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  • Jeff Somers 6:00 pm on 2019/10/07 Permalink
    Tags: thrillers,   

    The Best Thrillers of October 2019 

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    It’s fall, which means we’re heading into prime stay-in-and-read weather. Thankfully, October boasts plenty of great thrillers to keep you busy, from John Grisham’s latest to new entries in the Jack Reacher and Harry Bosch series.

    The Guardians, by John Grisham
    John Grisham returns with a taut thriller that opens with the murder of a small town lawyer in Seabrook, Florida, more than 20 years in the past. The shocking killing offers few clues, but the police eventually arrest Quincy Miller, a young black man who was once the lawyer’s client. There is little doubt that Quincy has been framed, but for decades he languishes in prison without hope—until one day he writes a letter to Guardian Ministries, an innocence group run by attorney and minister Cullen Post, who is also the firm’s only investigator. Post takes on Miller’s case, and soon finds himself enmeshed in a dangerous game as the powerful forces that framed Miller in the first place intend to prevent justice from finally being served—even if it requires another dead lawyer turning up dead.

    Blue Moon, by Lee Child
    Jack Reacher is once again restlessly moving around the country in Child’s 24th novel following the oversized, highly intelligent former army cop. When he happens upon a mugging, he steps in in classic Reacher fashion, saving an elderly man named Aaron Shevick from losing an envelope full of cash being stolen. Reacher helps the old man home and learns the Shevicks are in deep with a loan shark due to their unmanageable medical bills. While in the background a turf war breaks out between the Ukrainian and Albanian gangs, Reacher takes up for the Shevicks, and as the stakes get higher he recruits a few allies and brings the fight to the criminals the way only Jack Reacher can—with surprising wit and bareknuckle action.

    The Night Fire, by Michael Connelly
    Michael Connelly reunites the winning team of Harry Bosch and Renée Ballard, as Bosch attends the funeral of his one-time mentor, John Jack Thompson, and receives a surprising gift from Thompson’s widow: a murder casefile Thompson took with him when he retired from the LAPD two decades before. The cold case inside involves a young man killed in an alley known to be used by drug dealers. Bosch decides to honor his mentor’s legacy and brings the case to Ballard for help—but as they dig into the evidence, Bosch begins to wonder if Thompson made off with case file because he wanted to solve a crime—or cover one up.

    The Deserter, by Nelson DeMille and Alex DeMille
    DeMille, a master of the thriller format, and his son, a screenwriter, combine forces in this smart, explosive thriller. Delta Force Captain Kyle Mercer abandoned his post in Afghanistan and fled, turning up in Venezuela. Scott Brodie, a former soldier who doesn’t like following rules, is teamed with the much more by-the-book Army cop Maggie Taylor. Taylor and Brodie are a mercurial team, but they track Mercer to a compound outside Caracas where he’s training mercenaries, apparently with the full support and knowledge of President Maduro. Brodie may be hot-tempered, but he’s no fool, and he begins to suspect there’s a lot more to Mercer’s story than simple desertion—but he also isn’t certain he can trust Taylor, who he suspects might be reporting back to the CIA.

    Bloody Genius, by John Sandford
    The twelfth Virgil Flowers novel opens with the murder of a flamboyant and famous college researcher, Barthelemy Quill, killed in the school library while engaged in an extramarital encounter; his head is bashed in with his own high-end laptop, which the killer takes. When local cops, led by Sergeant Margaret Trane, don’t move quickly enough, Quill’s wealthy and connected sister gets Flowers assigned to the case, and Trane’s initial annoyance shifts quickly to excitement when Flowers immediately produces results. Soon, however, the pair find themselves with too many possible suspects—was it the killer the (third) wife, in a fit of jealousy? The family of a man who committed suicide after a procedure created by Quill? A rival professor engaged in a public and nasty war of words over the ‛anti-vaxx’ movement with him? A shady business troll who shakes down businesses by claiming ownership of intellectual property? Flowers, of course, will get to the bottom of it all—and in highly entertaining fashion.

    Agent Running in the Field, by John le Carré
    No one writes cerebral, simmering spy thrillers like le Carré. His latest opens with aging SIS agent Nat afraid that at the ripe old age of 47 he’s done running spies across Europe. Instead of being put out to pasture, however, he’s given a surprising and disappointing assignment to run Haven, a slipshod London substation where fifth-rate informers and other low-value assets are managed. He accepts, knowing that he’ll either get the place in shape or wind up closing it—and his career—down. When his second in command quits in anger and an operation seems to fail due to a leak, however, Nat slowly finds himself doing the sort of meticulous spycraft that le Carré describes so well, uncovering a plot jucier than anything Nat has encountered before.

    Imaginary Friend, by Stephen Chbosky
    Stephen Chbosky’s surprising second novel, arriving twenty years after The Perks of Being a Wallflower, is a terrifying nightmare of a tome that will keep your pulse elevated across all 700 of its pages. Single mom Kate moves to a small town in Pennsylvania with her son Christopher to hide from her abusive boyfriend. Christopher, who has a learning disability, begins making some friends at school—and then disappears in the nearby woods for a week. When he returns, he’s physically unharmed, but seems to have changed in other ways—for one thing, he’s no longer suffering from his learning challenges. Soon, Christopher begins to hear a voice telling him to build a treehouse in the woods, while all around him the town descends into chaos as a mysterious illness moves through the population and a host of disturbing entities begin to haunt it. As Christopher’s hold on reality begins to slip, his loss of control infects the writing itself, giving the reader the unsettling feeling that the evil depicted in the story is somehow reaching through the page.

    The Butterfly Girl, by Rene Denfeld
    The second book to feature Naomu Cottle finds the private detective still searching for the sister she lost when she escaped from captivity as a little girl—an effort hindered by her almost complete lack of memories of the experience, including her sister’s name. Cottle begins looking into a rash of murdered street kids, and meets Celia, a young girl living on her own ever since her stepfather was acquitted on charges of molesting her. Celia is terrified that he will now prey on her little sister, which naturally hooks Naomi—as does Celia’s beautiful mind, which sees gorgeous butterflies everywhere. Naomi’s deep dive into the hard truths of child homelessness is bleak, but when she begins to think Celia may be the key to catching a terrifying predator, there’s reason to see some hope amidst all the horror.

    Stealth, by Stuart Woods
    Stuart Woods shakes things up in the 51st Stone Barrington novel, which transports Barrington to Station Two, a training camp for MI6 operatives in the Scottish highlands. Barrington spends time with Dame Felicity Devonshire, head of MI6, and borrows her sports car—which he promptly crashes, driving off a bridge into a river. Barrington is treated by Lieutenant Rose McGill, M.D., and the two begin a romantic affair as Stone is criticized for his recklessness. MI6 is soon apologizing, however, when they determine that someone infiltrated Station Two and shot out the tires of the car. As Barrington juggles two lovers and a personal beef with the number two officer at the camp, things get sticky when Stone and Rose expose a blackmail scheme that leads to a tense confrontation with Russian agents who wouldn’t mind seeing both of them—and Felicity, too—dead.

    What thrillers are chilling you this October?

    The post The Best Thrillers of October 2019 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 5:00 pm on 2019/09/04 Permalink
    Tags: discover new writers, , thrillers,   

    The Best Thrillers of September 2019 

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    Summer’s almost over, but your Year of Reading continues, and we’ve got a fresh batch of nail-biting thrillers to fuel your Autumn, including a new novel featuring Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp, the next in James Patterson’s Instinct series, and a terrifying dive into the violent mind of a insane killer from the writer who gave us The Killing.

    Lethal Agent, by Kyle Mills
    Kyle Mills continues to keep Vince Flynn’s legacy going with the 18th Mitch Rapp novel, set during a divisive and chaotic election year in the United States. While politicians undercut each other and pay more attention to the polls than national security, ISIS engineers a horrifying threat, kidnapping a scientist and forcing him to begin developing Anthrax for an attack against the U.S. that will carried out by a Mexican drug cartel—with the horrible act’s progress chronicled by taunting Internet videos. Rapp and Irene Kennedy work feverishly to stop the plan while the country descends into panic, but the terrorists have a twist up their sleeves in the form of a deadly new pathogen that could decimate the world’s population.

    Killer Instinct, by James Patterson and Howard Roughan
    Patterson and Roughan rejoin Dr. Dylan Reinhart and Detective Elizabeth Needham (featured in the hit 2018 TV series Instinct, inspired by Patterson and Roughan’s Murder Games ) in the wake of a deadly terrorist attack that strikes New York City just as the pair are tackling a murder case with disturbing connections to Reinhart’s shrouded past. In the fog of disaster, Needham becomes a hero—and the next target of the dangerous sociopath behind the attack. Dr. Reinhart is an expert on why people kill, but he quickly finds that this enemy is beyond anything he’s experienced in his career—and he’ll have to figure out what he’s dealing with fast, or an entire city will suffer for it.

    The Titanic Secret, by Clive Cussler and Jack Du Brul
    The eleventh Isaac Bell novel is also a time-traveling Dirk Pitt adventure. In the modern day, Pitt does what he does best: saving lives using an antique submersible under the waters off of New York City. This leads Pitt to a document dating back a century and authored by the famous detective Isaac Bell. Back in 1911, Bell is investigating the deaths of nine men at Little Angel Mine. His investigation leads him to an incredibly rare, powerful, and valuable element called byzanium—and into conflict with sinister forces that will do anything to acquire it. As Bell prepares to stop them, the story spans the globe and time itself. Pitt and Bell, a century apart, race to solve a puzzle that could change the world.

    Cold Storage, by David Koepp
    Screenwriter David Koepp’s first novel is a tense thriller with a sci-fi edge that begins with Skylab crashing to Earth in 1979. The doomed satellite is carrying a mutated fungal organism previously sent into space for study. After the organism crashes down in Australia, it rapidly evolves into a sentient life form that sees every other living thing as food. In 1987, Defense Nuclear Agency operative USAF Maj. Roberto Diaz encounters the horrifying creature after it destroys a remote Australian community, and just barely manages to contain it, burying its last remnant underneath a military installation in Kansas. But then, in 2019, Diaz is woken up by a call he’s been dreading for more than 20 years, telling him the organism may have escaped. Diaz races to Kansas and into a desperate struggle to save every living thing on Earth from certain doom, even a security guard who goes by the nickname Teacake and a single mother named Naomi—employees of that ill-fated rural storage facility—face the terror on a much more intimate level. Unsurprisingly, considering the pedigree of its author (the screenplays for Jurassic Park and Spider-Man, for starters), this 2019 Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers selection unfolds with the furious fun of a summer blockbuster—and more than a few nods to the science-minded thrillers of the late Michael Crichton.

    The Chestnut Man, by Søren Sveistrup
    Søren Sveistrup, the man behind the global TV phenomenon The Killing, delivers a debut thriller with just as much grim, violent style. When a serial killer who brutally dismembers his victims—and leaves dolls made from chestnuts and matchsticks behind—strikes Copenhagen, ambitious detective Naia Thulin is paired with run-down, middle-aged Mark Hess. When a fingerprint on one the of the “chestnut men” matches the daughter of a politician who disappeared the year before, the case leaps into overdrive. The two mismatched detectives must navigate their own personal limitations while doing the hard work of sifting clues, red herrings, and horrifying crime scenes that ramp up the terrifying tension. (This one is also a Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers pick for the fall.)

    29 Seconds, by T.M. Logan
    Logan’s newest asks a simple, terrible question: if, with one 29-second phone call, you could make a person disappear—with zero consequences to yourself—would you do it? That’s the question before Sarah Haywood, a literature professor at Queen Anne’s University in London. Sarah suffers under the sexual harassment of her department head, famed academic and author Alan Hawthorne. Hawthorne’s ability to bring money and publicity to the school means his behavior towards his fellow employees is tolerated or even ignored, and as he grows increasingly aggressive and violent, Sarah sees not just her career but her sanity slipping away. After she rescues a young boy from a terrible situation, by acting on pure instinct, Sarah learns the boy’s father is a man with dark resources and a wicked sense of gratitude; he gives Sarah a burner phone and tells her he owes her a favor. All she has to do is make one short call, give a name, and he’ll ensure person will disappear. Sarah gives in to her most desperate self and gives Hawthorne’s name—but unfortunately, she’ll soon discover there’s no such thing as “zero consequences.”

    The post The Best Thrillers of September 2019 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 2:30 pm on 2019/07/31 Permalink
    Tags: , , , thrillers,   

    The Best New Thrillers of August 2019 

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    August is here, and with it a fresh batch of world-class thrillers to keep your heart pounding through the dog days. This month sees the arrival of the sixth book featuring Lisbeth Salander, the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; the launch of a new series from Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child; the 50th Stone Barrington romp from Stuart Woods; and a creepy dystopian thriller from Rob Hart that might be one of the breakout books of the year.

    The Girl Who Lived Twice, by David Lagercrantz
    The sixth book in the late Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series (and third from David Lagercrantz), opens with Lisbeth Salander nowhere to be found. Mikael Blomkvist goes looking for her even as he investigates the death of a man who doesn’t exist in any records, but whose final words hinted at explosive knowledge involving the most powerful people. Salander has sold her apartment and vanished from the internet entirely, and as the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo secretly stalks her worst enemy—her twin sister Camilla—her fate and Blomkvist’s will once again intertwine.

    The Inn, by James Patterson and Candice Fox
    The remote Inn at Gloucester is former cop Bill Robinson’s dream for retirement: a dozen rooms whose occupants pay rent in exchange for the privacy Bill is more than happy to give them. The tenants include local sheriff Clayton Spears, army vet Nick Jones, and loyal groundskeeper Effie Johnson, and everything is going fine until a gang of criminals move into the Inn, bringing with them drugs, murder, and yet more violence. Bill soon realizes that he can’t escape the darkness of the world, and these fiercely independent people will have to band together to defend their home turf—whatever the cost.

    The Turn of the Key, by Ruth Ware
    Over the course of four explosive novels—In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, The Lying Game, and The Death of Mrs. WestawayWare has established herself as one of the best mystery writers working today, and her streak remains unbroken with this, her fifth novel. Rowan Caine comes across a dream job, working as a nanny in a posh estate in the Scottish highlands outfitted as a “smart” home. The family is wealthy and the children are adorable; Rowan can’t believe her luck. Yet we can’t ignore the fact that she’s narrating this story from prison, where’s she’s awaiting trial for a child’s murder. Even as she recounts the bizarre and disturbing story, Rowan is trying to solve her own mystery, piecing together the chaotic events—the frequent long absences of the parents, the increasingly disturbing malfunctioning of the home’s technology, and the bizarre turn of behavior in the two small girls she was hired to care for. All Rowan knows for sure is that she isn’t guilty—but can readers trust her?

    Old Bones, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
    Preston and Child promote archaeologist Nora Kelly from key supporting character in their Special Agent Pendergast books to the main character of her own series. Kelly learns of the existence of a diary kept by the wife of George Donner (of Donner Party fame), and of the possibility suggested by the diary of a heretofore unknown third camp set up by members of the ill-fated expedition. As Kelly searches for evidence of this huge historical find, fellow Pendergast alum FBI agent Corrie Swanson works a murder case with a link to the Donner Party as well. It isn’t long before the two women combine forces to solve a typically twisty Preston/Child mystery.

    Outfox, by Sandra Brown
    FBI special agent Drex Easton is obsessed with a serial killer who has been stalking wealthy young women for decades, never leaving a clue behind. When he finally gets a break and thinks he’s identified the killer, he moves in next door to his suspect. The man calling himself Jasper Ford may or may not be a murderer, but Drex finds himself smitten with the man’s much younger wife, Talia. As he works the case, Drex falls in love, a circumstance that begins to adversely affect the investigation and threaten the lives of Drex and his co-workers. Meanwhile, a  rival at the bureau works to shut Drex’s case down, setting the clock ticking and setting the stage for another of the intense finales Brown excels at orchestrating.

    Contraband, by Stuart Woods
    Woods’ 50th Stone Barrington novel finds the detective-turned-attorney in fine form, vacationing on a yacht off the coast of Florida. When a small plane crashes into the water nearby, Barrington does what he always does: he dives in to help, literally. Barrington rescues the pilot, Al Dix, and notices a large amount of luggage in the drink. As Dix recovers in Key West, Barrington meets the beautiful police officer investigating the crash, Max Crowley, but the case takes a turn when the mysterious luggage vanishes without a trace, and Dix refuses to say what might have been in it, then disappears himself—as does the plane itself. With nothing to go on to solve the mystery, Barrington heads to New York, where he is asked by new friend Robbie Calder for some help obtaining a divorce from her violent husband. When Calder’s husband turns up dead alongside one of Robbie’s friends, things look grim for Barrington on two fronts—until he discovers a connection between the missing luggage and this new problem.

    The Perfect Wife, by J.P. Delaney
    Abbie Cullen-Scott was a loving mother, an adventurous spirit and surfer, and a celebrated artist; in the words of her husband, tech genius Tim Scott, she was “the perfect wife.” When she disappears, Tim is a prime suspect, but no charges are brought. Five years later, Abbie wakes up in a hospital room—but she’s changed. Tim has spent the intervening years pouring the immense resources of his company into creating a “companion robot” programmed with Abbie’s memories and personality. As this Abbie investigates her own disappearance, she questions whether she can trust her husband and is troubled by the nature of her existence; she isn’t human, even if she has a human’s memories. Unlocking the truths hidden inside each of these mysteries is hard, but Abbie persists, slowly making her way toward a twisty and emotionally powerful climax.

    The Russia Account, by Stephen Coonts
    When CIA Director Jake Grafton discovers a small Estonian bank is laundering huge amounts of money, he dispatches Tommy Carmellini to investigate. When Tommy brings in a Russian oligarch with ties to Vladimir Putin, Grafton authorizes an interrogation at a CIA safe house. There, they learn the operation is much bigger than suspected, involving politicians and investors in a grand scheme to destabilize all of the Western world by destroying people’s confidence in concept of money itself. When Grafton finds himself the target of an assassin as a result, former thief Carmellini has to get to the bottom of a massive conspiracy before it’s too late—for him and for the world.

    The Whisper Man, by Alex North
    In the town of Featherbank, a little boy disappears after reporting that a man came to his window and whispered to him. That’s the precise M.O. of Frank Carter, known as The Whisper Man—but Carter’s been in jail for twenty years. Detective Inspector Amanda Beck calls in the policeman who put Carter away, Pete Willis, to consult on the case. Meanwhile, a grieving widower moves to town with his young son, a boy with an invisible friend. The child complains about being afraid of the boy under the floor—and when he starts to hear whispers and an attempt is made to lure the boy away from his home, it all seems to connect to Beck’s puzzling investigation. Part procedural, part ghost story, part haunted house tale, this gripping thriller will keep you riveted.

    The Warehouse, by Rob Hart
    Rob Hart, best known for the Ash McKenna series, offers up a chilling and plausible vision of our corporate-run future, lurking the logical end of our current drive towards deregulation and privatization. After taking over the Federal Aviation Administration from the government, a familiar mega-corporation known as Cloud dominates commerce and labor to a frightening extent. In essence, the world has been turned into a huge open-air mall… run by Cloud. It is in this future where three stories converge: that of Gibson Wells, the dying founder of the company, who defends his legacy; Paxton, a former competitor turned Cloud employee living and working at one of the company’s self-sustaining facilities; and Zinnia, a corporate spy who sees Paxton as an asset and uses his attraction to her in pursuit of her own ends. Detailed worldbuilding makes this one feel nightmarish and all too real, but the thrilling plot keeps you turning pages anyway.

    Which thriller are you looking forward to this August?

    The post The Best New Thrillers of August 2019 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 2:00 pm on 2019/07/29 Permalink
    Tags: , , james patterson week, thrillers   

    Explore the Many Worlds of James Patterson 

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    While other writers may be satisfied working in one genre, for years James Patterson has been quietly taking over every single literary category in the bookstore. With boundless energy, a unique imagination, and a list of dependable writing partners, Patterson likely has written a book for just about every reader out there, no matter their literary taste. As a result, Patterson books make ideal gifts, too. Here’s a quick guide to the ideal Patterson book for every sort of reader—which should be a great help as you search for new reads during James Patterson Week, July 29-August 6, when all James Patterson books are buy one, get one free at Barnes & Noble (in-stores and online, full details here).

    For the Patterson Newbie

    Along Came a Spider
    If you’ve somehow made it through life without ever reading a James Patterson book, choosing one can be a bit overwhelming—the man literally has hundreds of them in circulation, with dozens more arriving every year. Many suggest Along Came a Spider as the ideal Patterson starting point. It was his eighth novel, and the first to feature breakout character Alex Cross. It’s a compelling slow-burn thriller, and the first book where Patterson’s mastery of character and pacing came together to create a breakout, series-launching classic. If you’re wondering whether you’ll enjoy Patterson, this book is your litmus test.

    For Thriller Fans

    Ambush, by James Patterson and James O. Born
    If you’re looking for thrills at a relentless pace instead of slow-burn suspense and mystery, Patterson’s newer series are a better choice—including the Michael Bennett series. In the 11th entry, Detective Michael Bennett receives an anonymous tip that leads him into an attempted assassination. He realizes it’s the work of a talented and mysterious professional, who soon targets Bennett’s family while serving up perfect red herrings clues to keep Bennett and his fellow cops chasing their tails. Bennett puts the pieces together while attempting to protect everyone he cares about, realizing rival cartels battling to corner the city’s drug traffic may have set aside their differences to take out the largest obstacle in their way: Detective Michael Bennett himself.

    For Thriller Fans Who Want a Standalone

    The Cornwalls Are Gone, by James Patterson and Brendan DuBois
    If you don’t want to commit to a series with double-digit books or dive into the middle of one and play catch-up, Patterson also writes excellent standalones. This one tells the story of army intelligence officer Amy Cornwall, skilled at dealing with scenarios that would make most people blanch. But nothing in her professional career has prepared her for the sense of dread she experiences when she comes home to find her husband and young daughter missing. Contacted by the kidnapper, she is told there is only one way to save them: she must somehow secure the release of an unnamed captive. She has two days to accomplish her mission, and if she fails, her family will be killed. Amy has no choice but to go rogue, using her training, contacts, and sense of desperation to find out who took her family and why.

    For Fantasy Fans

    Sophia, Princess Among Beasts, by James Patterson and Emily Raymond
    Patterson’s name is synonymous with thrillers, but he’s branched out into every other conceivable genre—including, most recently, epic fantasy, bringing his trademark tension and thriller grit along for the ride. At the core of this epic fantasy is a mystery that only Sophia, princess of a kingdom under dire threat, can solve. Sophia is smart and capable, beautiful and beloved by the people, and an avid reader who spent long hours as a child reading about a terrible realm filled with monsters. When she discovers that that place—and its resident monsters—are very real, and that an army is marching on her kingdom, Sophia knows it is her duty to protect those who have put their trust in her. Her only hope is to solve an ancient a mystery—if she has time.

    For Young Kids

    No More Monsters Under Your Bed, Jordan Chouteau and Anat Even Or
    James Patterson is a huge leader in the drive to get kids reading more, and he’s shepherded to shelves excellent books for kids of all ages. If you’ve got toddlers at home and you want to encourage them to read more (and get comfortable reading), books like No More Monsters—created under the “James Patterson Presents” imprint—are fun, exciting, and as an added bonus, it might even convince kids to go to bed more easily. The illustrations are a delight, and the positive messages are introduced with a lot of fun. It’ll make your own little monster excited about bedtime and reading!

    For The Voracious Middle Grade Reader

    Laugh Out Loud, by James Patterson Chris Grabenstein and Jeff Ebbeler
    If you know any burgeoning book nerds, you’re going to want to do all you can to encourage that behavior—and Patterson is in your corner. His middle-grade books offer the perfect balance of serious message and plain old fun. This one tells the story of a kid who wants to start a book company for kids, run by kids, and it is bursting with imagination—of course a kid would design a headquarters with a Ferris wheel used in place of an elevator—and references to other books, which will encourage young readers to search out even more great reads.

    For YA Readers

    Maximum Ride
    Young adults who love to read demand interesting stories that don’t talk down to them. Patterson brings his mastery of building tension and plot-twist expertise to this sci-fi YA series (inspired by and connected to his adult novel When the Wind Blows), focused on a “flock” of human-avian hybrids with wings, the results of genetic experiments. The first books kicks off when the youngest member of this ersatz family, Angel, is abducted by a shadowy group, and the rest of the flock must risk everything in order to track down her kidnappers and save her, fighting evil scientists and a group of human-wolf hybrids called Erasers.

    The Confessions series, by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
    Patterson also writes straight-up thrillers for YA audience, so if sci-fi isn’t your bag, the tense, heart-pounding story of Tandy Angel and her family secrets will keep you turning pages well into the night. When Tandy’s parents are murdered, she knows she was the last person to see them, and that she’s the prime suspect. As she investigates on her own, flashes of memory reveal that Tandy has plenty of buried secrets—secrets that mean maybe she can’t even trust herself.

    For True Crime Fans

    Filthy Rich: The Shocking True Story of Jeffrey Epstein, by James Patterson, John Connolly, and Tim Mallo
    If fiction is just too made up for your tastes, Patterson brings his skill at crafting tension and mystery to a non-fiction book exploring someone you’ve likely heard a lot about in recent weeks: infamous alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. Long before fresh charges finally brought the billionaire down, Patterson was on the case, detailing the truly awful, appalling crimes that Epstein is said to have committed—and how he (almost) got away without serious punishment. This is a riveting master-class in true crime writing.

    For History Fans

    The Murder of King Tut, by James Patterson and Martin Dugard
    If you love to learn about distant eras and cultures, this book is your jam. Patterson and co-author Martin Dugard (a historian who also writes for Bill O’Reilly’s popular Killing series), approach the mystery of the famous Egyptian pharaoh’s death as if it was one of the famed author’s crime thrillers, digging through ancient evidence to construct a narrative of passion and betrayal that would rival any modern-day story of power and murder. This is one of those works of history where the process is just as fascinating as the story that emerges, as is the reconstruction of King Tut’s life and the world he inhabited.

    For Straight-Up Sci-Fi Fans

    Humans Bow Down, by James Patterson, Emily Raymond, Jill Dembowski, and Alexander Ovchinnikov
    Looking for a gritty, exciting sci-fi adventure? Patterson does those, too. This dark story is set in a grim future where the war between the machines and humanity has already happened—and humanity lost. The survivors can either do as they’re told, or be banished into the Reserve, where death lurks around every corner. One last leader rallies the remaining people for a final desperate try at freedom—but it might require the least likely alliance of all time. It’s a futuristic story filled with classic Patterson twists.

    For Fans of Romance

    Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas
    If you love a good tear-jerking love story—and think that Patterson only writes gory novels about serial killers—prepare to be pleasantly surprised by his forays into romance. This touching story starts off as a straightforward romance as a woman meets the man of her dreams—until he disappears from her life mysteriously. When the explanation comes, it comes in the form of a diary that is mailed to her, a diary filled with surprises, heartbreak, and a beautiful secret.

    For Horror Fans

    When the Wind Blows
    Patterson’s tale of genetic experiments, serial murders, and shadowy groups roams directly into full-on supernatural horror territory, combining his thriller licks with a wildly inventive (and often truly terrifying) horror aspect. A young veterinarian is trying to move past her husband’s murder, but when more dead bodies turn up she’d swept up into the investigation—and meets a mysterious girl with a shocking secret tied to the growing body count in unimaginable ways.

    For Western Fans

    Texas Ranger
    Like a bit of a drawl and a dash of the Old West in your stories? Look no further. Rory Yates is one of 200 lawmen who have been elevated to the status of Texas Ranger. Fast on the draw and dedicated to the Ranger creed of “never surrender,” Yates’ rise cost him his marriage to schoolteacher Anne. When Yates gets a call from Anne complaining of creepy phone calls and strange objects left at her home, he heads home, only to find his former wife has been brutally murdered. Even worse, Yates is the main suspect, and clearing his name dredges up connections and memories in he’d rather not recall. When a second murder occurs, Yates knows whoever’s responsible is targeting him specifically—and he will need his shooting skills and his reliance on the Ranger code to survive the twisted scheme.

    What’s your favorite James Patterson book?

    The post Explore the Many Worlds of James Patterson appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 5:00 pm on 2019/07/25 Permalink
    Tags: devil in a blue dress, , , michael tolkin, , once upon a time in hollywood, quentin tarantino, , the player, thrillers, tinsel town blues,   

    Your Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Reading List 

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    Every new film by Quentin Tarantino—nine of them so far—is an event. Especially as he continues to affirm that he plans to only make 10, leading us to wonder what the acclaimed director might do with the rest of his life. The answer might be “write novels,” actually; Tarantino says he developed his latest film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as a novel for five years before realizing it worked much better as a screenplay.

    The literary beginnings of the film—which stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a fading TV star, Brad Pitt as his loyal stunt double, and Margot Robie as the tragic figure of Sharon Tate, is set in a 1969 Hollywood about to be rocked by the Manson murders—make sense. There’s a strong tradition of grimy, noir-ish crime fiction set in Tinseltown, offering endless inspiration and plenty of shocking, violent imagery. Here’s a short list of Hollywood-set (or -themed) crime fiction to get you into the right head space for the ninth film from Quentin Tarantino. (And just a note: We’re steering clear of true-crime accounts of the Manson murders here—that’s a different listicle altogether.)

    Get Shorty, by Elmore Leonard
    Elmore Leonard was a master of minimalist crime stories with crackling dialog and smart, zippy plots. Get Shorty is easily one of his best, examining the often hilarious intersection of organized (and not-so-organized) crime and Hollywood and its glamorous (and not-so-glamorous) denizens. As small-time legbreaker Chili Palmer pursues Harry Zim, producer of bottom-of-the-barrel schlock, he starts to imagine he might be a producer himself, and goes about trying to convince megastar actor Michael Weir of that fact (Weir is the titular “Shorty,” a character reportedly based on Tom Cruise). In a sublime meta moment, it was adapted into a hit film a few years later. Both book and film served to set the tone of Hollywood mockery that Tarantino’s film touches on.

    Hollywood Homicide, by Kellye Garrett
    Garrett brings a modern sheen to the Hollywood crime story via Dayna “Day” Anderson, a struggling actress very familiar with the lower levels of economic hardship. When she runs out of gas and sees a billboard offering a $15,000 reward for information regarding a hit-and-run murder, she figures it’s better than chasing acting roles she won’t get and launches her private eye career with the help of a few friends who are also enmeshed in the Dream Factory. The fresh take just proves that the classic elements of a Hollywood mystery—the rotten glitz, and cynical glamour—are still potent forces for a modern mystery.

    Hollywood Tough, by Stephen J. Cannell
    Stephen J. Cannell, godfather of many beloved television shows (including 21 Jump Street, The A-Team, and The Greatest American Hero) was also a pretty prolific novelist, and his third book in the series following Detective Shane Scully is one of his best. Weaving together a plot by organized crime to take over the craft unions in Hollywood, a slowly collapsing big-budget film project, and a sting operation conducted by the LAPD, Cannell’s genuinely twisty yarn offers a satirical take on Hollywood that has the ring of authenticity—no surprise, considering Cannell had already logged more than three decades as a producer by the time of its writing. What sets the novel apart is that it’s not just about a crime that happens to have been committed (and thus investigated) in Hollywood, it about crimes that could only be committed in Hollywood.

    The L.A. Quartet, by James Ellroy
    Tarantino’s film promises to dig into the dark side of Hollywood, with Charles Manson, Sharon Tate, and Roman Polanski as primary characters—which makes Ellroy’s L.A. Quartet (The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, and White Jazz) must reads alongside the movie. Although the plots concern events occurring a decade earlier, familiarizing yourself with Ellroy’s seedy Hollywood is the ideal way to prepare for another peek at the seamy underbelly of the dream factory. It’s filled with corrupt police, perverted criminals, and decent people who’ve been fed to and ground down by the machinery of power. There’s not much glamour here; Ellroy fills that vacuum with powerful, punchy writing.

    Money Shot, by Christa Faust
    There’s an old saying about film production teams: the A-team does big features, the B-team does straight to video, and the C-team does porn (the D-team, the joke goes, does television). Faust is one of the most interesting writers working today: having tackled the novelization of Snakes on a Plane, she became the first woman to be published by Hard Case Crime with this 2008 novel (which won the 2009 Crimespree Award for Best Original paperback). The story’s brutal, for sure. It’s concerned with Gina Moretti, a former adult star who thinks she’s been lured into doing one last scene, but is instead beaten, raped, and left for dead. The subsequent fast-paced, gritty investigation she launches reveals ties to human trafficking and the international sex trade. Uncompromising in its vision, this is the Hollywood crime story you need, although perhaps not the Hollywood crime story you want.

    The Song is You, by Megan Abbott
    If you’re only familiar with Abbott’s more recent novels set in contemporary times, get thee to her classic noir The Song is You, which seems so old-fashioned at first blush, it’s easy to miss its electrifying subversions. Set in Golden Age Hollywood, it’s got all the boozy, jazzy earmarks of a period piece, aping the bleak mood and decadent style of the time. The gender roles the characters fall into seem traditional as well—the protagonist is a “fixer” for the film studios, taking care of business when scandals arise, and he’s haunted by his involvement in covering up the disappearance of a young starlet. Dig deeper, and you find Abbott knows exactly what she’s doing, and what tropes she’s playing with. The end result is an Ellroy-esque twister that revels in the debauchery of old Hollywood, but with razor-sharp purpose—which might remind you of a certain filmmaker.

    The Player, by Michael Tolkin
    Michael Tolkin’s brilliant, subversive novel—made into a brilliant, subversive film by Robert Altman—is itself a bit of a period piece these days, but it’s still as sharp and biting as ever. Griffin Mill is the self-absorbed, self-satisfied Hollywood executive who is so close to claiming control over his studio he can taste it—all he needs are a few more hits and to avoid makinging a single mistake as he navigates the etiquette and jockeying of the power lunch set. When he starts to get threatening postcards from a disgruntled writer, he opts to launch his own sketchy, sloppy investigation rather than call attention to the potential embarrassment—and a dark comedy of Hollywood superficiality and moral bankruptcy commences. This book will likely be the perfect followup to Tarantino’s film, offering a clear-eyed look at Hollywood in the 1990s.

    The Little Sister, by Raymond Chandler
    You can’t discuss noir without at least one Chandler book entering the mix. The Little Sister isn’t his best-known, but it’s a novel directly inspired by his own experiences working as a screenwriter in Hollywood—years that didn’t exactly leave Chandler with a good opinion of the place. The story involves movie stars and gangsters and Philip Marlowe being followed by a series of ice pick murders, and is told with Chandler’s usual disdain for coherent plotting. The story features characters who are clearly based on real people—legendary writer and director Billy Wilder does not fare well—and is soaked in Chandler’s world-weary love/hate relationship with Hollywood and Los Angeles.

    Devil in a Blue Dress, by Walter Mosley
    Offering a different perspective on mid-century Hollywood, Mosley’s debut introduces Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins, a down-on-his-luck laborer in desperate need of money in 1948 Los Angeles. He’s hired to find a white woman who has gone missing. A he becomes embroiled in a complex web of crime and duplicity—and is framed for murder along the way—Rawlins undergoes a transformation, evolving into the classic noir detective right before readers’ eyes in a story that puts the race issues of the time (and ours) front and center. Tarantino’s had an inconsistent dialogue with issues of race across his films; adding the perspective of one of the best black crime writers of all time might offer some context before your viewing of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

    Epiphany Jones, by Michael Grothaus
    Grothaus’s debut novel is the outlier on this list: not so much a noir story or even a crime novel as it is a fascinating character study. Which isn’t to say there isn’t a criminal element here—the main character, Jerry, suffers from psychotic delusions in the form of Figments—people who seem perfectly real to him but aren’t really there—and is shocked when a co-worker at the Art Institute of Chicago is murdered and a painting by Van Gogh is stolen. Jerry is more shocked to come home to find the painting in his apartment, and to discover that one of his Figments, Epiphany Jones, is actually a real person. Epiphany has framed Jerry for the crimes in order to compel him to help her track down a sex trafficking ring that serves the biggest Hollywood power players. It’s a weird, grim, and hilarious book that offers a satirical look at modern celebrity culture (not to mention a stark connection to recent headlines about powerful men who exploit young women) without skimping on the crime story aspects of its plot. Considering that Tarantino often dives into weird, metafictional satire in the midst of his stories, this one should fit right in.

    What are your favorite Hollywood crime stories?

    The post Your <i>Once Upon a Time in Hollywood</i> Reading List appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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