The Real Book Spy’s July Reading Guide

July Books.jpg

 

A new month means a new Reading Guide. Welcome to July, thriller fans! Check out which books are hitting bookstores this month, and don’t forget about our 2017 Reading Challenge (more on that below). 

As always, we’ve highlighted a few titles to be our Featured Selections. This month, those books are Daniel Silva’s House of Spies, Michael Connelly’s The Late Show, and C.J. Box’s Paradise Valley.

Featured Selections

Simply put, Daniel Silva is one of the true masters working today. Consider this, Tom Clancy pretty much invented the technothriller genre. Robert Ludlum, John le Carré, and maybe a few others, all played critical roles in launching spy thrillers. But when it comes to headline-beating political thrillers, Vince Flynn, Daniel Silva, and Brad Thor made this genre what it is today.

Flynn introduced readers to Mitch Rapp (Transfer of Power) in 1999. A year later, Silva introduced Gabriel Allon (The Kill Artist), one of the best art restorers on the planet, and Israel’s most lethal assassin. Thor, two years after that, released his first Scot Harvath novel (The Lions of Lucerne). Even the biggest diehard political thriller fans would struggle to name another author who burst onto the scene back then and is still putting out top-rated books today. Incredibly, Flynn, Silva, and Thor remain the three biggest names in the genre. Now, with each of their respective series all sixteen or seventeen books long, their characters are getting older–and no one has handled that better or more realistically than Daniel Silva. 

In House of Spies, Gabriel Allon–who became a household name for his legendary work in the field–has finally assumed his rightful position as head of the Office (Silva’s nickname for the Mossad). A hands-on chief, Gabriel goes after the evil ISIS mastermind known as Saladin, who continues to terrorize the West with one successful attack after another. Delivering some of his best work yet, Silva’s latest thriller isn’t just one of this summer’s must-read novels, it’s one of the best books of 2017. 

For decades, mystery and crime fans have followed Harry Bosch, Michael Connelly’s relentless LAPD detective. This year, though, Connelly is introducing a new character to readers named Renée Ballard. Like Bosch, she too is relentless–but she also offers a new perspective on some of the same issues Connelly has tackled in the past, like politics in the workplace. The Late Show is a terrific start to a compelling new series, and Connelly proves yet again to be at the top of his game. 

Those who’ve followed this site for a long time know that C.J. Box is one of our favorite authors. His Joe Pickett series is, in our opinion, one of the greatest franchises in print today. However, aside from Pickett, Box usually releases a new standalone novel every two years. In fact, some of his best work has come out between Joe Pickett books, including his Edgar Award-winning 2008 thriller, Blue Heaven

This year, Box is releasing the final book in what’s become known as The Highway Quartet, a series that began in 2011 with Back of Beyond. While Blue Heaven is, without question, a phenomenal book, when it comes to Box’s best non-Joe Pickett novel, Paradise Valley gets our vote. This book is not to be missed! 

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, July 4th

 

 41eF6OYxn+L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_A Game of Ghosts by John Connolly 

Based in Portland, Charlie Parker, a retired police detective turned private investigator, is given a new case by FBI Agent Edgar Ross–with whom he has a prearranged agreement stemming from an earlier book in the series.

For his latest job, Ross wants Parker and his team to find Jaycob Eklund. Like Charlie, Eklund is also a private investigator, who has mysteriously gone missing while investigating a series of crimes connected to paranormal events. More specifically, Eklund was hired by the FBI to look into multiple crimes that were each somehow connected to various haunting or ghostly appearances.

Parker checks off the first two boxes on his to-do list by securing the services of Louis and Angel, both of whom are highly trained and fiercely loyal to Charlie. Together, Parker and his team learn of a very secret, cult-like organization who call themselves The Brethren. 

Having been severely thinned out over the years, The Brethren–who seem to be connected to all the historical events Eklund was tracking–will stop at nothing to keep their very existence a secret. To do that, members spread out to hunt down anyone who threatens to expose them, and then they kill them. Parker, who is pretty iffy on Ross and certainly doesn’t trust him, was never told by the FBI man why, exactly, he wants Eklund found–or why he had him running cases for him in the first place. Like everyone, Ross’ motives are questioned, adding uncertainty and another mysterious element to the plot.

Eventually, Parker finds that The Brethren’s history is far worse than he initially realized. Confident that Eklund had also come to the same conclusion, Charlie follows the missing investigator’s footsteps, uncovering a shocking truth about the group he’s up against–who have thrived in the shadows for generations.

Aside from The Brethren, Parker and his buddies go up against other powerful antagonists, each proving to be more than just a bump in the road. To match the deep bench of bad guys, Connolly brings back several fan-favorite characters, altogether creating a fast-moving plot that’s both eerie and thrilling. 

Nobody mixes crime and paranormal activities better than Connolly, who has built up a vast universe and a diverse cast of characters over the course of fifteen novels. While the plots of his books do seem to keep getting increasingly less realistic, they’re also more fun–and Connolly knows what it takes to keep his readers flipping pages at a furious clip.

Book Details

Author: John Connolly 
Series: Charlie Parker #15
Pages: 464 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1501171895
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Release Date: July 4, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 7/10
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Tuesday, July 11th 

 

1House of Spies by Daniel Silva (Featured Selection)

Following last year’s bestselling novel The Black Widow, Daniel Silva picks up the story four months later with seventeenth Gabriel Allon novel, House of Spies.

Gabriel Allon, the wayward son of Israeli Intelligence who once served as the most lethal assassin in Israel’s arsenal, has now assumed the position of chief of the Office (the Mossad) after finally taking his long-awaited promotion.

For the first time in the Office’s history, the former director has stayed on after being replaced. Uzi Navot, who was once Gabriel’s career rival, is now his most trusted advisor. With Navot filling a variety of roles and overseeing some of the day-to-day tasks, Allon is able to remain hands-on in the operations department–similar to how his mentor, Ari Shamron ran things back in the day–where he has his work cut out for him.

Saladin, the ISIS mastermind who terrorized the West, and Gabriel–on a direct and personal level–remains at large. With most of the world’s foreign intelligence agencies dedicating significant resources to finding him, Saladin still manages to oversee a number of successful attacks. But when a single loose end presents itself, Gabriel clings to it and begins the difficult process of once again getting close to the world’s most dangerous terrorist.

Fueled by revenge, Gabriel Allon partners with several allied nations and launches a daring mission. Along the way, Silva weaves multiple fan-favorite characters into the fold, forming a strong supporting cast that, among others, includes Christopher Keller, the former British special ops soldier turned Corsica-based assassin turned newly minted MI6 agent.

Keller is just one in a long list of names that longtime fans of Silva’s series will recognize. Also back are Mikhail Abramov and Natalie Mizrahi, relatively new characters who are fleshed out and developed further in House of Spies, each playing a prominent role in Gabriel’s operation. 

After a long and successful career, Silva is still finding new ways to surprise his readers. Any worries that the series would shift in a negative way once Allon officially left field work can be put to rest. Silva might have tweaked his arsenal a tad, but he can still command his fastball with lethal accuracy and laser-like precision. And while his universe is rich with compelling characters, Allon is still the ace of his staff– and he can absolutely still carry this franchise.  

House of Spies is just the type of relentless, high-powered, headline-beating thriller that readers have come to expect from Silva, one of the truly great, must-read authors of his time. 

Book Details

Author: Daniel Silva
Series: Gabriel Allon #17
Pages: 544 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0062354345
Publisher: Harper
Release Date: July 11, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 9/10
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Two nightsTwo Nights by Kathy Reichs 

Living alone on a remote island off the coast of South Carolina, Sunday Night (that’s not actually her real name) no longer knows what she wants in life. Her childhood was a total mess, and now, as an adult, she’s still struggling to move on and find her way. 

Having left her job as a police officer under unfortunate circumstances, Sunday has no idea what’s next–and then her foster dad, Beau, shows up in need of her help. 

Back when she was a troubled young girl, after losing her mother and barely escaping a dangerous cult, Sunday was mixed up in lots of trouble. It was Beau who took her in and added structure and discipline to her routine. Whatever Beau didn’t instill in her, the United States Marine Corps did–and Sunday is a better person for having both in her life. For that reason, when Beau swings by to offer advice and enlist her help, Sunday listens. 

Though she’s no longer a cop, Beau sees no reason she can’t still use her brilliant investigative mind. To do that, he suggests to Sunday that she lend a hand to Opaline Drucker, a wealthy man whose teenage granddaughter is believed to have been kidnapped by a cult. 

Beyond just the obvious cult connection, Sunday and Drucker’s granddaughter, Stella, have much more in common. For example, like Sunday, Stella’s parents were both killed–though the circumstances are different–and both have a history of rebellion. However, once Sunday begins her investigation, things take a turn as the story moves towards a chilling domestic terrorism plot that takes off and never lets up. 

Fans of Reichs’ Temperance Brennan series can expect the same fast-paced, entertaining writing style to kick off the author’s new series, though the characters themselves are very different. Sunday, who has a bit of an edge to her, is a strong, complex new heroine whom Reichs has developed well. The secondary characters (including Sunday’s twin brother, August) all lend something to the story–which is solid from start to finish.  

Two Nights is another hard-to-put-down thriller from Kathy Reichs, who continues to put out high-quality thrillers year after year. 

Book Details

Author: Kathy Reichs
Series: Sunday Night #1
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0345544072
Publisher: Bantam
Release Date: July 11, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 6.5/10
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51b7QtG-bzL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_MOSKVA by Jack Grimwood

Red Square, 1985. The naked body of a young man is left outside the walls of the Kremlin, frozen solid―like marble to the touch―missing the little finger from his right hand.

A week later, Alex Marston, the headstrong fifteen-year-old daughter of the British Ambassador, disappears. Army Intelligence Officer Tom Fox, posted to Moscow to keep him from telling the truth to a government committee, is asked to help find her. It’s a shot at redemption.

But Russia is reluctant to give up the worst of her secrets. As Fox’s investigation sees him dragged deeper towards the dark heart of a Soviet establishment determined to protect its own, his fears for Alex’s safety grow with those of the girl’s father.

And if Fox can’t find her soon, she looks likely to become the next victim of a sadistic killer whose story is bound tight to that of his country’s terrible past…

Moskva is a brilliantly written, chilling and sophisticated the first serial killer thriller by two-time BSFA winner Jon Courtenay Grimwood.

Book Details

Author: Jack Grimwood
Pages: 368 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1250124778
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Release Date: July 11, 2017
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51EW+AxS00L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Final Girls by Riley Sager 

Ten years ago, Quincy Carter went on vacation with a handful of friends. Instead of a relaxing trip, the six girls all endured hell, and Quincy was the only one who survived the nightmare to talk about it. Except, of course, that the trip is the last thing in the world she wants to talk about.

Following the entire ordeal, the media does their best to make Quincy one of their “Final Girls,” a small trio of young women who have managed to survive mass murders. Hoping to move on from the past, Quincy wants no part of the media’s attention. Instead, she puts herself through college, then takes a job in New York City. As time goes by, Quincy finds more and more missing puzzle pieces to her ideal image of happiness–including a steady relationship with Jeff, a man she’s ready to settle down with.

Sadly, Quincy’s perfect life is threatened when Lisa, the first of the media’s highly-covered Final Girls, kills herself–thrusting both Quincy and Sam Boyd (the second Final Girl) back into the spotlight.

To Quincy’s surprise, Sam shows up on her doorstep, though her motives aren’t exactly crystal clear. In fact, the longer Sam stays in Quincy’s life, the more trouble she brings.

Apart from constantly trying to get Quincy to talk about the night her friends were killed, events that Quincy can’t remember due to amnesia-like memory loss, Sam’s presence seems to shine a light on Quincy’s struggles. Like, for example, her addiction to Xanax and the many small crimes she’s committed over the years–revealing that the once perceived all-together Quincy is actually damaged and struggling beneath the surface.

Eventually, questions and motives begin to pile up. Did Lisa really kill herself? Why, exactly, did Sam come out of hiding to track down Quincy? And finally, is Quincy telling the truth about her memory loss or is there something about the night her friends were slaughtered that she wants to keep a secret?

Sager expertly mixes in a set of flashback scenes detailing what happened to Quincy and her friends, slowly pulling back the curtain to reveal a chilling and shocking truth.

If you ever wondered what happens to the few surviving characters who actually make it long enough to see the credits roll at the end of slasher movies, Sager provides a dark, haunting, and wildly entertaining answer. Mixing equal parts psychological thriller and crime fiction, Sager’s Final Girls is a must-read for fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.

Book Details

Author: Riley Sager
Pages: 352 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1101985364
Publisher: Dutton
Release Date: July 11, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 7/10
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AfterlifeAfterlife by Marus Sakey 

Two FBI agents fall in love here on earth, and then again in the next life in Marcus Sakey’s new supernatural thriller, Afterlife

Former Marine Will Brody, now working as a special agent with the FBI, is killed in Chicago while pursuing Simon Tucks, a sniper who has taken to killing innocent people. A bomb detonated by Tucks claims Brody’s life, and then something really odd happens…Brody wakes up without a scratch on him. 

Still in Chicago, or some ethereal version of the city he died in, Brody is not alone. The machete-carrying people already living there explain that they’re in what’s called the Echo, an afterlife–not all that different from purgatory–for people who’ve been murdered.  

Unlike real-life, the Echo version of Chicago does not have a lot of technology. It’s an odd place that, at first, doesn’t seem all that bad. Things take a dark turn, though, when Edmund–a Satan-like figure who feeds on others’ souls–is introduced. 

Edmund, however, is hardly the only weirdo roaming around in the Echo. Aside from your average creepers and sadistic individuals, there are a variety of monsters and all kinds of other characters you’d be afraid to find out are living underneath your bed or in your bedroom closet. 

Eventually, Claire McCoy, Brody’s lover, is also killed by the Chicago sniper and joins Will in the Echo, where their deep connection continues. Together they try to battle the evil that lies within the afterlife, all the while searching to understand why they’re there and what mankind’s purpose is in the universe.  

While there are some things to genuinely really like about Sakey’s novel, there is also a lot to not like–or at the very least to be totally confused over. Beyond that, this book is incredibly dark and violent, with graphic scenes involving cannibalism and murder, among other things.

This book will definitely appeal to some, including fans of Lost or Stephen King’s novels, but it’s certainly not for everyone. Coming in somewhere between a horror story and a supernatural thriller, Afterlife is a dark, gory, and twisted novel that, while trying to deliver a more profound message, ends up falling short of its goal.

Book Details

Author: Marcus Sakey
Pages: 318 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1477848479
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Release Date: June 18, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 5/10
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511zeWlwJjL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_The Woman From Prague by Rob Hart

Just as Ash McKenna’s visa is about to expire and force him to leave Prague, a mysterious figure claiming to be with the American government pays him a visit and offers to fix everything.

Very quickly, Ash, a former New York City-based PI turned apartment rental company employee, learns that the man’s offer is too good to be true. After revealing that he knows Ash’s backstory and complete history, the man, who calls himself Roman, attempts to strong-arm Ash into doing a job for him. Declining, having never heard of the agency Roman claims to work for, Ash assumes that’ll be the end of the conversation. He couldn’t have been more wrong…

Roman, after being rejected, goes from asking Ash for his help, to forcing him to lend his services. Using Ash’s mother’s safety as blackmail, Roman instructs him to meet a woman named Samantha (Sam for short) on the Charles Bridge in the middle of the night, where she’ll pass him a thumb drive.

The supposedly easy job turns dangerous, though, when Ash finds himself in the middle of a professional assassination attempt when a lethal Spetsnaz agent tries to kill Sam.

Forced to go on the run together, Ash discovers that Samantha isn’t who she–or Roman–said she was. While he’s not entirely sure he can trust her, Ash is forced to team up with Sam because, frankly, they’re all each other has in a foreign country with little to no resources at their disposal.

From private investigator to international spy, Ash McKenna’s latest adventure proves to be his most dangerous yet. While the story itself doesn’t have many twists or turns, the straightforward approach works, in part, thanks to nonstop action and the development of Ash–a strong, intriguing, and complex character.

With his latest novel scoring much higher than his previous books, Rob Hart’s The Woman from Prague is a solid option for thriller fans who crave action or are looking for an entertaining story to take with them to the beach this summer.

Book Details

Author: Rob Hart
Series: Ash McKenna #5
Pages: 320 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1943818479
Publisher: Polis Books
Release Date: July 11, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 6/10
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Tuesday, July 18th

 

The Late ShowThe Late Show by Michael Connelly (Featured Selection)

Renée Ballard is a good detective stuck working a terrible shift. After filing a couple of sexual harassment charges against her former boss, Lt. Robert Olivas, Ballard was moved to the midnight shift–otherwise known as the Late Show–when her partner refused to back up her statement.

Aside from being angry that her partner didn’t have her back, Ballard’s biggest issue with her new shift is that come morning, she and her partner, Jenkins, are forced to turn everything over to the day shift crew. While Jenkins is fine with the way things work, content to get out each morning and head home to his wife, Ballard misses doing real detective work and seeing a case all the way through.

After a long shift one night, Renée reaches her breaking point and decides that she can’t give up either of her new cases, opting instead to pursue both–even if she’s not technically supposed to.

The first case involves a transsexual woman who was nearly beaten to death outside of a club. After arriving at the hospital, the woman tells police officers that the man who beat her lives in an “upside-down” house, then loses consciousness–leaving Ballard in the dark on her own to figure out the rest of the story, which she pursues with relentless drive and energy. 

The second case involves a mass shooting at a club called The Dancers that resulted in five deaths. One of the victims, a young waitress, was transported to the hospital while Ballard was still there investigating the assault case, but died shortly after her arrival.

The waitress is considered a peripheral victim by the lead detectives and not necessarily critical to understanding the shooter’s motives. Ballard disagrees, though, and quickly finds reasons to believe that the woman may be more important to the investigation than everyone else realizes–but is blown off by her superiors who are convinced the waitress was little more than an unlucky bystander. 

It doesn’t help that Robert Olivas is heading up the Dancers shooting, creating a near-impossible situation for Ballard. But rather than back down, she plays lone wolf and digs deeper into the case, following every lead, no matter how small.

While comparisons to Harry Bosch (the lead character in twenty-one of Connelly’s novels and star of the Amazon-produced television show, Bosch) are inevitable, Ballard is a fresh and unique new character with her own strengths and weaknesses.

The biggest thing Connelly’s two protagonists have in common is that like Bosch, Ballard is forced to tip-toe her way around internal police politics as she pursues justice for the victims she serves. Beyond that, don’t expect too many similarities between the characters (though longtime fans will be thrilled to see that Bosch is referenced similarly to the way Connelly mentioned Matthew McConaughey in 2015’s The Crossing).

Connelly tells the story in his typical style, following Ballard around from beginning to end rather than switching point of views and shadowing other characters. He also continues to integrate realistic police investigative tools and forensic science into his stories better than anyone else currently writing in the genre, once again creating an authentic reading experience that’s as entertaining as it is informative. 

Renée Ballard is a smart, strong, and capable new lead character. Connelly’s legion of fans will instantly love her and enjoy the new perspective she brings to the world of cops vs. evil that Connelly has skillfully written about for several decades. 

New character, same outcome. Michael Connelly delivers an unputdownable hit with  The Late Show, proving once again that he’s far and away the best crime novelist on the planet.

Book Details

Author: Michael Connelly
Series: Renée Ballard #1
Pages: 448 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0316225983
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Release Date: July 18, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 8.5/10
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BlameBlame by Jeff Abbott

Set in a small suburb near Austin, Texas, readers meet Jane Norton on the three-year anniversary of the worst day of her life. A day that, though she cannot remember a single detail from the accident, still haunts her day and night.  

Three years prior, Jane–then a seventeen-year-old–was in a horrific car accident that killed her next-door neighbor, David Hall. At first, everyone was sympathetic towards Jane, who sustained a head injury that left her with amnesia.

But after police found a hand-written suicide note from her at the scene of the accident, the public’s perception quickly turned negative, with most people believing that Jane is faking memory loss due to the guilt she must feel from killing David. 

Even her friends, including her best friend, Kamala–who was dating David at the time of his death–abandoned her. Sadly for Jane, losing loved ones is an all-too-familiar feeling, having already dealt with her father dying under somewhat suspicious circumstances a few years before her accident.

Because her mother still lives next door to the Hall family, Jane doesn’t visit home often. Instead, she’s holed up in Adam’s dorm room–the one friend who has tried to help her– while still trying to put the puzzle pieces back together. 

Against her better judgment, Jane logs onto social media to see what her former classmates are posting about three years after the most tragic day of her life. Predictably, her timeline is flooded with posts remembering David, which she expected. What she didn’t expect, though, and was shocked to see, was a message from someone named Liv Danger threatening to expose the “truth” about what happened, and ending their post with a warning that “all will pay.” 

The mysterious Liv Danger also toys with Perri Hall, David’s mother, who especially hates Jane for killing her son. As the story unfolds, Jane continues searching for answers by trying to unmask Liv Danger. In the process, she finds reasons to suspect everyone from Adam, Kamala, and the rest of her old gang of friends, to family members and even her therapist. 

While still struggling to see the full picture, Jane’s investigation into her past leaves her confident of two things–that she didn’t intend to kill David, and that everyone around her has been keeping something from her. Proving that, though, when she can’t trust anyone–including herself–seems next to impossible. Especially with Liv Danger, whoever they are, circling overhead and tormenting her every step of the way. 

Last year, Harlan Coben’s Fool Me Once was our highest-rated thriller of 2016. Abbot’s Blame is every bit as good and packs even more surprises along the way, leading up to a shocking ending that nobody, not even veteran readers of the genre, will ever see coming. 

Abbott’s lightning-quick pacing and constant twists and turns make his latest offering impossible to put down. A one-sit read that’ll have readers up way past their bedtimes, Blame is Jeff Abbott’s best novel so far–and a strong contender for best psychological thriller of the year. 

Book Details

Author: Jeff Abbott
Pages: 375 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1455558435
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release Date: July 18, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 8.5/10
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51j7sAoQvlL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_The Fallen by Ace Atkins 

Following last year’s The Innocents, Quinn Colson is back as Sheriff of Tibbehah County, Mississippi, in Ace Atkins’ The Fallen.

Three friends have taken up robbing banks as a hobby, and they’re becoming increasingly good at it. Rick, Jonas, and Opie have learned when, how, and where to strike, and they’re knocking off banks all across the South.

Wearing Donald J. Trump masks, the robbers enter Jericho First National Bank just as a Wall-Mart delivery truck is about to make a deposit. Carrying AR-15s, they issue patrons a comical yet stern warning. Inside, Rick fires a round into the ceiling to get everyone’s attention before delivering their catchphrase, “Anyone moves and I’ll grab ’em by the p–” well, you know the rest (the line was from the now infamous audio tape of Donald Trump, which was taken before he was elected president).

Colson, after hearing of the crime, wants nothing more than to take a run at the three idiots who keep knocking off banks and getting away with people’s hard-earned cash. However, his hands are full with a number of other issues. Chief among them are the disappearances of two teenage girls, Tamika Odum and Ana Maria Mata, and numerous complaints about a strip club Fannie Hathcock runs just outside the city.

As the story unfolds, Quinn begins to see similarities between the bank robber’s actions and the way they carry themselves, and his own training that he received courtesy of the United States Army. While the newfound revelation helps Quinn understand the criminals in a sense that he recognizes now how they operate in such a disciplined manner, it also means that catching them will be much harder–and definitely more dangerous–since they’ve had military training.

Though the missing girls and dangerous bank robbers would be enough to fill the pages, Atkins throws in even more problems for Quinn to navigate around–creating the type of multi-layered, interweaving plot that Michael Connelly is known for with his Harry Bosch series. While Quinn isn’t exactly a Southern Bosch, Atkins has quickly made him the face of one of the strongest crime franchises in the game today.

From start to finish, Atkins treats readers to a nonstop ride of suspense and action, with numerous colorful characters who drive the plot onward. One of today’s most notable crime novelists, Ace Atkins packs a season’s worth of storylines into a single episode–making The Fallen his most complex and satisfying novel yet.

Book Details

Author: Ace Atkins
Series: Quinn Colson #7
Pages: 368 (Hardcover)
ISBN:  0399576711
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: July 18, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 6.5/10
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51SftZJS8ML._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgLook Behind You by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen 

“A serial killer is on the loose in San Diego with a most unusual M.O. With each kill, the perpetrator leaves behind mystifying random objects. In this confusing array of unrelated evidence, the one thing that is clear is that the murders all have one characteristic in common: they all require the specific skills of Kendra Michaels, hired gun for both the CIA and FBI. Kendra, who was blind for the first twenty years of her life, gained her sight through a revolutionary surgical procedure and now uses her acute powers of observation to assist in cases all over the United States.

FBI investigators soon make a startling discovery: the left-behind objects are actually souvenirs of other unsolved serial murder cases from around the country. And the new crimes feature “holdback” characteristics never disclosed to the general public―meaning that one single killer was behind the nation’s most notorious serial murder cases and has now come to challenge and taunt Kendra.

The investigators – a “dream team” of profilers– join Kendra in the pursuit, but as the body count rises and the detectives themselves become the newest targets, Kendra must risk everything to defeat a psychopath whose terrifying plan is years in the making…”

Book Details

Author: Iris and Roy Johansen 
Series: Kendra Michaels #5
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
ISBN:  125007598X
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: July 18, 2017
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Tuesday, July 25th

 

51UYkQXV8KL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Paradise Valley by C.J. Box (Featured Selection)

For three years, Cassie Dewell has dreamed of nothing but catching the man nicknamed the Lizard King–a man she once nearly helped apprehend, only to watch him slip away and ride off into the sunset.

Now, after working with a federal prosecutor, Cassie, the chief investigator for the Bakken County Sheriff’s Department in North Dakota, has laid an extravagant trap to catch the elusive long haul trucker who preys on helpless women at truck stops across the country. After finally securing John Kirkbride’s blessing–Dewell’s boss who has been grooming Cassie to replace him one day soon–the sting operation is green-lit. 

The trap is set–now Cassie, the local police, and a team of FBI agents just have to wait… 

However, unbeknownst to Cassie and the team of cops and FBI agents on-site, the Lizard King has caught wind of her little scheme and sends his truck, filled with explosives, barreling towards the scheduled drop point. Cassie watches helplessly as several officers and FBI agents are killed in a violent explosion.

Disgraced and pegged as the fall-girl for what happened, Cassie is forced to resign her post immediately. Once again, the Lizard King goes free. 

Meanwhile, as Cassie’s world continues to fall apart, Kyle Westergaard, a troubled teenager whom she’d previously tried to help, vanishes. What started as two friends acting out their dream of spending the summer sailing down the river by themselves soon turns into a different kind of adventure that neither could have prepared for. 

Though she was forced to turn in her badge, Cassie still possesses a keen investigator’s mind, and she promises Kyle’s worried grandmother that she’ll do everything she can to track the boy down. This, of course, is in addition to her ultimate goal of locking up–or putting a bullet in–the Lizard King once and for all. 

As Cassie tackles both investigations head-on, she quickly realizes that, much to her surprise, they each seem to be leading her in a similar direction–setting up a heart-pounding final act that will leave readers breathless and stay with them long after they turn the final page. 

Box, especially over the past few years, has easily proven himself to be one of the most talented fiction writers working today. While different than the “cowboy noir” style he writes with for his #1 bestselling Joe Pickett series, Paradise Valley packs a mean punch and nonstop suspense–and is definitely some of Box’s best work yet. This is certainly a top contender for his best non-Pickett book so far and a must-read for thriller, mystery, and crime fans everywhere. 

Always one to land well-timed twists and turns that readers never see coming, C.J. Box unleashes some of his best surprises yet, delivering a satisfying conclusion to his Highway Quartet series that first began with Back of Beyond in 2011. 

Book Details

Author: C.J. Box
Series: The Highway Quartet #4
Pages: 352 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1250051045
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: July 25th, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 8.5/10
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Linda Fairstein - Deadfall.jpgDeadfall by Linda Fairstein

“A wild heart beats within New York City. Amid concrete and skyscrapers, the Wildlife Conservation Society works to preserve and protect the animal kingdom both within and beyond the borders of the five boroughs. But dangerous creatures don’t always have claws and fangs, as Assistant DA Alexandra Cooper and NYPD detectives Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace know all too well. Predators lurk close to home, and in the aftermath of the shocking assassination of an iconic public figure—someone Alex has worked with for years—the trio must unravel the motive behind the shooting to discover who is the bigger snake: the killer or the victim.

The murder investigation provides more questions than answers, as a tangled mess of secrets slowly comes to light. From street gangs to secret societies, from big-game hunting to the illegal animal trade, from New York City zoos to the highest offices in city government, Alex has her work cut out for her—especially since the task force handling the investigation, led by the US Attorney, seems to be more against her than with her. As tensions rise between Alex and the feds, she must determine just how far she is willing to go to uncover the truth—and uphold the integrity of the office she has so proudly served.”

Book Details

Author: Linda Fairstein
Series: Alexandra Cooper #19
Pages: 400 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 110198404X
Publisher: Dutton
Release Date: July 25th, 2017
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51HNrVPxPOL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Every Day Above Ground by Glen Erik Hamilton 

“A favor for a dying ex-con turns into a violent battle against a mysterious enemy for Van Shaw in this emotionally powerful and gritty thriller from the award-winning author of Past Crimes and Hard Cold Winter.

It sounds like a thief’s dream to Van Shaw: A terminally ill ex-con tells him of an easy fortune in gold, abandoned and nearly forgotten after its original owner died in prison. For the dying man, the money is a legacy to ensure his preteen daughter’s future. For Van, the gold is cash he desperately needs to rebuild his destroyed family home.

The grandson of a career criminal who taught him all the tricks of his trade, Van suspects that nothing is ever that easy. Sure enough, the safe holding the fortune is a trap—set by a mysterious player armed with tremendous resources and a lifetime of hatred. Now, Shaw’s partner is in the clutches of the hunters, and the former army ranger may be their next prey. But when the ex-con’s innocent daughter is threatened too, Van’s own hard childhood means he can’t let her come to harm.

To discover who has them in the cross hairs, Shaw must seek out the hunters’ real prey. His quest leads him from an underground bare-knuckle fighting ring, which may be fronting a darker purpose, to a massive pop-culture convention, where Van and his allies, Hollis and Corcoran, play a dangerous game with foes on every side. It also introduces Van to a brash and beautiful aspiring journalist who poses a whole different kind of personal risk.

For years, Van Shaw has tried to live every day above ground, on the right side of the law, even though crime is his gift . . . and in his blood. If he survives the coming storm, he’ll have to decide what he wants—and whether he can live as an outlaw without sacrificing his honor.”

Book Details

Author: Glen Erik Hamilton
Series: Van Shaw #3
Pages: 384 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0062567381
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: July 25th, 2017
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51ZI7US6rQL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_Incarnate by Josh Stolberg

Dr. Kim Patterson is a brilliant psychiatric doctor who has one serious flaw–she’s known to get too involved with her patients, often breaking rules to find out-of-the-box ways to help them. While her actions have cost her several jobs with different hospitals, the constant change of scenery means there is nothing that Kim hasn’t seen…until she meets nineteen-year-old Scarlett Hascall.

Scarlett is a troubled young girl who is brought to the psychiatric floor of a small Alaska hospital that Kim works at. While everyone else thinks she has serious behavior issues and a serious case of bipolar disorder, Kim sees through the easy answers and makes the correct diagnosis for her patient, Dissociative Identity Disorder, commonly known as multiple personality disorder.

Problem is, Scarlett is not technically her patient–though that won’t stop Kim from helping the girl, even if it gets her into trouble. 

Things take a wild turn, though, when Scarlett takes on the identities of several people who have gone missing from the small town of Jarvis. One of her identities, “Izzy,” is clearly reminiscent of Isabel Wilcox–who police are looking for after she recently disappeared. Kim insists that her patient doesn’t really know anything about Isabel Wilcox, but certain things Izzy says about the girl’s disappearance add up, leading police to believe that Scarlett was somehow involved in the crime. 

Kim remains adamant that her patient isn’t a murderer, but rather suffering from a serious condition and that police shouldn’t take what she says too seriously. She’s so sure, in fact, that she chooses to risk her entire career to help Scarlett–who continues channeling the identities of other missing people, including that of a little boy named Henry who vanished two decades ago.

Unable to medically explain how Scarlett could know so much about these missing people, Kim’s only remaining theory is one based not on science, but something too strange to be taken seriously by authorities.

Believing that Scarlett is somehow channeling the spirits of multiple missing persons, Kim risks everything to prove the impossible.

While the dialogue falls a tad flat at times and the pacing is inconsistent, the story starts fast and hooks readers right away. Josh Stolberg does a fine job keeping readers confused but curious. As the story moves forward, readers will be torn between wanting to believe that Scarlett is somehow communicating with the dead and wondering if she’s playing everyone and is secretly a criminal mastermind.

Book Details

Author: Josh Stolberg
Pages: 352 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1501136577
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Release Date: July 25, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 6/10
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51T7oQ4ymBL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_The Painted Queen by Elizabeth Peters and Joan Hess 

Egypt, 1912—Amelia Peabody and her dashing archeologist husband, Radcliffe Emerson, are once again in danger as they search for a priceless, stolen bust of legendary Queen Nefertiti and Amelia finds herself the target of assassins in this long-awaited, eagerly anticipated final installment of Elizabeth Peters’ bestselling, beloved mystery series.

Arriving in Cairo for another thrilling excavation season, Amelia is relaxing in a well-earned bubble bath in her elegant hotel suite in Cairo, when a man with a knife protruding from his back staggers into the bath chamber and utters a single word—”Murder”—before collapsing on the tiled floor, dead. Among the few possessions he carried was a sheet of paper with Amelia’s name and room number, and a curious piece of pasteboard the size of a calling card bearing one word: “Judas.” Most peculiarly, the stranger was wearing a gold-rimmed monocle in his left eye.

It quickly becomes apparent that someone saved Amelia from a would-be assassin—someone who is keeping a careful eye on the intrepid Englishwoman. Discovering a terse note clearly meant for Emerson—Where were you?”—pushed under their door, there can be only one answer: the brilliant master of disguise, Sethos.

But neither assassins nor the Genius of Crime will deter Amelia as she and Emerson head to the excavation site at Amarna, where they will witness the discovery of one of the most precious Egyptian artifacts: the iconic Nefertiti bust. In 1345 B.C. the sculptor Thutmose crafted the piece in tribute to the great beauty of this queen who was also the chief consort of Pharaoh Akhenaten and stepmother to King Tutankhamun.

For Amelia, this excavation season will prove to be unforgettable. Throughout her journey, a parade of men in monocles will die under suspicious circumstances, fascinating new relics will be unearthed, a diabolical mystery will be solved, and a brilliant criminal will offer his final challenge . . . and perhaps be unmasked at last.

Book Details

Author: Elizabeth Peters and Joan Hess
Pages: 352 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0062083511
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: July 25, 2017
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41SiAitZzpL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_The Lost Ones by Sheena Kamal 

A dark, compulsively readable psychological suspense debut, the first in a new series featuring the brilliant, fearless, chaotic, and deeply flawed Nora Watts—a character as heartbreakingly troubled, emotionally complex, and irresistibly compelling as Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander and Jo Nesbø’s Harry Hole.

It begins with a phone call that Nora Watts has dreaded for fifteen years—since the day she gave her newborn daughter up for adoption. Bonnie has vanished. The police consider her a chronic runaway and aren’t looking, leaving her desperate adoptive parents to reach out to her birth mother as a last hope.

A biracial product of the foster system, transient, homeless, scarred by a past filled with pain and violence, Nora knows intimately what happens to vulnerable girls on the streets. Caring despite herself, she sets out to find Bonnie with her only companion, her mutt Whisper, knowing she risks reopening wounds that have never really healed—and plunging into the darkness with little to protect her but her instincts and a freakish ability to detect truth from lies.

The search uncovers a puzzling conspiracy that leads Nora on a harrowing journey of deception and violence, from the gloomy rain-soaked streets of Vancouver, to the icy white mountains of the Canadian interior, to the beautiful and dangerous island where she will face her most terrifying demon. All to save a girl she wishes had never been born.

Book Details

Author: Sheena Kamal
Pages: 352 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0062565907
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: July 25, 2017
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51BsJClJtsL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_3 Minutes by Roselund & Hellstrom 

Presumed dead by the Stockholm police, master criminal and undercover informant Piet Hoffmann is now on the run from the Swedish authorities, living with his wife and two young sons under an assumed name in Cali, Colombia. Only Hoffmann’s former police handler, Erik Wilson, knows where he is–and that he has accepted two dangerous new jobs: one as a high-level enforcer for a Colombian cocaine cartel and one as an infiltrator for the DEA, working to bring the cartel down. The FBI even lends credence to his cover story by adding Hoffmann’s alias to the Most Wanted list.

But when the Speaker of the House is kidnapped by the cartel during an official visit to Colombia, everything changes–fast. Hoffmann is party to the highest-profile political kidnapping in years and therefore directly in the firing line in what is quickly dubbed the “Final War on Drugs.” Suddenly, the Most Wanted list becomes a kill list and the DEA cuts off all contact on orders from the top, leaving Hoffmann and his family stranded.

Hoffmann must walk a delicate line as he tries to protect his young family and keep up his dual role as a cartel enforcer and a deniable intelligence asset for the US government. It soon becomes clear that his only chance at getting out alive is to rescue the Speaker of the House and bring him back to the States–but to do it he’ll need the help of Ewert Grens, the stubborn, dogged Stockholm detective who hasn’t forgotten Hoffmann since the explosive showdown in Aspsas prison years ago.

Book Details

Author: Roslund & Hellstrom
Pages: 432 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1681444135
Publisher: Quercus
Release Date: July 25, 2017
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  • Diana Tsingopoulos

    I will read House of Spies, Paradise Valley, and Moskva.
    Thanks so much for the July reading list!

  • Lane mcdaniel

    Started on Moskva today. The new Silva and Reichs books sitting beside me. So excited!!!!

  • Brandon

    I’m reading House of Spies, The Late Show, The Fallen, & Paradise Valley this month.

  • Colonel Steve

    I have House of Spies ordered – can’t wait to read more about Allon and Chiara!! Moskva sounds interesting … will have to read it as well. ST

  • Alan B. Jaffe

    Just finished “the force”. It is an epic, and very well done. I appreciate the recommendation. My rating is five stars.

  • Ted Photakis

    Strting Use of Force tonight. Will go with your featured selections this months (House of Spies, Paradise Valley and The Late Show. Had real good luck with your featured selections. Have read all of them except The Lost Order which I still plan to read.

  • I have read a Game of Ghosts as it was available in Ireland in April and whilst not been the “usual” Charlie Parker novel it was still pivotal in what is coming next in the Woman in the Woods which will be the 16th CP book due out next April 2018 in the UK and July in the US.
    I will also be reading Michael Connelly’s The late show as well as Iris Johansen’s latest.

  • Phil Goode

    I find it interesting that you think House of Spies is the best book of 2017 and rate it 9, then rate Game of Ghosts 9 as well.

    • That’s actually an error – and should be a 7. We’ll change it, thanks Phil!

  • Kosmo

    I’ll be reading Allon’s latest exploits as Chief. Thanks for the new round of suggestions.

  • Andrew

    Looking forward to reading The Late Show for this month. Thanks again for the great recommendations!

  • Alan B. Jaffe

    Just finished “exit strategy” by Steve Hamilton. This book, and his last book, the second life of Nick Mason, are head and shoulders above his other books that I have read. Five star ratings do not do justice to these two books.

    • So glad you enjoyed them, Alan. I did too!

  • Ted Photakis

    Just finished Daniel Silva’s House of Spies. Excellent and well thought out book. This is the first Gabriel Allon book that I have read. Highly recommend. Next thriller to read – Michael Connelly’s The Late Show.

  • Alan B. Jaffe

    Just finished “Use of force” by Brad Thor. Only rated it three stars because although good, it was not great. The Author has done much better.

  • Ed

    I’m starting on House of Spies today and am taking a break from Berenson because I’m unfortunately about to start his most recent/last book. This time last year I would have been panicking due to my “fear of finding another series”, but your site has given me a few to start on next. Thanks!

    • Ed

      Just finished reading the House of Spies (and notwithstanding what I said above, I did have to finish The Prisoner first). Silva’s latest was great – as they always are. I particularly like how he finishes the book, sometimes with a last minute twist or additional few chapters of intensity. It was an interesting contrast to The Prisoner, as I expected a final (or at least more complete) resolution of that book – but it just sort of ended a chapter or two too soon. Already looking forward to Silva’s next book and the increasingly active characters who are of the younger generation to Gabriel.

  • Ted Photakis

    Just finished the Late Show by Michael Connelly. Another great Featured Selection by The Real Book Spy. Next up Paradise Valley by C.J. Box. I’ve read nearly all of the Featured Selections in 2017. Favorite book is The Force and runner-up is the G-Man by Stephen Hunter. Looking forward to August Reading List.

  • Diana Tsingopoulos

    Finished 3 of the books on the July list-
    House of Spies – Daniel Silva’s exquisite writing makes it worth
    reading this jet set French Riviera spy fantasy.
    Moskva – a relentlessly bleak and tortured Russian tale
    with shades of Dostoyevsky
    Paradise Valley – good police adventure with a remarkably
    realistic woman detective doggedly pursuing evil.
    Can’t wait for the August list!

  • Ted Photakis

    Highly recommend Paradise Valley. Enjoy the great western settings. C.J. Box is on my must read author list. Currently reading The Lost Order by Steve Berry. I enjoy the way the author blends in history into the story. Reminds me of The G-Man.

  • Ted Photakis

    Noticed in the 2017 Review Featured Review List that you included Deadfall by Linda Fairstein. So I downloaded the book. Very good book. I had just finished Silva’s Black Widow (excellent book) so this was a nice change of pace. I glad you include detective thrillers on the website.

  • Steve

    House of Spies by Daniel Silva This is one of my must have/read/listen to series that as soon as I finish I start counting down until the next book come out!

  • Dean

    The Late Show (Read)
    Final Girls (Read)