The Real Book Spy’s August Reading Guide

Welcome to August! When it comes to must-read thrillers, the last two months have been absolutely stacked.  Fear not, though, because this month brings a new wave of great books–and next month features several of the biggest names in fiction, including the new Mitch Rapp novel from Kyle Mills, Enemy of the State

Like July, August has strong titles for all different types of readers. As always, we’ve selected two Featured Selections for this month, which are Erik Storey’s A Promise to Kill and Andrew Gross’ The Saboteur

A Promise to Kill is the second book in Storey’s fantastic new Clyde Barr series. Fans of C.J. Box, Lee Child, and Craig Johnson will especially love Barr–who is no stranger to finding trouble. This series is very underrated, and we cannot recommend it strongly enough. 

Last year, Andrew Gross (who previously switched genres) released his first historical fiction novel. While The Saboteur isn’t a sequel, it is the second novel from Gross in his new genre, where’s he’s an absolute powerhouse. See all the details below! 

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, August 1st 


51BZZrgQOeL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgIn the Crosshairs by Jack Coughlin

“The Central Intelligence Agency is under attack, and so is its top field operative, Kyle Swanson. The highly decorated former Marine Corps gunnery sergeant is attending the funeral of a friend when a terrorist blows up the grave. A week later, he narrowly survives a grenade attack in Berlin. In Washington, Congress is being told that Swanson has been turned, his private employer is corrupt, and the Agency itself cannot be trusted. Swanson is assigned to find the root of the problem and is partnered up with Luke Gibson, a skilled operative rated as being almost as good as Swanson.

They are looking for Assassin Nicky Marks, who also was a CIA shooter but now works for a shadowy power broker known as The Prince. But before Kyle and Luke can eliminate the threat, they must identify and find the man who wants them dead. That takes them from the pink poppy fields of Afghanistan to the jungles of Southeast Asia and the streets of America as they learn that the Prince is the ruthless kingpin of a global drug empire that uses CIA planes to transport opium and heroin. Swanson also lines up a secret partner, the beautiful widow of his friend whose grave was desecrated in Mexico, the sharpshooting former commando Beth Ledford, who has her own agenda of pure retribution. Kyle Swanson, at the worst possible moment in a combat showdown, must decide: Do you trust your partner, and if so, which one?”

Book Details

Author: Jack Coughlin 
Pages: 304 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1250103533
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: August 1, 2017
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A Killer harvestA Killer Harvest by Paul Cleave

Paul Cleave follows his 2015 hit thriller, Trust No One, with another heart-thumping novel that features numerous twists, turns, and jaw-dropping moments.

Set in Christchurch, New Zealand, Cleave’s latest offering introduces readers to Joshua Logan, a sixteen-year-old kid who was born blind. Joshua’s had a rough life. Very rough. His dad died before he was born, and his mother died not long after he was born into darkness. Eventually, he was taken in by Mitchell Logan, a cop who–like far too many people in Joshua’s life–dies unexpectedly.

Mitchell and his partner were after a crazed and violent killer who used power tools on his victims. While pursuing the killer on foot, Mitchell, his partner, and the man they were chasing are killed. While the loss for Joshua is great, there’s a silver lining. Mr. Logan had made plans, should something happen to him, to have ophthalmologist Toni Coleman attempt a very cutting-edge new surgery that would transplant his eyes into Joshua.

While the surgery is technically a success, in that Joshua can now see for the first time in his life, it doesn’t go quite according to plan. A careless mix-up causes Joshua numerous problems, which he struggles to understand and deal with.

To make the plot work, Cleave weaves cellular memory into the forefront of his hair-raising story. Being fitted with someone else’s eyes allows Joshua to see the world from their point of view. Likewise, over time, he begins to have thoughts, feelings, and memories that he believes come from the organs’ original hosts. After his initial struggles, it’s revealed early on that an orderly mistakenly caused Joshua to receive one eye from his foster dad, and another from the killer he was chasing. (Note: this isn’t a spoiler, as the book deals with Joshua’s learning to balance the two ways he now sees the world–through the eyes of good and evil.)

As Joshua struggles to adapt, dealing also with common teenage problems that all kids in school inevitably go through at some point in their life, a larger problem arises. Simon, the killer Mitchell Logan was after, had a partner named Vincent, who is hellbent on exacting revenge–putting Joshua’s life in danger.

While the plot might sound ridiculous, Cleave pulls off what few others can. Rather than his book feeling unbelievable, A Killer Harvest is ridiculously fun–and the many twists and well-timed reveals will keep readers glued to their reading chairs.

Cleave, whose 2013 novel Joe Victim was an Edgar-finalist, has long been underappreciated. While Trust No One (2015) is every bit as dark and chilling as Gone Girl, A Killer Harvest is one of Cleave’s most creative and well-executed thrillers yet.

Book Details

Author: Paul Cleave
Pages: 400 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1501153013
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 6.5/10
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61sGQRuj4XL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgNothing Stays Buried by P.J. Tracy

The Monkeewrench crew returns to face the city of Minneapolis’s worst nightmare—a rampant serial killer on the loose—in the electrifying new thriller.
When Minneapolis homicide detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth are called to a crime scene in a heavily wooded city park, everything about the setting is all too familiar. And when they discover a playing card on the victim’s body, their worst fears are confirmed—there’s a serial killer operating in the city for the first time in years.

Across town, Grace MacBride and her unconventional partners at Monkeewrench Software find themselves at both personal and career crossroads. Weary of the darker side of their computer work for law enforcement, they agree to take on a private missing-persons case in a small farming community in southwestern Minnesota.

As the violence accelerates in Minneapolis, Magozzi and Gino soon realize their killer is planning to complete the deck, and they enlist Monkeewrench to help stop the rampage. As a baffling tangle of evidence accumulates, the cops and Monkeewrench make the unlikely connections among a farmer’s missing daughter, a serial killer, and a decades-old stabbing that brings them face-to-face with pure evil.”

Book Details

Author: P.J. Tracy
Pages: 320 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0735212457
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: August 1, 2017
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518iElTUSLL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgDark Light: Dawn by Jon Land

“From author Jon Land and creator Fabrizio Boccardi comes Dark Light: Dawn, a heart-pounding supernatural thriller about a deadly, global epidemic and the man who holds the power to either save the world or destroy it.

Since the dawn of time good and evil have challenged the free will of man. Now the time has come for one man to choose for all human kind.

With an uncanny ability to survive any combat situation, Max Younger has built a heroic life for himself as a Navy SEAL. That is, until a rogue rescue operation plunges him back into a past he thought he’d escaped forever.

Waiting for him back home in New York are terrible, long-hidden truths rooted in the tragic death of his father. But the origin of those truths lie even further back than that, and Max finds himself ensnared in a sinister plot involving nothing less than the biblical apocalypse.

The explosive conflagration of events reunites him with the only woman he ever loved: Victoria Tanoury a brilliant infectious disease specialist working for the World Health Organization, who’s on the front lines in a battle to stop the spread of a deadly pestilence threatening the planet. Max’s reunion with Vicky comes amid a combat mission, in which their dual quests merge in a desperate fight for survival against forces of unspeakable evil.

Across the globe, inexplicably diabolic events are rising, sparked by a fearsome plan to visit the End of Days upon civilization in horrific form, as the lines between science and superstition become increasingly blurred. Max finds himself mired in a titanic struggle within his own soul, between love and hate, unsure whether his ultimate fate is to help fight the evil. . . or embrace it in the shadow of the Dawn of a Dark Light.”

Book Details

Author: Jon Land 
Pages: 432 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0765328720
Publisher: Forge Books
Release Date: August 1, 2017
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51PYyz9B-zL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgDead on Arrival by Matt Richtel

“An airplane touches down at a desolate airport in a remote Colorado ski town. Shortly after landing, Dr. Lyle Martin, a world-class infectious disease specialist, is brusquely awakened to shocking news: Everyone not on the plane appears to be dead. The world has gone dark. While they were in the air, a lethal new kind of virus surfaced, threatening mankind’s survival, and now Martin—one of the most sought-after virologists on the planet until his career took a precipitous slide—is at the center of the investigation.

Moving at lightning pace from the snowbound Rockies to the secret campus of Google X, where unlimited budgets may be producing wonders beyond our capacity to control, Dead on Arrival is a brilliantly imaginative, intricately plotted thriller that draws on Matt Richtel’s years of science and technology reporting for the New York Times, and establishes him as one of the premier thriller writers working today.”

Book Details

Author: Matt Richtel 
Pages: 368 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0062443275
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: August 1, 2017
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5137KUXQVjL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Crime Scene by Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman

The father and son team of Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman deliver the first book in a new series starring Deputy Sheriff Clay Edison.

Clay is a former athlete turned investigator for the Alameda County coroner’s office in California. After receiving a call out to a crime scene involving a dead body at the bottom of a staircase, his initial reaction is to rule the death accidental without any foul play. The victim’s daughter, though, isn’t convinced and she pleads with Clay to consider the possibility that someone intended to kill her father.

There are five categories of death–natural causes, accidental, suicide, murder, or undetermined–and it’s Clay’s job to decide which one each case falls under. For the most part, his job stops there, as he’s not the one actually chasing bad guys. He’s paid to determine how they died, not why someone might want to kill them.

In the case of Doctor Rennart, Clay searches the scene for any indication that the man didn’t just trip down the stairs–something that happens on a daily basis around the globe. After relenting, initially due to the urging of Rennart’s good-looking daughter, Clay begins probing into other theories and finds that there’s a very real possibility that the doctor’s death might not be as innocent as he first thought.

The story is well-written and the new character is interesting. Dodging the same over-played detective bit, the Kellermans make Clay unique by giving him a psychology degree and making him work out of the coroner’s office. It’s not an entirely new format, but their spin on it is fun and different enough that the story feels fresh. Best of all, for longtime fans of Jonathan Kellerman, one of his most well-known characters make a surprise cameo appearance in Crime Scene

If you’re a fan of either Kellermans’ previous work, then you know what you’re getting–a steady plot with colorful characters and a few twists and turns along the way.

Book Details

Author: Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman
Pages: 400 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0399594604
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 6.0/10
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Tuesday, August 8th


81oLoCOD17LDeep Black by Sean McFate

Tom Locke, a former American soldier who went on to graduate from the London School of Economics, now makes his money by working in some of the most dangerous places on earth as a private contractor.

Following the events of Shadow War (2016), Tom is still on the run from his former employer, Apollo Outcomes, and thus forced to hide out and look for work in northern Iraq. Having assembled a small team of skilled former operators from various special forces units around the world, Locke takes a break from fighting ISIS–which isn’t exactly paying the bills–and accepts a lucrative offer from a mysterious member of the Saudi royal family.

Prince Abdulaziz seeks out Locke’s help because his grown son is missing. Abdulaziz believes his son is near Mosul, well inside ISIS territory. Locke and his crew take the job, which–much like the job he took in last year’s book–doesn’t go according to plan. Not only are Locke and his guys operating in one of the most hostile environments known to man, but as more details about Abdulaziz and his son come out, Locke realizes they’ve landed themselves smack dab in the middle of a much larger plot involving members of the Saudi royal family trying to obtain a nuclear weapon.

Two things stand out about McFate’s latest thriller. Right away, it’s obvious that McFate–a former paratrooper with the prestigious 82nd Airborne Division, who, like his character, then worked as a private military contractor–knows his way around an action sequence. There are multiple authentic, high-powered action scenes that will have your heart rate soaring.

Secondly, this book reads like the lead story in next week’s newspaper. It’s ripped straight from the headlines, and McFate offers, through his characters, an insightful and educated take on things.

Sean McFate, whose dream growing up was to be a violinist, hits all the right notes with his latest novel. Deep Black is a timely and gripping thriller that offers readers a full-throttle, action-packed experience written in the same vein as Brad Taylor and Mark Greaney.

Book Details

Author: Sean McFate & Bret Witter
Series: Tom Locke #2
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0062403737
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: August 8, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 6.5/10
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51mcVdvqufL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThe Driver by Hart Hanson

“Michael Skellig is a limo driver waiting for his client in the alley behind an upscale hotel. He’s spent the past twenty-eight hours ferrying around Bismarck Avila, a celebrity skateboard mogul who isn’t going home anytime soon. Suddenly the wind begins to speak to Skellig in the guttural accent of the Chechen torturer he shot through the eye in Yemen a decade ago: Troubletroubletrouble. Skellig has heard these warnings before—he’s an Army Special Forces sergeant whose limo company is staffed by a ragtag band of wounded veterans, including his Afghan interpreter—and he knows to listen carefully.

Skellig runs inside just in time to save Avila from two gunmen but too late for one of Avila’s bodyguards—and wakes up hours later in the hospital, the only person of interest in custody for the murder. Complicating matters further is the appearance of Detective Delilah Groopman of the LAPD, gorgeous and brash, for whom Skellig has always held a candle. As for Avila? He’s willing to help clear Skellig’s name under one peculiar condition: that Skellig become Avila’s personal chauffeur. A cushy gig for any driver, except for the fact that someone is clearly trying to kill Avila, and Skellig is literally the only person sitting between Avila and a bullet to the head. “

Book Details

Author: Hart Hanson
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1101986360
Publisher: Dutton
Release Date: August 8, 2017
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The Color of fearThe Color of Fear by Marcia Muller

When Sharon McCone’s elderly father travels from Montana to spend Christmas with his known private investigator daughter in San Fransisco, California, the holiday season goes from festive to devastating in a heartbeat.

Sharon’s father, Elwood, is a semi-famous Shoshone artist. After traveling to San Fransisco, he goes shopping in the exclusive Marina district, looking for the perfect gift to get his daughter. Instead, he’s targeted in what originally appears to be a racially-charged attack and is violently beaten into a coma.

While her father lies in a hospital bed, stuck somewhere between life and death, Sharon decides to take matters into her own hands after the understaffed local police force does little to find Elwood’s attacker.

After pursuing the attack as a hate crime, Sharon eventually suspects that the attack might instead be related to her. That theory seems to take hold when Sharon’s office is tossed, forcing her to question who might want to take a shot at her through her father.

While the characters have obviously developed over the course of Muller’s long-running series, there isn’t a ton of backstory laid out in this book. Newcomers may struggle to understand the characters at first, before settling in once the plot takes off. While the pacing is quick, it’s also a tad choppy at times early on, though it does settle down as Muller finds her groove around the midway point.

Marcia Muller’s thirty-second Sharon McCone novel features a fast-paced plot that twists, turns and winds its way to an explosive ending. Fans of Muller’s series will appreciate another adventure with McCone, who takes on one of her most personal cases yet.

Book Details

Author: Marcia Muller
Series: Sharon McCone #32
Pages: 272 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1455538922
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release Date: August 8, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 6.0/10
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Tuesday, August 15th


51QE0sejb7L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_A Promise to Kill by Erik Storey (Featured Selection)

Clyde Barr, Erik Storey’s highly-skilled, Jack Reacher-like protagonist, returns in A Promise to Kill, the head-turning sequel to last year’s Nothing Short of Dying.

Storey kicks off his second novel with Clyde Barr, a nomad with few worries or concerns, stumbling upon Bud Nicholas, a friendly man who owns a farm just off the Ute Indian reservation in Utah. Barr and Bud hit it off right away, bonding over their shared interests, but the old man starts to have chest pain and falls into cardiac arrest.

Clyde manages to get him to a hospital, where he meets Bud’s daughter, Lawana, a doctor who runs a small clinic in town when she’s not helping with the farm.

Upon finding out that Lawana is widowed, Barr offers to stay and help out until the old man is healthy enough to resume his normal routine. No stranger to hard work, Clyde fits right in and strikes up a friendship with Lawana’s son, Taylor, who immediately looks up to and admires Barr.

After settling in, Barr is happy–for the first time in a long time–and enjoys the simple, yet physically demanding life of a ranch hand…but things don’t stay simple and happy for long.

After a few run-ins with a violent biker gang called the Reapers, who set up camp ten miles north of town, all hell breaks loose when Barr defends a teenage Ute boy who takes a serious beating from two leather-wearing, hog-riding thugs. After a face-to-face spat with the Reapers’ leader, a mountain of a man named Jury, Clyde is warned to get lost or suffer some painful consequences.

Choosing door number two, Clyde stays in town, and things begin to escalate, especially after the Reapers kidnap a young girl and Clyde promises to do whatever it takes to protect the small town and the non-violent Ute people who reside on the reservation. What’s unclear, though, are the Reapers’ motives and why they’re interested in the area to begin with.

As the story unfolds, Clyde and Lawana make a shocking discovery, revealing the truth behind the Reapers and why they’ve shut down and taken over the small town–setting up an impressive, lights-out final act that’s impossible to put down.

For those who haven’t yet discovered Storey and his protagonist, imagine Jack Reacher, but set in the Wild West. Barr is a skilled brawler who has honed his fighting skills all across the globe for one reason or another and isn’t someone to mess with. Storey, whose style falls somewhere between Lee Child and Craig Johnson, is a natural storyteller who understands what readers are looking for–and delivers in a big way.

Erik Storey–one of the genre’s brightest new stars–avoids the dreaded “sophomore slump,” delivering another fun, satisfying thriller that’s perfect for fans of C.J. Box, Lee Child, Craig Johnson, and Ace Atkins.

Book Details

Author: Erik Storey
Series: Clyde Barr #2
Pages: 288 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1501124188
Publisher: Scribner
Release Date: August 15, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 7.5/10
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51BG78T604L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgWithout Fear or Favor by Robert K. Tanenbaum

“In the twenty-ninth novel in the New York Times bestselling Karp-Ciampi series featuring “the best fictional prosecuting attorney in literature” (Mark Lane, #1 New York Times bestselling author), Butch Karp and his wife Marlene Ciampi must stop a radical organization of armed militants bent on the cold-blooded murder of uniformed on-duty police officers.

When a cop shoots down the son of a respected inner-city Baptist preacher, the community rises up in anger and demands to have the officer prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But there’s something more than a call for justice at work here: a plot to bring down the city’s police force through a conspiracy so vast and malicious only Butch Karp and his band of truth-seekers can untangle it.

Full of Tanenbaum’s signature page turning intense action and heart pounding suspense from “one hell of a writer” (New York Post), Without Fear or Favor will keep you guessing until the final scene.”

Book Details

Author: Robert K. Tanenbaum 
Pages: 384 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1476793220
Publisher: Gallery Books 
Release Date: August 15, 2017
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41YOr5nw-QL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgSeeing Red by Sandra Brown

“Kerra Bailey is a TV journalist hot on the trail of a story guaranteed to skyrocket her career to new heights. Twenty-five years ago, Major Franklin Trapper became a national icon when he was photographed leading a handful of survivors to safety after the bombing of a Dallas hotel. For years, he gave frequent speeches and interviews but then suddenly dropped out of the public eye, shunning all media. Now Kerra is willing to use any means necessary to get an exclusive with the Major–even if she has to secure an introduction from his estranged son, former ATF agent John Trapper. 

Still seething over his break with both the ATF and his father, Trapper wants no association with the bombing or the Major. Yet Kerra’s hints that there’s more to the story rouse Trapper’s interest despite himself. And when the interview goes catastrophically awry–with unknown assailants targeting not only the Major, but also Kerra–Trapper realizes he needs her under wraps if he’s going to track down the gunmen . . . and finally discover who was responsible for the Dallas bombing.

Kerra is wary of a man so charming one moment and dangerous the next, and she knows Trapper is withholding evidence from his ATF investigation into the bombing. But having no one else to trust and enemies lurking closer than they know, Kerra and Trapper join forces to expose a sinuous network of lies and conspiracy–and uncover who would want a national hero dead.”

Book Details

Author: Sandra Brown
Pages: 432 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1455572101
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing 
Release Date: August 15, 2017
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51zPksEXQEL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_ (1).jpgExposed by Lisa Scottoline


Mary DiNunzio wants to represent her old friend Simon Pensiera, a sales rep who was wrongly fired by his company, but her partner Bennie Rosato represents the parent company. When she confronts Mary, explaining this is a conflict of interest, an epic battle of wills and legal strategy between the two ensues―ripping the law firm apart, forcing everyone to take sides and turning friend against friend.


Book Details

Author: Lisa Scottoline 
Pages: 352 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1250099714
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press 
Release Date: August 15, 2017
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Tuesday, August 22nd


51kVbqC15PL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_The Saboteur by Andrew Gross (Featured Selection)

Following his defeat at Stalingrad, Adolf Hitler goes all-in to obtain a weapon capable of turning the war around and back in his favor. To create such a powerful weapon, Hitler needs the deuterium oxide, or “heavy water,” that is secretly being produced in the Norsk Hydro plant located in southern Norway. Without it, the atomic bomb cannot be assembled.

Kurt Nordstrum belongs to a group of Norwegian resistance soldiers whose mission is to take back Norway, overthrowing dictator Vidkun Quisling in the process. British Intelligence has plenty of intel on the Norsk Hydro plant, which is nearly impossible to get to — and even if one could find a way there, it’s heavily guarded by well-armed commandos.

After learning just how impenetrable the factory is, Nordstrum and his men are tasked with infiltrating the plant and destroying the heavy water supply and all the equipment and machinery used to produce it. For Nordstrum, the true significance of the mission’s danger is hammered home when he learns that his crew isn’t the first to attempt such a daring job. The last unit, though, were all killed.

Nordstrum and his guys are the last hope to take down the Hydro plant. From planning their operation and their insertion point to navigating the harsh weather and setting up their assault, Gross keeps his foot on the gas pedal throughout. The characters, especially Nordstrum — who learned early on as a child to persevere and push through tough circumstances — really come to life. Best of all, it’s hard to tell where the facts end and fiction begins, so have your laptop and the all-mighty power of Google ready at your disposal, then sit back and enjoy the ride.

Last year, Andrew Gross made headlines for turning over a new page in his career and switching genres. After blasting his way into the historical fiction scene with The One Man — a near-perfect thriller that will make you laugh, cry, and cheer like your team is fourth-and-goal on the one-yard line, down by six in the Super Bow l– Gross proves to be more than a one-hit wonder in his new genre.

While the account of the saboteur’s mission is real, making the ending known to many readers long before they pick the book up, Gross masterfully develops his characters –providing numerous reasons for readers to hang around for four hundred pages. He also brings the setting to life, plunging readers into the snow-covered Norwegian mountains where the frigid setting meets an equally chilling plot.

After two unputdownable World War II thrillers featuring unlikely heroes, each with plots involving atomic bombs and daring missions from brave men who rise to the occasion when needed, Gross firmly asserts himself as one of the most talented historical fiction writers in the game today.

The Saboteur, which reads like Mission: Impossible set in 1943is another brilliant, action-packed, emotionally-charged thriller from Andrew Gross. Buy it and move it straight to the top of your reading list!

Book Details

Author: Andrew Gross
Pages: 416 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1250079519
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: August 22, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 8.5/10
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4111KZ41JHL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Sulfur Springs by William Kent Krueger

As Cork O’Connor prepares to celebrate July 4th with his wife, children, and grandkids, the fireworks come early when an explosive phone call flips the O’Connors’ world upside down.

Moments before they’re about to head out and join their family to watch fireworks, Cork and his wife Rainy Bisonette receive a disturbing phone call from Rainy’s son, Peter. Living in Arizona, Peter has come a long way from his troubled past–which included a serious drug addiction. So when he leaves a voicemail on Rainy’s phone indicating he’s in trouble, she and Cork become immediately concerned.

More shocking is the message itself, which is garbled beyond recognition except for a few words. What did come through loud and clear, though, is that Peter is being pursued by people who believe he killed someone named Rodriguez. When Peter doesn’t answer or return calls, Cork and Rainy fly to southern Arizona to look into the situation.

Upon landing in Coronado County, Arizona, the hits keep coming for Rainy and Cork, who uses the skills he developed and honed over a long career in law enforcement to investigate Peter’s whereabouts. But the deeper they dig into Peter’s past, the more they discover he’s not quite who he’s claimed to be for the past few years.

Eventually, Cork follows Peter’s trail to the small town of Sulfur Springs, where he learns that a man named Rodriguez is the leader of a cartel known for smuggling things into America from Mexico–kickstarting a fiery plot that blazes hotter than the scorching Arizona sun.

Taking Cork out of Minnesota is a brilliant move by William Kent Krueger. After fifteen novels, getting Cork out of his element provides a breath of fresh air for his long-running series, and longtime fans will get a kick out of seeing O’Connor struggle to adapt to his new setting.

As the plot plows forward, Cork finds that it’s not just Peter who’s been keeping secrets–Rainy too has something she’d like to keep hidden, which eats at Cork even when he pretends it doesn’t. The added suspense is like pouring gasoline on the fire, making William Kent Krueger’s latest novel one of his best thrillers yet.

If you’re a fan of C.J. Box’s Joe Pickett series or Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire books, you have got to meet William Kent Krueger’s Cork O’Connor!

Book Details

Author: William Kent Krueger
Series: Cork O’Connor #17
Pages: 320 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 150114734X
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: August 22, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 7.5/10
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51AbMIofe3L._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgAssassin’s Code by Ward Larsen

“Former Assassin David Slaton discovers a cryptic message: on a memory stick, a photograph of the man who will soon assume command of DGSI, France’s elite counterterrorism force. With that country reeling under a wave of ISIS attacks, Zavier Baland will be trusted to make the Republic safe again. The problem―Slaton has seen Baland’s face before. He is Ali Samir, a terrorist Slaton is certain he killed fifteen years earlier. Unable to reconcile this frightening disconnect, he attempts to raise the alarm.

Thousands of miles away, the chief information officer of ISIS tries to keep networks running amid crumbling infrastructure. With the caliphate’s very survival at stake, the leadership commits to a last-ditch gambit: France must be attacked on a massive scale, forcing the West into the battle of the Apocalypse.

Slaton keeps a breakneck pace, traveling to Tel Aviv, Paris, and the deserts of Syria. In the end he uncovers a labyrinthine plot―and one that only he can stop.”

Book Details

Author: Ward Larsen
Pages: 368 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0765385805
Publisher: Forge Books
Release Date: August 22, 2017
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The good daughterThe Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

It’s been twenty-eight years since two men broke into the home of prominent defense lawyer Rusty Quinn. Still, the memories of that night haunt Quinn’s daughters…

Charlotte Quinn, one of Rusty’s daughters, watched in horror as her mother was killed and her sister, Samantha, was shot in the head and buried alive. Fleeing, Charlotte survived by running from the danger. And while she’s now grown and still living in her childhood hometown of Pikeville, Georgia, Charlotte, who now goes by Charlie, is still running from the horrors of that devastating night.

Amazingly, Samantha is still alive. Though she was shot in the head and left for dead, she too survived and has become a productive member of society. Now living in New York, she followed her father’s footsteps and became a lawyer.

Charlie, meanwhile, is struggling. Her marriage is falling apart, and she’s taken to finding solace in all the wrong places. Where Samantha has physical scars, Charlie deals with the psychological scars from having her perfect, small-town world turned completely upside down. Like her sister, she is a lawyer. Unlike her sister, staying in Pikeville caused her to inadvertently witness another horrific event.

A school shooting claimed several lives, and Charlie had a front-row seat to the murders. The situation, while catastrophic, seems fairly straight forward. A disturbed girl had had enough and brought a gun to school–shooting and killing Doug Pinkman, the school’s principal, and another young child.

As Charlie finds herself involved with the case, the memories she’s ran from for nearly three decades force themselves back to the forefront of her mind, causing her to re-examine everything about that night her family was changed forever.

Additionally, Charlie questions what she actually saw at the school and begins searching for answers. Along the way, she’s met with many conflicts, including seeing her sister–who she has a hard time being in the same room with–and reliving the trauma they suffered together.

While the themes in this book suggest the content will be dark, readers should brace themselves for some very graphic scenes that aren’t for the faint of heart. Slaughter doesn’t hold back when describing a scene, which makes for a chilling display of violence. Also, this is no police procedural or legal thriller. The Good Daughter is a character-driven story, one that is both highly emotional and highly entertaining.

The Quinn family’s many issues reveal themselves slowly, making Slaughter’s latest character-driven stand-alone novel a dark and gritty adventure that’s skillfully plotted and supremely written.

Book Details

Author: Karin Slaughter
Pages: 528 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0062430246
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: August 8, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 6.5/10
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51VfrQOKzJL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThe Room of White Fire by T. Jefferson Parker

“Roland Ford—once a cop, then a marine, now a private investigator—is good at finding people. But when he’s asked to locate Air Force veteran Clay Hickman, he realizes he’s been drawn into something deep and dark. He knows war, having served as a Marine in first Fallujah; he also knows personal pain, as only two years have passed since his wife, Justine, died. What he doesn’t know is why a shroud of secrecy hangs over the disappearance of Clay Hickman—and why he’s getting a different story from everyone involved.

To begin with, there’s Sequoia, the teenage woman who helped Clay escape; she’s smart enough to fend off Ford’s questions but impetuous enough to be on the run with an armed man. Then there’s Paige Hulet, Clay’s doctor, who clearly cares deeply for his welfare but is impossible to read, even as she inspires in Ford the first desire he has felt since his wife’s death. And there’s Briggs Spencer, the proprietor of the mental institution who is as enigmatic as he is brash and ambitious to the point of being ruthless. What could Clay possibly know to make this search so desperate?

What began as just a job becomes a life-or-death obsession for Ford, pitting him against immensely powerful and treacherous people and forcing him to contend with chilling questions about truth, justice, and the American way.

Book Details

Author: T. Jefferson Parker
Pages: 352 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 073521266X
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons 
Release Date: August 22, 2017
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51iPIHs2jFL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThe Other Girl by Erica Spindler

“Officer Miranda Rader of the Harmony, Louisiana PD is known for her honesty, integrity, and steady hand in a crisis―but that wasn’t always so. Miranda comes from the town of Jasper, a place about the size of a good spit on a hot day, and her side of the tracks was the wrong one. She’s worked hard to earn the respect of her coworkers and the community.

When Miranda and her partner are called to investigate the murder of one of the town’s most beloved college professors, they’re unprepared for the brutality of the scene. This murder is unlike any they’ve ever investigated, and just when Miranda thinks she’s seen the worst of it, she finds a piece of evidence that chills her to the core: a faded newspaper clipping about that terrible night fifteen years ago. The night she’d buried, along with her past and the girl she’d been back then. Until now that grave had stayed sealed…except for those times, in the deepest part of the night, when the nightmares came: of a crime no one believed happened and the screams of the girl they believed didn’t exist.

Then another man turns up dead, this one a retired cop. Not just any cop―the one who took her statement that night. Two murders, two very different men, two killings that on the surface had nothing in common―except Miranda.”

Book Details

Author: Erica Spindler
Pages: 256 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1250083656
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: August 22, 2017
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5139NgVdL0L._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_I Know a Secret by Tess Gerritsen

Detective Jane Rizzoli and Medical Examiner Maura Isles are called to a disturbing crime scene. A woman is found dead in her bed, her eyes gouged out and laid in her hand. Beyond that, there is no obvious cause of death. 

A short while later, another body is discovered. This time a man is found dead with three arrows stuck in his heart. Ironically, though, the arrows don’t appear to be what killed him. Like the woman before him, the cause of death remains a mystery. Rizzoli is sure both murders are linked to one killer but struggles to connect the victims, believing at first that the horror movie-like staged killings might have been done at random.

While Rizzoli searches for a link between the victims and tries to figure out how to find the killer, Isles struggles to figure out what, exactly, killed them.

The first breakthrough comes when Rizzoli discovers that the first victim, Cassandra Coyle, a filmmaker, was working on a slasher flick that featured similar types of deaths–which can be traced back to those of early Christian saints. The likeness is uncanny, and it gives Rizzoli something to work with. Eventually, she finds the link between victims, realizing both are tied to a sexual abuse case from twenty years ago. The abuse took place at Apple Tree Daycare and was well publicized at the time.

Working backward looking for more victims, Rizzoli discovers that several other cases may be tied to the killer–who may or may not be the man who went to prison, who happens to have been recently released, following the Apple Tree Daycare scandal.

But could the case really be that easy? Don’t count on it…

Another woman emerges who Rizzoli is convinced could be the next target. She has insight into the past case, but she also has a secret that she’s not willing to tell, no matter what–even with her own life on the line.

If you haven’t read any of Gerritsen’s books before, the author does a fine job getting newcomers up to speed. She packs in enough character backstory and development to enrich the story, but without slowing the plot down. The gruesome murder scenes aren’t for the faint of heart, and the story itself gets pretty dark at times. Gerritsen’s colorful characters brighten things significantly, and after a three-year hiatus (since 2014’s Die Again), it’s just great to have Rizzoli and Isles back in action. 

Tess Gerritsen ramps up the suspense with this one–I Know a Secret is a gritty, nail-biting page-turner, and a whole lot of fun to read!

Book Details

Author: Tess Gerritsen
Pages: 368 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0345543882
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: August 15, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 6.0/10
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518i2N+eyYL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgRed Swan by P.T. Deutermann

“Written with the authority of twenty-six years of military and government service at sea and in Washington, P.T. Deutermann’s Red Swan is a brilliant, provocative thriller about the contemporary war that no one sees, but which will shape the future of America and China.

Set in contemporary Washington D.C., Red Swan begins with an ominous phone call from Carson McGill, the Deputy Director of Operations in the CIA, to retired CIA officer Preston Allender. Henry Wallace is dead. A behind-the-scenes operator at the CIA, Wallace was integral to the Agency’s secret war against China’s national intelligence service, which infiltrates government and military offices, major businesses, and systems crucial to our security. Wallace had severely damaged China’s Washington spy ring with a devastating ruse, a so-called “black swan,” in which a deep-undercover female agent targeted and destroyed a key Chinese official. Now, Wallace’s mysterious death suggests that the CIA itself has been compromised and that China has someone inside the Agency.

But as Allender quietly investigates, he makes a shocking discovery that will upend the entire American intelligence apparatus. For Wallace’s black swan operation may have been turned against the CIA; a Red Swan is flying and the question is: who is she, what is her target, and where will she land?”

Book Details

Author: P.T. Deutermann
Pages: 304 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 125011408X
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: August 22, 2017
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Tuesday, August 29th


FInal HourThe Final Hour by Tom Wood

In last year’s novel, A Time to Die, Victor met up with a female assassin named Raven, whom he then poisoned after she tried to kill him. Planning and trying to kill each other is really just an occupational hazard when you’re a hitman-for-hire. For this reason, Victor never lets his guard down, and he never, under any circumstances, displays any of his weaknesses.

In truth, Victor really doesn’t have many weaknesses, but he does seem to be wrestling with his conscience a bit in this book–a stark contrast from the cold-blooded, emotionless killer fans have come to know.

Of course, just when you think author Tom Wood is perhaps inching his character closer to the light side, Victor immediately performs an about-face, reminding readers that he’s still strong with the dark side.

In the opening pages, it’s revealed that Raven survived, noting that Victor told her she would live, but only if she was “strong enough.” Beating the odds, barely, Raven slowly recovers in the hospital. A skilled assassin in her own right, her main priority is to get well enough to get going and get back off the grid as quickly as possible.

Victor, meanwhile, bounces around a bit while he’s between jobs. Unbeknownst to him, Antonio Alvarez–a powerful U.S. intelligence agency official–has been trying for years to track down Victor without much success. After taking a promotion, though, he finds himself in a position to finally take a run at the killer who has so skillfully evaded authorities all around the globe during his lethal career.

With time, motivation, and plenty of resources available to him, Alvarez is a major threat to Victor, who realizes that his best chance of surviving the inevitable attack is to team up with someone who isn’t afraid to be in the water with the sharks when they smell blood.

With few options available to him, Victor turns to the very person he nearly killed, fellow assassin Raven, creating a dicey situation for both.

Two killers who already tried to kill each other teaming up…what could go wrong?

For starters, Raven isn’t exactly on Santa’s nice list. She has her own enemies, lots of them, who are searching high and low for her. So while teaming up gives them each someone to cover their six, it also means they have more threats to watch for.

As the story unfolds, Wood treats readers to plenty of action, driving his smart, fast-moving plot at breakneck speeds. There’s also a few faces whom longtime fans of Wood’s novels will recognize from his earlier books, each brought back to tie up some previous loose ends.

The real magic, though, is that readers, at some point, will realize that Wood has written and developed things in a way that makes you root for the bad guys. Unlike Jason Bourne, who is also pursued by the government but has several redeeming qualities, Victor really is darker than dark. He’s an antihero’s antihero, and yet, for some reason, you cannot help but cheer him on every step of the way.

Wood takes his franchise to the next level with The Final Hour, his strongest novel to date, and a must-read for fans of Gregg Hurwitz’s Orphan X and Mark Greaney’s Gray Man series.

Book Details

Author: Tom Wood
Series: Victor The Assassin #7
Pages: 448 (Paperback)
ISBN: 0062354345
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: August 29, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 7.0/10
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51vpTsE4-cL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThief’s Mark by Carla Neggers

“As a young boy, Oliver York witnessed the murder of his wealthy parents in their London apartment. The killers kidnapped him and held him in an isolated Scottish ruin, but he escaped, thwarting their plans for ransom. Now, after thirty years on the run, one of the two men Oliver identified as his tormentors may have surfaced.  

Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan are enjoying the final day of their Irish honeymoon when a break-in at the home of Emma’s grandfather, private art detective Wendell Sharpe, points to Oliver. The Sharpes have a complicated relationship with the likable, reclusive Englishman, an expert in Celtic mythology and international art thief who taunted Wendell for years. Emma and Colin postpone meetings in London with their elite FBI team and head straight to Oliver. But when they arrive at York’s country home, a man is dead and Oliver has vanished. 

As the danger mounts, new questions arise about Oliver’s account of his boyhood trauma. Do Emma and Colin dare trust him? With the trail leading beyond Oliver’s small village to Ireland, Scotland and their own turf in the United States, the stakes are high, and Emma and Colin must unravel the decades-old tangle of secrets and lies before a killer strikes again. “

Book Details

Author: Carla Neggers
Pages: 336 (Paperback)
ISBN: 0778330311
Publisher: MIRA
Release Date: August 29, 2017
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51xXH8MH-sL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgAn Army of One by Tony Schumacher

“In this enthralling historical thriller set in post—World War II London, detective John Henry Rossett must stop a murderous ex—SS officer as the German occupation of England begins to falter.

Working with the SS in German-occupied Britain was never easy for John Rossett. Though he’s returned to his former job, the police inspector has been tainted by his Nazi associations. His suspicious colleagues see him as a collaborator, and he’s unwelcome at his old haunts. But the Germans aren’t done with Rossett. When decorated SS Captain Karl Bauer kills the US consul in Liverpool, then goes on the run, Generalmajor Neumann orders Rossett to find the missing killer—a swift, cunning, and ruthless man known as “the Bear.”

While the Nazis still maintain control over London, Liverpool is run by criminal networks and the British resistance. A wasteland of burned-out buildings and mountains of rubble, the northern port city is the perfect place for a clever warrior like Bauer to hide. Neumann and Rossett’s search also turns up damning new information: Bauer’s superior, Major Theo Dannecker, has been colluding with the US consul and the British resistance to smuggle large amounts of gold out of the country. As for the Bear, the fervent SS officer has repudiated his allegiance to the crumbling Reich and is now focused on destroying Rossett, the famed “British Lion,” one innocent victim at a time.

To prevent more deaths and protect Britain, Rossett must trap the Bear and uncover a diabolical conspiracy that has brought Nazi officers and the British resistance together.” 

Book Details

Author: Tony Schumacher
Pages: 400 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0062499874
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: August 29, 2017
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Facebook Comments



  1. Will start with In the Crosshairs, Deep Black,
    A Promise to Kill, Without Fear or Favor,
    and The Saboteur. Thanks for publishing the
    August List a day early!! Can’t wait to get started!

  2. Just closed the back cover on Daniel Silva’s latest House of Spies (aka House of Jinn) and loved it. Silva’s Gabriel Allon is a favorite protagonist of mine and Silva creates a yarn that is prevalent in today’s scray world while also making us feel better that there are people out there doing the hard right. Can’t want for the next Allon book already. Keep writing!

    Now on the John Gilstrap’s Digger Graves and Big Guy’s adventures in Final Target. Another favorite author that I will find hard to put down.

    Already ordered The Saboteur! Excited about a new author for me.

    Thanks Book Spy!

  3. Thanks for the latest list! I will read Red Swan, Assassin’s Code and Dark Light. Just wish the first two were already available. Looking forward to 9/17!

  4. Just pre-ordered Promise to Kill by Erik Storey. This will be the first book that I have read by Erik. Also, just finished Steve Berry’s Lost Order. Amazing book. I am amazed by the level of historical detail in the book. Until Promise to Kill is released in nine days, I am going back to 2014 and read Faceoff. Faceoff was written prior to Matchup where 23 authors team up to write a series of short stories.

  5. I finished Dark Light the other day. I thought it was pretty good – and a very interesting mix of spy/thriller and supernatural genres. Max Younger would probably be the odds-on favorite for the 2017 list of baddest characters, but I’m thinking he might need to be excluded due to his ancestry.

  6. Just finished “Trap the devil”. It was good, but not great. The author has done better. Rated it 3 stars.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Alan. After I read it early this year, I struggled with how to rate it. FIRST STRIKE is one of my favorite thrillers ever written. In the end, the emotional impact in this book elevated it a tad for me. I will say, the response has been overwhelmingly favorable by fans – who have made it very clear this is one of his best books yet. Coes, in my opinion, might be the next Vince Flynn.

  7. About six months ago I read the first hundred pages of orphan x. Was not impressed, and went on to other books. Just finished reading it, and gave it an overall rating of four stars. Author did a beautiful job of developing the characters and storyline.I have read other books by this author, and would recommend him highly.

  8. A Promise to Kill by Erik Storey was a great read. Read it in two sittings. Keep sying to myself I’ll read another chapter and quit and before I knew it was 2AM. I enjoyed the setting in Utah. Highly recommend.

  9. Just finished “warning order”. Wow! Deserved your five star rating, I would’ve given it six stars if I could. Excellent recommendation.Beautifully developed characters and storyline.. I will look forward to reading other books by this author.

  10. The Saboteur is a fascinating book. I really enjoy reading fiction based upon actual events in history. Great story. The author does a wonderful job of describing the terrain and challenges faced by the Saboteurs.

  11. “The Fallen” by Ace Atkin was excellent. The author can put you there with the characters, and the storyline. Good job. 4 1/2 stars. I’ll look forward to the next installment of the Ranger.

  12. Finished “The Red Swan” the other day. I mostly enjoyed the book. It was well written, and Allender as the protagonist was different from most that I favor in this genre (Rapp, Victor the Assassin, etc.) There was a twist at the end, but it wasn’t the type that I think a reader could have figured out in advance – so it was a bit of a negative to me.

  13. I read “The Final Hour” and thought it was better than the 7/10 rating above. Not the best of the series, but pretty close to it, IMHO. I was pretty surprised at the end in how the relationship between Victor and Connie evolved. Look forward to the next in the series!

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