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  • Jeff Somers 6:00 pm on 2018/05/07 Permalink
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    10 of The Best Political Thrillers Ever 

    When a former president writes a book, the world pays attention. When a former president writes a novel, things get really interesting. Partnering with none other than James Patterson, one of the greatest thriller writers of all time, former president Bill Clinton has cowritten The President is Missing, in which the president of the United States disappears, shocking the world and setting in motion an unpredictable swirl of events. The book is full of the sort of details only a president would know. and considering its unique combination of an expert author and a man who knows all the inside scoop (he had access to the NSA and CIA for years, after all), we could not be more excited. Here are ten more incredible political thrillers you’ll want to read next.

    House of Cards, by Michael Dobbs
    The book that inspired the British TV show that in turn inspired Netflix’s very first original series, this is the story of Francis Urquhart, Chief Whip, a cynical, manipulative politician determined to become Prime Minister. He’s willing to use every secret he knows, every pressure point he can find, and every dirty trick in the book to secure his own rise to power—and in the process confirms just about every dark and terrible thing you thought you knew about politics. Dobbs drew on his extensive real-life experience in British politics for the books, and the result is an electrifying vision of how exceedingly violent governing can be behind closed doors.

    The Manchurian Candidate, by Richard Condon
    Condon’s 1959 novel is a paranoid classic, born at the beginning of the Cold War, that continues to influence people today (the fact that Homeland has a similar concept is a testament to the evergreen nature of the device). Soldiers captured during the Korean War are tortured and brainwashed, and one, Shaw, is programmed to fall into a hypnotic state when he sees his trigger—the Queen of Diamonds during a game of solitaire. He’s programmed to forget his orders once he regains consciousness, and thus is the perfect hidden assassin, who can pass any interrogation or test. His own ruthless, power-hungry mother is his KGB handler, and relays orders to assassinate the president in order to secure the office for the vice president, who will order martial law and request emergency powers as a puppet of the Soviets. It’s creepy, tense, and still shockingly modern—and in a bizarre real-life twist, some believe author Condon subtly cribbed from Robert Graves’ I, Claudius, number 8 on this list.

    The Constant Gardener, by John le Carré
    You might think of le Carré as a writer of espionage novels, but politics encompasses espionage and crime as well as law-making and foreign policy. His novels are as much about the secret tension between ruling and governing, and the crimes committed in the name of patriotism and realpolitik, as they are about skulduggery and moles. In The Constant Gardener, an unremarkable man with a remarkable wife is jolted out of a mediocre political career when his spouse is killed, and he determines to find out why she was murdered, and by whom. For the first time in his life he’s willing to take chances—and if there’s one thing the secretive world of politics can’t stand, it’s people who have nothing to lose. The end result is a pitch-perfect thriller.

    The Day of the Jackal, by Frederick Forsyth
    The Cold War politics of this classic thriller are long gone, but Forsyth’s novel (winner of the 1972 Edgar Award for Best Novel) still carries the punch of a meticulously researched story set in a very real world. It’s a novel of agonizing anticipation: first, as we follow the slow, careful preparations and planning of the titular Jackal, hired to assassinate the President of France; then, as we follow along with the equally painstaking detective work of the man charged with identifying the Jackal as time runs out. The twin stories of detective and assassin remain separate right up until the moment the Jackal takes his shot, and it’s this element of cat-and-mouse between a devious killer and a brilliant agent—plus the elevated stakes of global politics—that make this a book that still resonates today. Forsyth was working in Paris when he wrote it, and used that firsthand knowledge to choose his setting. In fact, rumor has it the assassin’s sniping spot can still be located—with the precise view described in the text.

    The Hunt for Red October, by Tom Clancy
    Clancy’s breakout novel is set at the hot height of the Cold War, but it remains a classic political thriller because it perfectly combines thrilling spycraft, visceral action, an insider’s view of behind-closed-doors political maneuvering, and global stakes. Clancy’s expert grasp of each of these aspects makes this story of a rogue Soviet submarine captain planning to steal the experimental sub he’s been assigned to and defect to the West—and the young CIA analyst, Jack Ryan, who tries desperately to convince everyone from the president down that this isn’t the Soviet Union starting World War III—just about the Platonic ideal of a political thriller. Rumor is Clancy’s grasp of top-secret technology rattled the FBI enough that they paid him a visit, and anyone who reads the book will believe it.

    The Parallax View, by Loren Singer
    Singer’s 1970 novel, which was adapted into a film starring Warren Beatty that’s become a cult favorite, is delightfully terrifying. A journalist witnesses the assassination of a president, and years later discovers that the other people who were eye witnesses to the event are being killed off in mysterious ways. His investigation leads him to the Parallax Corporation, which trains political assassins as part of a massive conspiracy to control the world—a conspiracy that truly goes all the way to the top. The book’s plot is complex, but the sense that everything is not right with the world, that things are happening beyond our control or comprehension is, sadly, as applicable today as it was back then. Any time we lose faith in our leaders and entertain the notion that the country has been bamboozled on a national scale, this book should be pulled off the shelf and rediscovered.

    Absolute Power, by David Baldacci
    Baldacci’s audacious 1996 novel pivots off a salacious moment wherein a professional thief, having broken into the luxurious home of a billionaire, stumbles onto a two-way mirror giving him a view of the billionaire’s wife and the President of the United States having a affair. The sex turns rough, and the President’s Secret Service detail bursts in and kills the woman. The thief just barely manages to escape, but the Secret Service pins the murder on him, and a game of cat and mouse ensues as the president and his team try to cover up the truth. While conceived during the go-go Clinton years, this is another evergreen political thriller that combines a thriller plot with a plausible look at what authority decoupled from responsibility might look like.

    I, Claudius, by Robert Graves
    A historical novel? True, but also a razor-sharp story of political maneuvering in ancient Rome that involves not just murder and conspiracy, but also leverage, fake news, real policy, and power brokers. Claudius, who survives the violent reign of his nephew Caligula because he’s old and stammers—making everyone assume he’s no threat—is proclaimed emperor after Caligula’s well-deserved assassination, then proves to be smarter than anyone suspected. What makes this and its sequel, Claudius the God, so amazing is that Claudius—despite his intelligence and desire to be a “good” emperor with the ultimate goal of re-establishing the republic—is terribly flawed, continuously abusing his power in the most selfish of ways.

    Lions of Lucerne, by Brad Thor
    Thor’s first Scott Harvath novel opens with a bang: former Navy SEAL and current Secret Service agent Harvath is overseeing the president’s security detail in Park City, Utah, when a brazen attack leaves thirty other agents dead—and the president kidnapped. Harvath, disgraced and confused, goes on a one-man mission to piece together what happened and why, while the United States dithers and hesitates to meet the kidnappers’ demands, resulting in a presidential finger being mailed to the White House. While a bit more oriented towards the thriller side of things, that doesn’t mean Thor lacks a fine touch when it comes to the political side, which he renders in an equally exciting manner, leading to an explosive ending that’s not to be missed.

    The Ghost Writer, by Robert Harris
    Harris’ novel is a master class in tension. Former British Prime Minister Adam Lang is very late in turning his memoir in to his publisher—in part because his long-time collaborator and assistant has died in a terrible accident. To get the book back on schedule, a professional ghostwriter is hired to complete the manuscript. The ghostwriter struggles to figure out what’s true and what’s not so true in Lang’s notes, and then stumbles on evidence that implies the dead collaborator was actually murdered. As Lang is charged with war crimes, the stakes and the tension keep rising and the ghostwriter—appropriately never named—finds himself ensnared in the very dirty world of power and politics.

    The post 10 of The Best Political Thrillers Ever appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • 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.

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  • BN Editors 2:18 pm on 2018/03/30 Permalink
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    The President Is Missing! Watch the Trailer for the Thrilling New Novel by James Patterson and Bill Clinton 

    The White House is the home of the President of the United States, the most guarded, monitored, closely watched person in the world. So how could a U.S. President vanish without a trace? And why would he choose to do so?

    Bestselling author James Patterson and President Bill Clinton team up for The President Is Missing, the biggest thriller of the year. Watch the book trailer below, and place your preorder now.

    The President Is Missing will be published on June 4, 2018.

    The post The President Is Missing! Watch the Trailer for the Thrilling New Novel by James Patterson and Bill Clinton appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 4:00 pm on 2018/03/01 Permalink
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    The Best New Thrillers of March 2018 

    March is a naturally thrilling month, what with all the “Ides of March” killing Caesar business, so we’ve assembled a reading list to match: this month we’ve got a red-hot new one from James Patterson and Marshall Karp, another Kurt Austin adventure from Clive Cussler, and a darkly entertaining debut from BBC news veteran Alice Feeney.

    Red Alert, by James Patterson and Marshall Karp
    The fifth NYPD Red book pulls out all the stops, depicting the 1% of Manhattan’s elite behaving badly—and being murdered at an alarming rate. When a film-maker’s sex games go wrong and end with a corpse and a charity function is bombed in the same night, Detectives Zach Jordan and Kylie MacDonald of the NYPD Red division respond, putting aside the romantic and sexual tension between them to protect the rich and famous. But as their investigation deepens even they’re shocked at the level of depravity and corruption they discover—and when their search for the truth puts powerful people in danger, they’ll have no one but each other to rely on as they seek to do their duty, no matter the personal cost, even as more bodies turn up.

    The Escape Artist, by Brad Meltzer
    Meltzer offers up a riveting launch of a new series starring Jim “Zig” Zigarowski, a mortician working top-secret cases for the government at Dover Air Force base. When a military plane crashes in the Alaskan wilderness without explanation, he gets the body to examine, and is shocked to hear that it’s Nola Brown, a woman who saved his daughter’s life when they were children. When Zig examines the body, however, certain identifying marks are missing—and there’s a note in the woman’s stomach addressing a warning to Nola, convincing him that this isn’t Nola Brown at all. Zig sets off to find out where the real Nola is, leading him into a maze of government conspiracy that goes back a century—and possibly into more danger than he bargained for.

    The Rising Sea, by Clive Cussler and Graham Brown
    Cussler and Brown’s latest Kurt Austin adventure offers up a climate change-themed story with a twist. Sea levels are rising, threatening to flood the coastal areas of the world and cause unimaginable death and destruction, but it’s not due to global warming. A secretive Chinese group is deep-water mining a substance known as Golden Adamant, a “metamaterial” whose unique properties allow for the development of powerful technologies, and a side-effect of the mining process is the release of huge quantities of water previously trapped in mineral deposits. It’s up to Austin and the rest of the National Underwater and Marine Agency’s special assignments team to stop this cataclysmic process—and find themselves facing some completely unexpected threats in the process.

    The Bishop’s Pawn, by Steve Berry
    The 13th Cotton Malone novel finds the skilled government operative trapped between the present and the past. Nearly two decades ago, a younger, less-experienced Malone was given an assignment to dive into the waters off the Florida coast to retrieve a stolen coin worth millions—only to discover he’d been lied to. The case also contained documents related to an FBI program somehow involved with the assassination of Martin Luther King. In the present day, Malone receives a note saying simply “Fifty years have passed. Bring them,” and he heads to Atlanta for a secret meeting, leaning in to a dangerous feud between the FBI and the Justice Department involving explosive secrets from the past that could change the way everyone looks back at history—if Malone can survive.

    The Kremlin Conspiracy, by Joel C. Rosenberg
    Rosenberg’s newest is a nail-biter of a spy story, tracking the parallel careers of Russian attorney Oleg Kraskin, trusted son-in-law to the devious and dangerous Russian President Aleksandr Luganov, and Marcus Ryker, whose Marine heroism led him into the Secret Service and eventually the President’s personal detail. As Luganov plots to reassert Russian might by invading the defenseless countries of the Baltic—using nuclear weapons if need be—Ryker and Kraskin are right in the mix of things on opposite sides. As the crisis quickly swells to apocalyptic proportions it becomes clear that the one thing Luganov didn’t count on was Ryker, who comes back from a family tragedy with nothing to lose, and willing to put everything on the line to prevent disaster.

    Sometimes I Lie, by Alice Feeney

    Amber Reynolds wakes up in a coma, her body paralyzed and her memories muddled, in this taut debut. Slowly, pieces of her life come back to her—her anxiety over her radio presenter job, her suspicions that her husband Paul has fallen in love with her own sister Claire and may have been unfaithful. As she tries to piece everything together to figure out what happened to her, events from her childhood seep back into her consciousness, indicating that this is all part of something much larger—and much darker—than a straying husband and family drama. Amber’s own mind plays tricks on her as she lays helplessly, struggling to remember, and no one who enters the room, including a mysterious man Amber doesn’t recognize, is aware that she can hear everything they say.

    The Flight Attendant, by Chris Bohjalian
    Cassie Bowden is a globe-trotting flight attendant with a serious drinking problem that often finds her waking up in strange places with no memory of her adventures. When she meets a handsome financier on a flight to Dubai, she isn’t surprised to wake up in swanky hotel room with him the next day, head pounding—but she is surprised to find the bed soaked in blood and her one night stand dead via assasination. The assassin, Elena, spared Cassie in a moment of sympathy—but has regrets in the bright light of day. Cassie is used to lying to cover up her drunken exploits, and she goes into deception overdrive to save her own skin, navigating suspicious police and a professional killer who is intent on correcting what she sees as a mistake in momentary weakness.

    The Sandman, by Lars Kepler
    The fourth Detective Inspector Joona Linna novel focuses on a serial murderer named Jurek Walter, convicted of two murders but suspected in dozens more and serving a sentence in a high-security psychiatric ward. When one of his victims, Mikael Kobler-Frost, suddenly reappears after he escapes captivity, he confirms Joona’s long-held suspicion that Walter didn’t work alone. Not only does Mikael describe his captor—referring to him as The Sandman—he insists that his sister, Felicia, is still alive and being held as well. In order to discover the location of The Sandman, Joona’s colleague Inspector Saga Bauer is sent into the psyche ward to pose as a patient and get information out of Walter, setting off a tense battle of wits as time slowly runs out for the poor girl.

    The Girl in the Moon, by Terry Goodkind
    Angela Constantine, born to a drug addict and abused almost from birth—is a survivor of horrific violence in her childhood—and she has the rare ability to identify killers simply by gazing into their eyes. Spurred by her bitter experience, she uses this ability to find men who abuse women and execute them with serious, cold brutality, making them suffer for their crimes before disposing of their bodies in a pit under her house. When events make Angela the target of a violent terrorist group, she learns of their terrifying plans and realizes she might not just be the only person who knows what they intend to do, she might also be the only person in the world capable of stopping them. Using her special ability and a lifetime of rage against those who would victimize others, Angela is the world’s only hope.

    Tangerine, by Christine Mangan
    This dark throwback of a story focuses on the easily manipulated Alice and the dominant, vivacious Lucy, who met at college in the 1950s and became extremely close friends—until a man came between them and a tragic accident that might have been no such thing drives them apart. Years later, the women meet again in Tangier, where Alice has moved with her new husband, John. Alice is miserable in the foreign land, Lucy loves it. When Alice begins to suspect John may have cheated, her emotional fragility gives Lucy an opening to reclaim her place as Lucy’s BFF—and the rekindled friendship quickly moves the women into a familiar pattern, a pattern that ended in tragedy before, and might end in much worse this time around.

    The post The Best New Thrillers of March 2018 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 3:00 pm on 2018/02/01 Permalink
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    The Best Thrillers of February 2018 

    It’s no longer such a ‛new’ year; it’s incredible to think that we’re already a month in. While the increasing tempo of life means that the days speed by faster and faster, there are advantages as well as disadvantages: for example, the sheer number of truly excellent thrillers being written and published. This month is no exception, with a bumper crop of heart-pounding, sweat-inducing stories about spies, killers, flawed heroes, and plots for world domination from some of the best writers working today.

    Fifty Fifty, by James Patterson and Candice Fox
    Patterson and Fox’s second foray into the world of Detective Harriet “Harry” Blue centers on Harry’s brother, Sam, who is on trial for the murder of three young students. Things look grim for Sam, but Harry is convinced of his innocence and not shy about working to prove it. Her determination gets her reassigned to the tiny outback town of Last Chance Valley, population 75. There, Harry discovers a diary that seems to chart a madman’s plan to massacre the entire town, one citizen at a time—and the first murder occurs shortly after her arrival. As her brother’s case comes to pivot on a woman who holds the key to his guilt or innocence—a woman being held hostage—Harry has to find a way to stop an entire town from being killed while working to clear her brother’s name.

    Look for Me, by Lisa Gardner
    In Gardner’s ninth D.D. Warren novel, foster teen Roxanna Baez is the only survivor when her family is gunned down in their home. Seeking answers to the massacre, Warren pursues the girl—and so does Flora Dane. Dane survived more than a year of torture and abuse when she was kidnapped by a sadistic trucker, and now dedicates herself to helping other victims, and she sees a fellow survivor in Roxanna. Warren and Dane grudgingly admit to a mutual goal and work the pursuit in their own ways, slowly uncovering the shocking truth behind the murders—and why teenager Roxanna feels like she has absolutely nothing to lose.

    The Hush, by John Hart
    Hart returns to the story of Johnny Merrimon, who at the age of 12 solved his sister and father’s murder and became something of a celebrity in the process in The Last Child. Ten years later, Johnny now lives on the valuable plot of acreage in North Carolina known as Hush Arbor, but he’s cash poor, battling a suit challenging his ownership, and dealing with acts of inexplicable violence and murder occurring on on the land. Desperate, the supernaturally-healing and gifted Johnny seeks out his old friend and lawyer Jack Cross—because it’s not just legal problems that Johnny’s dealing with. It’s the cold, dark presence he senses on his property, land that was once sacred. But Johnny won’t tell Jack everything,

    Agent in Place, by Mark Greaney
    In the seventh Gray Man novel, Court Gentry is now-former CIA, working as a freelance mercenary. He’s hired to kidnap the wife of the Syrian President as part of a scheme to topple his brutal regime. When he finds out her infant son has been left behind in Damascus, he goes undercover amongst mercenaries in the pay of the President in order to rescue him. In his fellow mercenaries, Court finds greed, selfishness, and little to like. The situation steadily deteriorates, pushing Court inexorably towards a desperate decision: he’ll have to go after the President himself and pull off a near-impossible assassination in order to save the child and the whole geopolitical situation. Alone and surrounded by people who only care for themselves and money, it’s the biggest challenge Court has ever faced.

    The Deceivers, by Alex Berenson
    CIA agent John Wells returns, called in by President Vincent Duto to investigate an explosion in Dallas responsible for nearly 400 deaths. ISIS claims credit for the atrocity, but Wells isn’t convinced they could have engineered the attack. A subsequent sniper attack killing two high-profile ministers points Wells towards a Moscow connection, and he becomes convinced that Russia is orchestrating all of these attacks in support of right-wing Senator Birman’s presidential candidate’s campaign. As the country becomes increasingly agitated as nationalist sentiments get stirred up, the false flag operations have their desired effect, and the echoes of our own political reality add a sense of awful verisimilitude to the tense plot points.

    The French Girl, by Lexie Elliott
    Ten years after a group holiday in the Dordogne region of France when they met the beautiful, enigmatic Severine just before she disappeared, Kate and fellow former Oxford students are stunned to hear that Severine’s remains have been discovered on the property itself. As a murder investigation revs up, Kate becomes increasingly wound up, remembering her time at the Dordogne farmhouse and the rough breakup with her former boyfriend Seb—in part over his fascination with Severine. Kate’s sanity starts to slip as she begins to see Severine’s ghost and wonders if she really knows her old friends as well as she thought she did. The old friends, coming together, prove to be a shifting web of alliances and old grudges that drive Kate’s tension and rising paranoia, which isn’t helped by the insistent French detective who’s arrived in London to investigate.

    The Kremlin’s Candidate, by Jason Matthews
    Matthews’ Red Sparrow trilogy concludes with CIA agent Nate Nash scrambling to prevent the unmasking of Dominika Egorova, who has become a major U.S. asset in the Kremlin. Her cover is in danger because Russia’s own mole, Admiral Audrey Rowland, is on track to become CIA Director, which would entail his learning Egorova’s identity just as she’s captured the attention of Vladimir Putin himself. As Nash goes undercover to protect love interest Egorova, however, the CIA’s enemies back home are circling, attempting to force intelligence agencies to reform the black-hat practices they employ against the country’s enemies, tightening the tension as Nash moves pieces on the board with no guarantee of success. Matthews’ experience as a former intelligence agent brings a frightening level of authenticity to the techniques used to place assets in high-level positions in the government.

    Chicago, by David Mamet
    Mamet roars back into fine form with a story set in 1920s Chicago, an era when organized crime was almost a shadow government in the Windy City. A pair of murders drives the story—one a local celebrity involved in multiple shady activities, one the girlfriend of Mike Hodge, hard-driving journalist and former World War I flying ace. Hodge digs into the murders with a tenacity and verbal acumen few could withstand, pitting himself against brutal criminals and corrupt police and politicians—some very real and very famous, most obscure or fictional. In a city where gangsters run amok, it’s the reporter for the Trib that turns out to be the most dangerous man in any given room.

    The Plea, by Steve Cavanagh
    Eddie Flynn, former con artist-turned-attorney, returns in Cavanagh’s latest and is in the thick of trouble right from the get-go when he’s called in by the FBI and ordered to help them. A young tech billionaire, David Child, has been arrested for the murder of his girlfriend. Although he insists he is innocent, the evidence is grim. The FBI is looking to flip him into assisting them in an investigation, and they want Eddie to convince him to take a guilty plea so they’ll have the leverage they need. If Eddie fails or refuses, they promise to arrest his estranged wife Christine, who’s unknowingly involved in criminal activities. Eddie’s main problem—aside from the fact that he’s not actually Child’s lawyer—is that the more he talks to the rich kid and looks into the case, the more he believes Child is innocent. When attempts are made on Child’s life while he’s in custody, Eddie’s has to draw on all his grifter and legal experience to find out what’s going on—and to survive.

    A Death in Love Oak, by James Grippando
    The 15th Jack Swyteck novel is, unfortunately, extremely timely, kicking off at the University of Florida with the murder of a black student and President of a leading black fraternity. Worse, one of the suspects in the murder is the President of a white fraternity, reminding residents of a lynching that occurred in 1944—and how little progress seems to have been made. Asked for help by a friend of his father’s, Jack takes on the case while his wife leads an FBI undercover operation into a white supremacist terror group who might be connected to the murder. As the parallels between the 1944 murder and his case become increasingly uncanny, Jack risks his career and reputation in order to chase down the truth in the swampy badlands of rural Florida, no matter the cost.

    The post The Best Thrillers of February 2018 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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