Do you know someone that loves to read, but aren’t quite sure which book to get them? Fear not, The Book Spy is here to help you out with a complete holiday shopping guide!
I considered backdating this list to include novels published before this year, but ultimately decided against it since newer novels are easier to find in-store at most bookstores. To help narrow down which book is perfect for your reader, I’ve categorized my recommendations according to genre.
Political Thriller/ Action & Spy Novels
The Survivor– Kyle Mills
Taking over for the late Vince Flynn is no small task. Then again, replacing a legend never is. Yet somehow Kyle Mills stepped up to the plate and delivered one of the best novels in the Mitch Rapp saga with The Survivor. Mitch Rapp is back, and this time he’s working to plug a leak of classified information. What’s the catch? Well, for starters, Rapp killed the man leaking the information… in the previous novel! So how is someone haunting him and the CIA from the grave? That’s a question Mitch must find an answer to quickly before any more damage is done. The Survivor proves that as long as Kyle Mills is on board, Mitch Rapp and company are in wonderful hands moving forward. If you buy just one book as a gift this year, make it this one!
Code of Conduct– Brad Thor
If you don’t love Brad Thor, we don’t have much to talk about. Full disclosure, he’s my favorite living author, and for good reason. First of all, Brad is the undisputed king of faction. Faction, for those unaware of the term, is a fictional story wrapped around a nugget of fact. Nobody has mastered this style better than Mr. Thor. In his latest Scot Harvath thriller, Thor tackles the subject of population control. I don’t want to spoil the plot too much so just take my word for it: Code of Conduct isn’t just one of the best books of 2015, it’s one of my favorite books ever! It absolutely rocks from the first to last page and is nearly impossible to put down. When it comes to writing thrillers Brad Thor isn’t just the king of faction, he’s one of the few remaining certifiable Jedi Masters.
PATRIOT– Ted Bell
Ted Bell can flat out write, period! True story: I bought my dad this book and he loved it so much he ran out and got all of Bell’s previous novels. He read the entire series within a few weeks, then proudly named Ted his favorite author. In PATRIOT, Alex Hawke (Bell’s series protagonist) takes on Vladimir Putin. Hawke is a brilliantly written character who literally has it all – Good looks, money, wit, and that darn British accent that women always seem to love. But above all, more than anything else, Hawke specializes in war. So when the Russians develop a new type of explosive, capable of more damage than anything created before it, the entire world fears Putin except for one man: Lord Hawke. Bell’s talent is on full display here, as not one single page is wasted. A true thriller, PATRIOT dazzles from beginning to end.
The English Spy– Daniel Silva
Daniel Silva is the man. Seriously. Every year he churns out another Gabriel Allon thriller, and each year he presents a book even better than the last. This year he treated us with The English Spy, a fascinating thriller about an Irish bomb maker who kills a woman with ties to the British Royal family. Gabriel Allon, an Israeli intelligence officer, is called upon to investigate her death and find the man responsible. Allon is unlike any other leading character in the genre. Besides being a spy, he’s also a famed art restorer, and he’s equally masterful at both of his crafts. Silva’s writing is magical, and you’ll quickly find yourself lost in his breathtaking descriptions of beautiful locations. If you need to get away but can’t afford to go on vacation, crack open anything with Daniel Silva’s name on it and you’ll feel as though you’re seeing the world. Of course, you’ll also feel your pulse quicken and adrenaline pumping as the story unfolds. The English Spy is both Silva and Allon at their best, and one of the true must-read novels of 2015.
The Third Target– Joel C Rosenberg
Joel Rosenberg earned himself the nickname of a “modern day Nostradamus” for his ability to predict future news headlines and craft stories around them. In his first series beginning with The Last Jihad, Rosenberg wrote about the possibility of Israel discovering vast amounts of oil. Well, just recently, that discovery happened. In his second series, beginning with The Twelfth Imam, Rosenberg wrote about Iran’s tireless pursuit to obtaining a nuclear weapon. He also offered his theory (over three fictional novels) on how that might play out, especially if the United States did little (or nothing) about it and left Israel vulnerable. Would the Jews launch a preemptive strike? That’s a question we seem to be asking now as these story lines are playing out in the real world. Rosenberg’s fictional writings seem to be, well, not all that fictional! The Third Target is the first book in a new series he’s writing. The book is about a New York Times reporter who chases a story about ISIS smuggling chemical weapons out of Syria. While the novel came out in January, Rosenberg wrote it last year before people were really aware of who ISIS was. In true Rosenberg fashion, recent news reports suggested that ISIS may have in fact actually smuggled weapons out of Syria, details of which were eerily similar to Joel’s novel!
The Third Target is fantastic and the sequel, The First Hostage, comes out on 12/29 so you’d better get this one read now!
Radiant Angel– Nelson DeMille
After last year’s bestselling novel, Panther, John Corey – the smart-mouthed, wisecracking hero – is back and he has a new job. Corey is no longer working with the Anti-Terrorist Task Force, but rather he’s taken a position with a Diplomatic Surveillance group where he keeps an eye on Russian diplomats working at the United Nations in New York City. All is well until Corey notices that a Russian colonel, posing as someone else, happens to just vanish from a party. Is he a threat? Corey believes he is, and goes on the hunt to find the colonel and figure out what his intentions are – before he has the chance to do the United States any harm.
Nelson DeMille is one of the godfathers of the genre, and at the top of his game with Radiant Angel. If you know somebody that especially loves Cold War era type thrillers, this is a great fit for them.
The Patriot Attack– Kyle Mills
Kyle Mills was already one of the best thriller authors long before getting the Mitch Rapp gig, and he proves that once again with his other 2015 novel The Patriot Attack. Imagine a war between China and Japan where each is scrabbling to invent, assemble and perfect the latest next-gen weaponry. That’s the plot behind this Covert-One novel, which is part of the series started by legendary writer Robert Ludlum. The novel is fun and thought provoking, and it has plenty of action and suspense to keep readers intrigued and on the edge of their seats.
If you’re concerned that the person you’re buying for hasn’t read the entire Covert-One series, don’t be. I hadn’t read them all before picking this up and I never missed a beat. While it is technically a series, each book is written to stand alone. The Patriot Attack is perfect for anyone that’s into science fiction or technological thrillers.
The President’s Shadow– Brad Meltzer
If you’re looking to buy a book for someone that loves suspense and mystery, without all the bullets and explosions, this is it. Beecher White is America’s favorite archivist. Out of all the famous archivists… okay, let’s be honest… he’s the only archivist we know, and he’s not even real. But who cares! Meltzer has perfected the art of telling modern stories centered around a historical event, artifact, or secret. His latest novel, The President’s Shadow, is the third entry in his Beecher White series. Imagine the First Lady out early one morning gardening in the Rose Garden, only to discover a finger that had been severed and buried on the White House grounds. Who does the finger belong to? How was it cut off? Was it buried intentionally? What they heck is going on?! These are all questions that Metlzer opens with, hooking the reader from the very first page. I absolutely loved this book, and everything else Meltzer writes. If you know someone that loves reading, especially if they enjoy American history, grab this book and get it under the Christmas tree ASAP.
SIDE NOTE: Meltzer also pens a series of kids books
, which are fantastic! Check those out for young readers.
Clear by Fire– Joshua Hood
Joshua Hood is a superstar in the making. Hood, a decorated combat veteran, calls on his own battlefield experience to deliver this stunningly real, authentic military thriller that absolutely blows away the competition. Clear by Fire is Hood’s debut novel, and the first in a new series centered around Mason Kane.
Kane is a former special ops soldier who ends up being framed for a crime he refuses to commit. Now on the run, Mason is hunted by the very men he served and fought with. In a battle of elite soldiers, this game of cat and mouse is unmatched by anything the genre currently offers. Hood’s brilliance isn’t just in his writing, but in his ability to create compelling characters. Women will especially enjoy this novel as one of the main characters is a female operative named Renee Hart. Renee is quite unlike any of the characters created before her, and a true role model for women. She’s a total knockout in a dress, but she can also knock you out! Think Ronda Rousey, but in the military. This is the perfect book for servicemen especially, or anyone who enjoys top-notch action thrillers.
The Insider Threat– Brad Taylor
Brad Taylor is the biggest name writing in the military thriller genre today, and for good reason! His series following super-soldier Pike Logan is second to none. Imagine a scenario where ISIS is able to take someone that looks to be an American, with no ties to the Middle East, or any social media presence, and turn them into a loyal weapon for their cause. How would the United States tell them apart from anyone else? That’s the threat Pike Logan is facing in The Insider Threat!
Taylor, a former Delta commander, writes with such realism that I sometimes find myself nearly ducking for cover when the action starts. He places you squarely in the driver’s seat and pushes the gas pedal to the floor without ever letting up. Taylor is also one of the few authors that consistently releases two novels a year, allowing fans to double dip on Pike adventures. In fact his next book, The Forgotten Soldier, comes out on 12/29. I’ve already read an advance copy of that one and it’s off-the-charts awesome!
One Killer Force– Dalton Fury
In this book, the government decides to merge Navy SEALs and Delta Force into one epic, ultra-menacing fighting force… but will it work? Returning is Kolt “Racer” Raynor, a former Delta Force commander who is put in charge of a new elite fighting unit that’s tasked with securing information from a somewhat mysterious North Korean who plans to defect from his country. The information he has is absolutely vital to the security of The United States, but getting it won’t be easy.
Raynor, who is still healing from serious injuries he’d previously sustained, soon learns that America faces multiple threats as North Korea has assembled nuclear weapons that may or may not already be on their way into the country. The clock is ticking, can Raynor and his men save the day? Can the SEALs and Delta boys all get along and co-exist long enough to see the job through? Those are just two of the questions that will have readers pulling an all-nighter to finish this spectacular thriller. Trust me, it does not disappoint.
An Evil Mind– Chris Carter
This was my first novel from Chris Carter and I really enjoyed it. With a super creepy and mysterious vibe to it, An Evil Mind is much different that the books I generally read. It’s like the hybrid offspring of a CSI episode mixed with True Detective. When a sheriff who adores the pie from a small town diner witnesses an accident, he soon learns that the crash itself is just the beginning of a much bigger story – a twisted and terrifying story that is as good as it is suspenseful. Again, I’m really high on this book and found it to be refreshing and unique, even though it’s a tad dark and violent. It hits bookstores December 1, so be on the lookout while doing your holiday shopping!
Trust No One– Paul Cleave
I’ll admit it, before this year I’d never read anything by Paul Cleave. Now I’ll never miss another one of his novels. Trust No One is about an author who’s written a bunch of bestselling mystery crime novels before being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at a relatively young age. As his mind deteriorates, he suddenly cannot distinguish reality from his own fiction writing. Did he secretly commit the murders he’s written about? He believes he may have, but can’t remember for certain. What unfolds is a brilliant plot that kept me glued to my chair as I flew though the book in less than a day. It’s a little dark at times, but then again that’s life with Alzheimer’s. I’ve seen that firsthand as my grandfather died from it when I was kid. Cleave accurately displays all the emotions that an individual battling this disease goes though, and how it impacts their family. However, this is not a book to educate or teach about Alzheimer’s. It’s a thriller in the purest form of the word, leading right up to one of the most shocking and suspenseful endings I’ve ever read. If you’re looking to buy a book outside of the political thriller genre, I cannot recommend Trust No One enough.
The Keeper(Vega Jane, Book 2) – David Baldacci
Full disclosure, I haven’t read this book by David Baldacci because it’s written for teenagers. But I do have a teenager who read this book (which came out September 8, 2015) and absolutely loved it. It’s the second book in a series about a girl named Vega Jane. Read about the first novel (The Finisher) here, and order The Keeper from Amazon here.
Ordinary People Change the World Gift Set– Brad Meltzer
My kids adore these books, which Brad Meltzer wrote to be both informative and fun. This gift set includes the first four stories in Meltzer’s I Am series, featuring picture books about Abraham Lincoln, Amelia Earhart, Rosa Parks and Albert Einstein.