The Real Book Spy’s September 2018 Reading Guide

September is finally here and the whole month can be summed up in two words: Mitch Rapp. 

That’s right, Rapp is back, and this time he’s tasked with preventing WWIII at all costs in Red War, the latest must-read thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Kyle Mills. 

Usually, we pick at least two Featured Selections to highlight each month. And while there are a lot of great new titles set to hit bookstore shelves (including new offerings from Craig Johnson, Clive Cussler, J.D. Robb, Mindy Mejia and others), we’re focusing exclusively on Vince Flynn’s counterterrorism operative, who is hands down the best hero in the thriller genre right now. 

As most readers know, Flynn passed away in 2013 after battling cancer. A year later, Kyle Mills was hired to continue the franchise, and his first book, The Survivor, came out in 2015. Since then, Mills has proven to be one of the most well-rounded authors working today, churning out several novels that were all hits with critics and readers alike. While his level of success in taking over a major bestselling franchise is unprecedented, it’s certainly not been a matter of luck. Mills has put in the time to learn Flynn’s universe and characters, ensuring they are all portrayed accurately on the page. Likewise, his headline-beating ability has been uncanny, with several of his storylines (including a thread from Order to Kill, 2016) already playing out in real life.

To those who’ve been apprehensive to try one of Mills’ Rapp novels, don’t be. Rest assured, not only is this the same Mich Rapp that readers have known and loved for nearly two decades, but there’s been absolutely no drop-off between Flynn and Mills. And to those who’ve never tried the series . . . don’t wait a second longer.

Red War comes out on September 25th. Read more about the latest Mitch Rapp adventure and all the other books coming out this month below. Happy reading! 


 

Tuesday, September 4th 

 

Depth of WinterDepth of Winter by Craig Johnson

In Craig Johnson’s (The Western Star, 2017, etc.) 14th Walt Longmire novel, the sheriff of Absaroka County heads to Mexico, hellbent on saving his kidnapped daughter. 

Last year, Johnson dazzled readers with The Western Star, which featured a brilliant twist followed by a heart-pounding conclusion. Now, Longmire finally deals with the fallout from that ending and is determined to rescue Cady, his only child, who was taken by Tomás Bidarte, the leader of a vicious Mexican drug cartel.

Upon learning that Cady is being held in a compound somewhere in the middle of the Chihuahua Desert, Walt evades American authorities and slips into Mexico. That act proves to be the first in a seemingly endless series of giant hurdles he’ll face, none of which is made easier by his hulking frame. Wherever he goes, Walt, always the largest man in the room, sticks out like a sore thumb. That’s especially true in Mexico, creating a host of problems until his guide/sidekick, a blind man known only as the Seer, comes up with the idea of passing Walt off as former NFL star Bob “Mr. Cowboy” Lilly. It’s a fitting alias since Walt ends up tackling, slamming, and running people down during the nonstop, brawl-filled journey to try and find Cady before it’s too late. 

Longtime readers may note the lack of screentime for other series regular such as Henry Standing Bear and Vic Moretti, as Johnson focuses almost exclusively on his protagonist, who is still being developed and fleshed out after more than a dozen books.

One of the running themes throughout the story is that Walt’s only hope of surviving what everyone, including the sheriff, believes to be a suicide mission, is to become more like the men who’ve wronged him and now hold Cady’s life in their hands. From the get-go, it’s clear that Longmire will do almost anything to save his daughter, unafraid to get down in the mud and get his hands a little dirty. But while he’s willing to do whatever it takes within reason, he’s not a mindless, merciless killer like Tomás Bidarte and his men. That distinction is important, as Johnson stays true to the character he’s created, but shows he’s not opposed to stripping him down to the studs and putting him on a collision course with a whole gang of bad guys. 

While his last book was big on misdirection and mystery, Johnson shows off his versatility by switching gears and cramming in tons of action and suspense this time around. Part of the plot takes place during the Day of the Dead celebration, which proves to be quite fitting and offers a great setting for Walt to finally camouflage himself long enough to take advantage of the mask-filled parade. As the story unfolds, things finally reach a boiling point, setting up an epic showdown between Walt and Bidarte that fans will no doubt be talking about long after turning the final page. 

Faced with his most personal mission yet, Walt Longmire takes a little slice of the Wild West to Mexico. . . where Craig Johnson finally cuts his beloved hero loose, making Depth of Winter one of his most riveting and explosive novels to date.

Book Details

Author: Craig Johnson
Series: Walt Longmire #14
Pages: 304 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0525522476
Publisher: Viking
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 8.5/10

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Leverage in deathLeverage in Death by J.D. Robb

Lieutenant Eve Dallas puzzles over a bizarre suicide bombing in a Wall St. office building in Leverage in Death, the latest in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from J.D. Robb…

For the airline executives finalizing a merger that would make news in the business world, the nine a.m. meeting would be a major milestone. But after marketing VP Paul Rogan walked into the plush conference room, strapped with explosives, the headlines told of death and destruction instead. The NYPSD’s Eve Dallas confirms that Rogan was cruelly coerced by two masked men holding his family hostage. His motive was saving his wife and daughter―but what was the motive of the masked men?

Despite the chaos and bad publicity, blowing up one meeting isn’t going to put the brakes on the merger. All it’s accomplished is shattering a lot of innocent lives. Now, with the help of her billionaire husband Roarke, Eve must untangle the reason for an inexplicable act of terror, look at suspects inside and outside both corporations, and determine whether the root of this crime lies in simple sabotage, or something far more complex and twisted.”

Book Details

Author: J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #47
Pages: 400 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1250161568
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 7.0/10

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The Man who came from uptown.jpgThe Man Who Came Uptown by George Pelecanos 

“In bestselling and Emmy-nominated writer George Pelecanos’ “taut and suspenseful” new novel, an ex-offender must choose between the man who got him out and the woman who showed him another path (Booklist, Starred Review)

Michael Hudson spends the long days in prison devouring books given to him by the prison’s librarian, a young woman named Anna who develops a soft spot for her best student. Anna keeps passing Michael books until one day he disappears, suddenly released after a private detective manipulated a witness in Michael’s trial.

Outside, Michael encounters a Washington, D.C. that has changed a lot during his time locked up. Once shady storefronts are now trendy beer gardens and flower shops. But what hasn’t changed is the hard choice between the temptation of crime and doing what’s right. Trying to balance his new job, his love of reading, and the debt he owes to the man who got him released, Michael struggles to figure out his place in this new world before he loses control.
Smart and fast-paced, The Man Who Came Uptown brings Washington, D.C. to life in a high-stakes story of tough choices.”

Book Details

Author: George Pelecanos 
Pages: 272 (Hardcover)
ISBN:  0316479829
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 6.5/10

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Leave no TraceLeave No Trace by Mindy Mejia

From the author of the “compelling” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis) and critically acclaimed Everything You Want Me to Be, a riveting and suspenseful thriller about the mysterious disappearance of a boy and his stunning return ten years later.

There is a place in Minnesota with hundreds of miles of glacial lakes and untouched forests called the Boundary Waters. Ten years ago a man and his son trekked into this wilderness and never returned.

Search teams found their campsite ravaged by what looked like a bear. They were presumed dead until a decade later…the son appeared. Discovered while ransacking an outfitter store, he was violent and uncommunicative and sent to a psychiatric facility. Maya Stark, the assistant language therapist, is charged with making a connection with their high-profile patient. No matter how she tries, however, he refuses to answer questions about his father or the last ten years of his life.

But Maya, who was abandoned by her own mother, has secrets, too. And as she’s drawn closer to this enigmatic boy who is no longer a boy, she’ll risk everything to reunite him with his father who has disappeared from the known world.”

Book Details

Author: Mindy Mejia
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1501177362
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 8.0/10

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Field of BonesField of Bones by J.A. Jance

“Sheriff Joanna Brady’s best intentions to stay on maternity leave take a hit when a serial homicide case rocks Cochise County, dragging her into a far-reaching investigation to bring down a relentless killer in this chilling tale of suspense from New York Times bestselling author J. A. Jance.

This time Sheriff Joanna Brady may expect to see her maternity leave through to completion, but the world has other plans when a serial homicide case surfaces in her beloved Cochise County. Rather than staying home with her newborn and losing herself in the cold cases to be found in her father’s long unread diaries, Joanna instead finds herself overseeing a complex investigation involving multiple jurisdictions.

Filled with the beloved characters, small-town charm, vivid history, intriguing mystery, and the scenic Arizona desert backdrop that have made the Joanna Brady series perennial bestsellers, this latest entry featuring the popular sheriff is sure to please J. A. Jance’s legion of fans.”

Book Details

Author: J.A. Jance 
Series: Joanna Bradly #17
Pages: 400 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0062657577
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 6.5/10

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In her bones.jpgIn Her Bones by Kate Moretti (paperback)

New York Times bestselling author Kate Moretti’s next “exceptional…emotionally astute, [and] deliciously sinister” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) thriller follows the daughter of a convicted serial killer who finds herself at the center of a murder investigation.

Fifteen years ago, Lilith Wade was arrested for the brutal murder of six women. After a death row conviction, media frenzy, and the release of an unauthorized biography, her thirty-year-old daughter Edie Beckett is just trying to survive out of the spotlight. She’s a recovering alcoholic with a dead-end city job and an unhealthy codependent relationship with her brother.

Edie also has a disturbing secret: a growing obsession with the families of Lilith’s victims. She’s desperate to see how they’ve managed—or failed—to move on. While her escalating fixation is a problem, she’s careful to keep her distance. That is until she crosses a line and a man is found murdered.

Edie quickly becomes the prime suspect—and while she can’t remember everything that happened the night of the murder, she’d surely remember killing someone. With the detective who arrested her mother hot on her trail, Edie goes into hiding. She’s must get to the truth of what happened that night before the police—or the real killer—find her.

Unless, of course, she has more in common with her mother than she’s willing to admit…

Perfect for fans of Ruth Ware, In Her Bones features Moretti’s “riveting and insightful” (Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author) prose and “chillingly satisfying” (Publishers Weekly) twists, and will leave you questioning the nature of guilt, obsession, and the toxicity of familial ties.”

Book Details

Author: Kate Moretti
Pages: 320 (Paperback)
ISBN: 1501166476
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 6.5/10

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Sunrise HighwaySunrise Highway by Peter Blauner 

From Peter Blauner, the writer Dennis Lehane calls “one of the most consistently bracing and interesting voices in American crime literature,” comes a new thriller about a lone young cop on the trail of a powerful killer determined not just to stop her, but to make her pay.

In the summer of Star Wars and Son of Sam, a Long Island schoolgirl is found gruesomely murdered. A local prosecutor turns a troubled teenager known as JT from a suspect to a star witness in the case, putting away a high school football star who claimed to be innocent. Forty years later, JT has risen to chief of police, but there’s a trail of a dozen dead women that reaches from Brooklyn across Long Island, along the Sunrise Highway, and it’s possible that his actions actually enabled a killer.

That’s when Lourdes Robles, a relentless young Latina detective for the NYPD, steps in to track the serial killer. She discovers a deep and sinister web of connections between the victims and some of the most powerful political figures in the region, including JT himself. Now Lourdes not only has to catch a killer, but maybe dismantle an entire system that’s protected him, possibly at the cost of her own life.”

Book Details

Author: Peter Blauner
Series: Lourdes Robles Novels #2
Pages: 352
ISBN:  1250117410
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 6.5/10

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Tuesday, September 11th

 

Shadow TyrantsShadow Tyrants by Clive Cussler and Boyd Morrison 

Juan Cabrillo and the crew of the Oregon are back for more action in the 13th installment of Clive Cussler’s (Typhoon Fury, 2017, etc.) bestselling Oregon Files series. 

Thousands of years ago, an Eastern emperor assembled a group of men to safeguard secrets that, should they get out, could forever alter the future of mankind. Together, they became known throughout history as the Nine Unknown Men. Now, in the present day, the group’s descendants are at odds, with eight of the nine hellbent on creating a secret cabal to rule the world.

Romir Mallik is the lone defector at odds with the other eight, who together have created Colossus, a supercomputer capable of evil things. Mallik has an intricate plan to destroy the AI, but it carries some risk–which he justifies, believing it’s the only option available. With both sides convinced they’re the good guys doing what needs to be done to protect the earth, it ultimately falls to Juan Cabrillo and his team to figure out how to stop things before either plan boils over, kicking off another wild adventure that readers have come to expect from Cussler and Morrison. 

While the plot is pretty linear, it does move along at a nice clip, and OregonCabrillo’s next-gen ship, is still pretty awesome. That said, out of all Cussler’s series, the characters in this one are the most under-developed, which may simply be because the emphasis is so on the action that the authors opted not to spend much time fleshing out Juan and the crew. However, even the villains have little background. Dirk Pitt, Kurt Austin (NUMA Files), Sam and Remi Fargo, and Isaac Bell all have major star power and shine in their respective franchises. Here, the best character might honestly be the Oregon, which Cussler has given as much soul and personality as one could possibly give to a ship.

Those expecting a fun, straightforward, fast-moving plot will enjoy the latest collaborative effort from Cussler and Morrison. . . Shadow Tyrants is precisely what readers have come to expect from this franchise and is right in line with last year’s well-received Typhoon Fury

Book Details

Author: Clive Cussler and Boyd Morrison
Series: Oregon Files #13
Pages: 400 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0735219060
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 6.5/10

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The Forbidden DoorThe Forbidden Door by Dean Koontz

Jane Hawk is arguably the best character Koontz has created.”—Associated Press

“We’re rewriting the play, and the play is this country, the world, the future. We break Jane’s heart, we’ll also break her will.”
 
She was one of the FBI’s top agents until she became the nation’s most-wanted fugitive. Now Jane Hawk may be all that stands between a free nation and its enslavement by a powerful secret society’s terrifying mind-control technology. She couldn’t save her husband, or the others whose lives have been destroyed, but equipped with superior tactical and survival skills—and the fury born of a broken heart and a hunger for justice—Jane has struck major blows against the insidious cabal.

But Jane’s enemies are about to hit back hard. If their best operatives can’t outrun her, they mean to bring her running to them, using her five-year-old son as bait. Jane knows there’s no underestimating their capabilities, but she must battle her way back across the country to the remote shelter where her boy is safely hidden . . . for now. As she moves resolutely forward, new threats begin to emerge: a growing number of brain-altered victims driven hopelessly, violently insane. With the madness spreading like a virus, the war between Jane and her enemies will become a fight for all their lives—against the lethal terror unleashed from behind the forbidden door.”

Book Details

Author: Dean Koontz
Series: Jane Hawk #4
Pages: 480 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0525483705
Publisher: Bantam
Release Date: September 11, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 7.5/10

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Man of warMan of War by Sean Parnell

Decorated combat veteran and New York Times bestselling author of Outlaw Platoon Sean Parnell makes his highly-anticipated fiction debut. 

After several tours fighting terrorists in Afghanistan, Eric Steele now serves as part of an elite, top-secret unit known simply as the Program.

Originally, after carrying his commander to safety following an attack on his Special Forces team, Steele was nominated for the prestigious Medal of Honor. But instead of a high-profile ceremony and photo-op, the request was halted and Steele was given something else instead. . . The chance to kill bad guys without the abundance of government oversight and bureaucratic red tape that slowed him down in the Army.

Spoken about only in whispers, the Alpha Program is comprised of nine of the most hardened and seasoned badasses the United States military has to offer. Each Alpha answers directly to the president, and each operator is responsible for covering a specifically assigned geographical territory, thus giving the commander-in-chief a third option when diplomacy won’t work and starting a lengthy war is out of the question. When all else fails, it’s up to the Program’s operators to get the job done, and Eric Steele, codenamed Stalker 7, is the unit’s most lethal member — the alpha of the Alphas. 

The story starts 100 miles outside of Tunis, where a man named Nate West leads an assault on an armed convoy — kicking off a chilling sequence that puts readers firmly behind the scope of West’s Barrett .50 cal sniper rifle.

It turns out that the convoy had been carrying a small nuclear weapon to a secret location, and the weapon is now in the possession of West — who plans to use it to attack America, the country he feels betrayed him four years prior.  Complicating matters even more is the revelation that the convoy was actually part of a CIA operation, suggesting that West and his men had intimate details of the spy agency’s whereabouts. It also raises questions about Director Robin Styles, who is all too quick to try and erase any record of the agency’s presence in Tunisia.

At the center of everything is Eric Steele, who in another life was once close to West. Steele was there when Nate was thought to have been killed, and he grieved the loss of his friend. Now, he’s faced with the shocking and devastating reality that his former teammate has gone rogue and is knee-deep in a plan to strike a blow to America. 

From brothers-in-arms to warriors on opposite sides of a raging conflict, Steele is tasked with his most personal mission yet. . . stopping Nate West at all costs in order to save millions of innocent lives. 

As Steele blazes a trail from Washington D.C. across the Middle East, Europe, and Africa in search of West, Parnell does a solid job developing other characters (Demo, Steele’s buddy and fellow operator, is sure to be a fan-favorite) as the story unfolds. One of the book’s more memorable scenes involves Steele performing a HALO jump using an MK11 Advance Jumper’s Helmet that was developed by DARPA, which is fitted with a holographic display that functions like something right out of the Marvel universe. 

Obviously, Parnell knows his stuff when it comes to the military and how special forces operators walk, talk, and handle themselves on and off the battlefield. At twenty-four years old, he was named the commander of a forty-man infantry platoon tasked with rooting out Pakistan-based insurgents from a mountain valley along Afghanistan’s eastern frontier. Later, they became known as the Outlaws, and Parnell’s captivating nonfiction story (Outlaw Platoon) touches on everything from brotherhood to what war is really like, all told through his riveting first-hand account.

Here, with Man of War, Parnell brings that same raw honesty to his story. Steele and the other characters speak and move with the kind of realism that only someone who’s been there and done that can re-create on the page. Some readers may struggle, at least initially, with all the military terminology and acronyms, but veteran readers of the genre will be just fine. It’s also worth noting that this isn’t a straight-up military thriller, as Parnell mixes in political elements as well, expanding his target audience in the process. While some aspects aren’t altogether new (readers are used to seeing top-secret programs designed to circumvent laws and regulations in order to dispatch threats as they pop up) Parnell does offer a fresh take on things that allow his characters to stand out in a crowded genre.

Basically, if you like action, conspiracies, and bold, larger-than-life characters. . . this book is for you. 

Falling somewhere between Brad Thor’s Scot Harvath and Brad Taylor’s Pike Logan, Eric Steel is a formidable new protagonist whom readers will love following around and watching as he leaves a trail of dead bad guys in his wakeMan of War hits fast, hard, and never lets up for a second. . . Sean Parnell really knows his stuff, and this thriller is not to be missed.

Book Details

Author: Sean Parnell
Series: Eric Steele #1
Pages: 368 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0062668781
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: September 11, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 8.5/10

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Robert B Parker's ColorblindRobert B. Parker’s Colorblind by Reed Farrel Coleman

Coleman’s fifth Jesse Stone novel tackles a number of timely issues, taking on a darker tone than in past books. 

Following the events of Robert B. Parker’s The Hangman’s Sonnet, Paradise Police Chief Jesse Stone is doing everything he can to give sobriety an honest attempt. That includes a two-month stint in rehab (which takes place between books), along with other lifestyle changes. In his absence, officer Molly Crane assumed Jesse’s desk, though she never has had aspirations of becoming chief. 

Back on the job, Jesse has little time to re-acclimate himself to the grind when Felicity Wileford, a brilliant African-American doctoral student, is brutally raped and assaulted. On her stomach, her assaulter smeared the word “slut,” which Jesse has a feeling is a nod to his first murder case in Maine many years prior. While searching for a connection between the cases, Jesse monitors a new couple–Ron and Liza Patel–who recently moved to Paradise and purchased his old home. Stone suspects they’re part of a white supremacy group called Saviors of Society, which has recently made their presence felt in Paradise with a string of violent hate crimes. 

As the story unfolds, Leon Vandercamp, the leader of Saviors of Society, becomes an obvious suspect. Sadly, the bleeding-heart racist is smart, and his fellow bigots are all very loyal to him and their cause. That leads to a confrontation between Alisha Davis, Paradise’s first female African-American police officer, and a Caucasian suspect in a darkened alley. The encounter results in an officer-involved shooting, and when only Davis emerges, Vandercamp turns the tables by claiming that Jesse’s officer killed an innocent, unarmed man simply for being white, painting her as the racist. 

With evil pouring into Paradise from all sides, it’s up to Jesse Stone to connect the dots and stomp out the bad guys before all hell breaks loose.  If all of that wasn’t challenging enough, he also has to do it while trying to remain sober. . . which might just prove to be his toughest challenge of all. 

Chapter two (the first from Jesse’s point of view) opens with the line, “Everything was completely different, yet just the same.” In the story, the line refers to Stone’s observations upon returning back to Paradise. But it also serves as a great way to describe his fictional universe being written by Coleman as opposed to Robert B. Parker. Things are the same, kind of, but they’re also really different.

For starters, Coleman’s writing style is unique and doesn’t match Parker’s at all, plus this is easily one of the darkest Jesse Stone books to date.  None of that is a knock on Reed Farrel Coleman, who is a fine and accomplished writer. Diehard Jesse Stone fans should absolutely be tuning into his work if they haven’t already. . . just know going into it that, much like different movies in the same franchise can have a different feel and look depending on who directed them, Coleman’s take is a little different than earlier books in the series.

As for the characters, fans can rest assured that this is the same Jesse readers have known and loved for twenty years. He’s changing a little, mostly for the better, but he still operates the same way he always has, and Coleman has done a wonderful job continuing Parker’s legacy.  

Jesse Stone is back, and he’s facing danger at every turn in Robert B. Parker’s Colorblind, the latest page-turning, must-read novel from Reed Farrel Coleman. 

Book Details

Author: Reed Farrel Coleman
Series: Jesse Stone
Pages: 368 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0399574948
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: September 11, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 7.0/10

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The Guilty DeadThe Guilty Dead by P.J. Tracy

New York Times bestselling author P. J. Tracy is back with the most addictive installment in her award-winning mystery series.

Dead men tell no tales…but their pasts can’t keep a secret.

Gregory Norwood is Minnesota’s most beloved philanthropist, and the story of his son’s overdose was splashed across the front page of all the papers. When a photojournalist sets out to get a candid shot of the highly successful businessman on the one year anniversary of his son’s death, he’s shocked to find Norwood dead with a smoking gun in his hand. The city is devastated, and Minneapolis detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth are called in to handle the delicate case. It should be open and shut, but something is not right. Norwood’s death is no suicide.

With no suspects and an increasing tangle of digital evidence that confounds the Minneapolis Police Department’s most seasoned cops, Magozzi calls on Grace MacBride, Monkeewrench Software’s founder and chief computer genius and the soon to be mother of their child together. She and her motley crew of partners begin to unravel connections between Norwood’s death and an even larger plot. Norwood wasn’t the first, won’t be the last, and by the end, may be just one of many to die. The breakneck, high stakes race to find his killer and save the lives of hundreds make P. J. Tracy’s The Guilty Dead her most outstanding novel yet.”

Book Details

Author: P.J. Tracy
Series: Monkeewrench #9
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1683318587
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Release Date: September 11, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 6.0/10

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Tuesday, September 18th

 

A Forgotten PLaceA Forgotten Place by Charles Todd

“Though the Great War has ended, Bess Crawford finds herself caught in deadly circumstances on a remote Welsh headland in this tenth entry from the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author.

The fighting has ended, the Armistice signed, but the war has left wounds that are still agonizingly raw. Battlefield Nurse Bess Crawford has been assigned to a clinic for amputees, and the Welsh patients worry her. She does her best to help them, but it’s clear that they have nothing to go home to, in a valley where only the fit can work in the coal pits. When they are released, she fears that peace will do what war couldn’t—take their lives.

Their officer, Captain Williams, writes to describe their despair, and his own at trying to save his men. Bess feels compelled to look into their situation, but the Army and the clinic can do nothing. Requesting leave, she quietly travels to Wales, and that bleak coal mining village, but she is too late.

Captain Williams’ sister tells Bess he has left the valley. Bess is afraid he intends to kill himself. She follows him to an isolated, storm-battered peninsula—a harsh and forgotten place where secrets and death go hand in hand. Deserted by her frightened driver, Bess is stranded among strangers suspicious of outsiders. She quickly discovers these villagers are hiding something, and she’s learned too much to be allowed to leave. What’s more, no one in England knows where she is.

Why is there no Constable out here? And who is the mysterious Ellen? Captain Williams and his brother’s widow are her only allies, and Bess must take care not to put them at risk as she tries to find answers. But there is a murderer here who is driven to kill again and again. And the next person in his sights is Simon Brandon, searching for Bess and unaware of his danger. . . “

Book Details

Author: Charles Todd
Series: Bess Crawford #10
Pages: 368 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0062678825
Publisher: William Morrow 
Release Date: September 18, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 6.5/10

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51BBQu8UjjL._SY346_Button Man by Andrew Gross

Set in the 1930s, brothers Morris, Sol, and Harry Rabishevsky grow up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan as part of a struggling, poor Jewish family just looking to get by. 

At the young age of twelve, Morris drops out of school and takes an entry-level job with a clothing manufacturer, sweeping floors and doing odd jobs to earn a small paycheck each week. It’s clear from the beginning, though, that Morris, who is savvy and tough, has greater ambitions than pushing a broom around for the rest of his life. So, while excelling at the duties given to him, he also strives for more, constantly watching those around him and learning the business side of the trade in hopes of climbing the career ladder. 

Over time, that’s just what Morris does, quickly making his way up the ranks until he’s essentially running the whole operation at the ripe age of twenty. It’s around this time that Morris, now going by the last name Raab because it’s easier to say, has his first run-in with the mob, who have a monopoly on the garment industry, charging ridiculously high union fees and demanding owners only buy materials from their approved retailers. Morris, who is tough in part because of how fast he had to grow up, and also because of how hard he’s worked to get where he’s at, doesn’t just nod along and smile during the shakedown like other business owners. Instead, he pushes back, unafraid to mix it up with Louis Buchalter, a young enforcer who, like, Morris, started out at the bottom but is slowly inching his way upward.

As the story unfolds, Morris opens his own store with Sol, using his experience and panache to land big-time retail clients as the brothers grow their business into a real success. Of course, with money flowing in, the mob wants their cut too, and Louis Buchalter, who has risen to full-fledged New York gangster, is willing to take it from Morris if the Jewish entrepreneur won’t just hand it over. 

As Morris fights the mob, who take plenty of action to try and force his hand, Gross exposes the level of corruption in New York at that time. Eventually, Morris catches the eye of Thomas Dewey, a whip-smart district attorney who tries to secure Raab’s help in bringing down the mob. Eventually, though, Morris realizes that helping Dewey put an end to Buchalter and organized crime on the Lower East Side might also mean giving up everything he’s worked so hard to build. 

Since switching genres a few years back when The One Man (2016) was released, Andrew Gross has quickly established himself as one of the best historical fiction writers in the game today. Button Man, like his last two novels, has a similar theme in that it follows a good, courageous, and hard-working man who wants to do the right thing, but could lose everything he’s worked for in the process.

Whereas The One Man and The Saboteur (2017) were both centered around WWII, therefore raising the stakes to a world-saving level for the cast of characters involved, Gross’ latest work is smaller in scope, which allows for more character development. Without the backdrop of a horrendous world war, Gross was able to take his time building Morris, who has to fight and battle for his world, making him both compelling and relatable. Additionally, Gross brings the setting right to life, detailing everything about 1930s New York, from the way people talk to describing the city’s one-of-a-kind atmosphere. Overall, it’s some of Gross’ best writing, and while he’ll almost certainly never top the magic that is The One Man (which is still one of the best books I’ve ever read), his latest offering is a big step up from last year’s The Saboteur

Andrew Gross continues to bring the past back to life with Button Man, his latest emotionally-charged thriller that, on top of being widely entertaining, also packs a powerful, thought-provoking message. 

Book Details

Author: Andrew Gross
Pages: 384 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 125017998X
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: September 18, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 8.0/10

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Tuesday, September 25th

 

Red WarRed War by Kyle Mills (Featured Selection)

Kyle Mills opens his fourth Mitch Rapp thriller (since taking over the series following the passing of Vince Flynn in 2013) with Russian President Maxim Krupin standing in his Kremlin office looking down at the protestors filing into Red Square. The growing backlash and constant threat of being overthrown is annoying to Krupin, but it’s the inoperable brain cancer that he was secretly diagnosed with that proves most troubling.

At first, Krupin’s symptoms are fairly minor and easy to hide. However, as the cancer worsens, so too do the neurological issues plaguing him, forcing him to rely on more drastic methods in order to conceal his rapidly declining health from the many threats he faces both at home and abroad. While still strong enough to take action, Krupin preemptively begins assassinating powerful enemies, sending his henchman Nikita Pushkin to kill those he suspects might stand up and oppose him when he’s too weak to fight back. 

Formerly, Grisha Azarov, the world-class athlete turned deadly assassin, served as Krupin’s errand boy, a job that once put him on a collision course with Mitch Rapp. Already one of the only men to ever go toe-to-toe with Rapp and live to talk about it, Grisha later joined another exclusive club when he lent Rapp a hand after Mitch took on an especially dangerous assignment that required him to go outside his normal circle of backup operators for support and forgo all ties to the CIA. That mission earned Azarov an IOU, and Rapp settles the bill by showing up in Costa Rica just as Krupin’s men open fire on Azarov’s home. No longer the medically enhanced, juiced-up super soldier that he used to be, Grisha isn’t in top form this time around, and he and Rapp barely escape the assault, running miles through the dark jungle to regroup and figure out why Krupin sent a team to kill him.

What started as settling a debt for Rapp suddenly turns into more when CIA Director Irene Kennedy receives preliminary reports that Krupin has pulled an old warmonger named Andrei Sokolov from retirement, making the general his top aide and closest confidant. It’s a peculiar move from the Russian president, one that Kennedy and the rest of the world initially believe was made to protect Krupin from the mounting pressure he faces from his own people as public protests continue to grow and receive more media coverage. However, that theory takes a hit when Krupin takes aggressive measures to invade NATO countries, daring the United States to get involved, which would no doubt end in nuclear war.

Upon learning of Krupin’s condition, Kennedy realizes that it’s a no-win scenario, as they’re essentially fighting an opponent with nothing to lose. While Krupin’s once-strong grip begins to weaken, his attempts to hold onto power by creating distractions that take the focus off of his frail frame and pale face become bolder and more dangerous. The more desperate he becomes, the more uncertain Kennedy is of the Russian’s next move. Worse, he still holds the keys to one of the largest nuclear weapon arsenals on the planet, which means if he does go down, he’ll likely do so with a bang, literally.

With diplomacy and military actions off the table due to Krupin’s increased hostility, American President Josh Alexander once again turns to his third option, Mitch Rapp, to do the impossible. . . sneak into Russia and kill Maxim Krupin before it’s too late.

There’s no question that this is Rapp’s most dangerous assignment yet, and Mills dials up the suspense while packing in more action than ever before, creating a relentless, heart-thumping plot that moves at breakneck speeds. While a lot of political thrillers have similar plots and players this year (the U.S. vs. Russia), Mills sets himself apart by putting a heavy emphasis on why the bad guys are doing what they’re doing, showing readers both sides of the conflict. 

After sitting out the last two books, longtime readers will be happy to see a fan-favorite character return to form, but the emphasis is most certainly on Rapp, who continues to be a one-man wrecking ball disguised as a CIA operator. Mills, who has a clear understanding of what readers are looking for in this series, has found a way to honor Flynn’s legacy while also further developing his main character. Rapp, while just as lethal as ever, has a new swagger, and is now portrayed closer to the way readers have viewed him for two decades. One of my favorite scenes involves Mitch eating a Twinkie, something that only he could make look totally badass, which captures everything diehard fans love about the American assassin. 

Kyle Mills continues his impressive run of must-read thrillers with Red War, a timely, explosive novel that shows yet again why Mitch Rapp is the best hero the thriller genre has to offer. . . and why Mills is the only writer capable of filling the enormous void left by Vince Flynn.

Book Details

Author: Kyle Mills
Series: Mitch Rapp #17
Pages: 384 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1501190598
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Release Date: September 25, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 9.95/10

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New In Paperback

Tuesday, September 4th

Robicheaux by James Lee Burke 
Patriot Games by Tom Clancy (Amazon television show tie-in cover) 
Robert B. Parker’s The Hangman’s Sonnet by Reed Farrel Coleman 

Tuesday, September 11th

The Fallen by David Baldacci 
Poison by John Lescroart 
Righteous by Joe Ide 

Tuesday, September 18th

The Escape Artist by Brad Meltzer 
Paradise Valley by C.J. Box 
Deep Freeze by John Sandford 
Direct Fire by A.J. Tata 
Execute Authority by Dalton Fury 

 

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7 comments

  1. Depth of Winter, Man of War, and Button Man. Thanks for this awesome reading list.
    So happy to see Dalton Fury’s Execute Authority coming out in paper back – one of my
    very favorite authors.

  2. Red War is truly Kyle Mills best Mitch Rapp novel and a MUST READ! Can’t wait to read Sean Parnell’s next! Have also ordered Clive Cussler’s next Juan Cabrillo adventure! Great job as always Ryan – thanks for all you do!

  3. Wow! “Hellfire“ By Chris Ryan was wonderful. Rated five stars, and he deserved every one of them. He is a fantastic storyteller. Do yourself a favor and read one of his books..

  4. Just finished “Absolution“ by Michael Kerr. if you like Reacher, you’ll love Joe Logan. Rated it 4 stars, and will read his other books.

  5. Man of War by Sean Parnell is as good as it gets. Fantastic story moved with a sense of urgency.Nonstop action. Five stars does not do it justice.

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