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  • Jeff Somers 4:30 pm on 2017/12/21 Permalink
    Tags: , demon seed, intensity, jane hawk, odd thomas, oontz oontz oontz, phantoms, the silent corner, the whispering room, , watchers   

    5 Books That Remind Us How Great Dean Koontz Really Is 

    If asked to name the bestselling authors of all time, you’d probably cite J.K. Rowling, Agatha Christie, Stephen King, and James Patterson—even William Shakespeare if you’re feeling fancy. One name you might not think of—though he’s one of the most popular authors of the past several decades, with as many as 400 million books sold—is Dean Koontz.

    Not only has Koontz written some stone-cold classics of the horror-suspense genre, he’s created one of its most popular characters in Odd Thomas.

    Most importantly, Koontz is doing some of the best work of his career right now with the Jane Hawk series, including The Silent Corner and The Whispering Room (book three, The Crooked Staircase, is scheduled for a 2018 release). The books follow an FBI agent whose investigation into her husband’s unlikely suicide leads her to a dark conspiracy involving advanced mind-controlling nanotechnology. They’re lean, taut, and filled with the perfect combination of great ideas and thrilling action.

    If that’s not enough to convince you to discover (or rediscover) the Koontz magic, here are five classics that will remind you just how good Dean Koontz can be.

    Demon Seed
    This prescient 1973 classic—completely rewritten in 1997, but we’d recommend the original; they share the same plot, but the rewrite changes the point-of-view completely—is set in a future where homes are monitored and controlled by computer technology and automated machines. Susan is a wealthy recluse living in one such home when a sentient AI created at a nearby university seizes control of her house, imprisoning her inside with the intention of impregnating her with a bio-engineered fetus and transferring its consciousness into the child. Susan must engage in a battle of wits to defeat the AI, called Proteus. It’s creepy and smart, even if the original’s a little dated technology-wise. It’s a great introduction to the Koontz oeuvre.

    Odd Thomas
    Inspiring five sequels (so far), a series of graphic novels, and a film (starring the late Anton Yelchin), Odd Thomas is arguably Koontz’s breakout character. A young man who can see and speak with the dead, as well as perceive the demon-like “bodachs” that swarm around people fated to be involved in disaster and death, Thomas has kept his abilities hidden, trying to live a simple life. The first book is a near-perfect introduction, introducing Odd, his powers, his initially small universe, and the people he relies on. The story is centered on a strange man Odd meets who is surrounded by more bodachs than Odd has ever seen in one place. It’s tense and surprising to follow Odd as he breaks his own rules and investigates, knowing that so many of the creatures means something truly terrible is about to happen.

    Watchers
    More of a straightforward thriller with sci-fi elements, Watchers is the story of Delta Force operative Travis Cornell, who is struggling with depression and existential malaise when he encounters a golden retriever while on a hike near his home. The dog, who Travis names Einstein, demonstrates intelligence far beyond what’s normal for a dog—to the point that the canine is able to communicate the fact that he is being hunted by a horrific entity he calls the Outsider, genetically engineered at the same government lab that birthed Einstein. Travis helps the lovable dog elude the Outsider, and soon finds himself running from federal agents, a mysterious assassin, and the terrifying Outsider. This is a classic: a slam dunk of a thriller with the added bonus of a delightful doggo you’ll wish was yours.

    Phantoms
    Two sisters return to their ski resort hometown to find everyone dead, the deaths bizarre and inexplicable. One victim managed to scrawl a name in blood before passing, which leads to an author of a book about an “ancient enemy” possibly to blame for mass disappearances throughout history. The Enemy, slumbering underground, wakens rarely to feed, but when it does, it consumes every living thing in its path, and is able to absorb the consciousness of its victims and project “phantoms”—probes that take on the form and behavior of those it has consumed. It’s speculated that many mysteries from history, like the Roanoke disaster, were in fact caused by the Enemy. The resolution to this horrifying plot is smarter than you might think, and the concept itself is fantastic.

    Intensity
    Some books take their time setting the table and introducing the characters, setting, and premise. And some books, like this one, start off at the top of the slide and don’t slow down until you make it to the end. Chyna, a college student from an abusive, unhappy home, visits her friend Laura’s house, which she finds to be the exact opposite. While she’s there, a serial killer invades and systematically murders everyone but Chyna, who winds up hidden in the killer’s motor home as he speeds away from the scene. At first, Chyna is intent on revenge, then on rescuing another woman the killer has been holding prisoner . The story take several twists that will leave your head spinning on the way to the surprising final confrontation between Chyna and a killer who constantly seeks out “intense” experiences. It’s a book you won’t be able to get out of your head.

    What’s your favorite Koontz novel?

    The post 5 Books That Remind Us How Great Dean Koontz Really Is appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 5:00 pm on 2017/11/01 Permalink
    Tags: , american drifter, , , , bonfire, boyd morrison, chad michael murray, , , , end game, every breath you take, , heather the totality, , krysten ritter, , , matthew weiner, stephen coonts, the armageddon file, , the people vs. alex cross, the whispering room, , , typhoon fury   

    The Best New Thrillers of November 2017 

    November seems like a cozy month. The leaves turn, tea comes back in a big way, the nights get chilly and the holidays are just around the corner. That just means you need thrillers more than ever, to keep complacency at bay—because a few pretty leaves and some pumpkin spice treats don’t change the fact that the world is an exciting place. These books will serve to remind you just how exciting—while offering hours of entertainment and so much heart-pounding adventure you might not need that hot tea to stay warm after all.

    The People vs. Alex Cross, by James Patterson
    Alex Cross stands accused of murdering followers of Gary Soneji. Suspended from the police force, the evidence looks very bad, and Cross has gone from hero to villain as he’s held up as a prime example of a police force gone turned rogue. Even his own friends and family begin to doubt his version of events as the evidence mounts against him. Despite his troubles, when his old partner John Sampson calls him for help investigating a gruesome video connected to the disappearance of several young girls, Cross can’t refuse, and they begin an illegal investigation that leads them into the darkest shadows of the Internet. As his trial seems to get worse and worse, Cross can’t abandon this case until he’s caught the monster at the other end of it—even if it costs him his career, and possibly his life.

    End Game, by David Baldacci
    Baldacci’s fifth Will Robie novel flips the script a bit on his competent, deadly characters. When Will Robie and Jessica Reel’s legendary handler, Blue Man, goes missing after taking a rare vacation to go fly-fishing in a rural area of Colorado, the two deadly assassins are dispatched to investigate. They find themselves in the town of Grand, a festering place of economic decline, crime, drug wars—and a growing population of militia-style groups. They also find an inadequate police force unable to cope. They quickly realize there’s more going on in Grand than meets the eye, and by the time they realize that even they, two of the most dangerous people in the world, are out-gunned and surrounded it might be too late.

    The Midnight Line, by Lee Child
    Jack Reacher is once again stepping off a bus in a small town in the middle of nowhere, this time in Wisconsin. Stretching his legs, Reacher sees a West Point ring in a pawn shop window and is moved to find out what would make someone sell something so difficult to earn. His quest for the ring owner’s identity leads Reacher to cross several state lines as he assembles a story of service in Afghanistan, opioid addiction, and a huge criminal organization that Reacher, once he’s aware of it, has no choice but to take on. He manages to acquire an ally, however, in the form of the cadet’s brother, a former FBI agent-turned private detective, who’s one of those rare people Reacher feels he can count on, if only for a while. Along the way Reacher traces corporate complicity in the opioid crisis and the desperation that drives people to make bad decisions—all while dishing out violence the way only Jack Reacher can manage.

    Typhoon Fury, by Clive Cussler and Boyd Morrison
    The 12th Oregon Files book once again ties history to the present day. In the waning days of World War II, a U.S. Army Captain stumbles onto a secret Japanese laboratory working on a secret project called Typhoon—a project that seems to produce soldiers who fight on despite gunshot wounds and other injuries. In the present, the Oregon and Juan Cabrillo have been tasked with locating a memory stick containing a list of Chinese secret agents operating in the United States—which leads them to a fight to take possession of the thousands of Typhoon doses in existence, doses that could turn ordinary people into super-soldiers. The stakes get higher the more Cabrillo learns about Typhoon—until a disastrous war is on the verge of breaking out in a world descending into chaos.

    Every Breath You Take, by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke
    Clark and Burke’s fourth entry in their Under Suspicion series finds TV producer Laurie Moran at a professional high: her show Under Suspicion is a ratings smash on a winning streak of solving cold cases. Personally though, Laurie’s not so great. After splitting up with former host Alex Buckley, she’s found a new host she loathes in Ryan Nichols. Nichols suggests a new case for the show: the murder of a wealthy donor to the Metropolitan Museum of Art who was thrown off the roof of the museum at the Met Gala. The chief suspect is her personal trainer—and lover—the much younger Ivan Gray. Ryan works out at the gym Ivan founded (with his lover’s money), and Laurie’s suspicions are exacerbated when she gets a tip that widens the circle of suspects in surprising—and dangerous—ways.

    The Whispering Room, by Dean Koontz
    The sequel to The Silent Corner returns us to the thrilling world of FBI agent Jane Hawk, who learned of a horrifying conspiracy to seize control of the entire world via a terrifying technological breakthrough while investigating her husband’s sudden, inexplicable suicide in the first book. As a result, she knows that when a beloved and mild-mannered schoolteacher commits suicide after inflicting unspeakable carnage on innocents, not all is as it seems. Jane has proof of what’s going on—but she remains #1 on the FBI’s most-wanted list, and the NSA can track anything she does online, so getting the proof into the right hands isn’t easy, especially as she tries to stay one step ahead of her secretive enemies. As she picks up an unlikely ally, Jane remains as kick-butt as before—a warrior, a mother, and a patriot dedicated to truth and justice, no matter how deadly things get.

    Heather, The Totality, by Matthew Weiner
    Weiner, creator and showrunner of Mad Men, has crafted a sharp, character-driven debut novel that examines class and parenting with equal power. Heather, smart and beautiful, has been doted on by her mother since birth, causing a rift between her parents. Heather is also increasingly aware of the gulf between her family, the owners of an upscale apartment building in Manhattan, and the people who work for them—including a construction worker, Bobby, whose appearance isolates him. Heather sees Bobby as a way to bridge the gap, but her father sees a threat in how Bobby looks at his daughter, and tensions rise in complicated ways.

    Bonfire, by Krysten Ritter
    Ritter, already a celebrated actress and producer, dives into fiction with this taut, emotionally brutal debut. Abby Williams escaped the small town of Barrens, Indiana, mean girls, an abusive father, and other ghosts a decade ago. She’s built a life, becoming an environmental litigator in Chicago and living a fast-paced existence. But her work drags her back home when she’s put on a team suing Optimal Plastics, the main employer in Barrens, whose products have poisoned the land and the people. Discovering that Barrens has been largely bought off by the company, Abby finds herself investigating the disappearance of a popular high school girl ten years before, a case that might be connected to Optimal. Abby’s emotional wounds are torn back open by her declining father and the memories she thought she’d escaped forever—but when she learns about a disturbing local ritual known only as “The Game”, things begin to take on an even more sinister, and dangerous, feel.

    The Armageddon File, by Stephen Coonts
    Coonts delivers another headline-inspired story of political shenanigans with a distinct slant in one (conservative) direction. When an inexperienced billionaire wins the presidency, his embittered liberal opponent cries foul and asserts that foreign governments interfered and rigged the election. CIA Director Jake Grafton assigns agent Tommy Carmellini to a special task force to investigate the claims, teaming him with special agent Maggie Miller. They quickly catch a break when a voting machine technician gets arrested and offers to tell them what he knows about voter fraud—but he’s killed before they can talk to him, and that’s just the beginning of a flurry of bodies as someone seeks to squash their investigation by any means necessary. Soon Tommy is dodging bullets himself, which does nothing to dampen his determination to get to the bottom of things.

    American Drifter, by Heather Graham and Chad Michael Murray
    Graham teams up with actor Chad Michael Murray for this romance-tinged thriller about River Roulet, a veteran of the war in Iraq who finds life after combat intolerable due to his PTSD. He moves to Brazil, a country he’s always dreamed of living in, and finds a quantum of solace living a simple life with a few good friends. Then he meets Natal, a beautiful, spirited journalist, and their love is instantaneous and powerful—and complicated, both by River’s ongoing issues and Natal’s relationship with a powerful, violent drug lord. The couple flees into the jungle to escape him, and River is forced to kill one of his henchmen in order to protect his new love, which only brings Brazilian law enforcement against them as well. Graham and Murray have some surprises up their sleeves as River and Natal fight for their love—and their lives.

    What new books are you thrilled to read in November?

    The post The Best New Thrillers of November 2017 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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