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  • Jeff Somers 4:00 pm on 2018/01/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , thrillers,   

    The Best Thrillers of January 2018 

    A new year brings a new crop of unputdownable thrillers. Here are 10 books to keep you riveted in January.

    The Woman in the Window, by A. Finn
    One of the most anticipated thrillers of the year is a real humdinger—a Hitchcockian meta-twister told from the point-of-view of agoraphobic, extremely unreliable child psychologist Anna Fox. Fox hasn’t left her apartment in 11 months, spending her time playing games, chatting with other agoraphobics on the internet, and spying on her neighborhood in self-conscious, Rear Window-style. It’s quickly apparent the reader can’t trust anything Anna says—so when she first becomes obsessed with a family across the park and then witnesses what she is certain is a murder, it’s no surprise that no one believes her. As the twists and revelations pile up, it becomes clear that Anna’s past and her mental state are just as important as what really happened in the house across the park.

    City of Endless Night, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
    FBI Pendergrast is back, investigating the corpse of a young woman who’s been decapitated and left in Queens. She’s quickly identified as the missing daughter of billionaire Anton Ozmian, but when more headless bodies turn up, things get messy fast, as the victims show no discernible pattern—aside from their missing heads. Pendergrast and old ally Lt. Cmdr. Vincent D’Agosta come under increasing pressure from the mayor’s office, Ozmian, and plenty of less-savory power brokers as their investigation runs into dead end after dead end. Slowly, Pendergrast realizes the killer has come to New York City for a very specific reason. As public panic mounts, his epiphany doesn’t translate into an easy solution, and this might be one time Agent Pendergrast’s unique mind fails him.

    Need to Know, by Karen Cleveland
    Vivian Miller is a devoted mother, a loving wife, and a CIA analyst dedicated to investigating potential sleeper cells working within the U.S. Her relationship with her husband is rock-solid, and her love for her special-needs child is fierce, so when she stumbles on a photo of her husband on the computer of a Russian agent, she panics and deletes it—but when she confronts her husband, he doesn’t even try to deny anything, confessing that he’s been working for the Russians for more than two decades. Vivian is forced to reconsider every aspect of her relationship under the possibility that she was chosen by her husband as cover, all while worrying over the implications her discovery has for her—and her children. Cleveland was a former CIA analyst herself, lending serious verisimilitude to the details.

    Unbound, by Stuart Woods
    The latest Stone Barrington story focuses on former CIA operative Teddy Faye, reinvented as Hollywood mogul Billy Barnett. When Barnett’s wife is killed by a drunk driver, Billy gets in his car and starts driving, finding his way to the film set of Dax Baxter, a rival filmmaker with a shady reputation, whose wife was the driver in the fatal accident. Baxter used his connections to keep his wife out of jail. Billy leverages his CIA experience to infiltrate Baxter’s film set under an alias, and begins to sabotage the production by way of revenge. When Baxter connects the dots, he brings in Russian thugs to solve his problem, but Billy’s got plenty of experience dealing with these types. A game of brutal cat-and-mouse ensues, spinning up all the best aspects of the Barrington universe.

    The Wife Between Us, by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pakkanen
    Take liberal doses of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train and mix them up in wholly unexpected ways, and you have this crackling new thriller from former book editors Hendricks and Pakkanen. Vanessa and Richard got divorced after a series of failed fertility treatments left them childless, but now charismatic, controlling Richard has married a younger version of Vanessa—or so it seems to her. Nellie, the new fiancée, is a bright-eyed schoolteacher uncertain she’s ready to leave her fun lifestyle for the suburbs. And Richard’s secretive destination wedding brings up haunting memories of a traumatic event in her past. Meanwhile, Vanessa unravels, drinking and pushing herself to the brink of unemployment as she becomes increasing unreliable and increasingly obsessed with Nellie. To say this setup doesn’t go where you might think is the understatement of the year.

    Operator Down, by Brad Taylor
    Taylor’s 12th Pike Logan novel opens in Tel Aviv, where Pike and his fellow Taskforce agents Jennifer and Knuckles are shadowing an arms dealer suspected of selling nuclear trigger components. When they stumble on intel that indicates their old friends Aaron Bergman and Shoshanna are being targeted for elimination, and that Aaron has been captured, the decision to go rescue him seems obvious—until more intelligence comes in warning of a coup attempt in the fragile African democracy of Lesotho, and Pike and team are ordered to intervene. Faced with the choice of disobeying orders or saving their friend, Pike and company team up with the delightfully bloodthirsty Shoshanna to break the rules one more time in hopes of saving their colleague.

    The Take, by Christopher Reich

    Simon Riske owns a high-end auto repair chop in London—when he’s not working as a freelance spy, called upon by the CIA and the like to do things even they can’t touch. When Riske is hired to track down gangster Tino Coluzzi, he’s more than happy to do so, because Coluzzi betrayed him back in his own criminal past, letting Riske rot in jail. Coluzzi masterminded the daring robbery of a Saudi prince, but one of the things he stole was a letter the Russian government will kill to get back, and the CIA will kill to get their hands on. Riske uses all of his knowledge of the criminal underworld, the finer things in life, and of spycraft to get to work getting revenge and saving the world—not necessarily in that order.

    Light It Up, by Nick Petrie
    Peter Ash returns as a member of his old friend Henry Nygaard’s Heavy Metal Protection Team, escorting a truckload of medical marijuana to Denver shops and then guarding the money on the way back. On a deserted mountain road, the truck gets hijacked, and the violent encounter leaves Peter as the sole survivor—and a suspect for the police.Meanwhile, he wonders if the thieves were after something more than just money. Gathering his old friends Lewis and June, Peter sets out to find out who was behind the job, get the money back—and get bloody, remorseless revenge for his dead friends. Few fictional characters can deal out death and violence as effectively as Ash and company—but in the end, it’s Ash alone against an array of forces, both man-made and natural.

    The Chalk Man, by C.J. Tudor
    Eddie Adams is a young teen in the beautiful town of Anderbury in the U.K. in the 1980s, hanging out with his best friends, using a code of chalked figures to leave messages for each other. A series of grisly experiences and dark pranks sour the boys’ adolescence and haunt them into adulthood, including a disturbing experience where a stranger leads the boys to see a dismembered young girl in the woods. The man suspected of the killing commits suicide before justice can be done, but decades later, one of the Eddie’s friends, Mickey, returns and tells him he knows the identity of the real killer, and all the friends receive letters containing one of their old chalk figures. Then, Eddie’s friends begin dying, and he realizes it’s time to solve all the mysteries of his past if he’s going to survive into his future.

    Cutting Edge, by Ward Larsen
    Trey DeBolt is a rescue swimmer for the Coast Guard in Alaska. During a difficult rescue, his helicopter goes down—and he wakes up in cabin by the sea in Maine. He’s got a nasty scar on the back of his head and no memory of how he got there; his nurse informs him that he’s been declared dead even as a Coast Guard investigator in Alaska finds evidence he’s still alive. His nurse tells him that he’s undergone surgery that has gifted him with incredible abilities. Just as he’s figuring out he’s part of a secretive government experiment, his nurse is killed by a team of professional assassins—assassins meant for him. A sudden vision showing him information he couldn’t possibly know saves his life—and suddenly, Trey is on the run, trying to figure out just what’s happened to him, and how to control it, before it’s too late.

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

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

    5 Books That Remind Us How Great Dean Koontz Really Is 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    What’s your favorite Koontz novel?

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

  • Jeff Somers 4:00 pm on 2017/12/14 Permalink
    Tags: , best thrillers, thrillers   

    The Best Thrillers of 2017 

    It seems like every year turns out to be a Golden Age of Thrillers, and 2017 was no exception. In fact, we saw so many edge-of-your-seat thrillers with so many compelling characters, surprising twists, and heart-pounding action scenes it was tough to narrow it down to just 25. But we’re professionals. The 25 books on this list are all guaranteed to get the blood pumping and the palms sweating—and they’re just the tip of the thriller iceberg.

    The Dark Lake, by Sarah Bailey
    Rosalind Ryan’s transcendent beauty made her a legend in her small rural town, but many years later, it also made her a target. As an adult Rosalind returned to Smithson High School to teach drama, and when she turns up in a local lake, dead of strangulation, it falls to lead homicide investigator Gemma Woodstock to solve the mystery of her murder. Except Gemma is a former classmate of Rosalind’s, and unraveling the puzzle of Rosalind’s strange and lonely existence stirs up Gemma’s own murky, questionable past.

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

    Vicious Circle, by C.J. Box
    The 17th Joe Pickett novel starts off in high gear and never lets up, opening with Picket in a plane using infrared technology to track Dave Farkus, hunter and disability scam artist. Joe catches up with Farkus just in time to see the man shot to death. It doesn’t take long for Joe to identify the key suspect—Dallas Cates, sometime rodeo star who just got done doing 18 months in prison thanks to Farkus’ testimony. Cates makes little effort to hide the fact that he’s seeking the ultimate revenge against Farkus—and has assembled a team of meth heads, sociopaths, and other scary folks to do so. Joe finds both himself and his family included in Cates’ plans, and Cates proves to be smarter and more evil than Joe could possibly have suspected.

    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.

    Watch Me Disappear, by Janelle Brown
    In some ways a darker version of Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette, Disappear centers on the sudden absence of a notoriously unreliable woman, Billie Flanagan, during a hiking trip on the Pacific Crest Trail. With no body left behind, and very few clues to go on, her whereabouts are a chilling mystery. Billie’s teenage daughter, Olive, begins hallucinating that her mother is alive and needs her help, while Billie’s husband, Jonathan, has a different response to the disappearance, having recently discovered she may have been unfaithful. A perfect book for fans of Liane Moriarty, A.J. Banner, Gillian Flynn, and A.S.A. Harrison, this marital suspense story also stands on its own feet.

    The Stolen Marriage, by Diane Chamberlain
    Bestseller Chamberlain’s latest concerns an aspiring nurse trapped in a marriage-of-convenience in a small North Carolina town where she is disliked and mistrusted. It’s 1943, and Tess’s life just took a hard left: Impregnated by a man not her fiancée, she casts off her dream of a medical career alongside her true love and moves away with Henry, the baby’s father, who is uninterested in Tess’s potential. It soon becomes clear Henry is hiding things from Tess. With the polio epidemic in full swing, Tess gets a chance to use her nursing skills at last, but the home front remains as unsettling and mysterious as ever in this suspense-filled, World War II-era tale.

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

    Don’t Let Go, by Harlan Coben
    15 years ago, Napoleon “Nap” Dumas lost his twin brother Leo when he and his girlfriend, Diana, were hit by a train. This is terrible enough—but in a puzzling twist, Nap’s then-girlfriend Maura also disappeared at the same time. When evidence surfaces linking Maura to a murdered police officer, Nap begins to suspect that his brother’s death wasn’t an accident. His investigation leads him to look up the other members of a high school group called the Conspiracy Club—and he soon realizes that someone else is also tracking down the club’s members as well…and killing them.

    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.

    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 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.”

    Hardcore Twenty-Four, by Janet Evanovich
    As her many fans are aware, to know Stephanie Plum is to love her. Evanovich’s long-running series following the madcap exploits of Jersey’s most illustrious bounty hunter takes a spooky turn when headless bodies begin turning up left and right. Although initially they’re corpses from the morgue, when a homeless man is found murdered and decapitated, someone has clearly upped their creepy game, Stephanie is compelled to take the case. In the meantime, she’s bunking with professional grave robber Simon Diggery and his pet python, and concerned about Grandma Mazur’s online dating escapades. Tall blonde and handsome Diesel is also back in town, which is stirring things up for Stephanie and her perennial paramours, sexy cop Joe Morelli and the enigmatic Ranger. Treat yourself to the latest mystery in the Plum series!

    Y is for Yesterday, by Sue Grafton
    Grafton’s famous Kinsey Millhone series is reaching the end of the alphabet, to the despair of legions of fans. Y is For Yesterday travels back to 1979, when four private school boys brutally assaulted a classmate—and the attack was filmed. The ensuing investigation resulted in the conviction of two of the perpetrators, although the main instigator behind the attack disappeared. Nearly twenty years later, one of the attackers is released from prison. Fritz McCabe is in pretty terrible shape, and he’s now being held a virtual prisoner by his parents. When he receives a copy of the video of the attack along with a demand for ransom, McCabe’s parents swing into action and consult with Kinsey Millhone, who is soon drawn into their convoluted family drama. In the meantime she’s also got a sociopath with a deep grudge to contend with. Fans know it’s just another day in the life of one of the best investigators in the genre.

    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.

    Magpie Murders, by Anthony Horowitz
    The diabolically clever Magpie Murders opens with the text of a classic whodunit set in sleepy English village; the latest novel in fictional author Alan Conway’s popular Atticus Pünd detective series. That mystery itself is absorbing enough, but things take a turn for the weird when editor Susan Ryeland must use the clues woven throughout it to solve a chilling real-life murder. Horowitz’s prose is elegant, his characters multifaceted and deeply human, and the ingenious construction of this brilliant puzzler (which pays homage to the classic whodunnit while taking it apart and reassembling it into something completely new) will leave you reeling. In his bestselling novels Moriarty and Trigger Mortis, Horowitz proved his knack for writing spellbinding stories, but Magpie Murders is a tour de force mystery-within-a-mystery that takes things to an astonishing new level.

    Mississippi Blood, by Greg Iles
    Iles’ concluding novel in the Natchez Burning trilogy starts off at a tense boil…and then somehow increases the tension. Penn Cage, now mayor of Natchez, Mississippi, finds himself—and his family—targeted by the Double Eagles, a splinter KKK group led by the loathsome and deadly Snake Knox. Penn’s father, Tom, heads to trial for the killing of his nurse and lover, Viola Turner, and Penn turns to author Serenity Turner for assistance chasing down witnesses. As the racial violence escalates, everyone’s commitment to their ideals is tested, and Iles brings all of the plot threads together in well-constructed trail scenes that offer plenty of surprises.

    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.

    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.

    Since We Fell, by Dennis Lehane
    Lehane’s newest thriller focuses on Rachel Child, a successful television journalist raised by a manipulative mother who doesn’t realize just how damaged she is until an on-air nervous breakdown ends her career. In freefall, Rachel locks herself up in her house and never leaves. With time to think, she wonders about her father, whose identity her mother hid from her, and contacts a private detective to try to identify him. That detective, Brian Delacroix, becomes more than a hire for Rachel—he becomes, she thinks, her lover and salvation. When she begins to suspect he might not be everything he seems, the story really kicks into high gear, an Rachel proves to be a surprisingly dynamic character despite her isolated status.

    Earthly Remains, by Donna Leon
    When the usually careful and meticulous Commissario Guido Brunetti finds himself coming precariously close to losing his cool during an interrogation of a particularly prickly suspect, he is given a leave of absence from work. His wife Paolo convinces to take a breather at a relative’s villa on the quiet island of Sant’Erasmo, and there Brunetti befriends Davide, the house’s caretaker and a quiet man with a passion for beekeeping. But trouble follows, as it often does, and before long Brunetti finds himself investigating Davide’s disappearance. [Hint: Davide took a permanent leave of absence.] In the satisfying twenty-sixth installment of her beloved Guido Brunetti series, author Leon, known for immersing readers in the lush settings of her novels [typically the bustling city of Venice]—gives Brunetti time and space to ruminate on man’s place in the natural world.

    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.

    Glass Houses, by Louise Penny
    A mysterious figure has appeared in the idyllic village of Three Pines, standing alone and stock still in the freezing November sleet. As the villagers, including Chief Superintendent Armand Gamache, grow increasingly perturbed and even frightened, the figure remains. Soon after it finally disappears, a body turns up, which is very probably not a coincidence, and it falls to Gamache to discover whether the killing is in fact a terrible retribution. Later that summer, the accused stands trial, but Gamache is forced to face the consequences of the actions he took during those fateful days in November. The 13th novel in Penny’s incomparable series ratchets up the tension to an almost unbearable degree.

    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.

    Good Daughter, by Karin Slaughter
    If you haven’t read Karin Slaughter yet, The Good Daughter is the perfect novel to jump onboard with…and if you’re a fan of fast-paced, gripping, and impossible to forget thrillers (see: the incredible Coptown), you should definitely be reading Karin Slaughter. In her latest standalone novel, Charlotte Quinn fought back against a harrowing childhood trauma by following in her father’s footsteps and becoming an attorney. But when another attack occurs nearly three decades later, Charlie is powerless to stop a flood of terrible memories from that tragic incident, which destroyed her happy family and left her mother dead. You won’t know where this one is going, but one thing is for sure: you’ll follow this author anywhere.

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

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

  • Jeff Somers 6:00 pm on 2017/12/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , , thrillers,   

    The Best New Thrillers of December 2017 

    If any month calls for a good thriller, it’s December. Between end-of-year work projects, holiday shopping, and lots of time spent in airports, you’re going to need as many distractions as possible. No matter where you find yourself stuck, one of these thrillers will help you pass the time in style.

    Tom Clancy: Power and Empire, by Marc Cameron
    President Jack Ryan, his intelligence agent son Jack Jr., and John Clark, junior’s boss at the Campus, trade off on the spotlight in the latest Tom Clancy thriller, as seemingly separate harrowing scenarios converge. The president is dealing with an aggressive China, staking claims in the South China Sea. His son is working with the FBI to take down a child sex ring. John Clark is on the trail of a missing girl after a traffic stop in Texas uncovers a Chinese agent. As the three men begin to realize there’s much more going on than meets the eye, world events ratchet up the tension between nations in the days leading to the G20 Summit—meaning all three men are working against the clock to understand how it all comes together.

    The Demon Crown, by James Rollins
    In 1903, none other than Alexander Graham Bell travels to Italy to bring home the bones of James Smithson, the founder of the Smithsonian. Bell finds a hunk of amber amongst Smith’s things, in which is the preserved body of a small dinosaur with a crown-like ring of bones on its head, along with the cryptic message, “what the Demon Crown holds is very much alive, and ready to unleash the very hordes of Hell upon this world.” In the present day, a secretive group known as The Guild has finally done just that—loosing giant, killer wasps that swarm civilization and threaten everyone and everything. Grayson Pierce, the commander of Sigma Force, is on a Hawaiian beach with partner Seichan when the first swarm arrives, and the fight is on to defeat the bugs before they reconquer a world they once ruled. Doing so brings Pierce to the most horrifying choice of his life—joining with his enemy to save the world, even if it means sacrificing his own.

    Death at Nuremberg, by W.E.B. Griffin
    The fourth Clandestine Operations novel is set in 1946, where James D. Cronley Jr., directorate of Central Intelligence, finds himself reassigned to the dual mission of protecting the judge overseeing the Nuremberg war crimes trials and investigating Odessa, the secretive organization helping Nazis escape punishment and flee to South America. Two attempts on his life follow quickly, and he finds himself not only tracking Nazi smugglers, but stumbling onto a cult founded by none other than Heinrich Himmler. As the chess pieces that eventually formed the CIA (and set the groundwork for the Cold War) are placed on the board, Cronley must ensure the trials go on as planned while everyone around him seems to have their own agenda—none of which involves his safety and wellbeing.

    The Last Man in Tehran, by Mark Henshaw
    The fourth book in former CIA analyst Henshaw’s Red Cell series opens with Kyra Stryker newly installed as the chief of the Red Cell. No sooner has she claimed her office than a dirty bomb explodes in Haifa, causing massive bloodshed. Mossad launches a ruthless global firestorm of retaliation—using information obviously leaked from the CIA itself. The FBI springs into action, and paranoid officials turn on each other to avoid being implicated. Stryker, desperate to save the agency and her own people, launches her own investigation, and a taut chess match begins that puts Stryker in conflict with anyone who has something to lose in the process—which is just about everyone.

    Direct Fire, by A.J. Tata
    The fourth Jake Mahegan book finds the former Delta Force operative traveling to a North Carolina golf resort at the request of General Savage after a series of horrific acts of terror. Jake arrives at a remote cabin to meet his colleagues Patch Owens and Sean O’Malley, only to be attacked by two gunmen. After dispatching the pair with typical Mahegan efficiency, he discovers that Patch and Sean have been kidnapped as part of a terrorist scheme being run by Zakir Lecha, a Chechen who got into the U.S. by posing as a Syrian refugee. When Zakir also manages to kidnap the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and his wife, Jake joins forces with the general’s army ranger daughter, Cassie, to take down Lecha and save his buddies and her parents. The idea of a terrorist cell bringing ISIS-style tactics to the United States is terrifying, but Mahegan and Cassie are up to the task.

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

  • BN Editors 3:00 pm on 2017/11/22 Permalink
    Tags: , enemy of the state, , , , , owen king, ruth wareorigin, , , the lying game, the rooster bar, thrillers   

    Gift Guide: Up All Night Reads for the Thriller Obsessed 

    Diving into a gritty thriller and losing yourself in a page-turning story is an inordinately satisfying experience. This holiday season, why not give the gift of sleepless nights—the kind the receiver will actually thank you for? Some of our favorite big name authors (from Dan Brown to John Grisham!) have long-awaited brand new books out, and there’s something for every thriller fan. See the complete list in our Holiday Gift Guide for more ideas for your thrill-seeking friends and family.

    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.

    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..

    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.

    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.

    Shop our Holiday Gift Guide, with prefect gifts for everyone on your list!

    The post Gift Guide: Up All Night Reads for the Thriller Obsessed appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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