The Real Book Spy’s October Reading Guide

Some of the genre’s biggest names are set to hit bookstores this month, which makes October a great month for thriller fans!

As always, we’ve highlighted a couple of titles that we’re really high on. This month, our Featured Selections are Michael Connelly’s new Harry Bosch novel, Two kinds of Truth, and Deep Freeze, an all-new Virgil Flowers book from John Sandford. Read more about those novels, and everything else set to come out this month, 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, October 3

 

51F2CYT8YkL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgOrigin by Dan Brown

“Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum Bilbao to attend a major announcement—the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever.” The evening’s host is Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old billionaire and futurist whose dazzling high-tech inventions and audacious predictions have made him a renowned global figure. Kirsch, who was one of Langdon’s first students at Harvard two decades earlier, is about to reveal an astonishing breakthrough . . . one that will answer two of the fundamental questions of human existence.

As the event begins, Langdon and several hundred guests find themselves captivated by an utterly original presentation, which Langdon realizes will be far more controversial than he ever imagined. But the meticulously orchestrated evening suddenly erupts into chaos, and Kirsch’s precious discovery teeters on the brink of being lost forever. Reeling and facing an imminent threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape Bilbao. With him is Ambra Vidal, the elegant museum director who worked with Kirsch to stage the provocative event. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch’s secret.

Navigating the dark corridors of hidden history and extreme religion, Langdon and Vidal must evade a tormented enemy whose all-knowing power seems to emanate from Spain’s Royal Palace itself . . . and who will stop at nothing to silence Edmond Kirsch. On a trail marked by modern art and enigmatic symbols, Langdon and Vidal uncover clues that ultimately bring them face-to-face with Kirsch’s shocking discovery . . . and the breathtaking truth that has long eluded us.”

Book Details

Author: Dan Brown
Series: Robert Langdon 
Pages: 480 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0385514239
Publisher: Doubleday
Release Date: October 3, 2017
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Tuesday, October 10

 

Newt.jpgVengeance by Newt Gingrich

“A terrorist drives an explosive-packed rental truck into Major Brooke Grant’s Washington, D.C., wedding, intending to detonate a deadly bomb.

Saved by a last-minute fluke, Brooke seeks revenge against the master terrorist responsible, an international radical Islamist known only as the Falcon, who is determined to murder her, bring America to its knees, and create a modern-day caliphate. 

An unorthodox, newly sworn-in president recruits Brooke to join a clandestine CIA team in pursuit of the Falcon. With help from an odd coupling-a Saudi intelligence officer and an Israeli Mossad agent-Brooke goes after her elusive zealot nemesis. But before the trio can close in on their target, they discover that America’s worst nightmare has come true. 

Intertwined with backroom Washington political intrigue, Vengeance is a fast-paced, realistic thriller that entertains while raising serious questions about our national security, the power of religious faith to inspire good and evil, the consequences of revenge, and the validity of our constitutional safeguards. 

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Washington Post reporter turned novelist Pete Earley are at their best in this third installment of their bestselling Brooke Grant series.”

Book Details

Author: Newt Gingrich
Series: Robert Langdon 
Pages: 432 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1478923040
Publisher: Center Street
Release Date: October 10, 2017
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Four horseman.jpgThe Four Horsemen by Gregory Dowling

“Tour guide Alvise Marangon thinks he knows Venice better than ever, but now finds himself ensnared by mysteries as obscure as the city and in many cases just as old.

Certain that he is finally about to have his guide’s license revoked after a tavern brawl, Alvise is instead dragooned into the service of Missier Grande, who has linked the death of one of his agents to a secret society known as the Four Horsemen. Every attempt that Missier Grande makes to investigate the matter is blocked by forces on high, and enlisting Alvise is a move of last resort―one last-ditch effort to uncover the crimes of the present in the secrets of the past before the future claims more lives.

Among the dark arcades and fetid canals of 18th century Venice, Alvise is the one who finds himself led on a tour, at any turn of which could lie a fresh corpse or an ancient conspiracy.”

Book Details

Author: Gregory Dowling
Series: Alvise Marangon Mysteries
Pages: 320 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1250108543
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Release Date: October 10, 2017
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Tuesday, October 17

 

Deep FreezeDeep Freeze by John Sandford (Featured Selection)

Class reunions are supposed to be a time for catching up, talking about what life was like as teenagers, celebrating where you are now, and reconnecting with old friends. For Gina Hemming, her twenty-fifth high school reunion started off fine, but took a sudden, deadly turn.

Sandford opens his tenth Virgil Flowers novel with the accidental killing of Hemming, who’d left Minnesota and worked her way up the corporate ladder. Recently divorced, Hemming reconnects with David Burkmann, who still goes by his high school nickname, “Bug Boy.”

A down-on-his-luck, accident-prone loner, David is also recently divorced. Having inherited his father’s insect and pest removal company, David stayed in Minnesota, living in the same town he grew up in, often thinking about his first love, Gina Hemming.

Their personal reunion doesn’t go as planned, though, and Gina quickly becomes angry with David for making an advance towards her. In the blink of an eye, David absorbs a blow from Gina, then–without thinking–swings his arm towards her, forgetting that he was holding a big bottle of champagne. The bottle lands solidly, and Gina falls to the floor, dying instantly.

As the opening chapter comes to a close, David is seen staging things to look like Gina fell down the stairs before leaving her body and heading to a karaoke joint to establish his alibi. Then he heads home, where he waits for news to break that Gina’s body has been found inside the local bar at the bottom of the stairs where he left her.

Virgil Flowers, meanwhile, who works for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, is spending his vacation time tucked inside a camo blind, braving the frigid winter weather while parked behind his Nikon D810 digital camera. Hoping to capture a thousand dollar photo for Wing & Talon magazine, Flowers tracks an owl, waiting for the perfect shot. Sadly, his vacation is cut short when his boss, Joe Duncan, calls and asks for him to help with a murder investigation.

According to Duncan, the body of Gina Hemming was pulled from the river, frozen in a slab of ice…not at the bottom of a flight of stairs where readers last saw her. The surprising twist lands within the first twenty pages, immediately sucking readers into the story.

Typically, authors write crime novels in one of two ways. Either the reader knows who the bad guy is before the protagonist, or they’re in the dark along with the lead character, trying to solve things and connect the dots as the story unfolds. Sandford shakes things up here by mixing both formulas, which pays off in the end.

Readers might know more than Virgil Flowers, but they don’t know everything. Sandford uses that intrigue, and the reader’s quest to discover the whole truth will propel them forward, where he has plenty of twists (and more than a few laughs) planted along the way.

Deep Freeze is easily one of Sandford’s best Virgil Flowers novels yet, and a terrific follow-up to last year’s Escape Clause. 

Book Details

Author: John Sandford 
Series: Virgil Flowers #10
Pages: 400 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0399176063
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: October 17, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 7.5/10
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Pulse.jpgPulse by Felix Francis

“A smartly dressed man has been found unconscious at the local racecourse and is rushed to the hospital, where he subsequently dies. But who is he? Where does he come from? He had no form of identification on him, and no one claims the body. 

Doctor Chris Rankin, a specialist who treated the deceased–and who struggles with mental health issues–is intrigued by the nameless dead man, obsessed even, and starts asking questions. However, someone doesn’t want the questions answered and will go to any lengths to prevent it, including an attempted murder. But when no one will believe that someone tried to kill Chris, the doctor is left with no option but to discover who the nameless man was and why he died . . . preferably before following him into an early grave.”

Book Details

Author: Felix Francis
Pages: 384 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0399574735
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: October 17, 2017
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Righetous.jpgRighteous by Joe Ide

“In this hotly anticipated follow-up to the smash hit IQ, a New York Times Critics’ Best of the Year and nominee for the Best First Novel Edgar Award, Isaiah uncovers a secret behind the death of his brother, Marcus.

For ten years, something has gnawed at Isaiah Quintabe’s gut and kept him up nights, boiling with anger and thoughts of revenge. Ten years ago, when Isaiah was just a boy, his brother was killed by an unknown assailant. The search for the killer sent Isaiah plunging into despair and nearly destroyed his life. Even with a flourishing career, a new dog, and near-iconic status as a PI in his hometown, East Long Beach, he has to begin the hunt again-or lose his mind.

A case takes him and his volatile, dubious sidekick, Dodson, to Vegas, where Chinese gangsters and a terrifying seven-foot loan shark are stalking a DJ and her screwball boyfriend. If Isaiah doesn’t find the two first, they’ll be murdered. Awaiting the outcome is the love of IQ’s life: fail, and he’ll lose her. Isaiah’s quest is fraught with treachery, menace, and startling twists, and it will lead him to the mastermind behind his brother’s death, Isaiah’s own sinister Moriarty.

With even more action, suspense, and mind-bending mysteries than Isaiah’s first adventures, Righteous is a rollicking, ingenious thrill ride.”

Book Details

Author: Joe Ide
Series: An IQ Novel #2
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0316267775
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Release Date: October 17, 2017
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Walking deadThe Walking Dead: Return to Woodbury by Jay Bonansigna

Lilly Caul is the star of the eighth novel in Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead spin-off series, Return to Woodbury, a huge leap up from last year’s Search and Destroy.

Last year, fans were underwhelmed with Jay Bonansinga’s seventh entry in The Walking Dead franchise. This time around, the author comes back with a strong new story about Lilly Caul and her quest to return back to the little village she once called home, Woodbury.

When readers catch up with Lilly, she’s living in Atlanta with another group of survivors in a massive former Ikea store that’s become a safe haven for those just trying to survive the apocalypse. Her living situation, once you get past the constant threat of zombies, isn’t too bad. With mahogany-lined corridors, plush, oversized pillows, and beds covered with sheets boasting an impressive 1000-thread count, things could be worse.

A different person than she was years prior, Lilly is a now a hardened, pistol-packing woman who’s willing kill zombies or anyone else threatening her, her way of life, or her friends. She’s done unthinkable things to survive, things she never dreamed of doing, and has come out on the other side a fire-tested warrior.

And now, that warrior is ready to go home.

After others agree to make the journey with her, Lilly and her gang of believers head for the Georgia farmlands, where she leads them directly into one of the largest gatherings of walkers in existence.

Riding in a motorcade that includes four modified horse-wagons, an Escalade with a .50-caliber machine gun mounted on the cargo deck, and several vans crammed with everything from food and walkie-talkies to spare gasoline and emergency generators, Lilly and her gang hit the road. From there, fans of this series pretty much know what to expect–lots of violent, bloody battles between the humans and the walkers, with a few surprises and twists thrown in along the way.

While past books in this series definitely required some frame of reference or backstory to properly understand the plot, this one does not. Whether you’re an avid reader of the novels, a casual fan of the show, or a total The Walking Dead newbie, anyone can pick this book up and dive in without any problems. In fact, the only real problem here is that eight books in, much of the plot feels repetitive. Jay Bonansinga mixes in new things and different ways to kill zombies here and there, but for the most part, these books do feel like one and the same. That’s not a bad thing, especially if you’re a fan of the series, but newcomers should know what to expect.

Lilly Caul is going home…and the dead are already there and waiting to greet her in Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead: Return to Woodbury

Book Details

Author: Jay Bonansinga
Series: The Walking Dead Series #8
Pages: 288 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 125005852X
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Release Date: October 17, 2017
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Tuesday, October 24

 

The Rooster Bar.jpgThe Rooster Bar by John Grisham

“Mark, Todd, and Zola came to law school to change the world, to make it a better place. But now, as third-year students, these close friends realize they have been duped. They all borrowed heavily to attend a third-tier, for-profit law school so mediocre that its graduates rarely pass the bar exam, let alone get good jobs. And when they learn that their school is one of a chain owned by a shady New York hedge-fund operator who also happens to own a bank specializing in student loans, the three know they have been caught up in The Great Law School Scam.

But maybe there’s a way out. Maybe there’s a way to escape their crushing debt, expose the bank and the scam, and make a few bucks in the process. But to do so, they would first have to quit school. And leaving law school a few short months before graduation would be completely crazy, right?  Well, yes and no . . .

Pull up a stool, grab a cold one, and get ready to spend some time at The Rooster Bar.”

Book Details

Author: John Grisham
Pages: 368 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0385541171
Publisher: Doubleday
Release Date: October 24, 2017
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Act of BetraylAct of Betrayal by Matthew Dunn

“Three years ago, intelligence officer Will Cochrane was brought in by a Delta Force colonel to assassinate a terrorist financier in Berlin. After the job, the commander vanished, and hasn’t been heard from since. The details don’t quite add up, and one of the CIA agents who was involved has been investigating the mission. He reaches out to Will for help, but before they can connect, the CIA man is poisoned.

Will is determined to uncover the truth about Berlin, even if it means putting himself in the crosshairs. Framed for multiple murders, the skilled former spy has gone deep underground to evade his enemies and the feds. But honor and loyalty to his old colleague thrust him into danger once again.

When Marsha Gage at the FBI discovers that Cochrane—one of America’s Most Wanted—has resurfaced, she immediately launches a manhunt, and she won’t stop until she brings the former CIA/MI6 operative in.

With time running out, Cochrane will use all of his training and formidable skills to outmaneuver the FBI and uncover a shocking conspiracy that will rock the foundations of our nation . . . if he can stay alive.”

Book Details

Author: Matthew Dunn
Series: A Will Cochrane Novel
Pages: 320 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0062427229
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: October 24, 2017
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Mind Games.jpgMind Games by Iris Johansen

“With Iris Johansen’s trademark adventure, intrigue, and explosive energy, Mind Game is a propulsive thriller that’s impossible to put down.

Scotland holds a treasure that Jane MacGuire has been hunting for years. But as she scours the highlands in search of it, she’s plagued by dreams of a girl in danger―dreams she can’t ignore no matter how hard she tries. Who is this girl, and what is she trying to tell Jane? And will Jane figure it out before it’s too late―for her and the mysterious young woman?

Things are further complicated when Seth Caleb comes back into Jane’s life. Their history is volatile to say the least. This time Jane finds herself pulled unexpectedly into his world as she fights to save him. But Caleb isn’t the only person sweeping her up into startling developments. When Eve Duncan surprises Jane with news of her own, Jane comes face to face with stunning changes in the lives of those she loves most.”

Book Details

Author: Iris Johansen
Pages: 384 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1250075858
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press 
Release Date: October 24, 2017
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Tuesday, October 31

 

519Wh5sxVrL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly (Featured Selection)

The past comes back to haunt Harry Bosch in Michael Connelly’s Two Kinds of Truth, the must-read follow-up to last year’s The Wrong Side of Goodbye.

It’s been thirty years since Bosch worked on a homicide case involving the murder of Danielle Skylar, a small-town girl who moved to Hollywood to pursue her dream of becoming a movie star. Instead, she was found naked and strangled to death in her Toluca Lake apartment after being brutally raped. 

Skylar’s case was one of the first Bosch worked with his former partner, Frankie Sheehan, a year after he got his detective badge in 1977. It hadn’t taken Bosch and Sheehan long to zero in on Preston Borders, a Los Angeles resident by way of Boston, living off his parent’s money while he partied and acted like a celebrity without any real claim to fame. 

Now, three decades later, Bosch is notified by the DA’s office that new evidence has emerged thanks to better technology, which has matched DNA on Skylar’s pajama bottoms to another known rapist who died in prison after being convicted of other crimes. The shocking revelation means that Preston Borders will get to walk out of San Quentin, where he’d been awaiting a state execution, alive and free. The shocking revelation means that Preston Borders will get to walk out of San Quentin, where he’d been awaiting a state execution, alive and free.

The news doesn’t sit well with Bosch, who is still volunteering with the San Fernando Police Department where he uses his nearly four decades of experience looking into cold cases for them — while also mentoring the department’s three young detectives.  

Bosch refuses to sit back and watch Preston Borders walk free, but he has just nine days to prove once and for all that Borders was the real killer. To make matters worse, Border’s attorney, Lance Cronyn, filed a habeas corpus petition claiming that Bosch planted evidence during the original investigation that ultimately led to his client’s guilty verdict. On top of that, the district attorney’s office is working to negotiate a financial settlement with Borders, but that won’t necessarily include protection for Bosch — who still isn’t on good terms with city officials since he sued to keep a foot in the door with the LAPD years prior — leaving him open to a civil suit that could ruin him financially. 

In the middle of Bosch’s search for a way to keep Borders behind bars and on schedule for his execution, a pharmacist named José Esquivel Senior, and his son, José Junior, are gunned down inside their family-owned pharmacy.

The double homicide shakes the small town of San Fernando, which doesn’t see many murder cases. The relatively inexperienced detective squad struggles to keep up with the high-profile case, and it doesn’t take long for the chief to call on Bosch to take the lead on the investigation — making it his first non-cold case homicide since he started volunteering with the SFPD. 

The Esquivel pharmacy case takes an interesting turn when Bosch discovers evidence suggesting that the family’s pharmacy was part of a much larger pill mill — prompting him to go undercover as a drug addict, something that’s both painfully real and emotionally difficult for Harry to deal with. 

Connelly masterfully weaves both plotlines together while mixing in several cameos from fan-favorite characters — including Bosch’s former partner from his days with the LAPD’s Open-Unsolved Unit, Lucia Soto, and Harry’s half-brother, defense attorney Mickey Haller. Each plays an important role in helping Bosch as he makes his way towards a shocking discovery that’ll surprise even the most observant and seasoned readers, as Connelly pulls off another high-powered twist, proving that he’s still the undisputed king of crime.  

With his reputation on the line and the weight of two major cases threatening to come crashing down around him, Harry Bosch realizes for the first time in his storied career that he might have finally bitten off more than he can chew…

This series, now twenty books in, just keeps getting better and better. Two Kinds of Truth is some of Michael Connelly’s finest work yet, and a real contender for best crime novel of the year. 

Book Details

Author: Michael Connelly
Series: Harry Bosch #20
Pages: 416 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0316225908
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company 
Release Date: October 31, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 9.5/10
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  • Diana Tsingopoulos

    Just saw that the October list is published. Have to leave for work, but will
    definitely read the Michael Connelly and several others. Thanks, Ryan,
    for giving us readers this wonderful gift!!

    • You’re so welcome, Diana. Thank you and happy reading!

  • Brandon

    This month I’m going to read Two Kinds of Truth.

  • Andrew

    Thanks for getting the list posted! I’ll read The Rooster Bar in October.

  • Dean

    Two Kinds of Truth
    The Rooster Bar
    Mind Games

  • Three this month – Dan Brown, Origin, The Rooster Bar- John Grisham and Two kinds of Truth, Michael Connolly

  • Hi. This month will be Dan Brown’s Origin and Dowling’s The Four Horseman. Thank you.

  • Steve Thomas

    Great job Ryan!

    excited to read Act of Betrayal by Matthew Dunn. Will read the Dan Brown series if I have time. 😉

  • Alok

    Dan Brown’s Origin and John Grisham The Rooster Bar. I so glad the site is opening here in Abu Dhabi now. I have downloaded the list…just in case if it happens again.

  • Ryan

    1. Origin By Dan Brown

  • Ed

    Thanks Ryan. I will also Origin and The Four Horseman.