeking to track down her former patient, Aida. As assassins circle, Jack locates the gorgeous Aida, a Muslim who runs a refugee organization, and the sparks fly even as a new threat emerges—the Iron Syndicate is planning to kill thousands in a terrorist attack on a stadium in hopes of triggering World War III. Ryan must race to figure out the plot and somehow secure the military assets necessary to stop it—but Aida has secrets that threaten to upend everything, and trigger to a disaster of incalculable proportions.

    The Pharaoh Key, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
    Gideon Crew returns in his fifth novel from Preston and Child, but Effective Engineering Solutions doesn’t. When the organization suddenly shuts down, world-class thief Gideon and and Manuel Garza head to Egypt in pursuit of EES’ final project, a priceless treasure—but not before secretly downloading a scan of the Phaistos Disk and cracking the ancient code contained thereon, revealing the treasure’s precise location. Garza and Crew face shipwrecks and other dangers on their way to meet a beautiful geologist and discover a lost civilization, adventuring their way through deadly puzzles and ancient mysteries with equal aplomb.

    Turbulence, by Stuart Woods
    Stone Barrington returns in the 46th novel featuring the suave, self-made millionaire lawyer. As a hurricane bears down on Key West, Barrington plays host to some friends—including Secretary of State Holly Barker. In the midst of the storm, Senator Joe Box arrives to beg for shelter, and is admitted—even though he attempted to assault Barker at a state dinner months earlier. When the storm passes, Barrington becomes involved in an effort to capture notorious arms dealer Selwyn Owaki (set free through machinations by Box) and the nuclear device he’s shopping—but the failure of the operation puts crosshairs on Barrington, and he must go underground. In the world of Stone Barrington, this means jetting about the world in order to get the drop on Owaki, one way or another.

    Bring Me Back, by B.A. Paris
    In this tense thriller, Finn McQuaid and his fiancée Ellen are settled into a comfortable cottage in the small village of Simonbridge, financially secure thanks to a stroke of luck on Finn’s part. Their relationship is unusual; 12 years earlier Finn was dating Ellen’s sister Layla, until Layla disappeared while driving through France with Finn, with only a Russian nesting doll near the car for a clue. Initially a suspect, Finn was cleared of the crime, and over the years, their mutual loss and desire for comfort led Ellen and Finn to forge a bond. But now, the police are suddenly telling Finn that Layla’s been seen in town, and he and Ellen start receiving strange gifts—Russian nesting dolls. It’s clear Finn hasn’t been entirely forthcoming about the circumstances of Layla’s disappearance, but unraveling the truth of what’s really happening won’t be easy.

    Social Creature, by Tara Isabella Burton
    Louise Wilson is an aspiring writer worried that her looming 30th birthday means she’s failed to make it in New York City. Tutoring a rich girl to make ends meet, she encounters her student’s older sister, Lavinia, who dresses like she’s always headed for a costume ball, and the queen of New York’s underground society. Louise decides she must keep her access to this glamorous life no matter the cost, and shirks all other responsibilities to maintain her orbit around Lavinia. At first all is well; Lavinia invites Louise to be her roommate, and it’s quite the ride—but then, Lavinia gets bored and decides its time for new blood. In order to maintain her grip on Lavinia, Louise must contemplate taking desperate measures. This thriller offers an exploration of a toxic relationship in the mold of Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley novels.

    Bearskin, by James A. McLaughlin
    Rice Moore is working as a caretaker in the rough, lawless Turk Mountain Preserve, located in the Appalachians of Virginia. The prior caretaker was raped and left for dead by the vicious poachers who plague the Preserve, and Rice is a man of secrets, fleeing from a Mexican drug cartel and hoping to stay hidden in the backwoods of Virginia. Just as he thinks he can relax, bears start turning up dead, killed by poachers seeking their valuable organs to sell overseas. When his efforts to stop the killing raises his profile, Rice finds himself fighting both the locals and the foreign criminals seeking to exact their revenge.

    The Moscow Offensive, by Dale Brown
    Brown’s sequel to Price of Duty returns to Captain Brad McLanahan, Colonel Wayne “Whack” Macomber, and Major Nadia Rozek of the Iron Wolf Squadron, which is composed of cybenetically-controlled robotic infantry, as they face a new threat: Russian President Gryzlov has managed to reverse-engineer the design and is building his own corps of war machines. Gryzlov shows off his new strength by attacking an Air Force base in Louisiana. The United States strikes back, and tensions and hostilities continue escalate, as Macomber, McLanahan, and Rozek risk everything in order to protect their country and the man who might be the next president.

    Providence, by Caroline Kepnes
    Jon Bronson was a typical high school kid, hassled by the jocks but saved by his deep friendship with classmate Chloe. When Jon disappears from his home, only Chloe and his parents keep faith that he’ll return—which he finally does, waking up four years later in a basement with no memory of the intervening time. Next to him is a copy of The Dunwich Horror by H.P. Lovecraft, and a letter from a former teacher who tells Jon that he was put into an induced coma, and now has access to more power than he can possibly imagine. Jon’s return is bittersweet—and gets more complicated when he realizes how dangerous his new powers are to the people around him. Jon tries to isolate himself, moving to Lovecraft’s home city of Providence, Rhode Island, but mysterious deaths soon attract a detective’s attention, and Jon and Chloe must find the answers to the mystery of Jon’s disappearance before it’s too late.

    The Real Michael Swann, by Bryan Reardon
    A phone call between Julia Swann and her husband Michael, who is at Penn Station in New York City, is suddenly cut off when a bomb explodes. Julia, in a panic, attempts to drive to NYC from Pennsylvania, but the city is in lockdown, and she can’t get in. Then she hears the impossible: the domestic terrorist suspected in the blast is none other than Michael Swann. Convinced of his his survival and his innocence, she seeks to make contact with her husband, who soon turns up dazed from the blast and suffering from amnesia. Julia must evade law enforcement as they search for Michael while somehow proving he isn’t the man they think he is.

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  • Jeff Somers 7:00 pm on 2018/05/01 Permalink
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    May’s Best New Thrillers 

    The Death of Mrs. Westaway, by Ruth Ware
    It’s cons all the way down in Ware’s newest twisty thriller. Harriet “Hal” Westaway just scrapes by working as psychic at Brighton Beach, using her skills of observation to con easy marks. She owes very bad people very serious money, so when she receives a letter informing her that her grandmother Hester has passed away and left her something in the will, she’s determined to claim the inheritance—despite the fact that her grandmother Marion already died 20 years before. Intending to use her cold-reading skills to relieve these other Westaways of their money, she travels to an estate in Cornwell, only to find the apparent case of mistaken identity might not be quite as mistaken as she’d assumed. Suddenly, Hal has to use her people-reading abilities in pursuit of the truth—and to make sure she gets out alive.

    The Gray Ghost, by Clive Cussler and Robin Burcell
    A century in the past, a man named Marcus Peyton is falsely accused of stealing a one-of-a-kind car from a street in Manchester: a Rolls Royce Gray Ghost. Although American detective Isaac Bell is able to retrieve the car, he can’t spare Peyton the consequences of being fingered as the culprit. In the modern day, Peyton’s grandson contacts Sam and Remi Fargo in hopes of proving his ancestor’s innocence. This mission is complicated by the fact that the Gray Ghost has been stolen again—as has what was contained within it, something several powerful, desperate people want to get their hands on. Remi and Sam find out the hard way that those who get too close to the car are risking their lives.

    The Favorite Sister, by Jessica Knoll
    The competition on Goal Diggers is intense and personal. A reality show populated by “unmothers and unwives” who have achieved great success in their chosen profession, the cast includes sisters Brett and Kelly—Bret has a spin class empire predicated on the idea that you don’t have to be a size zero to be healthy, and Kelly is everything Brett thinks she isn’t: beautiful, skinny, and their parents’ favorite. The story opens with Brett’s murder, but figuring out who’s responsible isn’t as easy as sibling rivalry, as the other castmembers—including author Stephanie, vegan juice bar impresario Jen, and dating website guru Lauren—have their own secrets to hide…while in front of an audience of millions.

    The Crooked Staircase, by Dean Koontz
    The third Jane Hawk novel sees the former FBI agent-turned international fugitive working as hard as ever to bring down the mind-control conspiracy that killed her husband. She managed to do some damage over the course of the previous book—going underground, hiding her young son away for his own safety, and killing a few bad guys. But considering those she’s up against have infiltrated the government and law enforcement and have brainwashing nanotech at their command, the only way out is to cut off the conspiracy’s head—Department of Justice official Booth Hendrickson. Staying out of reach of the high-tech surveillance arrayed against her, Jane tracks down Hendrickson’s half-brother, a misogynistic sociopath, and prepares to do whatever it takes to grab justice for herself.

    The Perfect Mother, by Aimee Molloy
    The May Mothers—a group of Brooklyn moms whose kids share May birthdays—invite beautiful, stressed, and standoffish single mom Winnie to one of their wine-soaked gatherings. Nell, Colette, and Francie are so determined to show Winnie a good time, they even provide a babysitter, and insist she delete the baby monitor app from her phone so she can’t obsess over little Midas. After a sodden evening, however, Nell gets a dreadful call: Midas has been kidnapped, right out of his crib. In the midst of the chaotic, sensational media coverage, the May Mothers band together to launch their own investigation, which grows increasingly reckless as the individual secrets, anxieties, and frailties each May Mother is hiding come to light.

    House Swap, by Rebecca Fleet
    After ending a torrid affair with a younger man, Caroline seeks to fix her broken relationship with her depressed husband. Hoping a romantic getaway will help them reconnect, she arranges a week-long house swap that takes the couple to a house just outside London. Once there, Caroline begins to sense something’s wrong—everything about the house reminds her of her former lover Carl, from flowers that decorate it to the aftershave left in thebathroom. Caroline becomes convinced her ex is tormenting her, and that nosy neighbor Amber is in on it—but assuming too much could prove deadly.

    Reaper: Ghost Target, by Nicholas Irving with A.J. Tata
    Co-authors Nicholas Irving and A.J. Tata, a retired general, bring serious verisimilitude to this fast-paced thriller. In 2010, a Chechen terrorist named Khasan Basayev buries a suitcase-sized nuclear bomb and manages to escape capture. Years later, the army’s most feared sniper, Vick Harwood, is in Afghanistan with his spotter, Corporal Sammie Samuelson, about to take out Basayev when their position comes under fire. Harwood escapes, but loses both Sammie and his prized rifle. Vick moves on to a career training snipers at different military bases, but when someone starts using that lost rifle to murder American generals—who are always near where Vick is teaching—Harwood is forced to act in order to clear the cloud of suspicion gathering over him—something made difficult by the fact that he’s started suffering blackouts and other symptoms of PTSD.

    Arctic Gambit, by Larry Bond
    A new Russian president plans to restore the former Soviet Union’s territories to his control, which means orchestrating a first-strike against the United States first and with overwhelming force. When a submarine from Jerry Mitchell’s squadron goes missing in the arctic, he investigates—and discovers the Russians are building a secret base in preparation for their attack. Worse, they’ve developed a new first-strike weapon, code-named Drakon, that will enable them to pull off the attack without warning. Jerry is ordered to take the submarine Jimmy Carter to destroy the base, sharing command with Commander Louis Weiss, and accompanied by demolition expert Dr. Daniel Cavanaugh. Their approach takes them into a deadly minefield a game of cat-and-mouse with enemies above and below, with time running out for them to prevent World War III.

    How It Happened, by Michael Koryta
    Rob Barrett, an eager, inexperienced FBI agent with a reputation for masterful interrogation, is sent to Port Hope, Maine—the town he spent his summers in as a child—to assist with getting a statement from drug addict Kimberly Crepeaux, who turned herself in for being an accomplice in a double murder, but has since refused to speak a word. To everyone’s surprise, Crepeaux opens up to Barrett immediately, claiming that local legend Mathias Burke ran down the two victims with his car, then forced Kimberly and fellow addict Cass to dump the bodies in a pond. Barrett is shocked—he knew Burke when they both were kids—and tries to act on the evidence, but is disgraced when all of it turns out to be fiction.  Humiliated, Barrett is reassigned to the Midwest, but when Crepeaux gets out of jail and starts contacting him, he’s lured back to Maine, where his efforts to prove Crepeaux’s story make him  the enemy of the entire town.

    Star of the North, by D.B. John
    Author D.B. John visited North Korea in 2012, and uses the impressions gathered there to craft the tense, detailed story of academic Jenna, born Jee-min in South Korea and now living in the U.S. When Jenna was a child, her twin sister Soo-min was abducted by North Korean commandos and never seen again (the kidnapping part of an orchestrated campaign that mirrors real history). When Jenna meets a high-ranking North Korean official during his diplomatic trip to New York City, she begs him for help finding her sister. Later, Jenna is recruited by the CIA to go undercover to North Korea as a U.N. translator, where she embarks on a dangerous investigation that reveals sides of the reclusive nation many foreigners never see—and learns secrets the regime works very hard to control.

    The post May’s Best New Thrillers appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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