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  • Jeff Somers 4:00 pm on 2017/09/29 Permalink
    Tags: , , , thrillers,   

    The Best New Thrillers of October 2017 

    October is a month that comes with the thrills built in, but once the doorbell stops ringing and the apple-bobbing is over, it’s nice to curl up with a book that will keep you warm on a slow, cold evening. The 10 books on this list will keep you heart pounding and your blood pumping long after the sugar rush fades.

    The Rooster Bar, by John Grisham
    Grisham proves he’s still got his finger on the pulse in his newest, telling the story of idealistic but broke law students Mark, Todd, and Zola, who mortgage their future in the form of student loans to attend a third-tier law school. In their third year, the trio realizes they’ve been victims of the Great Law School Scam: the graduates of their school rarely pass the bar and almost never get jobs—and the school’s owner also owns the bank that wrote the paper on their loans. Naturally, smart nearly-lawyers go for the only option they have available: revenge. It’s going to take planning and risks (like dropping out before earning your degree) but it’s the only option if you want a little justice—and the result is an Ocean’s 11 for the LSAT crowd.

    Origin, by Dan Brown
    Brown returns to his most successful character with an all-new Robert Langdon adventure, this time centered in Spain and focusing on more modern art. Langdon starts off the book as the guest of former student-turned-billionaire Edmond Kirsch, who is staging a provocative presentation at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and hinting at the answers to two of the fundamental questions of human existence. Naturally, things go very, very wrong, and Langdon soon finds himself fleeing to Barcelona with museum director Ambra Vidal and working desperately to discover a password Kirsch left behind that will unlock all of the billionaire’s secrets. Their opponent, however, seems to be all-knowing, and firmly rooted in the Spanish royal palace—but there’s no one on Earth more equipped to deal with codes and symbols than Robert Langdon.

    Two Kinds of Truth, by Michael Connelly
    Connelly returns to the world of Harry Bosch with a pair of mysteries. Three decades ago, Bosch was convinced a man named Preston Borders was guilty of raping and murdering three young women, but the district attorney only pursued one case, convicting Borders of the murder of Danielle Skyler. Borders has been on death row ever since, but suddenly new DNA evidence seems to exonerate him, so he files a habeas corpus petition and seems determined to sue everyone involved. Bosch has nine days before the hearing to figure out what went sideways, but his efforts are complicated by the current murder he’s investigating, that of a pharmacist and his son, which has set off a chain reaction of revelations involving faked prescriptions. As Bosch prepares to go undercover as an addict for the first time in his life, even he might not be able to keep all of the clues straight.

    Deep Freeze, by John Sandford
    Sandford’s tenth Virgil Flowers story finds the Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agent’s life complicated by another small town murder in Trippton, and the arrival of an agent of chaos. The murder victim is Gina Hemmings, who inherited her parents’ bank—and plenty of the potential suspects’ debts. Making things more complicated is the arrival of Margaret Griffin, a Los Angeles investigator who lands in town with the governor’s request that Virgil assist in finding Jesse McGovern, who is supposedly manufacturing sex dolls in Trippton—though no one seems to have ever met her. Virgil’s path to solving each mystery is as enjoyably bumpy as ever, but it’s Sandford’s grasp of small town culture that makes this entry sing.

    Quick & Dirty, by Stuart Woods
    A cool $12 million inspires Stone Barrington to engage in what amounts to old-fashioned detective work in the 43rd installment of Woods’ bestselling series. After some spirited vandalism puts Stone in contact with Morgan Tillman, wealthy widowed wife, Stone is contacted by an insurance firm trying to avoid paying the settlement on a priceless painting stolen from the Tillman residence, and offered a bounty to prove the painting was a skilled replica. Taking on the job doesn’t stop Barrington from having a typically steamy adventure with the widow Tillman, of course.

    Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier, by Mark Frost
    For those who watched the original television phenomenon and Showtime’s crazy sequel, Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier is an opportunity to fill in the blanks. Detailing the events that occurred in the 25 years between series, series co-creator Frost offers details that illuminate and explain many of the events of the new series, and offer at least some hope the ultimate mysteries of both series might yet be understood. More importantly, it’s an opportunity to learn more about the characters fans have come to love, and the town of Twin Peaks itself.

    What the Hell Did I Just Read, by David Wong
    Wong’s third entry in the series that began with John Dies at the End starts with what passes for normal in the universe he’s created: John, Amy, and Dave are living in the town of Undisclosed, and when they start investigating a shape-shifting pedophile, it barely registers on their weirdness scale—but they slowly start to realize there really is something strange going on. What follows is a surprisingly complex, paranoia-laden thriller of comedy-horror, with Dave dropping hilarious deadpan commentary as events, including a porn star made of bugs, a T-shirt cannon that shoots the Shroud of Turin, and a literal level boss named Millibutt, spiral out of control. In short, it’s exactly what Wong’s fans have come to expect.

    Mind Game, by Iris Johansen
    The 21st Eve Duncan novel focuses on Eve’s daughter Jane, in Scotland helping Lord Duncan in his search for a treasure linked to an ancient woman. Jane begins to see the woman in her dreams—as well as a second woman, who seems to be held captive. She identifies this woman as Lisa, Seth Caleb’s sister, and soon finds herself working with the arrogant, infuriating man to both locate the treasure and free Lisa from her captors. Eve Duncan finds her way back into the story in a surprising, unexpected way even as Jane fights to save Seth from a nefarious plot.

    Act of Betrayal, by Matthew Dunn
    The latest Will Cochrane adventure sees Cochrane going underground when a botched job from three years ago rears its head—Will was brought in for an assassination by a Delta Force colonel who later vanished. A CIA agent involved in the operation doesn’t like the look of things, and reaches out to Will for assistance in figuring out what happened—and winds up poisoned. Will is framed for several murders, and goes dark, but naturally can’t stop himself from investigating. When a determined FBI agent catches his scent, she launches an all-out manhunt to bring him to justice. Will must use every bit of his training and expertise to remain free while he gets to the bottom of the mystery.

    Righteous, by Joe Ide
    The brilliant Isaiah Quintabe, known as IQ, returns, still haunted by his brother’s hit-and-run death, and still carrying a torch for his late sibling’s former girlfriend Sarita. IQ is also still using his significant brainpower to try to solve the riddle of his brother’s death, and finds disturbing evidence that the hit-and-run wasn’t random. His life is complicated when Sarita asks him to help her sister, a Las Vegas DJ in over her head with gambling debts. The emotionally-grounded deductive brilliance that made IQ such a must-read debut is back, as IQ and his neighbor Dodson—Watson to his Holmes—wade into a Chinese mafia cesspool that eventually circles back to his brother’s death in a confluence of events even a genius couldn’t see coming.

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

  • Jeff Somers 4:00 pm on 2017/09/01 Permalink
    Tags: thrillers,   

    September’s Best New Thrillers 

    The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye, by David Lagercrantz
    Even from solitary confinement in prison, Lisbeth Salander is an unstoppable force in Lagercrantz’s second book continuing Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series. The prison she’s held in is poorly run, with the inmates more in charge than the guards, but her hacking skills and sharp intelligence mean she’s as effective inside as she was out. Her old ally Mikael Blomkvist visits once a week, and she passes him a lead related to her still-mysterious childhood: a respected stockbroker named Leo Mannheimer she believes is connected to the psychiatric unit where she was confined against her will as a child. As Blomkvist does what he does best, Salander turns her attentions to the injustices in her new home, as intolerable to her in prison as they would be in the free world.

    Enemy of the State, by Kyle Mills
    The 16th Mitch Rapp novel (and third by Mills since Vince Flynn’s passing) finds Rapp enlisted by the president to clean up a growing mess in Saudi Arabia, as rival factions of the royal family and the government fund terrorists and plot against one anther, sowing chaos and supporting ISIS. Rapp employs his usual steady professionalism, assembling the sort of team you can rely on to carry out the high-level maneuvers required—including his lover, Claudia Gould, his former enemy Grisha Azarov, and former army sniper turned drug runner Kent Black. The seemingly impossible mission requires a clever plan, but as usual, readers can rest assured Rapp has one.

    Sleeping Beauties, by Stephen King and Owen King
    King and his son Owen team up for a book with a timely, terrifying premise: what if, in the very near future, most of the women in the world simply went to sleep and didn’t wake up? Covered in cocoon-like white membranes, the women become feral attackers if disturbed. the Kings being Kings, they set the action in a depressed Appalachian town whose main employer is a women’s prison. Men, left to their own devices, don’t react well, and society begins to unravel even as the question of what’s happening with the female half of the population lingers. One woman named Evie who appears immune, and might be a savior—or some sort of demon come to supervise the downfall of man. Filled with smart social commentary and larger-than-life characters, this is a top-notch collaboration from the biggest family name in the business..

    Haunted, by James Patterson and James O. Born
    The 10th Michael Bennett novel finds the detective and his family exhausted from a series of crises and in need of a vacation. On the advice of a colleague, Bennett takes them to a beautiful small town on the edge of the woods in Maine, a place that initially seems the perfect place to unplug, recharge, and hibernate. It isn’t long before the sleepy facade is shattered and Bennett is called on to assist in the investigation of a rash of missing teens. When the bodies start to turn up, the truth comes with them: the town is gripped by an addiction epidemic that brings with it horrific violence that shocks even Bennett, a man who has seen some things. A fight for the soul of the town commences, and once again, Bennett is on the front lines.

    The Cuban Affair, by Nelson DeMille
    Set in 2015, just as relations between the United States and Cuba were beginning to warm up, DeMille’s latest digs into the side of the story that often gets overlooked: the Cuban expats living in the U.S. who hate the Castro regime and who abandoned their property, wealth, and standing when they fled. Daniel “Mac” MacCormick is a veteran of Afghanistan trying to make his way out from under a mountain of debt with his charter boat business in Key West—and failing. When he’s offered a lot of money to assist in the recovery of money and documents from a remote cave in Cuba, he agrees out of desperation, ferrying a beautiful woman to Havana. When things go wrong, Mac finds himself depending on her—without knowing if he can trust her one bit.

    The Romanov Ransom, by Clive Cussler and Robin Burcell
    Cussler and Burcell combine old-school Nazis, neo-Nazis, a lost Romanov ransom, and Sam and Remi Fargo into a rollicking adventure that begins with a kidnapping. The crime brings the ransom—a fortune paid to the Bolsheviks in 1918 to secure the release of the Russian imperial family, but diverted mysteriously, sealing the fate of the Tsar and his children. The ransom was later stolen by the Germans, and is now being held by descendants of a Nazi group calling themselves the Werewolves, who intend to use the money to establish a Fourth Reich. The Fargos plunge into their trademark global adventure, but this time, the stakes are much higher, as they have a chance to not only prevent something awful, but to bring an century-old crime to light.

    A Legacy of Spies, by John le Carré
    John le Carré is not only back, he’s bringing George Smiley with him—or at least Smiley’s assistant, Peter Guillam, called upon to fill in the blanks on an old operation called Windfall, now that the British government is being sued over some of the unintended casualties of the Cold War. Guillam begins piecing together the truth behind Windfall, digging through old files, listening to interrogations, and supplementing these discoveries with his own reliable memories. As usual in a le Carré novel, the combination of meticulous detail, skillful spycraft, and moral blankness makes for a slow-boil thriller that slowly increases the tension to unendurable levels. The intelligence and (above all) patience of the men and women working in intelligence becomes as thrilling as any gunplay.

    Good Me Bad Me, by Ali Land
    In Land’s sizzling debut, 15-year-old Annie Thompson tells the police that her mother, Ruth, is a serial killer who lures young children to their deaths. Ruth is arrested, and Annie changes her name to Milly and goes to live with psychologist Mike Newton and his family as he prepares her to testify. But Milly doesn’t have an easy time of it; resented by Mike’s daughter, she is bullied at school and finds herself hearing her mother’s disembodied voice, advising her to follow her nature. Is it possible to escape your legacy, or are you doomed to repeat your parents’ mistakes?

    The Child Finder, by Rene Denfeld
    Naomi Cottle was kidnapped as a child—although her memories only begin with a flight through a dark strawberry field. Raised in foster homes, she is still broken by things she can’t remember, and has dedicated her life to being a “child finder,” called in by devastated families to find missing children when the trail has grown cold. Naomi never gives up, sometimes finding the children dead, sometimes alive. When she’s called in to search for Madison Culver, who disappeared three years before and is presumed to have frozen to death, the family is still holding out hope. And rightly so—as Naomi struggles to stay connected to her foster family and her sense of self, Madison begins narrating her terrifying imprisonment with a man she calls “B.”

    Best Day Ever, by Kaira Rouda
    Paul and Mia Strom are as close to perfect as you can get: happily married with two great kids, plenty of money, and even a vacation home off of Lake Erie. But Mia hasn’t been feeling well, and Paul…well, Paul isn’t who he seems to be. When he drops the kids with the babysitter and whisks Mia off for a quick trip to the lake house, determined to give her the “best day ever,” it’s part of a plan to put the shine back on his marriage to a woman he chose deliberately, for very specific reasons. As the truth Paul has been hiding begins to reveal itself, he discovers Mia is hardly the pushover he thought—and the couple’s best day ever slowly curdles into a dark adventure, dripping with tension and suspense.

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

  • Jeff Somers 3:00 pm on 2017/08/04 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , shocker, , , the sinner book, the sinner ending, the sinner spoilers, thrillers, twist ending   

    Why The Sinner Is This Year’s Biggest Surprise Hit 

    The social media hills are alive with the sound of people discussing USA Network’s adaptation of Petra Hammesfahr’s The Sinner, leading a lot of folks to wonder how executive producer and star Jessica Biel knew this twisty, tension factory of a story would be a massive hit. We know Biel’s secret: she read the book, which is—you guessed it—a twisty, tension factory of a story with a surprise ending you’ll never see coming. While the world might be surprised The Sinner is a fantastic bit of television, we’re not—because we read the book, too. Here’s why we knew The Sinner was going to be a hot topic of conversation this summer.

    The Hook

    First and foremost, The Sinner is one of those “elevator-pitch” novels that can be summarized in a few words without giving a single plot twist away. Cora Tannetti (Cora Bender in the book) is with her family on a public beach for a picnic when she abruptly picks up a knife and murders a stranger. There are dozens of witnesses, and Cora doesn’t make any attempt to run or deny what she’s done. When questioned, she simply states that she doesn’t know why she murdered him. A detective, Harry Ambrose (Rudolf Grovian in the novel), thinks there’s more to the story than temporary insanity, and he starts pushing Cora in the interrogation room. That kind of brutal, inexplicable crime and Cora’s numb lack of affect afterwards tell the viewer (and reader) that there is a whole hidden iceberg of story hiding below the chilly surface—and that’s an irresistible hook.

    Cora Herself

    Cora is an instantly fascinating character—and an incredibly unreliable narrator. And who doesn’t love an unreliable narrator? The detective’s patient approach provides a slow burn of tension as he gently pushes Cora to tell her story again and again—and each time she does, there are new details, new revelations, and new hints. Cora’s not devious in the way of, say, Amy Dunne in Gone Girl. Instead, she’s damaged, and the interrogation turns into something akin to therapy. Hammesfahr’s great achievement with the character is how she starts off as a monster, a woman who commits a senseless murder, and slowly evolves into an incredibly sympathetic person.

    The Twist Derby

    That sympathy is earned, too, as the true story of Cora slowly emerges. The book is almost like a long conversation between the detective and Cora, a back-and-forth that teases out twist after twist. Hammesfahr totally gets how to use an unreliable narrator, as Cora lets things slip—accidentally or unintentionally at first, offering intrigue, then in a rising tumult of revelation that even surprises her. And Cora’s story isn’t cheap—there’s an emotional gut punch behind every gruesome moment of discovery. That emotional weight is glimpsed in the early episodes of the TV adaptation—another reason it’s been instantly compelling for viewers.

    The Feels

    You can tell that a book has been thoughtfully assembled when you realize the distinct plot strands could each be a novel on their own. The story of a woman who mysteriously assaults and kills someone on a beach is one whole novel. The story of Cora and her family, slowly revealed over the course of the book, could be another, equally compelling. Cora’s younger sister, Magdalena, suffered from a terrible disease that should have seen her dead at a very young age—but Cora’s mother literally devotes all her energies to keeping Magdalena alive. This single-minded obsession leaves Cora and her father adrift, pushed together figuratively and literally in ways that are uncomfortable and borderline inappropriate, yet Cora and Magdalena manage to forge an affectionate relationship despite the suffocating dysfunction of their family. Both girls are suppressed and broken by their situation, and the way this dysfunctional family drama plays out both breaks your heart and links directly to the shocking murder that opens the book.

    Petra Hammesfahr

    Expect to hear a lot more about Petra Hammesfahr in the wake of The Sinner’s success. Although she only has one other book in English at the moment—The Lie, equally great—she’s a prolific and award-winning novelist in her native Germany. The woman knows how to write a twisting crime thriller, is what we’re saying, and we expect that if you enjoy The Sinner you’ll have a lot of freshly-translated Hammesfahr books to read soon enough.

    So, color us not surprised at all The Sinner is the water cooler TV show of the summer. If you’ve watched the first few episodes and you’re hooked, all we can say is: strap yourself in, because the ride is going to get all kinds of crazy—in a very good way. (And if you’re impatient, just read the book, which will give you all the spoilers you could ever ask for.)

    The post Why The Sinner Is This Year’s Biggest Surprise Hit appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 9:00 pm on 2017/07/31 Permalink
    Tags: , , , thrillers,   

    August’s Best New Thrillers 

    It’s August—you need is a jolt of adrenaline to shake off the heat-induced torpor—and that’s where this month’s crop of nail-bitingly tense thrillers comes into play. Pick up any one of them, and jolt yourself back into motion.

    The Store, by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo
    Patterson and frequent collaborator DiLallo offer up one of those thrillers so perfectly timed it’s spooky. Jacob and Megan Brandeis live in New York in a future nearer than is comfortable, where drones and cameras watch from every possible angle and their careers as writers seem doomed, thanks to an omnipresent online retailer called only The Store, which supplies everything you need, delivered to your door almost before you even realize you needed it. Secrets abound—Jacob is hiding something that could destroy his family, and he and Megan move to Nebraska to work for The Store as a career Hail Mary, investigating the truth behind the all-powerful online giant in order to write an explosive book. But what they find is worse than they could have imagined, and it isn’t long before they’re running for their lives, pursued by the unlimited power of The Store.

    Seeing Red, by Sandra Brown
    Brown’s latest centers on television journalist Kerra Bailey, determined to take her career to a new level by securing an interview with Major Franklin Trapper, a hero made iconic by a photograph in which he’s leading survivors to safety after a terrorist bombing 25 years earlier—but he dropped out of the public eye years ago, refusing all interviews. Kerra’s working with jarring new information, and reaches out to Franklin’s son, John, a bitter former ATF agent. John is reluctant to contact his father or get involved with the bombing investigation—but makes introductions because he wants to know what Kerra has learned. The interview goes horrifically off the rails, and John finds himself drawn back into a mystery that nearly destroyed him—and fighting to keep the same from happening to Kerra.

    Barely Legal, by Stuart Woods and Parnell Hall
    Herbie Fisher has been a supporting player in Woods’ Stone Barrington books for years, moving from comedy relief as the sad-sack incompetent to a sharp lawyer benefiting from Barrington’s occasionally tough-love tutelage. Now Barrington is the minor character, as Woods partners up with Parnell Hall for a thriller featuring Herbie Fisher as the lead. Fisher has to fend for himself after getting entangled in a court case in which the deck is stacked against him—even before he’s framed for murder. Herbie has learned well from Barrington, and when he realizes he’s the only person who can save the day, he heads out—alone—risking everything.

    A Stranger in the House, by Shari Lapena
    Lapena offers up a tense study of murder and suburban malaise. One night, Karen Krupp leaves the home she shares with husband Tom without her purse, without leaving a note, only to crash her car on the way home from an abandoned restaurant where a dead body is found the next day. She wakes up from the accident with no memory of what happened. As Tom begins to doubt his wife’s innocence, and thus their entire relationship, Karen’s delusional friend Brigid schemes to escape her own unsatisfying marriage and begin anew with Tom. The police begin turning up surprise after surprise in Karen’s past, and the twists converge on a final revelation that changes everything.

    The Saboteur, by Andrew Gross
    Based on the true story of Norwegian saboteurs who did in fact destroy a Nazi facility working on “heavy water” for a German atom bomb. Gross crafts a tense, exciting story about Kurt Nordstrum, a resistance fighter who flees to England after the death of his fiancée and the destruction of his cell. He provides secret information about an impenetrable Nazi stronghold in occupied Norway where the heavy water is produced, and begins training for a suicidal assault on the plant. The mission is fraught with peril, ranging from a violent snowstorm on the evening the team parachutes in, to the betrayal of local quislings who serve their Nazi masters all too well. Even folks who know their history will be glued to the page.

    Charlatans, by Robin Cook
    Cook offers up a twisting medical thriller set at Boston Memorial Hospital, one of the most advanced teaching hospitals in the country. Young Dr. Noah Rothauser is excited to become Chief Resident at this prestigious institution, where the operating rooms have been outfitted as super-advanced “hybrid” theaters. When a popular hospital employee dies during a routine procedure while his surgeon, the famous Dr. William Mason, is conducting several surgeries at once, Rothauser investigates. Under pressure from Mason to target the anesthesiologist—who turns out to have multiple online personas, among other secrets—Noah doggedly pursues the truth as the body count continues to climb—even if finding it might kill him.

    Are You Sleeping, by Kathleen Barber
    A decade ago, the murder of Josie Buhrman’s father destroyed her life. Her mother ran off and joined a cult. Her sister, once her best friend, betrayed her. Josie fled to New York, changed her name, and started over, slowly building a stable life with her partner Caleb—without telling him anything true about her past. When a podcast reexamining the details of her father’s murder becomes a huge hit (think Serial), the past comes roaring back to threaten Josie’s newfound stability. When her mother’s unexpected death brings her back to her hometown, Josie must not only acknowledge the past she’s so carefully hidden, but face the very real demons that have chased her ever since that fateful night.

    Girl in Snow, by Danya Kukafka
    When 15-year old Lucinda Hayes is found dead at a local playground, her Colorado suburban community is engulfed in Twin Peaks-style dread and suspicion. Officer Russ Fletcher works the case, focusing initially on Cameron, the son of his former partner, who has a reputation for spying on the Hayes family through their windows, and who can’t remember anything about the night in question. Cameron’s far from the only suspect, however, as Lucinda’s murder exposes a web of connections and secrets—including some Russ himself would prefer not see the light of day. Cameron and Russ’ points of view are complemented by that of Jade Dixon-Burns, a girl obsessed with the occult and Lucinda’s seemingly-perfect life. All three tell their story in alternating chapters that slowly unravel the shocking truth.

    The Walls, by Hollie Overton
    Kristy Tucker works as a public information officer for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, supporting her teenage son and ill father. It’s a depressing job, partially spent interviewing prisoners, but Kristy finds solace when she meets Lance Dobson, who seems like the perfect man. Until after their wedding, when Lance transforms into verbally, emotionally, and physically abusive, threatening to kill her family if Kristy tries to leave him. During a moment of weakness, Kristy confesses her situation to an inmate, wrongfully convicted Clifton Harris. Clifton quietly suggests the solution to Kristy’s problem might lie with his fellow. This sets off a crackling plot that supplies thrills even as it questions our country’s criminal justice system.

    Emma in the Night, by Wendy Walker
    Three years ago, the beautiful Tanner sisters—Emma and Cassandra—ran away from home under mysterious circumstances. When Cass shows up, FBI forensic psychiatrist Abby Walker is called in to assist. Cass tells a heartbreaking story: she realized Emma was planning to run away, and hid in the car when she did. Emma, it turns out, was pregnant, and met up with a couple who had offered to assist her. Instead, the couple kidnapped Emma (and Cass, once she was found) and held them captive until Cass was able to escape. Walker suspects Cass isn’t telling them everything, and as the FBI hunts for Emma on a remote island off the coast of Maine, the secrets of the girls’ childhood start to come out, ramping up the tension and confirming that Cassandra is, above all, a survivor.

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

  • Jeff Somers 6:00 pm on 2017/06/30 Permalink
    Tags: , thrillers,   

    July’s Best New Thrillers 

    The Late Show, by Michael Connelly
    Detective Renée Ballard was an up-and-comer in the LAPD, until she filed sexual harassment charges against her boss and her career went sideways. She landed on the night shift in Hollywood, which means she never finishes an investigation, always handing them off to the day shift. Until she catches two cases she can’t let go of: a prostitute beaten into unconsciousness, who claims she was assaulted in the “upside-down house” before passing out, and a young woman killed in a nightclub shooting. Ballard works the cases during the day and continues to take her regular shift in the evening, dodging her former boss (who’s officially working the nightclub shooting) and her own demons—demons which begin to haunt her as she begins losing sleep and delving deeper into the twin mysteries.

    House of Spies, by Daniel Silva
    Gabriel Allon returns in the 17th entry in Silva’s series, thrust into an international hunt for the perpetrators of a horrific terrorist attack in London. He and his team follow a clue left the the attackers’ single mistake, which takes them to the south of France, where a wealthy couple lives a life seemingly disconnected from the troubles of the world. But Jean-Luc Martel’s wealth stems from the global drug trade, and even if he and his fashion model wife Olivia wants to deny it, Allon knows they could be used as perfect tools in the war against terror.

    The Lying Game, by Ruth Ware
    Four women—Isa, Kate, Thea, and Fatima—spent their boarding school years at Salten House, sneaking away to hang with Kate’s art teacher father and her dreamy brother and play the Lying Game, a challenge to get people to believe the most outlandish stories they could dream up. It all ends in tragedy, and 20 years later, new mum Isa receives a note from Kate that sends her off on a train and back to the village of Salten, where she meets the rest of the old gang. It seems a bone has been found in the marshes nearby, and the women know all about its origins—and the discovery of a body means all of their lives, and the lies they’re built on, could come apart.

    The Breakdown, by B.A. Paris
    Paris’ clever thriller pivots on a chillingly familiar premise: a woman named Cass sees a driver on the side of the road, trying to flag down help near a broken-down car. She drives past without stopping, then later learns the motorist was brutally murdered. She begins to receive phone calls during which no one speaks, and her fear she has inherited her mother’s early-onset dementia are brought to the fore as her grip on details—and her own memories—slips. She comes to rely more and more on her husband and her best friend, who never liked each other, but this is one of those books in which no one is above suspicion.

    The Marriage Pact, by Michelle Richmond
    Alice and Jake meet in rehab, fall in love, get married, and receive a mysterious gift from Alice’s rock-star friend: membership in The Pact, a cult-like group whose voluminous member manual is all about making sure marriage vows do indeed last forever. Signing up without reading deeply, the couple soon discovers breaking any of the rules in the manual—gaining too much weight, failing to answer each other’s phone calls, and not taking regular vacations together—results in increasingly disturbing punishments that edge into torture territory. As Alice and Jake realize what they’ve gotten themselves into, the paranoia and plot twists come at a furious pace—seems there’s no mechanism for resigning your membership.

    Look Behind You, by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen
    Kendra Michaels, blind until the age of 20 and blessed with near-supernatural capabilities in her other four senses, is called upon by the FBI to assist with finding a bizarre serial killer who leaves behind objects at the scene of the crime that don’t seem to have any connection to his victims. Michaels is reluctant—and becomes more so when Adam Lynch, who has strong feelings for her, becomes involved—but her skills quickly reveal the objects are connected—but to past crimes. A team of detectives traces the links while Michaels turns to a tough private investigator named Jessie Mercado for help, and the killer slowly resolves into someone responsible for many of the most infamous killings all around the country. Now, he’s got his sights set on Kendra.

    Final Girls, by Riley Sager
    The “Final Girl” is the one in a slasher movie who survives to tell the tale. Quincy has survived a mass murder, but refuses to play the role of Final Girl, picking up her life seemingly without a hitch. But her memory is murky and she’s popping pills. When another survivor of mass violence who served as her mentor commits suicide and the media’s attention is drawn to yet another Final Girl, Sam,  Quincy begins to come apart. Doubting Sam and questioning her own memory, Quincy delves into her past and begins to learn the horrifying truth of her situation—leading to a climax that might not spare her a second time.

    LoveMurder, by Saul Black
    San Francisco detective Valerie Hart put serial killer Katherine Glass behind bars—but failed to catch Katherine’s partner. Years later, Hart stands at a crime scene where a note addressed to her has been taped to the body. Glass’ partner is back, and he wants her released from prison. When he kills, and kills again, he leaves elaborate clues near his victims that only Katherine can decipher—meaning Valerie is forced   with the brilliant murderer. Valerie knows she’s being manipulated, but she has no choice—and as she sinks deeper into a twisted game that’s been arranged just for her, she realizes might not be a match for Katherine Glass’ intellect, or her capability for evil.

    Blame, by Jeff Abbott
    A car crash leaves Jane Norton without no memory of the incident—or the previous three years. Her best friend’s boyfriend dies in the accident; Jane, the driver, apparently left a suicide note behind, transforming her from victim to monster. Jane can’t believe she would do something like that, but then again, she can’t remember anything. Two years later, someone calling themselves Liv Danger begins posting online that they know the truth about what happened, as one by one, people connected to the evening’s fatal events are targeted. Jane begins to wonder if everyone she knows has been rewriting history around her, hiding the ftruth of what happened—and becomes determined to find out.

    Don’t Close Your Eyes, by Holly Seddon
    Robin and Sarah Marshall are twins whose lives are altered forever when their parents trade romantic partners with the Grangers, shattering two families and making Callum Granger their unofficial stepbrother. Years later, Robin Marshall is a former rock guitarist who never leaves her house, and Sarah’s life is unraveling after she loses custody of a little girl she cares deeply about. As Sarah searches for her estranged sister and Robin becomes entangled in a scenario she watches playing out through her home’s rear window, the secrets of the past emerge, revealing more than family ties were cut through all those years ago.

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

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