A Thank You Note To Book Spy Followers

Dear Readers, 

I wanted to write to you all directly to express my sincere thanks to everyone who has visited The Real Book Spy and purchased books based on my recommendations. It’s such an honor to connect with other readers and fellow thriller fans, and I look forward to interacting with you all even more in 2018. 

2017 was epic! Don Winslow scored the very first 10/10 rating for his outstanding novel, The Force. Brad Thor, Ben Coes, and Daniel Silva all delivered in huge ways. Kyle Mills, especially, went above and beyond. . . his latest Mitch Rapp novel, Enemy of the State, is a story written for longtime fans (new readers will appreciate it too) who’ve always hoped to see the return of certain characters from earlier in Vince Flynn’s series. He absolutely crushed that book. 

Review copies typically go out anywhere from four to six months ahead of a book’s release, sometimes sooner. So I’ve been knee-deep in 2018 titles since around late summer. Honestly, I think 2018 will be an even bigger year for thrillers than 2017. I know that’s saying a lot, but this year is stacked with great books from top authors. It’s going to be a lot of fun! 

James Lee Burke and Ted Bell, both fantastic authors, are set to release new books for the first time in several years. I’ve read Burke’s Robicheaux. . . he’s just amazing.  As for Ted Bell, I’ll tell you a short story that highlights one of the coolest moments in 2017 for me personally.

Many know me as a reviewer or critic, but I also work as an editor or “book doctor,” and am friends with many of the authors I cover. Ted is a buddy of mine (and happens to be my dad’s favorite author). One day, while sitting in my office, my phone rang. I looked down and saw the caller ID display read “Hawke” (because, naturally, that’s how I stored Ted Bell in my phone), so I answered and, ten minutes later, Ted was reading me a small excerpt of his upcoming new novel, Overkill. 

After a short while, Ted stops and actually says to me, “Am I boring you?”

Boring me?! I got to listen to Hawke’s creator narrate an excerpt of the new Alex Hawke book. It was awesome, and something I’ll never forget. 

Another really cool moment was finding out that Amazon had recognized The Real Book Spy as an “online influencer,” and allowed me to set up a page on Amazon.com that features books, related products, and other stuff I personally use and endorse. Again, I owe all of you for that and am so thankful to those who follow The Real Book Spy on social media. 

I’m often asked by new followers if I’m the only one who reads books for review, and if I write all the reviews myself. I am blessed with a couple of people who help behind the scenes, but I do read every book. . . and write every review. . . all on my own. So if you see a book recommendation on The Real Book Spy or one of our social media accounts, you can know with absolute certainty that that endorsement comes from me and not from some assistant or editor helping to keep the site running. I promise! 

For the past few weeks, one of the main questions I’ve been getting from readers is, “What book are you most excited about in 2018?” I’ve been hesitant to answer this. . . not because I don’t want to play favorites (if you’ve followed me for a while, you know which authors I’ve been a fan of for years–even before I was a critic), but because I can’t pick just one.

If you really want to know, I’ll come clean: I’m dying to read Kyle Mills’ next Mitch Rapp novel. It’s the 17th book in Vince Flynn’s series and still untitled, and very little is known about the plot. None of that matters, though. Rapp is my all-time favorite character (my wife and I had our sixth child back in October, a son, whom we named Mitchell) and Mills has proven himself to be one of the very best authors working today. Not only that, but he’s taken Vince Flynn’s series to new heights, which is hard to believe but true. For what it’s worth, he’s also a really good guy, and he’s sneaky funny! 

The other book I’m looking forward to, and this one might surprise a few people, is from one of my other all-time favorite authors. . . C.J. Box.

Box isn’t a thriller writer per say, but the king of cowboy noir has been one of my go-to authors for as long as I can remember. I’m a city guy, and, honest to God, I didn’t even know what a game warden was before I started reading his books. Now I’m an expert (well, okay, no I’m not) on all things outdoorsy thanks to Box. His Joe Pickett series is incredible, and I’ve really enjoyed seeing so many readers who generally prefer political and spy thrillers give his stuff a try. Out of all the people I’ve recommended him to, not one reader has written to me to say a single negative word about his books. Instead, many dozens have told me they’re now hooked on Joe Pickett. . . and nothing could make me happier. 

So Mills’ new Mitch Rapp novel and C.J. Box’s next Joe Pickett book, The Disappeared, are the two books I’m most excited for. (There must be something in the water in Wyoming, because a lot of very talented writers live there!) But I’m also really looking forward to Brad Thor’s Spymaster, Ben Coes’ Bloody Sunday (Dewey is heading to North Korea–what more can you ask for in a thriller?), Daniel Silva’s next book, and tons of other books too. In fact, I’ll be posting a list of 50 must-read thrillers coming out this year first thing tomorrow, so make sure to look for that. 

Lots of people are asking about the reading challenge, and I’ll have more information on that soon. We’re super close to announcing winners, but because we’re coordinating with multiple publishers on the prize packages, I’ve had to wait for them. Expect an announcement in the next few weeks. I’m really excited to help give away a bunch of really cool stuff! 

If you’re new to The Real Book Spy and didn’t partake in 2017, don’t worry, the reading challenge will be back in 2018. In fact, it’ll be even bigger and better this year, with more prizes and giveaways along the way. 

As the website grows, I want to better accommodate readers, so please, by all means, if you have a suggestion or there is something you’d like to see on the site in the future, let me know. You can comment on this post, hit me up on Twitter, or shoot me an email at Ryan@TheRealBookSpy.com anytime. 

Again, thank you all for making 2017 a really special, thriller-filled year. Here’s to even more in 2018. Happy reading!


Ryan Steck
The Real Book Spy

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