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  • 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.

  • Jeff Somers 4:00 pm on 2019/07/18 Permalink
    Tags: , , , crime authors, curtain, , , , , , , new yorked, potter's field, rob hart, , sleeping murder, their time had come, thrillers   

    6 Crime Writers Who Ended a Series Voluntarily 

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    Having a hit series of books and a popular character that readers respond to is usually the dream of an author of an genre, but especially the authors of detective novels. But it can also become a burden, trapping the writer in a universe and a type of story that remains in literary amber. Still, most writers happily plug away at a series as long as readers keep showing up, and usually the only reason a popular detective stops accepting new cases is because the author retires…from this mortal coil. But not always; sometimes a writer decides to retire a character voluntarily for their own private reasons—like the six authors on this list.

    Sherlock Holmes, authored by Arthur Conan Doyle
    Doyle famously tried to walk away from Holmes in 1893’s The Final Problem, sending him over the Reichenbach Falls as he struggled with archenemy Professor Moriarity. Doyle regarded his Holmes stories as literary trifles and wanted to focus on more serious writing; he managed to resist the constant pleas for more Holmes stories for eight years before giving in and writing The Hound of the Baskervilles, published in 1901 and kicking off a second wave of Holmes stories that continued until Doyle passed away.

    Pete Fernandez, authored by Alex Segura
    Segura’s Pete Fernandez has been one of the most interesting noir detective characters in recent years, going from a shambling wreck of a life and career to something resembling stability over the course of four tightly plotted, Miami-infused novels. Segura has decided that Miami Midnight, the fifth book in the series, will be the last Fernandez mystery. Which is a shame, because Midnight digs deep into Pete as a character as he’s pulled from unofficial retirement from his unofficial career as a detective, asked by a local gang kingpin to look into the death of his son, a musician. One of the great things Segura has done with Fernandez is make his personal struggles as compelling as the cases he investigates without resorting to overblown mythology. Pete’s interesting because of the sort of personal mysteries we all carry around with us, and he’ll be missed.

    Ash McKenna, authored by Rob Hart
    McKenna’s an interesting character, a self-described “blunt instrument” who begins a journey to being a real, complete person in Hart’s New Yorked, and then continues that journey through three more books that take him all over the world. Hart’s decision to make Potter’s Field the last McKenna novel had everything to do with ending that story of personal development, of finishing the character’s tale purposefully. While he hasn’t ruled out another McKenna story at some point, it’s refreshing to see an author so in control of their character they end their series when the time feels right to them.

    Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, authored by Agatha Christie
    Christie is an unusual case, because she did, in fact, write about her two most popular characters, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, until she died. But she also voluntarily ended both series—three decades earlier. During World War II Christie worried she might not survive, and worried that meant her greatest literary creations would be orphaned without a proper send off. Her solution was to write a final case for both Poirot and Marple, then lock them away with a stipulation that they not be published until she passed away. As a result, Poirot’s final novel, Curtain published in 1975 and Marple’s, Sleeping Murder, published in 1976 just after Christie’s death. While locking novels away for thirty years on the assumption that people will still care in the future is pretty presumptuous, it certainly paid off for Christie and her fans.

    Peter Wimsey, authored by Dorthy Sayers
    Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey isn’t as famous as his contemporaries like Poirot, but he was one of the stars of early-20th century detective fiction—and the ultimate “gentleman detective” character. Wimsey was quite popular, but Sayers’ last Wimsey novel was 1937’s Busman’s Honeymoon, and aside from a short story and some references she never returned to the character. There’s speculation that Sayers, horrified at the violence and terror of World War II, decided she could no longer write about murders and the like. Which is a shame, because Wimsey, who began as a somewhat comical figure, developed into a marvelous and subtle character, and the world could have done with two or three more Wimsey novels.

    Kurt Wallander, authored by Henning Mankell
    Mankell seemed to be planning the end of Kurt Wallander, the depressed, junk food-addicted Swedish detective, more or less since his debut in 1991’s Faceless Killers. Wallander aged with the march of time, and Mankell at one point tried to pivot into a spinoff series with a new character before returning to Wallander. 2009’s The Troubled Man was the definitive final adventure for Wallander, and the character was depicted as dealing with the first symptoms of oncoming dementia, perhaps the worst thing that could afflict a man who relies on his mind and his memory. Mankell continued to write until his death in 2015, but he never returned to Wallander.

    There’s a power in deciding when and where to end your creation. What’s your favorite character’s ending?

    The post 6 Crime Writers Who Ended a Series Voluntarily appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 5:00 pm on 2019/06/28 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , thrillers,   

    July’s Best New Thrillers 

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    July’s most thrilling books include a new hero from the masterful David Baldacci, the next Gabriel Allon adventure from Daniel Silva, James Patterson’s first foray into epic fantasy, and more.

    One Good Deed, by David Baldacci
    Baldacci spins a tightly-plotted period piece to introduce a new hero: Aloysius Archer, a veteran of World War II in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. When released in 1949, he finds himself in Poca City with strict instructions to get a job and stay out of trouble. Archer visits a local bar seeking a little bit of both when he gets a job offer: businessman Hank Pittleman wants a debt collected. Archer takes on the job, and soon finds himself in a mess of small-town plotting, as Pittleman’s mistress tries to use Archer for her own ends and the debt proves harder to collect than Archer expected. When someone shows up dead, the local police seem to think Archer, recently-arrived ex-con, did the deed. Archer brains, brawn, and desperation are all that’s keeping him from returning to prison—or worse.

    The New Girl, by Daniel Silva
    The 19th Allon novel centers on a tony private school in Switzerland—the sort of exclusive place only the children of the rich and powerful attend. The students buzz about the new arrival, a beautiful young girl who appears every morning and leaves every afternoon in a motorcade, surrounded by bodyguards. Her classmates all have theories as to who she might be—but they’re all wrong. When the girl is kidnapped while across the border in France, Gabriel Allon, chief of Israeli intelligence, is called into action. As Allon goes up against a familiar old enemy, the fate of girl and the world lies with him.

    Sophia, Princess Among Beasts, by James Patterson with Emily Raymond
    The prolific James Patterson (with Emily Raymond) stretches to infuse a new genre his trademark tension and thriller grit. 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 the place—and the resident monsters—are very real, and that an army is marching on her kingdom, Sophia knows it is her duty to protect the people who have put their trust in her. Her only hope is to solve an ancient a mystery—if she has time.

    Red Metal, by Mark Greaney and H. Ripley Rawlings IV, USMC
    Greaney knows just how to spin a modern thriller, and his co-writer H. Ripley Rawlings is a lieutenant colonel in the marines. Together they’ve created a razor-sharp near-future story of brutal combat and global maneuvering centered on a rare-earth mine in Africa. The mine was in Russian hands until Kenya reclaimed it out from under Russian special forces Colonel Yuri Borbikov. Borbikov draws up an ambitious, dangerous plan to get it back—Operation Red Metal. With simultaneous attacks on the U.S. Central Africa Command in Germany and the mine itself, Russia sets in motion a series of battles that Greaney and Rawlings depict through the eyes of the dedicated warriors tasked with carrying out their orders—no matter what. The result is a gripping and finely detailed story of modern warfare no fan of the genre should miss.

    Smokescreen, by Iris Johansen
    Johansen’s 25th Eve Duncan novel introduces Jill Cassidy, a journalist who returns from the war-torn country of Maldara haunted by what she’s witnessed. She seeks out forensic sculptor Duncan and asks her to help reconstruct the skulls of 27 children massacred by rebel soldiers. Duncan is moved but troubled by the opportunity, but she accepts the job and jumps on a flight to the site of the killings, the village of Robaku. Jill also wants Eve to reconstruct the skull of a mercenary named Nils Varak, the man responsible for the uprising that led to the murders—because Jill doesn’t believe Nils is actually dead and hopes to prove a government cover-up is underway. In an unfamiliar country, Duncan finds herself isolated and uncertain who she can trust. She must rely on her gut to get to the bottom of the mystery without becoming the next victim.

    The Russian, by Ben Coes
    Coes launches a new series and a new protagonist, former Navy SEAL Rob Tacoma. As the book begins, the Russian mafia has asserted itself as the most powerful organized criminal force in the United States, meeting any effort to curtail its activities with brutal violence. When its actions cross the line into the outright assassination of politicians, the president authorizes the CIA to recruit an elite team tasked with identifying, locating, and killing the powerful criminals ordering the murders. Tacoma and another former SEAL, Billy Cosgrove, are brought in—but Cosgrove is almost immediately identified and murdered in his own home by the Russians. Cosgrove must take on the mob single-handedly, both to get revenge for his comrade-in-arms, and to keep himself alive the only way he can—by killing all of his well-funded, well-protected enemies.

    What books are thrilling you this July?

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

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