The Real Book Spy’s November Reading Guide

Get ready for an action-packed month, because some of the biggest names on the thriller scene — Lee Child, Stephen Coonts, Clive Cussler, Marc Cameron, and more — all have new books out.

As always, we’ve highlighted two books as our Featured Selections. This month, those books are Marc Cameron’s Tom Clancy Power and Empire, and Lee Child’s The Midnight Line.

Imagine replacing a legend in Tom Clancy, and a fan-favorite in Mark Greaney. That’s exactly what Marc Cameron had to do when he signed on to write his first Jack Ryan novel, Tom Clancy Power and Empire. Cameron, as it turns out, was a brilliant choice to take over this series and breathe new life into one of the genre’s most iconic characters. The Jack Ryan in this book reads like the character Harrison Ford played in Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger.

On the other hand, Lee Child, well, he’s a legend for a reason. You pretty much know what you’re getting when you crack open a Jack Reacher novel, and Child doesn’t disappoint here. The Midnight Line is a fun, entertaining read that has plenty of action and enough suspense to keep readers plowing through pages at a blazing clip. 

Read more about both titles 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!

Monday, November 6th

Coonts.jpgThe Armageddon File by Stephen Coonts

When thirty-four-year-old Junior Sikes’ co-worker, Rosa, calls the police and turns him in for looking at child pornography at work, it kicks off a chain of events that nobody saw coming.

Admitting to the crimes and to being a pedophile, Sikes tells his public defender that he has information he wants to trade to the FBI. If they’ll cut him a deal, Sikes, an employee of ElectTech, is willing to provide proof that the last presidential election was rigged. 

After detailing how he personally wrote a code that helped rig machines to switch votes, Sikes claimed that ElecTech instructed him to find a way to manipulate voting machines across different precincts.

Later, he’s awoken from his jail cell and escorted to a room where a man claiming to be with the FBI is waiting for him. After Sikes answered a few questions and agreed to give up ElecTech, the visitor pulled a silenced pistol and shot him in the head. 

Meanwhile, Tommy Carmellini–who was temporarily loaned out to the FBI by his boss, CIA Director Jack Grafton, to work on their election task force–is sent to Pennsylvania to interview Sikes. Upon arriving, Camellini is among the first to realize that Sikes was taken out by a professional hitman, and sets out to find the shooter. 

As Carmellini’s investigation leads him further and further down the rabbit hole, a bigger conspiracy slowly begins to take shape. With the body count piling up and a number of shady players emerging to reveal their true motives, Carmellini and Grafton must work together to try and get to the bottom of things. With bullets flying all around them and the integrity of America’s presidential election being called into question, it’s up to Jack Grafton and Tommy Carmellini to save the day before it’s too late. 

By using characters such as Cynthia Hinton, a career politician and former presidential candidate who lost to a Twitter-loving businessman named Vaugh Conyer, Coonts does little to conceal the fact that much of the plot is ripped both from headlines and less-than-credible tabloids. For that reason, readers who identify on the left of the political spectrum, well, this one probably isn’t for you. For those on the right, The Armageddon File should find its way to the top of your to-read list rather quickly.

Coonts, who switched publishers prior to releasing last year’s Liberty’s Last Stand–which is one of the most politically incorrect and controversial novels since Vince Flynn’s Term Limits–continues to write unfiltered, conservative-driven storylines that hold nothing back. The Armageddon File is a knockout blow to those who wish Coonts would tone down the politics, and his like-minded fans are sure to enjoy his unapologetic style. 

The stakes have never been higher for Grafton and Carmelini, as Stephen Coonts delivers another high-powered, politically-charged thriller that is not to be missed. 

Book Details

Author: Stephen Coonts

Series: Tommy Carmellini
Pages: 256 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1621576590
Publisher: Regnery Fiction
Release Date: November 6, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 7.0/10

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Tuesday, November 7th

511GBNV0UbL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_The Midnight Line by Lee Child 

(Featured Selection)

After last year’s Night School, which featured a much younger Jack Reacher, bestselling author Lee Child picks up where he left off in 2015’s Make Me with his latest thriller, The Midnight Line

At a rest stop in Wisconsin, Jack Reacher wanders into a pawn shop where he spots a woman’s West Point ring from the graduating class of 2005. Reacher himself is a West Point grad and knows from first-hand experience that nobody just up and pawns their ring for no reason. After twisting the shop owner’s arm, Reacher–who nearly walked away from the situation before turning back with a renewed interest–learns that the pawn store gets some of their stuff from a guy who practices some rather shady business tactics. 

Reacher makes the decision to track down the ring’s owner and see if she’s okay. He tells himself that if things check out and she’s fine, he’ll hop on the next bus and get the heck out of whatever town she’s currently living in. But if she’s not okay, well, Reacher plans to do what he does best–anything within his power to make things right. 

As Reacher crosses the country in search of the mystery woman, he encounters all kinds of trouble–which is a typical occurrence for the hulk-sized drifter. There are the expected four-on-one fights early on (you’d think by now that Reacher’s face would be plastered all over social media by thugs with a warning: don’t mess with this guy! message), followed by bad attitudes and unwelcoming individuals wherever Reacher travels to. 

Armed with a passport and a toothbrush, Reacher travels to South Dakota and Wyoming, where he gathers critical pieces to the puzzle. But as the picture starts to come into focus, Child slowly reveals a bigger plot at work behind the scenes involving the opioid epidemic inside the United States. 

While readers are used to seeing Reacher beat up bullies and thump thugs back into their dingy holes, Reacher Creatures are in for a surprise or two with Child’s latest work. 

For starters, one of Jack’s former love interests makes a brief cameo, and the way the two characters separate will have fans wondering if Reacher might finally be growing tired of his nomadic lifestyle. At the same time, Lee Child doesn’t stray too far from his well-working formula, which has made him an annual staple on the New York Times best-sellers list. Now twenty-two books in, though, it’s fair to wonder what the future holds for one of the genre’s most well-known protagonists. 

While Night School received mixed reviews from fans, The Midnight Line is more of a classic Child thriller. The large-scope plot that moves from the shadows to the forefront is well-written and engaging, but at the end of the day, Reacher kicking bad guys’ butts all over the country is still the most entertaining part of Lee Child’s book. 

Bad guys beware, Jack Reacher is riding back into town in Lee Child’s The Midnight Line, the hard-hitting new novel from one of today’s top thriller authors. 

Book Details

Author: Lee Child
Series: Jack Reacher #22
Pages: 384 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0399593489
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: November 7, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 8.0/10
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Quantum spyThe Quantum Spy by David Ignatius 

“From the best-selling author of The Director and Body of Lies comes a thrilling tale of global espionage, state-of-the-art technology, and unthinkable betrayal.

A hyper-fast quantum computer is the digital equivalent of a nuclear bomb; whoever possesses one will be able to shred any encryption and break any code in existence. The winner of the race to build the world’s first quantum machine will attain global dominance for generations to come. The question is, who will cross the finish line first: the U.S. or China?

In this gripping cyber thriller, the United States’ top-secret quantum research labs are compromised by a suspected Chinese informant, inciting a mole hunt of history-altering proportions. CIA officer Harris Chang leads the charge, pursuing his target from the towering cityscape of Singapore to the lush hills of the Pacific Northwest, the mountains of Mexico, and beyond. The investigation is obsessive, destructive, and―above all―uncertain. Do the leaks expose real secrets, or are they false trails meant to deceive the Chinese? The answer forces Chang to question everything he thought he knew about loyalty, morality, and the primacy of truth.

Grounded in the real-world technological arms race, The Quantum Spy presents a sophisticated game of cat and mouse cloaked in an exhilarating and visionary thriller.”

Book Details

Author: David Ignatius
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0393254151
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Release Date: November 7, 2017
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Typhoon Fury.jpgTyphoon Fury by Clive Cussler 

“Juan Cabrillo and the crew of the Oregon sail into a perfect storm of danger to try to stop a new world war, in a thrilling suspense novel from the #1 New York Times-bestselling grand master of adventure.

Hired to search for a collection of paintings worth half a billion dollars, Juan Cabrillo and the crew of the Oregon soon find themselves in much deeper waters. The vicious leader of a Filipino insurgency is not only using them to finance his attacks, he has stumbled upon one of the most lethal secrets of World War II: a Japanese-developed drug, designed, but never used, to turn soldiers into super-warriors. To stop him, the Oregon must not only take on the rebel commander, but a South African mercenary intent on getting his own hands on the drug, a massive swarm of torpedo drones targeting the U.S. Navy, an approaching megastorm–and, just possibly, a war that could envelop the entire Asian continent.”

Book Details

Author: Clive Cussler & Boyd Morrison
Pages: 448 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 039957557X
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: November 7, 2017
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Tuesday, November 14th

End Game.jpgEnd Game by David Baldacci

“Will Robie and Jessica Reel are two of the most lethal people alive. They’re the ones the government calls in when the utmost secrecy is required to take out those who plot violence and mass destruction against the United States. And through every mission, one man has always had their backs: their handler, code-named Blue Man.

But now, Blue Man is missing.

Last seen in rural Colorado, Blue Man had taken a rare vacation to go fly fishing in his hometown when he disappeared off the grid. With no communications since, the team can’t help but fear the worst.

Sent to investigate, Robie and Reel arrive in the small town of Grand to discover that it has its own share of problems. A stagnant local economy and a woefully understaffed police force have made this small community a magnet for crime, drugs, and a growing number of militant fringe groups.

But lying in wait in Grand is an even more insidious and sweeping threat, one that may shake the very foundations of America. And when Robie and Reel find themselves up against an adversary with superior firepower and a home-court advantage, they’ll be lucky if they make it out alive, with or without Blue Man . . .”

Book Details

Author: Lee Child
Series: Will Robie #5
Pages: 416 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1455586609
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release Date: November 14, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 8.0/10
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Evanovich.jpgHardcore Twenty-Four by Janet Evanovich 

“Janet Evanovich’s #1 New York Times bestselling sensation Stephanie Plum returns in her twenty-fourth thriller as mutilated corpses litter the streets of New Jersey… 

Trouble comes in bunches for Stephanie Plum. First, professional grave robber and semi-professional loon, Simon Diggery, won’t let her take him in until she agrees to care for his boa constrictor, Ethel. Stephanie’s main qualification for babysitting an extremely large snake is that she owns a stun gun—whether that’s for use on the wandering serpent or the petrified neighbors remains to be seen.

Events take a dark turn when headless bodies start appearing across town. At first, it’s just corpses from a funeral home and the morgue that have had the heads removed. But when a homeless man is murdered and dumped behind a church Stephanie knows that she’s the only one with a prayer of catching this killer.

If all that’s not enough, Diesel’s back in town. The 6-foot-tall, blonde-haired hunk is a man who accepts no limits—that includes locked doors, closed windows and underwear. Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli isn’t pleased at this unexpected arrival nor is Ranger, the high-powered security consultant who has his own plans for Stephanie.

As usual Jersey’s favorite bounty hunter is stuck in the middle with more questions than answers. What’s the deal with Grandma Mazur’s latest online paramour? Who is behind the startling epidemic of mutilated corpses? And is the enigmatic Diesel’s sudden appearance a coincidence or the cause of recent deadly events?”

Book Details

Author: Janet Evanovich 
Series: Stephanie Plum #24
Pages: 304 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0399179194
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: November 14, 2017
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Tuesday, November 21st

PattersonThe People vs. Alex Cross by James Patterson

“The charges: explosive

Alex Cross has never been on the wrong side of the law-until now. Charged with gunning down followers of his nemesis Gary Soneji in cold blood, Cross is being turned into the poster child for trigger-happy cops who think they’re above the law. Cross knows it was self-defense. But will a jury see it that way?

The evidence: shocking

As Cross fights for his professional life and his freedom, his former partner John Sampson brings him a gruesome, titillating video tied to the mysterious disappearances of several young girls. Despite his suspension from the department, Cross can’t say no to Sampson. The illicit investigation leads them to the darkest corners of the Internet, where murder is just another form of entertainment.

The People vs. Alex Cross: the trial of the century

As the prosecution presents its case, and the nation watches, even those closest to Cross begin to doubt his innocence. If he can’t convince his own family that he didn’t pull the trigger with intent to kill, how can he hope to persuade a jury? But even with everything on the line, Cross will do whatever it takes to stop a dangerous criminal…even if he can’t save himself. “

Book Details

Author: James Patterson
Series: Alex Cross # 23
Pages: 432 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0316273902
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Release Date: November 20, 2017
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Dean Koontz.jpgThe Whispering Room by Dean Koontz 

“’No time to delay. Do what you were born to do. Fame will be yours when you do this.’

These are the words that ring in the mind of mild-mannered, beloved schoolteacher Cora Gundersun—just before she takes her own life, and many others’, in a shocking act of carnage. When the disturbing contents of her secret journal are discovered, it seems certain that she must have been insane. But Jane Hawk knows better.

In the wake of her husband’s inexplicable suicide—and the equally mysterious deaths of scores of other exemplary individuals—Jane picks up the trail of a secret cabal of powerful players who think themselves above the law and beyond punishment. But the ruthless people bent on hijacking America’s future for their own monstrous ends never banked on a highly trained FBI agent willing to go rogue—and become the nation’s most wanted fugitive—in order to derail their insidious plans to gain absolute power with a terrifying technological breakthrough.

Driven by love for her lost husband and by fear for the five-year-old son she has sent into hiding, Jane Hawk has become an unstoppable predator. Those she is hunting will have nowhere to run when her shadow falls across them.”

Book Details

Author: Dean Koontz
Series: Jane Hawk #2
Pages: 528 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0345546806
Publisher: Bantam
Release Date: November 21, 2017
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Tuesday, November 28th

Power and empireTom Clancy Power and Empire by Marc Cameron

(Featured Selection)

When the CGSL Orion, a massive Chinese oil tanker, explodes in a blast of white light while in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, questions quickly rise regarding the ship’s contents.

In Texas, Department of Public Safety trooper Roy Calderon makes what appears to be a routine traffic stop. Instead, the stop turns out to be anything but routine, when a frail young girl was rescued after being held against her will and used in a child sex ring. The feel-good rescue takes a sudden turn when it’s revealed that the girl is in possession of a thumb drive that belonged to Eddie Feng, a Chinese journalist with connections to players on both sides of the law, and the very man whom Jack Ryan Junior and the rest of the Campus operators are busy searching for. 

When Feng’s drive shows a connection between him and a payment that was made the same day the CGSL Orion explodedmembers of the Campus break into pursuit of the journalist, though their top-secret mission becomes intertwined with the FBI’s own investigation and search for Feng — complicating matters considerably.

As usual, a very hands-on John Clark leads the Campus’ mission with his calm, cool-under-pressure approach. However, the old operative–who is portrayed here much in the same way Clancy wrote him in Without Remorse (1993)–shows on more than one occasion that when the situation calls for it, he can still be extremely efficient and devastatingly lethal in the field.

One of the book’s more colorful scenes involves Clark sneaking into the house of a suspect, only to meet serious resistance from the man’s heavyset girlfriend, who attacks him and attempts to drag him into a pool. Clark, a former Navy SEAL, gives the woman what she wants, and happily takes their wrestling match into the deep end. Later, he quips, “I am old. But an old SEAL still loves the water.” It’s one of many really strong scenes that Cameron has written around Clancy’s best characters, taking full advantage of the deep roster he inherited. 

As other seemingly random events occur around the world, President Jack Ryan and his administration start connecting the dots. With the upcoming G20 negotiations just around the corner, it’s obvious that the Chinese president is doing his best to handcuff Ryan and limit his options. While the Campus does their work in the shadows, Ryan must find a way to get ahead of President Zaho before the two countries engage in an all-out war. 

Marc Cameron, who has long been one of the thriller genre’s most underrated authors, rises to the challenge of replacing Mark Greaney to continue Tom Clancy’s franchise in high-powered fashion. Going out of his way to alter his own writing style, Cameron does a convincing job adapting to Clancy’s overall style, including how he sets up his plot and creates threads for later on.

For a universe as vast as the one Clancy created, Cameron obviously did his homework. Not only is the plot well-written, but the characters all feel real and authentic, something diehard fans will no doubt appreciate. The Ryan in this book reads very much like the version portrayed by Harrison Ford, coming off as calculated and poised, but with a touch of panache. Always the smartest guy in the room, Cameron’s version of Jack Ryan is true to form, and a ton of fun to read. 

When Clark isn’t stealing scenes, Ryan’s new special agent in charge, Gary Montgomery, shines as well. Montgomery and Ryan quickly form a “stellar” relationship, and the new lead Secret Service agent is likely to become a fan-favorite moving forward. 

Expectations were high for Marc Cameron’s first Clancy novel, but the veteran author proved to be the right man for the job. Tom Clancy Power and Empire is a terrific, high-concept political thriller written with the same finesse and style that Clancy’s fans have come to expect.

Book Details

Author: Marc Cameron 
Series: Jack Ryan Universe #24
Pages: 592 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0735215898
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: November 28, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 8.5/10
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Hunter killerHunter Killer by David Poyer

The United States’ war with China continues in David Poyer’s seventeenth novel in his bestselling Dan Lenson series, Hunter Killer.

Following last year’s Onslaught, U.S. Naval Officer Dan Lenson has been promoted to admiral. Now, heading up a team that’s been assigned to help take back Guam, Lenson must see to it that a unit of Marines is safely transported to the island while also clearing the sea space around the land that was recently overrun by the Chinese. 

Meanwhile, the story shifts to other characters — like Lenson’s wife, Blair, who is part of a Washington-based round table charged with helping to form a strategy against the Chinese, who are utilizing cutting-edge technology to dominate the war up until this point. Advanced weaponry, though, is only half the problem, as China also has sheet numbers on their side. 

Using their significantly larger number of armed militants to score victories in Japan and the Philippines, the Chinese turn their attention towards other countries who would rather enter one-sided treaties with them rather than join the fight against them. That leaves America mostly on her own as the battle wages on, and, for the time being, they’re losing badly, much in the same way that an inferior strategist gets outcoached by someone with less experienced players. 

Struggling to keep sea lanes open in the Pacific, Lenson and his men quickly come under siege in a series of gripping, thundering battle scenes that rival some of the genre’s best action-packed naval sequences. 

David Poyer leans on his own background as a Navy captain and defense analyst to bring scorching realism to his latest novel, which utilizes carriers, advanced submarines, and various ground units — giving readers a plethora of set pieces used to create multiple entertaining battle scenarios. The plot is both complex and suspenseful; however, it does feel at times like Poyer keeps setting up for something big to happen without quite making good on his promise. 

The series will certainly continue, and while the war with China is one of the better story arcs in this franchise, Poyer, after all the buildup, needs to find a way to really deliver in the next book when this conflict could, conceivably, reach an ending point. 

On par with Larry Bond and Rick Campbell, David Poyer’s Hunter Killer proves yet again that when it comes to dramatic naval thrillers, he’s one of the very best still working in the genre today. 

Book Details

Author: David Poyer
Series: Dan Lenson #17
Pages: 320 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1250097959
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: November 28, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 7.0/10
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