The Real Book Spy’s March 2017 Reading Guide

Start clearing your schedules, thriller fans, because March is going to be another jam-packed four weeks filled with tons of awesome books! 

As always, we’ve chosen our ‘Featured Selections,’ but instead of only picking two books to highlight among this month’s new releases, we’ve chosen three. Those novels are C.J. Box’s Vicious Circle, Matthew Betley’s Oath of Honor, and Joel C. Rosenberg’s Without Warning

Read full reviews and details about those books (and others) below, but here are a few quick reasons why we chose to feature those specific titles:

C.J. Box has long been one of the best mystery writers on the planet. His Joe Pickett series is truly one of the must-read franchises in print today. Nobody has developed their main character–and their family–the way Box has with Joe and the rest of the Picketts. A true master of his craft, Box delivers yet another gripping, unputdownable novel that follows Joe as he once again faces off with a violent young rodeo cowboy from his past named Dallas Cates. 

When it comes to newcomers, very rarely does an author show the kind of talent and know-how that Matthew Betley has displayed over the course of his first two novels. Oath of Honor follows his debut thriller, last year’s Overwatch, and continues the story of Logan West–a former marine turned FBI agent. Betley has already been compared to some of the best political thriller writers working today (which is rare), and he’s lived up to the hype (which is pretty much unheard of) with his first two books.  

No stranger to the New York Times bestsellers list, Joel C. Rosenberg–known as one of today’s best headline-beating novelists–started writing about ISIS long before anyone else. It’s true that, last year especially, tons of authors have written the savage terror group into their stories, but Rosenberg was first. In fact, when the first book in this series (The Third Target) came out in 2015,  it did so several months earlier than it was originally slated to be released, as Rosenberg’s publisher found themselves scrambling to get the book on store shelves because the plot, quite literally, was playing out in real life. Without Warning is the stunning conclusion to his latest series, and readers won’t want to miss how this one ends. 

Reading Challenge

Don’t forget about our Real Book Spy Reading Challenge, especially if you’d like to win prizes at the end of the year!

For more info on how the Reading Challenge works, click here. Otherwise, remember to let us know which books from this list you’re planning to read either by leaving a comment on this article or by posting your picks on social media using the hashtag #RealBookSpyReadingChallenge so we can track your participation.

We’re really close to unveiling some of the cool book swag we’ve collected from authors to give away (both to a single grand prize winner and several other participants) towards the end of the year. Trust us, you’ll definitely want to get your hands on this prize package! 


Tuesday, March 7th

 

brad-parks-say-nothingSay Nothing by Brad Parks

After his children are abducted in an effort to influence an upcoming case he’s ruling over, every parent’s worst nightmare becomes a reality for Judge Scott Sampson in Brad Parks’ latest conspiracy thriller, Say Nothing.

Wednesdays are the one day each week that Judge Sampson picks up his children, twin six-year-olds Sam and Emma, from school. Typically, that burden falls onto either his wife, Allison, or their nanny, Justina. But Wednesdays are his day with them, and the trio has made a habit of going swimming at the local YMCA and hanging out until Allison gets home from work. So when the Virginia-based federal judge suddenly gets a text message from his wife stating that she’s picking up the twins to take them to a doctor’s appointment, he broke his routine and headed home to wait for them.

That evening, Allison Sampson came home, but she was alone. The kids weren’t with her, and she claimed to have never sent her husband a text message about any doctor’s appointment. Seconds later, their world was turned upside down.

Suddenly, the judge’s phone rang and a mysterious voice told him that if he ever wanted to see his kids again, he would do nothing. More importantly, he was to say nothing. Not to the police, not to his staff at the courthouse, nobody. Before the call was disconnected, the judge was told to keep his phone on because further directions would be given shortly.

The following day, Judge Sampson got a text message just before taking the bench, instructing him to rule against the state and release Rayshaun Skavron. Skavron, a career criminal who was popped for possession of five kilograms of heroin with intent to distribute, should be going to prison for the rest of his life. But, like any parent would do to get their children back, the judge never blinks twice at the demand.

After hearing the closing arguments, Skavron was shown leniency by Judge Sampson and walked out of the courthouse a free man.

In the aftermath of the shocking ruling, the judge finds himself answering not only to the press, but also to political enemies who took a special interest in the case of State vs. Skavron. Worse for Scott and his wife, though, is that the Skavron decision was just a test to see if Sampson would play ball. Now that he demonstrated a willingness to do whatever it took to get his kids back, it’s game on.

Desperate to see his kids returned home safely, Scott Sampson starts trying to figure out who’s manipulating him–an action that is met with swift consequences. Meanwhile, Allison lets more slip than she should have to her tight-knit family, who all have their own ideas on how to best handle the situation, complicating matters even further and causing more tension between the struggling, stressed-out couple.

Eventually, the judge is issued a chilling set of instructions, which could have far greater implications than he ever could have fathomed when the entire nightmare first began. As he tries to navigate through this hell-on-earth scenario, the judge realizes that the kidnappers must have inside help from someone who knows him–causing him to question everyone from his family to his co-workers and anyone in between.

With the deadline looming for the judge to follow the received instructions, his children in line to suffer the consequences should he stray from their captors’ demands, Scott Sampson is running out of time. And in the end, saving his kids could cost him everything else…

Written with the perfect blend of Harlan Coben’s trademark suspense and a Joseph Finder-like conspiracy, Brad Parks’ Say Nothing will leave readers completely speechless. If you’re searching for the next unputdownable thriller, here it is!

Author: Brad Parks
Pages: 448 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1101985593
Publisher: Dutton
Release Date: March 7, 2017 (Order Now!)

 

ja-jance-man-overboardMan Overboard by J.A. Jance

Roger McGeary, a cyber security expert for a California-based firm, falls off a cruise ship into the English Channel during an all-expenses paid trip.

But was it an accident, or did McGeary jump?

Roger’s aunt, Julia Miller, doesn’t believe her nephew’s death was accidental or suicide. As she sees it, he’d battled depression and hardship ever since his father killed himself many years ago. He was finally in a good place, and thus had no reason to off himself or put himself in a risky situation. To find out for sure, she enlists the help of Stu Ramey, who works for a cyber security firm called High Noon Enterprises, located in Arizona. As kids, Stu and Roger were friends, so he’s happy to lend a hand and gets right to work.

It doesn’t take long for both Stu and Julia to realize that their poking around has consequences. Unknowingly, they’ve become part of a sick and twisted game being played by a ruthless serial killer.

As the plot unfolds, Ramey learns that Owen Hansen, who owns the boat that Roger fell off of, is the son of a man who committed suicide. The more they investigate Hansen, the more it appears that the man is perhaps killing other people whose parents killed themselves. His motive, however, is less than clear. 

Ramey continues his digital battle with Hansen (also a genius-level computer hacker), who is helped out by his AI sidekick, Frigg (who makes IBM’s Watson look like Siri). Surprisingly, Frigg is given a rather large role in the veteran bestseller’s latest story, and Jance gets creative with the way man and machine are able to work together. 

With each click of his keyboard, Ramey becomes more and more deeply entwined in Owen’s game, setting up for a high-stakes showdown that ends the novel on a strong note.

Overall, parts of the plot are really clunky. The pieces struggle to fit together, which causes a fair amount of confusion. The story itself is improbable, and all the players seem to be genius computer analysts, hackers, or cyber-security experts. Except, of course, for Frigg, who, after some initial slow chapters, does end up adding a much-needed second layer to the story. The bad guy’s motives are far-fetched, but if you can look past that, well, he’s definitely a despicable and dislikeable villain. 

Ali Reynolds–who is a co-owner of High Noon Enterprises and the star of Jance’s series–is present (as is her husband and other series regulars), but she plays a secondary role to Ramey. While not her best work to date, Man Overboard will likely keep fans of Jance’s franchise satisfied until the next installment, while newcomers will most likely struggle to get into the story.

Author: J.A. Jance
Series: Ali Reynolds #12
Pages: 352 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1501110802
Publisher: Touchstone
Release Date: March 21, 2017 (Order Now!)


Tuesday, March 14

 

without-warning-by-joel-c-rosenbergWithout Warning by Joel C. Rosenberg (Featured Selection)

After several devastating attacks on United States soil, the American president refuses to turn up the heat against the Islamic State, prompting J.B. Collins, a foreign correspondent for the New York Times, to take matters into his own hands. 

Following The Third Target and The First Hostage (both of which were released in 2015), Rosenberg opens his latest political thriller with Collins still gravely concerned with America’s stance against ISIS. That concern deepens after he tries appealing to President Taylor, whom he has a personal history with, to change the weak language in his upcoming State of the Union address. 

Over the past year, Collins has been the point man on all coverage pertaining to ISIS. In fact, he’s the only westerner to have met with the terror group’s leader, Abu Kahlif, in person.

It was Collins who broke the news to the world that ISIS had captured and smuggled chemical weapons out of Syria. And he sat across the table from Kahlif when he vowed to destroy America. He also accurately reported the likelihood of another planned attack ISIS was coordinating, which was ignored by the president and various U.S. intelligence agencies, only to turn out to be devastatingly true. 

All of that has led to Collins having a deep understanding of the Islamic State, their leader, and what it is, exactly, they are trying to accomplish. So when he drops the formalities and appeals to the president in person, asking him to stop telling American citizens that ISIS is “on the run,” and that America is “winning” the fight against them, it comes both from the heart and from first-hand knowledge. 

Rather than listen to Collins, though, Taylor–who after the unfortunate events that took place in The First Hostage is enjoying a sky-high approval rating–doubles down on his claim. Referring to the terror group as ISIL, he proceeds to tell Congress and the American people that America is, in fact, winning the fight against them. He also cautions everyone to refrain from judging practicing members of Islam because, contrary to what some will have you believe, the Islamic State has nothing to do with Islam.

Collins, hearing the president’s speech live, fears the current state of political correctness isn’t just wrong, but dangerous. Little did he know just how right on the money he was…

With the Capitol Building suddenly under siege, the State of the Union address turns into a live viewing of ISIS’s latest attack. Collins escapes, only to hear the president retain the same talking points when addressing the nation later that evening.

Fed up, J.B. decides to take action himself. 

Knowing that the best way to kill a snake is to cut off its head, Collins vows to go after Abu Kahlif, who is still hiding out and avoiding detection from foreign intelligence agencies around the world. To do this, he teams up with unlikely partners who share similar goals, forming an unprecedented alliance to track down the terrorist mastermind. 

As the tone of the book shifts into a Robert Ludlum-like spy adventure following a surprise twist, Collins quickly finds himself in over his head and running out of options. Just when it looks like things couldn’t possibly get any worse, they do, kicking off a final act that is impossible to put down. 

When it comes to building suspense and tension, Rosenberg is merciless. With an unflinching plot that moves at blazing speeds, Rosenberg has packed more twists and turns into this novel than ever before as he continues to examine the threat ISIS poses to the rest of the world. The jaw-dropping ending alone is worth the price of admission, and will leave readers speechless. 

Joel C. Rosenberg has made a career out of beating headlines with his political thrillers, none of which have been as timely as Without Warning, the stunning conclusion to his bestselling J.B. Collins trilogy. 

Author: Joel C. Rosenberg
Series: J.B. Collins #3
Pages: 480 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1496406168
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Release Date: March 14, 2017 (Order Now!)

 

clive-cussler-the-cutthroatThe Cutthroat by Clive Cussler 

Private Detective Isaac Bell takes on his most dangerous adversary yet in Clive Cussler’s The Cutthroat.

Set in 1911, Bell is hired by William Pape, a wealthy businessman whose daughter went missing. Bell finds the missing eighteen-year-old rather quickly, but unfortunately, she was dead by the time he located her.

Someone brutally murdered Anna Pape, who’d left her father’s home to travel to New York where she dreamed of becoming an actress and enjoying life in the big city. Bell’s job was done the moment he found Anna’s body, but he doesn’t stop there. Instead, he sets out to find the girl’s killer, not realizing at the time what, exactly, he was getting himself into.

Though Pape’s money ran out, Bell stays on the case and makes a startling discovery. Anna was one of many blonde, teenage-something-year-olds who’d been murdered in Manhatten. And each girl, it turned out, was killed the same way. Realizing this was far beyond just a coincidence, Bell sets his sights on taking down the serial killer terrorizing New York.

As his team from the Van Dorn Detective Agency compiles any relevant information that might be connected to the serial killer, who is dubbed “Cutthroat” for his throat-slashing tendencies, they uncover a trail of bodies that stretches far beyond just Manhatten. That breadcrumb leads to the revelation that the killer’s trail of victims seems to coincide with the schedule of a traveling theater that has toured everywhere from London to Los Angeles and, of course, New York.

While Bell and his team search for the Cutthroat killer, readers may recognize the villain by another name… Jack the Ripper!

Other historical figures make cameos, and, as always, Cussler (who teamed with Justin Scott for the ninth time to co-author this year’s novel) writes in plenty of automobiles and gadgets along the way.

While Dirk Pitt is still Clive Cussler’s most popular character, Isaac Bell isn’t far behind. This series, with the exception of last year’s offering, has been spectacular from start to finish. This time around, though, Cussler packs more action, intrigue, and suspense than ever before, topping it off with a fascinating villain worthy of squaring off with Bell.

There’s a lot of moving parts to this novel, but it all comes together nicely and, while certain chapters get a little wordy, the pacing is surprisingly fast. Bell entertains readers by shooting, fighting, and stabbing (though it should be noted that nothing is too graphic) his way through the most dangerous case of his career.

After a rare misstep with last year’s The Gangster, which fell short of the quality readers have come to expect from Cussler, the veteran author rights the ship with The Cutthroat, a dazzling historical adventure novel that Isaac Bell fans will enjoy from beginning to end.

Authors: Clive Cussler and Justin Scott
Series:  Isaac Bell #10
Pages: 416 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 039957560X
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: March 14, 2017 (Order Now!)

 

28693376.jpgThe Devil’s Triangle by Catherine Coulter and J.T. Ellison

Nicholas Drummond and Michaela Caine (who goes by “Mike”) return in Coulter and Ellison’s latest novel to head up an all-new FBI team called “Covert Eyes.”

When Kitsune, a blast from the duo’s past, asks for help rescuing her kidnapped husband, Drummond and Caine are intrigued.

It turns out that Kitsune’s husband, Grant, was taken by Italy-based twins, Cassandra and Ajax Kohath, who possess special abilities. In fact, they’re partially responsible (through involvement with a weather-manipulating family member) for a large storm–which they’re capable of producing anywhere in the world–that delivers a devastating blow to Beijing. In the process, most of the sand from the Gobi Desert is moved, which, as one might imagine, causes a lot of problems.

Originally, the twins hired Kitsune to steal a biblical artifact, which goes hand-in-hand with their lifelong goal of finding the Ark of the Covenant. Their reason for reallocating sand from the Gobi Desert was to find the Ark or, at the very least, a clue that might lead them to it. Their plan works, to some extent, when they find a piece of gold they believe was broken off the Ark itself.

As Kitsune, Drummond, Caine, and their Covert Eyes team (which is similar to James Rollins’ popular Sigma Force unit) battle the Kohath twins, each side races to find the Ark first, leading to the type of high-stakes, nerve-wracking final act that readers of Coulter and Ellison have come to expect.

Following last year’s The End Game (2016), The Devil’s Triangle packs more action and features more compelling and formidable villains for Drummond and Caine to square off with. The psychotic, power-hungry Kohath twins embody evilness. Anyone who stands in their way or questions them, including family, is subject to their wrath. Readers will hate them, but in the best way possible.

While the subject of Ark hunting may seem played out and overdone by now, the authors do offer a relatively fresh take with their story, which is packed with gunfights, chases, and edge-of-your-seat suspense. By and large, this book isn’t so much about the ending itself, but the journey leading up to it.

Authors: Catherine Coulter and J.T. Ellison 
Series: Drummond and Caine #4
Pages: 512 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1501150324
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: March 14, 2017 (Order Now!)

 

51wk-30w9kl-_sx330_bo1204203200_Oath Of Honor by Matthew Betley (Featured Selection)

When a powerful, high-tech weapon falls into enemy hands, former Marine officer turned FBI investigator Logan West is called on to save the day.  

Following the events of Matthew Betley’s debut novel, Overwatch (2016), which took the thriller world by storm last year, Logan West has joined his friend and battle buddy, John Quick, and is now officially working with the FBI.

ONERING, a sophisticated next-gen weapon capable of hacking into any satellite without leaving a trace, is finally ready for testing. Accompanied by a research team, the weapon is taken aboard the Arctic Glide, anchored just off of Amaknak Island. But when intel suggests a team of Russian operatives will target the boat, West and Quick are sent to Alaska to stop them.

Arriving a tad too late, West engages the enemies in a ballsy shootout as a last-ditch effort to prevent the theft of ONERING, but is ultimately unsuccessful, as the weapon vanishes along with the gunmen who stole it. 

Back in Washington, West and Quick are instructed to track down ONERING and recover it at all costs. Joining them is newcomer Cole Matthews, a spy who becomes fast friends with Logan and John, often engaging in their sarcastic banter, while quickly proving his worth when the bullets start flying–which they do often in this one.

After Logan, John, and Cole follow the trail to Spain, they once again arrive minutes too late and are unable to stop the bad guys, a recurring trend in their pursuit to recover the devastating weapon. As they continue chasing leads and coming up short, they soon realize there’s a very real possibility that their intel isn’t just bad, but planted by someone leading them in the wrong direction. 

As they make their way across the globe, leaving footprints (and bullet casings) in Alaska, Spain, and North Africa, the trio of heroes cross paths with everyone from highly-trained Russians to Chinese commandos, as well as multiple foreign governments. Unaware of a much larger, carefully organized New World Order–comprised of a coalition of America’s enemies–taking shape behind the scenes, West, Quick, and Cole battle their way to a thrilling, emotionally-charged ending that will leave readers thoroughly satisfied and begging for the next book.

While the many action sequences steal the show, the best part of the story takes place when Logan and Cole find themselves in an off-the-books prison (there’s also a scene-stealing shootout that takes place on a ship which features a wildly entertaining way to take down a helicopter). And while parts of the plot have a James Rollins-like feel to them, Betley has quickly developed his own unique style that separates him from the pack. 

The author’s blend of witty, sarcastic humor and hard-hitting action go perfectly together, making an already fast-paced plot flow at blazing speeds. While Logan West is the star, all three lead characters bring a different dynamic to the story, and Betley’s razor-sharp dialogue is already some of the best in the business.

While the story seems straightforward in the beginning, readers will soon realize that the cast of bad guys is far more diverse and creative than what originally meets the eye. As Betley slowly pulls back the curtain, revealing a large-scale conspiracy, it’s easy to see that the events of this book will have a profound impact on future installments of his series, which has already reached must-read status after only two books.

Matthew Betley’s Oath Of Honor is a relentless, pulse-pounding adventure that will leave you breathless. Make room at the top of the genre, there’s a new king of high-concept political thrillers!

Author: Matthew Betley
Series: Logan West #2
Pages: 404 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1476799253
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Release Date: March 14, 2017 (Order Now!)

 

412CTOiRKtL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThe Forgotten Girls by Owen Laukkanen 

Someone is preying on young girls that nobody notices, and who no one is looking for should they go missing… Until two detectives take notice, and set out to end a killer’s reign on helpless victims.

Kirk Stevens and Carla Windermere are both part of the Minnesota-based FBI and Bureau of Criminal Apprehension violent crimes task force. Following the events of last year’s The Watcher In The Wall, Stevens and Windermere happen across a murder they begin investigating by chance, only to realize things are far worse than they initially thought. 

It all starts when a twenty-something-year-old woman named Ash is found dead near the railroad tracks outside of Boundry County in Idaho. Police do little to investigate her murder, and the world never seemed to mourn the death of the young runaway. But then, somewhat by chance, Ash’s case lands on Stevens and Windermere’s radar, and the duo finally gives her investigation the respect it deserves. 

Through another girl named Mila, Stevens and Windermere quickly realize that a predator has set up shop, and is targeting women riding the High Line train. Somehow, the killer is able to blend in without drawing any attention, and they’re willing to brave frigid conditions to stalk their prey. Until now, they’ve flown under the authority’s radar, racking up a staggering body count. 

Laukkanen makes the reader privy to information about the killer before his main characters know the man’s identity. It turns out that the killer washed out of the army, and has taken to murdering due to do his own deep psychological issues. He kills because he can and because he enjoys it, and until now no one has stood in his way. 

While Stevens and Windermere search for the ghostly murderer before he can strike again, Mila pursues the deranged killer on her own. She was friends with Ash, and she vows to avenge her friends’ death. The young woman is both brave and strong and while the world sees her a misfit, readers will root for her because of her loyalty and spunk. Her story is compelling, and Laukkanen does a really good job developing her and making her relatable to readers. 

As Stevens and Windermere’s investigation spans across multiple state lines, they’re able to trace more than twenty murders back to the High Line killer, and the duo makes finding him their only mission. But doing so will test all their resolve unlike any case they’ve ever worked before. 

The story, which is told through multiple viewpoints, is more linear than previous books in the series. While Owen Laukkanen has written some twisting plots, The Forgotten Girls is a seemingly straightforward thriller that’s driven by readers’ desire to see the savage villain caught and apprehended so he can pay for his crimes. That formula works just fine, but the story does seem to reach a boiling point three-quarters of the way in only to drag on a bit longer when things could have been tied up sooner. 

Last year’s The Watcher In The Wall was, in all honesty, a hard book to review due to its powerful message. This year, Laukkanen wrote more of a pure mystery thriller, and The Forgotten Girls it’s just the kind of dark, suspense-filled story that fans of this series have come to expect. 

Author: Owen Laukkanen
Series: Stevens and Windermere #6
Pages: 368 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0399174559
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: March 14, 2017 (Order Now!


Tuesday, March 21st 

 

vcVicious Circle by C.J. Box (Featured Selection)

Over the course of sixteen prior novels, Joe Pickett, America’s favorite Wyoming game warden, and his family have been in over their heads numerous times–but they’ve never been tested quite like this.   

Dallas Cates, who enjoyed minor fame and a small fortune as a champion bull rider on the rodeo circuit before landing in prison, has come back to his hometown of Saddlestring, Wyoming looking for revenge.

Longtime fans of Box’s best-selling series will remember that it was Cates who April Pickett, Joe’s middle daughter, once ran off with. Later, in Box’s 2015 thriller Endangered, April was found beaten and clinging to life on the side of the road after hitching a ride with Dallas back home.

Joe and his wife, Marybeth, suspected Dallas all along, and they, along with their loyal friend, Nate Romanowski, an outlaw falconer with a special ops background, went toe-to-toe with the entire Cates family. The end result was a bloodbath that ended with Dallas doing more than a year behind bars, thanks in part to some trumped-up charges.

Now Dallas is out, and he’s returned to wage war against Joe and his family.

Catching up with the Picketts is a real treat, as Box has developed the family of characters masterfully over his career. Like watching child television stars growing up on a long-running sitcom, Joe’s daughters have gone from little girls to young women over the course of the series. Lucy is now the only one still living with her parents in their state-owned home on Bighorn Road, leaving the Pickett house much quieter than in past books.

As Joe gears up for hunting season, he initially sets his sights on a poaching ring that’s been running rampant in the Wyoming mountains. But his focus quickly shifts when hunter Dave Farkus, the bumbling town drunk who played sidekick to Joe on more than one adventure, accidentally overhears a conversation about Joe at the Stockman Bar between Cates and his buddies.

Farkus’ warning was enough to put Joe and Marybeth on edge, as they always feared their feud with the Cates family would come full circle. Now it had, and things get Western in a hurry, especially after an axe-wielding meth head slashes their way into the Picketts’ lives. 

Along with Farkus and Romanowski, other series regulars such as Sheriff Reed, a prominent defense attorney named Marcus Hand, and even Missy, Joe’s gold-digging mother-in-law, make appearances. Each character has their own unique side plot, adding to an already blistering, fast-paced story.

One of the scene-stealing plotlines revolves around Romanowski, who, after the events of last year’s novel, finds himself in a unique situation. No longer is he required to live in hiding, but adapting to life back on the grid proves harder than Nate thought. Seeing his transformation is something fans of the series will find both enjoyable and, at times, downright hilarious. 

While the Picketts are no strangers to dangerous situations, they’ve had the good fortune of seeming to always come out on top. Then again, Cates is perhaps Box’s most despised antagonist yet, and the fact that he has nothing to lose makes him even more of a wild card. Readers are in for a few surprises, as Box shows once again that he’s not afraid to be bold and shake things up for his beloved characters. 

One of the genre’s premier authors, C.J. Box stuns once again with another gripping, lightning-quick plot that features multiple jaw-dropping moments and several tense action scenes. The competition doesn’t stand a chance when Box is on top of his game, and Vicious Circle is quite possibly his best work yet. A must-read for all thriller and mystery fans! 

Author: C.J. Box
Series: Joe Pickett #17
Pages: 366 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0399176616
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: March 21, 2017 (Order Now!)

 

matthew-quirk-dead-man-switchDead Man Switch by Matthew Quirk

When his former teammates start turning up dead, John Hayes is pulled back into the game of black ops to stop whoever is behind the carefully carried out assassinations.

To the untrained eye, the multiple accidental deaths across America might not seem like a big deal. But to John Hayes, they’re a huge red flag. What nobody else knows is that the victims aren’t just everyday people–they’re part of the military’s most covert unit of super-soldiers.  

Not long ago, John Hayes was leading the covert-ops military group known only as “Cold Harvest.” The best of the best, Cold Harvest’s operators have been trusted with some of the most dangerous, sensitive, and secret missions carried out by American commandos. Their skills are diverse, and they can be dispatched for anything from hostage rescue to WMD recovery. 

Secrecy is key to Cold Harvest’s survival and success, but when someone manages to get their hands on a list containing the name of the group’s operators and their home addresses, all hell breaks loose–and only John Hayes possesses the skill set required to get to the bottom of it all. 

Heading back to the United States, Hayes investigates each death individually. Initially, his top suspect is a terrorist named Hynd, who has felt Cold Harvest’s devastating effects in recent years. While Hynd certainly has a motive to hunt down the American soldiers, Hayes questions whether or not the terrorist has the means necessary to pull off such a plan.  

Soon another suspect emerges in the form of Claire Rhodes, a deadly assassin whom Hayes once trained. While he knew Rhodes had fallen on hard times recently, struggling to cope with the death of her husband, Hayes can’t find any solid motive for her to go after his former team–though she (unlike Hynd) certainly has the means. 

Eventually, as his crisscrossing adventure takes him all over the United States, Hayes begins putting the puzzle pieces together, leading to a shocking and explosive final act set in the heart of New York City, where a large-scale attack is in the works. 

On the run himself, John Hayes races to uncover who’s behind the assassinations of his former teammates, all while trying to prevent an attack on American soil. This high-stakes recipe makes for a thrilling adventure, and Matthew Quirk pulls out all the stops for his latest must-read thriller. 

Beginning with a tension-filled opening chapter, Quirk’s follow-up to last year’s Cold Barrel Zero moves at breakneck speeds with a double dose of action to keep readers’ heart rates soaring. While the first part of the plot deals with Hayes’ investigation, Quirk kicks things into a new gear for the second half, creating a nice balance that falls somewhere between a military and political thriller. 

Just two books in, Matthew Quirk’s series is fast becoming one of the genre’s better franchises. John Hayes is a rugged and compelling hero who can handle himself in any situation, and readers will love following him around. 

Author: Matthew Quirk
Series: John Hayes #2
Pages: 320 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0316259233
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Release Date: March 21, 2017 (Order Now!)

 

519FkH0tIDL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgMississippi Blood by Gregg Iles

“The endgame is at hand for Penn Cage, his family, and the enemies bent on destroying them in this revelatory volume in the epic trilogy set in modern-day Natchez, Mississippi—Greg Iles’s epic tale of love and honor, hatred and revenge that explores how the sins of the past continue to haunt the present.

Shattered by grief and dreaming of vengeance, Penn Cage sees his family and his world collapsing around him. The woman he loves is gone, his principles have been irrevocably compromised, and his father, once a paragon of the community that Penn leads as mayor, is about to be tried for the murder of a former lover. Most terrifying of all, Dr. Cage seems bent on self-destruction. Despite Penn’s experience as a prosecutor in major murder trials, his father has frozen him out of the trial preparations–preferring to risk dying in prison to revealing the truth of the crime to his son.

During forty years practicing medicine, Tom Cage made himself the most respected and beloved physician in Natchez, Mississippi. But this revered Southern figure has secrets known only to himself and a handful of others.  Among them, Tom has a second son, the product of an 1960s affair with his devoted African American nurse, Viola Turner.  It is Viola who has been murdered, and her bitter son–Penn’s half-brother–who sets in motion the murder case against his father.  The resulting investigation exhumes dangerous ghosts from Mississippi’s violent past. In some way that Penn cannot fathom, Viola Turner was a nexus point between his father and the Double Eagles, a savage splinter cell of the KKK. More troubling still, the long-buried secrets shared by Dr. Cage and the former Klansmen may hold the key to the most devastating assassinations of the 1960s. The surviving Double Eagles will stop at nothing to keep their past crimes buried, and with the help of some of the most influential men in the state, they seek to ensure that Dr. Cage either takes the fall for them, or takes his secrets to an early grave. 

Tom Cage’s murder trial sets a terrible clock in motion, and unless Penn can pierce the veil of the past and exonerate his father, his family will be destroyed. Unable to trust anyone around him–not even his own mother–Penn joins forces with Serenity Butler, a famous young black author who has come to Natchez to write about his father’s case. Together, Penn and Serenity–a former soldier–battle to crack the Double Eagles and discover the secret history of the Cage family and the South itself, a desperate move that risks the only thing they have left to gamble: their lives.

Mississippi Blood is the enthralling conclusion to a breathtaking trilogy seven years in the making–one that has kept readers on the edge of their seats. With piercing insight, narrative prowess, and a masterful ability to blend history and imagination, New York Times bestselling author Greg Iles illuminates the brutal history of the American South in a highly atmospheric and suspenseful novel that delivers the shocking resolution his fans have eagerly awaited. “

Author: Greg IIles 
Series: Natchez Burning #3
Pages: 704 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0062311158
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: March 21, 2017 (Order Now!)

 

51jydbwer8l-_sx329_bo1204203200_In Randy Wayne White’s latest thriller, Doc Ford takes on his strangest case yet and finds plenty of trouble along the way.

Finally fed up and ready for answers, Tootsie Barlow, a longtime charter captain, goes to Marion “Doc” Ford for help. Ford, a brilliant marine biologist who moonlights for the government, listens as Barlow explains how his family is “cursed.”

The curse, Barlow explains, stems from a crime that was committed a century ago during the days of Prohibition. In April of 1925, Deputy Sheriff J.H. Cox, along with his wife and their two young children, went missing. A state-wide search didn’t turn up any clues or leads, ending the investigation without any real answers.

Originally, the case made headlines because Cox was the principal witness in more than a dozen cases against bootleggers in the March District of Florida, which, back then, resembled the Wild West due to a continuous crime wave that swept over the southern state. While the investigation ended, the case was never closed.

In the present, Tootsie Barlow believes wholeheartedly that his father was involved in Cox’s disappearance, and thus his family is cursed for the sins of Albert Barlow.

The theory, at first, seems to fit when Barlow lists the many unfortunate events that have plagued his family. A list that grows longer when it’s revealed that Gracie Barlow, Tootsie’s teenage niece, has vanished without a trace–not all that different from how Cox disappeared a century ago.

To right the wrongs that have tormented the Barlow family, Doc sets out to find Gracie before it’s too late and to help end the Barlows’ problems once and for all.

Throughout the novel, the author weaves fiction and historical fact (the Cox family was real and they did, in fact, vanish in the 1920s), creating a menacing blend of high-stakes situations and endless suspense. There’s also a number of side plots, one of which involves Ford trying to catch a child pornographer in the Bahamas, and another where he helps save a distant member of the royal family.

Doc Ford is a really intriguing character who is different than anyone else in the genre today. While he’s a scientist by trade, Ford shines brightest when utilizing his secondary, and far more lethal, skill set outside of his lab located in the shadows of Dinkins’ Bay. And with many dangerous scenarios playing out, Mangrove Lightning is heavier on the action than the previous novel, Deep Blue (2016).

With beautifully written scenery, the state of Florida itself takes on an important role within Randy Wayne White’s twenty-fourth Doc Ford novel. The historical elements are balanced nicely with the fictional story, and the author knows his way around a mystery better than most.

While there’s definitely a lot going on, and the plot does start out a tad slow, Randy Wayne White pulls it all together to deliver a compelling and entertaining story that has a little something for everyone.

Author: Randy Wayne White
Series: Doc Ford #24
Pages: 329 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0399576681
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: March 21, 2017 (Order Now!)

13 comments

  1. Please sign me up for Oath of Honor and Dead Man’s Switch.
    Thanks so much for compiling these awesome reading guides!

    Like

  2. Just finished reading the Nowhere Man by Gregg Hurwitz. Good book. Always looking for different authors to read. My next spy read is going to be the Prisoner by Alex Berenson. The Real Book Spy is such a great site for finding new books to read. Keep up the great work and reviews.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I read “Say Nothing” by Brad Parks. First, if you ever get a chance to see him in person, do so. I saw him at Murder and Mayhem in Milwaukee and he was a very funny, engaging panelist. Definitely hear him talk about how he writes all his books in the local Hardee’s.
    This is a very well written thriller. It builds it’s mystery with just the right amount of stake raising and red herrings. Reading the book it’s obvious that Parks is a parent and that experience grounds the book in reality.
    My one major caveat with this book is baked into the concept. I have a major issue with “children in danger” used as a method for stake raising. I’ve always felt it’s a cheap method of investing your audience in the outcome. However, if that style of story doesn’t bother you, this is a really good thriller.
    I’ll be watching for Parks next stand alone thriller. With a new premise, I’m sure no caveats will be necessary.

    Like

  4. Finished reading Oath of Honor a few days ago and Dead Man Switch just this morning. Wow!
    Both books are destined to become classics in the genre of military/political thrillers.
    Thank you so much for leading us readers to such excellent books!

    Like

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