June, without question, is going to be the best month of the year for fans of political thrillers and spy novels. However, there are lots of great books to keep you busy from now until then. Here are my recommendations for the month of April!
War Hawk (Tucker Wayne #2) by James Rollins and Grant Blackwood
Of all the books I’ve read this year, none of them surprised me more than this one. Rollins delivers another action-packed thriller, proving once again why he’s one of the very best in the business. Tucker Wayne is a great character who stars in his second novel (After The Kill Switch, 2014), both spin-offs from Rollins’ popular Sigma Force series.
Lots of authors are exploring the buddy/bromance relationship of highly trained, lethal partners working together. Gabriel Allon has Christopher Keller, Mitch Rapp has Scott Coleman, Alex Hawke has Stokely Jones… and Tucker Wayne has Kane, a fiercely loyal K9. Together, they are a dangerous combination–and better yet, they’re a ton of fun to follow.
In War Hawk, a blast from Tucker’s past comes to him in need. A woman he once loved is being hunted down by assassins after several of her colleagues turned up dead, and she has no one else to turn to other than Tucker and Kane. Together, they must work to unravel a huge sinister plot and solve a deadly mystery that stretches all the way back to World War II.
Buckle up, War Hawk really delivers!
Who might enjoy it: Obviously, if you enjoy Rollins’ Sigma Force series then this is a must-read. However, you don’t need to have followed those books to enjoy this one. If you’re a fan of the Call of Duty: Ghosts video game, which features a playable German Shepherd named Riley, I’d suggest checking out Tucker and Kane. And, of course, fans of the military thriller genre–because Tucker Wayne is well on his way to joining the likes of Pike Logan and Dewey Andreas.
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: April 19
The 14th Colony (Cotton Malone #11) by Steve Berry
In 2015’s The Patriot Threat, Steve Berry presented an interesting question: What if income tax was illegal? While I personally enjoyed last year’s thriller, I thought it was slightly bogged down by the heavy, drawn out explanations of how our various laws work–as many pages were dedicated to helping the reader understand various concepts in order to better grasp the plot.
This year, Berry’s back with another thought-provoking plot in The 14th Colony: What happens if the president and vice-president-elect die before they’re able to take the oath of office?
The genius in this plot is that most people, like me, have probably never pondered this question. However, the second you read it you’re hooked and have to know what would happen. This time out, Berry doesn’t disappoint one bit and has delivered one of his best stories yet. Cotton Malone is one of the few fantastic characters of this genre, and few authors hook a reader better than Steve Berry. You should definitely check this book out!
Who might enjoy it: If you love historical fiction or are a fan of authors Brad Meltzer or Raymond Khoury, this book is for you. It also has lots of spy elements, but not quite on the same level of a Vince Flynn or Daniel Silva novel. That said, if you’re looking for secret missions with a historical slant, The 14th Colony has you covered!
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: April 5
An Honorable Man by Paul Vidich
While An Honorable Man is Paul Vidich’s debut novel, it doesn’t read that way at all. Vidich writes with the talent of someone who has been doing this a very long time, and I’m excited to follow his career in the future. His story is tight, wasting very little time before diving right into the meat of the plot. Essentially, this is a battle of spies set during the Cold War–reading like a throwback to when John le Carré ruled the genre.
The story introduces readers to George Mueller, the man tasked with finding a Soviet mole within the CIA. But, as Mueller will soon find out, nothing is easy when you’re dealing with spies–in part because nothing is ever as it first seems. This book twists and turns as Mueller searches high, low, and in the shadows for the traitor among them.
Rather than stuffing the pages with explosions and nonstop action, Vidich uses suspense to drive the story. Trust me, it works. You’ll be guessing right up to the ending, which I must say is quite satisfying.
Who might enjoy it: Fans of Alan Furst and John le Carré will especially appreciate Vidich’s style and attention to detail as he nails everything there is to love about Cold War-era spy thrillers. On the flip side, if you’re looking for explosions and nonstop action, you won’t necessarily find that here. Solid characters and an intriguing, captivating plot are what drives An Honorable Man, so know that going into it!
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Release Date: April 12
The Last Mile (Amos Decker #2) by David Baldacci
Decker is unlike any of Baldacci’s other characters, made unique by an extremely rare neurological condition called hyperthymesia–-the result of a crushing helmet-to-helmet hit on the football field, which makes it impossible for Amos to forget anything.
Melvin Mars, nicknamed “Jumbo” by prison guards because he happens to be inmate number 7-4-7, is awaiting the death penalty after being convicted of murdering his father and mother nearly two decades prior. Just before his execution is scheduled to begin, a man on death row in Alabama confesses to murdering Mars’ parents. But before his confession can exonerate Mars, an investigation must first confirm the man’s claims. Until then, Melvin Mars has to go back to his cell and wait.
Decker, who has just taken a job with the FBI, is intrigued by several parallels between himself and Mars: Both were collegiate football players for major universities, both had their playing careers cut short, both had their lives ruined after their families were murdered, and in both cases, someone came forward to confess to the killings after an extended period of time.
After convincing his new team members to look into Mars’ case, one of them goes missing as a result of their poking around–prompting Decker to ask himself who might want Melvin out of prison, and why? Baldacci takes readers on a thrilling ride from there, showing why he’s arguably the biggest name writing fiction today.
Who might enjoy it: If you are a fan of Baldacci’s other characters, especially John Puller and Will Robie, then Amos Decker is definitely worth a try. For other readers looking for a fast-paced thriller or a gripping mystery, The Last Mile should satisfy your taste buds!
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release Date: April 19
Close Your Eyes (Joseph O’Loughlin #8) by Michael Robotham
Joseph O’Loughlin is a clinical psychologist battling Parkinson’s disease who lends his expertise to the local police from time to time. After a mother and daughter were found dead in their farmhouse, Joe notices several things that seem “off” about the crime scene. The daughter was killed in her room, which is strange because if she heard someone breaking in or murdering her mother, why didn’t she call the police or run for help? Joe also notes several other things, like the fact that a knife is missing from the kitchen. Does that indicate the killer came unprepared? Does that even matter, ultimately?
Soon all heck breaks loose when Joe makes a connection between that case and a string of other attacks. Mixed in are chapters about Joe’s personal life and his desire to repair his relationship with his estranged wife, with whom he has a daughter. But until Joe can solve the case, a killer is walking around free–and Joe’s determined to catch them before they can strike again.
Who might enjoy it: If you love crime novels and mysteries, here you go! What makes this story work is that the author repeatedly convinces the reader that they know who the killer is, before yanking the rug out from beneath their feet. Close Your Eyes will keep even the veteran readers of the genre guessing until the very end. The downside is that if you’re not already a fan of this series, you may not have an emotional connection with Joe’s private life–leaving some readers skimming over those parts of the story so they can get back to the action.
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Release Date: April 12
Three Minutes to Midnight (Jake Mahegan #2) by A.J. Tata
Jake Mahegan is searching for revenge. Jake, formerly a Delta Force operative, is still haunted by a tragic scene he stumbled into when he was just a teenager–his mother’s murder. But when his past collides with a sinister plot in the here and now, Jake is the United States’ only hope to stop a string of attacks.
Bloodthirsty for revenge, Jake must first find a way to stop a plot that could destroy America from within before he can go after his mother’s killer. The action is superb, and I really like that Tata’s hero is Native American. Chayton “Jake”Mahegan is a strong character who fans of political thrillers will enjoy and root for. One would hope these types of threats aren’t actually probable, but if they are I definitely want Tata and Jake Mahegan on my side when the bullets start flying!
Who might enjoy it: This is a thriller in the vein of Brad Taylor and Ben Coes. If you enjoy those guys, you’ll connect with Jake Mahegan in a heartbeat. I’m a fan of Tata’s books and think he writes some of the most realistic action out there. That said, this wasn’t my favorite of his novels. It’s not bad by any means, but I felt like there was a little bit left on the table in terms of the story and what could have been. Three Minutes to Midnight is still a very solid thriller, and I’m anxious to see how Tata follows this up next year!
Release Date: April 26