May Reading Guide: The Best New Thrillers Hitting Bookstores This Month

As the month of May rolls in, so too do several new thrillers. However, if we’re being honest, May is basically just the appetizer for June–which is a full-course dinner prepared by the hands of master chefs.

Consider this: Brad Thor, Brad Meltzer, Ben Coes, Brad Taylor, Joshua Hood, Grant Blackwood, Eric Van Lustbader, and  John Gilstrap all have new books coming out next month. So spend carefully now, because there are a lot of true, must-read novels being released very soon.

That said, there’s still a few noteworthy novels hitting bookstore shelves over the next several weeks. Scroll down to see my picks for the best new releases coming out in May. 

Blood Flad by Steve MartiniBlood Flag by Steve Martini 

Paul Madriani and his partner, Harry Hinds, are just coming off a huge cash-pulling job that left them financially set for the rest of their lives. But rather than retire to a beach somewhere, the two work even harder in an effort to rebuild their law firm. They hire a young, smart, and promising legal assistant named Sadie “Sofia” Leon, and are taking on new clients.

One of those potential clients, a woman named Emma Brauer, is accused of killing her elderly father in what’s commonly known as a “mercy killing.” The police theorize that Brauer killed her father, an army veteran who was in World War II, because he was suffering from diabetes, emphysema, and COPD–-the result of a lifetime of smoking cigarettes.

A little digging reveals that Emma’s father isn’t the only member of his former military unit to die under odd circumstances. Madriani discovers that Mr. Brauer may have been killed because of a link between his old unit and an artifact–-that Hitler himself once used as a talisman–-known as the “Blood Flag.” Worse, it seems that several groups of extremists are after the flag, and will stop at nothing to get their hands on it.

Paul Madriani must race to unravel the rest of the mystery behind the Blood Flag, who exactly is after it, and why they want it so badly.

With plenty of surprises waiting just around each corner, Blood Flag is a fast-paced thriller that picks up steam on its way to a shocking, climactic ending that most readers will not see coming.

Who might enjoy it: If you enjoyed Matthew Betley’s debut novel Overwatch, which came out earlier this year, Blood Flag might be right up your alley. While Overwatch is, in my opinion, a better story overall, Blood Flag is more of a legal thriller. So if you like authors such as John Lescroart and Michael Connelly, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy Steve Martini’s latest book.

Publisher: William Morrow

Release Date: May 17, 2016

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Shadow War by Sean McFateShadow War by Sean McFate

Drawing from his own experiences, having served in the prestigious 82nd Airborne Division of the United States Army, as well as having worked for a private military contractor, Sean McFate adds realism and authenticity to a blistering story about deceit, corruption, and wars fought both by soldiers on the battlefield and by men wearing suits behind closed doors.

Tom Locke is a former Tier One operator who now works for a very successful private contracting firm called Apollo Outcomes. While on an operation in Libya, Locke is recalled back to Washington, D.C., where he’s given a new assignment that is far more dangerous–-which is his specialty.

Locke’s orders are to head to Ukraine and rescue the family of a very wealthy businessman, then lead an assault on Russian forces–-a move ultimately designed to place the rich oligarch in a position of influence and leadership. Locke assembles a team of highly-trained individuals who he trusts, but the mission starts out rocky when an old love stumbles, unluckily, back into his life at the very worst time imaginable.

What Locke doesn’t know is that Brad Winters, his boss at Apollo Outcomes, has his own secret objective tied to the mission. And given the choice, in order to get his hands on what he wants, Winters is more than happy to let Locke and his team become “collateral damage,” if necessary.

With the deck unknowingly stacked against him and an old flame threatening to torch the entire mission before it even gets started, Tom Locke must find a way to stay alive long enough to beat the odds and complete his objectives.

McFate is a debut author who writes in the same vein as Brad Taylor. Shadow War is a promising start to this new series, and worth picking up if you’re looking for a good military thriller.

Who might enjoy it: Fans of military thrillers, especially those who enjoy Brad Taylor’s Pike Logan series. McFate’s writing style is crisp, but his characters are slightly underdeveloped. He does his best to make up for it with nonstop action and shadowy games, making this the equivalent of a great popcorn action flick.

Publisher: William Morrow

Release Date: May 10, 2016

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Beyond The Ice Limit Preston and ChildBeyond the Ice Limit by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Returning yet again is the Gideon Crew, and this time, their mission is more dangerous than ever before. In fact, failure could mean the end of mankind as we know it here on earth.

Several years prior, Eli Glinn, head of Effective Engineering Solutions, led a recovery mission. Their objective was to retrieve a giant meteorite that had landed off the coast of South America. After gathering the meteorite, their skyscraper-sized ship was broken apart during a brutal, vicious storm. In the aftermath of the tragic event, an incredible discovery had been made about the meteorite–which, as it turned out, was not merely a rock after all. Instead, it was found to be a living organism that had apparently catapulted down from space.

The organism has since settled deep down on the ocean floor, and now poses a threat to earth. Gideon is tasked with destroying it, but will soon learn that’s no walk in the park. Killing an alien life-form that’s burrowed two miles down into the sea is hard enough, especially when it has a mind of its own and capabilities unimaginable to humans.

Who might enjoy it: If you’ve read any of the other three previous Gideon Crew novels, then this one is a must-read. If you like Clive Cussler’s NUMA Files series, you might enjoy this too–though Beyond the Ice Limit is more science-fiction based than Cussler’s novels. Nevertheless, it is a suspenseful page-turner that is both creepy and awesome.

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Release Date: May 17, 2016

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The Night The Rich Men BirnedThe Night the Rich Men Burned by Malcolm Mackay

Malcolm Mackay’s new standalone novel, The Night the Rich Men Burned, is a dark look at the world of criminal enterprise. Honestly, there are no good guys. Instead, there’s a slew of bad guys ranging from unpleasant to downright hateable. For instance, there’s Billy Patterson–-the ruthless tough guy who runs his own debt collection business. And then there’s Marty Jones-–your typical foul-mouthed pimp. Heck, there’s even a guy so unpleasant that his nickname is “Potty.” Seriously.  

But the biggest, most cunning and unforgiving antagonist of them all is a little thing called greed…which is where two young, longtime friends named Oliver Peterkinney and Alex Glass come into play. 

Peterkinney and Glass are, again, young. They’re also unemployed and disheartened by their inability to get ahead in their lives. Together, the two friends start working for Marty Jones, the pimp. They like that he puts a little cash in their pockets, but neither of them considers their newfound illegal means of employment as debt collectors as a long-term solution. Specifically, they are dispatched to threaten people who owe money and haven’t paid up. Their first time out, in fact, ended with them throwing a thug a beating as he pleaded for an extension. 

Before long, Peterkinney has made a reputation for himself as he continues to get sucked further and further into the world of crime. Glass, meanwhile, has screwed everything up. With nobody else to love, he tries to make things work with a woman who’s caught in the same grim, hopeless life that he sees for himself. 

In the end, well, it’s somewhat depressing to look back on the lives Peterkinney and Glass have chosen–-and Mackay ties things up in a shocking way that ultimately makes the message of The Night the Rich Men Burned crystal-clear (though you will have to read it for yourself to understand).

Who might enjoy it: The Night the Rich Men Burned is a bona fide crime novel, and Malcolm Mackay has managed to pull the curtain back just enough to allow people a glimpse into a heartbreaking and scary world that most of us pretend doesn’t exist-–but lock our doors at night just in case it really does. If you like a good crime thriller, you won’t find a better new release this month. 

Publisher: Mulholland Books

Release Date: May 3, 2016

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51C-qS47EAL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica

Think you can run away from your past? You can’t.

Esther Vaughan is a nice, quiet women who shares an average looking apartment with her friend, Quinn. Then one night, out of the blue, Esther goes missing from their Chicago home. Nothing has been left behind to suggest where she may be going, nor are there any clues as to who may have snatched her. She’s just vanished, without a trace. 

While going through Esther’s things, Quinn uncovers a secret letter that Esther had kept hidden. The letter is concerning in more ways than one and leaves Quinn wondering how well she truly knows her friend after all–not to mention, scared.

In her searching, Quinn’s discoveries bring more questions than answers. Evidently, Esther had taken out an ad looking for a new roommate and made plans to have the locks on their apartment changed. Buy why? The two hadn’t been fighting, so this was all a surprise to Quinn.

Then comes the real gut-turner, a shocking revelation about what happened to Esther’s former roommate. Scared out of her mind, and in dire need of answers, Quinn presses on to find Ether and expose the truth once and for all–if she can stay alive long enough to do so. 

The story is told through alternating points of view, switching between Quinn and a young guy named Alex, whose role is confusing at first, but makes sense later on into the book. With lots of twists and turns, Mary Kubica keeps readers guessing right up until the stunning conclusion, which is a satisfying ending for a sneaky good book. 

Don’t You Cry is a  wickedly fun psychological thriller that will keep you up all night, and make you question how well you know the people you’re currently living with. 

Who might enjoy it: Mary Kubica is a rising star and a master at writing creepy thrillers that will have you checking all the locks on your doors and windows, as well as learning to sleep with a light on. Written with the same suspense and eeriness as Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, fans of those novels will likely devour Don’t You Cry in just a few hours time.

Publisher: MIRA

Release Date: May 17, 2016

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