The Real Book Spy’s November 2018 Reading Guide

Welcome to November, thriller fans!

Christmas is coming early this year for fans of James Bond, Jack Reacher, Jack Ryan, Stephanie Plum, Alex Cross, and a number of other high-profile, mega-popular characters who are set to make their return this month.

As always, we’ve chosen a few of our favorite thrillers to highlight. This month’s Featured Selections are Anthony Horowitz’s Forever and a Day, American Operator by Andrews & Wilson, and Marc Cameron’s Tom Clancy Oath of Office.

Horowitz, who also penned Trigger Mortis a few years back, is back in the driver’s seat of Ian Fleming’s James Bond franchise, delivering a fun, rip-roaring prequel that shows, among other things, how James Bond became a 00-agent, and why he chose the 007 designation. A gifted writer, Horowitz drew inspiration from previously unseen original work from Fleming. From beginning to end, everything about Forever and a Day feels like an authentic Bond book, right down to the fast cars, over-the-top action sequences, and a Bond-worthy villain. Moreover, Horowitz answers long-awaited questions such as why Bond uses his real name all the time instead of an alias and why he prefers his martinis shaken and not stirred. 

In the world of high-flying action, Andrews and Wilson are criminally underrated. Their books might not receive the same amount of pre-pub buzz as, say, Brad Taylor or Ben Coes, but they should because these guys can go toe-to-toe with just about anyone in the genre. American Operator kicks off the next trilogy within the series (Andrews and Wilson have deployed a creative method of using one overall story arc every three books) and their protagonist — John Dempsey — is the kind of hero America needs at a time when we need him the most. 

Who doesn’t love Jack Ryan? America’s favorite commander-in-chief returns later this month in Tom Clancy Oath of Office, the latest novel from Marc Cameron (who took over for Mark Greaney last year) and the follow-up to Power and Empire. On top of Clancy’s publisher continuing to nail the titles of the Ryan books, the Clancy estate has been nothing but aces in selecting writers to continue Jack Ryan’s legacy, as Cameron once again proves to be a brilliant addition to this iconic franchise. This time out, President Ryan is battling fires from all sides, including a string of natural disasters that feels ripped straight from the headlines. So too are a number of other plot threads, and it’s worth noting that Cameron handles things in a way that no matter which side of the political spectrum you fall on personally, the story is still enjoyable. With nothing preachy or definitive to one party, Cameron’s latest will appeal to all. While some Clancy loyalists may pick up on the fact that Cameron has put a little more of his own style into this one than last year’s book, I personally believe that’s for the best.

Read more about those three thrillers, plus all of the other must-read titles coming out this month, below.

Happy reading!

 


 

 November 6th

 

Forever and a day 007Forever and a Day by Anthony Horowitz (Featured Selection)

007 is dead. His body was found in the waters of Marseille, three 9mm bullets fired into his chest and stomach at close range. It’s a devastating blow to Her Majesty’s secret service, but it also paves the way for a younger agent to replace him. Thus, it’s time for James Bond to officially earn his license to kill. 

Before M is willing to officially elevate Commander Bond to Double-O status and give him a spot on the fifth floor overlooking Regent’s Park, the young recruit is sent to kill Rolf Larsen, a traitor hiding out in Stockholm. While this scene is briefly referenced in Fleming’s Casino Royale, Horowitz takes readers inside the old-fashioned apartment furnished with heavy dark German furniture, rugs, and chandeliers, as Bond does his job. Though it’s his second assassination, this is much different than the first, when he shot someone by the name of Kishida. Larsen is much more up-close-and-personal, a true test of Bond’s nerve and resolve. 

With the bloody trial run complete, M promotes Bond, who chooses his 007 designation to send a message to the bad guys (a message that’s too good to spoil here). And with that, James Bond, the newly minted 007, is dispatched to France and tasked with finding out who, exactly, killed the former Double-O agent, and what he might have learned while investigating a new development in the Marseille-based criminal underworld that got him killed in the first place. 

A beautiful woman named Sixtine, who spends much of her time in casinos counting cards and taking it to the house, steals the show early on. Readers are also treated to decades-long questions finally being answered, as Horowitz explains things (in addition to where the 007 designation came from) — such as why Bond always gives his real name rather than an alias, why he prefers a certain firearm over others, and, perhaps the most debated question of all, why he likes his martinis shaken and not stirred — throughout the course of the story. It’s all expertly woven in by Horowitz, who appears to emulate Fleming’s prose to an extent, but also offers a slightly more modern and sharper writing style that gets right to the point and splits the difference between contemporary fiction and staying true to the 1950s setting. Doing so allows readers to follow along as if Fleming himself penned the story, but without ever feeling as if the plot is outdated. 

The other thing Horowitz nails here is the bad guy. Bond stories are known for the villains, and Horowitz has certainly created a memorable one in Scipio, a Corsican drug dealer whose massive ego matches his massive girth. The morbidly obese antagonist will waddle his way into readers’ hearts, even if his evil plan is a somewhat recycled (though updated) take on crimes we’ve seen before. 

Taking on one of fiction’s all-time greatest heroes is no easy task, but Anthony Horowitz has proven to be the man for the job. Seeing this inexperienced side to Bond is refreshing and finally provides the true origin story that was always missing from the polished, hardened agent Fleming introduced in Casino Royale. In the acknowledgment section, placed just after the story’s conclusion, Horowitz explains that some of the material was based on an outline Fleming wrote for an American television series that was never made. Using that, Horowitz has crafted an authentic, action-packed Bond novel that even the Fleming faithful will devour. 

The book’s best sequence involves Bond having a vision of himself in the future where he skis, swims, and drives fast cars, doing pretty much all the things fans have witnessed him doing both on the page and on the big screen for decades. It’s a brilliant nod to Bond’s legacy from Horowitz, who notes that the beloved MI6 agent feels as though he’ll never die. And in some ways, he never will. Between the novels and movies, both those already made and new projects to come in the future, 007’s place in pop culture history is set in stone, ensuring that James Bond really will live forever. . . and a day. 

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Past TensePast Tense by Lee Child

As summer comes to a close, Jack Reacher prepares for colder weather the only way he knows how, by setting out on an epic, cross-country trip that’ll take him from Maine all the way to California. . . but things don’t go according to plan. 

Much like the birds swirling above, Reacher begins his long migration south from the top right-hand corner of the country to the bottom left by heading to Syracuse. From there, he plans to breeze through Cincinnati, St. Louis, Oklahoma City, and Albuquerque before ultimately reaching his destination: San Diego.  

While hitching a ride to Boston, the man driving Reacher has to unexpectedly turn back after a business deal begins to fall apart and needs his attention. They’d only made it to New Hampshire, so rather than backtrack, Reacher says goodbye, hops out and begins walking. Eventually, fate brings him to a Y in the road. Heading right will take him to Portsmouth, which has plenty of bus stops, highways, and suitable hotels. Going left will take him out of the way, to a little town called Laconia — which just so happens to be where his father is from, a place Reacher’s never seen. 

Giving himself a day to explore, Reacher heads left and, as readers might expect, trouble, as it always seems to do, quickly finds him. 

Meanwhile, Patty and Shorty, a young couple from Canada, head to New York City carrying mysterious cargo inside a suitcase that’s said to be quite valuable. After their car breaks down, they come across an inn that, at best, can be described as a creepy Motel 6, but this ain’t the kind of place where they leave the light on for you. In fact, it’s just the opposite, and soon the couple finds themselves being held against their will and surrounded by danger. 

Reacher, while trying to locate his extended family, has a few run-ins and dust-ups with unsavory types, including a guy who has connections to some wealthy, powerful people who threaten Reacher and tell him to get lost or else. Still living his life as a drifter, Reacher is always on the move, but he’s not about to run from anyone. Especially when he’s trying to track his genealogy back to Laconia, but can’t find any official record of anyone named Reacher ever having lived there. 

As the story unfolds, two main questions emerge. . . why can’t Reacher find any trail of his father’s family in Laconia, and what on earth is in Patty and Shorty’s bag? Things come into focus once Child expertly weaves both storylines together, leading to an explosive final act that moves at breakneck speeds and has enough action to dazzle even the pickiest thrill-seekers. 

Jack Reacher is an intimidating figure, and Lee Child’s quick-witted, fast-paced style lends itself perfectly to his larger-than-life hero. Longtime readers of the series will pick up on an eerie vibe early on that’s reminiscent of Child’s first novel, The Killing Floor (1997), while also relishing the chance to finally learn a little more about the mysterious, Hulk-sized nomad who’s captivated readers for two decades. There’s no sense in reinventing the wheel when, in this case, the wheel happens to be one of the most popular franchises in print. That said, Child does continue to do an excellent job keeping his series fresh by throwing new challenges at Reacher, who is both smart enough to work through any problem he faces and big enough to smash through them at will. 

Whenever Jack Reacher shows up, three things are virtually guaranteed to happen: Trouble will come knocking, Reacher will answer, and readers will enjoy the heck out of watching him pick the bad guys apart one by one.

Lee Child delivers another winner with Past Tensea rip-roaring thriller that mixes action and suspense in a way that only he seems to be able to pull off. 

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American OperatorAmerican Operator by Andrews and Wilson (Featured Selection)

An explosive, high-stakes thriller of espionage and counterterrorism by the Wall Street Journal bestselling authors of Tier One.

A shocking attack in Ankara leaves the US Ambassador to Turkey dead and his chief of staff, Amanda Allen, in the hands of brutal terrorists. But Allen is no ordinary diplomat. She’s undercover CIA. The DNI and the President turn to Ember, America’s premier black-ops task force, and its deadliest weapon, former Tier One Navy SEAL John Dempsey, for help. To find Allen, Ember gets embedded in the most dangerous battlefield on Earth: Syria. But when all communications are disabled by an attack in Turkey, Dempsey finds himself with no backup—a lone shadow warrior racing against time to rescue Allen from her captors before she reaches her breaking point.

What Dempsey doesn’t realize is that Allen is just a pawn in a much larger game. A new player has already been unleashed: a legendary mercenary who matches the American Operator in skill, tactical prowess, and a killer instinct for survival. Now there is far more at stake than a kidnapped CIA agent. Dempsey and his team better get this one right, because the balance of power for the entire Middle East rests on their shoulders. And the new threat is far more dangerous than any Dempsey has encountered in his decades waging war against terrorism. Game on.

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Kill For Me 2Kill For Me by Tom Wood

Tom Wood kicks off his latest thriller with a bang, literally.

Set in Central America, Wood opens his eighth thriller with Victor the Assassin — now officially a gun-for-hire, having ended all previous relationships with the MI6 and CIA — in Guatemala for a gun purchase that ends up being a shakedown. The price of the Accuracy International AX50 seems almost too good to be true, because it is.  The rifle, it turns out, is little more than bait used to lure customers into the killzone, where a group of gunmen waits, having carefully orchestrated their assault.

It’s a plan that has worked numerous times already, but then again, they’ve never encountered someone like Victor before. Lead flies early and Wood treats readers to a great action sequence as Victor is backed into an impossible corner before the story jumps back in time five weeks to explain the lead-up to the hard-hitting opening. 

For several years, two sisters — Heloise and Maria Espinosa — have fought to regain the turf their father, once the leader of Guatemala’s largest cartel, held for decades. The catch, though, is that they’re battling from opposite sides, locked in a brutal war against one another, each desperate to take the reins moving forward. In an effort to finally claim the throne, Heloise has brought in a ringer in the form of Victor, whom she hires to kill Maria. The job seems straightforward at first, but Victor quickly finds that the feud is worse than he expected, and the already-dangerous job proves more difficult when it becomes clear that there’s another killer after Maria who’s willing to do whatever is necessary to finish the job. 

With other forces lurking and threatening to close in without warning, Victor has his work cut out for him . . . and to complete his mission, he’ll first need to navigate his way through an endless stream of betrayal and somehow find a way to stay alive long enough to get the job done. 

Wood’s thrilling setup leads to a bloody final act that doesn’t disappoint and shows yet again why this series is one of the best action thriller franchises going today. Among his many strengths, Wood seems to always find a new way to keep his plots fresh, never repeating himself or falling into a formula to structure his stories. Likewise, Wood puts readers in the head of his protagonist better than anyone once the actions starts by breaking down what Victor sees, showing how he takes in the information before him, and why he does what he does. That subtle infusion of his thought process is often riveting and shows just how calculated Victor is, highlighting his ability to stay calm and run scenarios in his head at times when anyone else would be crippled with fear and panic.

Longtime fans of the series will notice a fair bit of character development here, and Wood does show shades of Victor that readers haven’t really seen before. “Vulnerable” might not be the right word, but the author does show moments that humanize his ruthless assassin, making him more relatable than ever before . . . though he’s still an antihero at heart. 

Victor the Assassin, the coldest killer operating in the thriller genre today, returns in Kill For Me, the latest twisting, action-packed thriller from Tom Wood, who’s fast becoming mandatory reading for fans of Mark Greaney and Gregg Hurwitz.

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You Don't Own meYou Don’t Own Me by Marry Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke 

When we last saw Laurie Moran, she had recently become engaged to her show’s former host, Alex Buckley. Since then, the two have been happily planning a summer wedding and honeymoon, preparing for Alex’s confirmation to a federal judicial appointment, and searching for the perfect New York City home for their new life together.

But then Laurie is approached by Robert and Cynthia Bell, parents of Dr. Martin Bell, a famously charming and talented physician who was shot dead as he pulled into the driveway of his Greenwich Village carriage house five years ago. The Bells are sure that Martin’s disgraced and erratic wife, Kendra, carried out the murder. Determined to prove Kendra’s guilt and win custody over their grandchildren, they plead with Laurie to feature their son’s case on “Under Suspicion,” ensuring her that Kendra is willing to cooperate.

Kendra has lived under a blanket of suspicion since Martin’s death, with the tabloid media depicting her as a secretive, mentally unstable gold-digger. Laurie’s show is a chance for her to clear her name. But unbeknownst to the Bells, Kendra has already refused once before to go forward with a re-investigation of her husband’s murder, and her statements to the contrary only add to the appearance of guilt.

But once Laurie dives into the case, she learns that Martin wasn’t the picture-perfect husband, father, and doctor he appeared to be and was carrying secrets of his own. And what does the web of lies ensnaring the Bell family have to do with a dangerous stranger, who gazes at Laurie from afar and thinks, She is actually quite a lovely girl, I’m sure she’s going to be missed…?

You Don’t Own Me is the perfect, exhilarating follow up to the bestselling Every Breath You Take. The “Queen of Suspense” Mary Higgins Clark and her dazzling partner-in-crime Alafair Burke have devised another riveting page-turner.

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Sea of GreedSea of Greed by Clive Cussler and Graham Brown

In the late 1960s, a joint Israeli and French research mission ended in disaster when submarines from both sides went missing. Now, thirty years later, the original findings, which were thought to have been lost forever, threaten to forever change the world as we know it. 

Oil wells around the globe are drying up. Even the best-producing wells are no longer delivering the goods, and after a massive explosion in the Gulf of Mexico destroys several rigs that were trying to jumpstart production, the President of the United States tasks Kurt Austin and his NUMA team with finding out what’s going on before any more damage is done. 

Kurt follows the clues, which all seem to point towards billionaire environmental activist Tessa Franco, who has invested heavily into developing an alternative energy device that’s suddenly in high demand. As it turns out, she’s working alongside Arat Buran, a shadowy genetic engineer who helped her obtain the extremely rare bacteria needed to poison the world’s oil supply by unleashing the bacteria, allowing it to feed on oil wells, consuming everything before it can be pumped from the ground. As their plan gets underway, panic erupts around the world, causing oil prices to shoot through the roof and the stock market to crash. NUMA knows who is responsible, but getting to her won’t be easy . . . and if they can’t find a way to stop Franco fast, the damage will be too severe to ever undo. 

With the point of no return rapidly approaching, it is once again up to Kurt and his gang to do the impossible and save the world before it’s too late. 

By now, readers know what they’re getting with this series and Clive Cussler’s other franchises. Cussler isn’t going to reinvent the wheel, and that’s fine because the beloved author still knows how to get things moving downhill and thrill readers in the process. The linear plotline is right on par with past books, which rely more on entertaining readers than trying to catch them off-guard with twists and turns. And really, the biggest question of all isn’t whether or not the bad guys’ plans will be thwarted, but how Kurt will win the day when it’s all said and done.

Sea of Greed is another well-written, fun, fast read from Cussler and Graham, full of the kind of action and over-the-top scenarios that fans of the series have come to expect. 

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Murder She Wrote.jpgMurder, She Wrote: Manuscript for Murder by Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land 

Jessica Fletcher investigates a mysterious manuscript with deadly consequences in the latest entry in this USA Today bestselling series…

Jessica Fletcher has had plenty to worry about over her storied career, both as a bestselling novelist and amateur sleuth. But she never had any reason to worry about her longtime publisher, Lane Barfield, who also happens to be a trusted friend. When mounting evidence of financial malfeasance leads to an FBI investigation of Lane, Jessica can’t believe what she’s reading.

So when Barfield turns up dead, Jessica takes on the task of proving Barfield’s innocence–she can’t fathom someone she’s known and trusted for so long cheating her. Sure enough, Jessica’s lone wolf investigation turns up several oddities and inconsistencies in Barfield’s murder. Jessica knows something is being covered up, but what exactly? The trail she takes to answer that question reveals something far more nefarious afoot, involving shadowy characters from the heights of power in Washington. At the heart of Jessica’s investigation lies a manuscript Barfield had intended to bring out after all other publishers had turned it down. The problem is that the manuscript has disappeared, all traces of its submission and very existence having been wiped off the books.

With her own life now in jeopardy, Jessica refuses to back off and sets her sights on learning the contents of that manuscript and what about it may have led to several murders. Every step she takes brings her closer to the truth of what lies in the pages, as well as the person who penned them.

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heads you winHeads You Win by Jeffrey Archer

Leningrad, Russia, 1968. Alexander Karpenko is no ordinary child, and from an early age, it is clear he is destined to lead his countrymen. But when his father is assassinated by the KGB for defying the state, he and his mother will have to escape from Russia if they hope to survive. At the docks, they are confronted with an irreversible choice: should they board a container ship bound for America or Great Britain? Alexander leaves that choice to the toss of a coin . . .

In a single moment, a double twist decides Alexander’s future. During an epic tale of fate and fortune, spanning two continents and thirty years, we follow his triumphs and defeats as he struggles as an immigrant to conquer his new world. As this unique story unfolds, Alexander comes to realize where his destiny lies and accepts that he must face the past he left behind in Russia.

With a final twist that will shock even his most ardent fans, this is #1 New York Times bestseller Jeffrey Archer’s most ambitious and creative work since Kane and Abel.

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Bleak HarborBleak Harbor by Bryan Gruley

Their son is gone. Deep down, they think they’re to blame.

Summertime in Bleak Harbor means tourists, overpriced restaurants, and the Dragonfly Festival. One day before the much-awaited and equally chaotic celebration, Danny Peters, the youngest member of the family that founded the town five generations ago, disappears.

When Danny’s mother, Carey, and stepfather, Pete, receive a photo of their brilliant, autistic, and socially withdrawn son tied to a chair, they fear the worst. But there’s also more to the story. Someone is sending them ominous texts and emails filled with information no one else should have. Could the secrets they’ve kept hidden—even from one another—have led to Danny’s abduction?

As pressure from the kidnapper mounts, Carey and Pete must face their own ugly mistakes to find their son before he’s taken from them forever.

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November 13th

 

look alive twenty fiveLook Alive Twenty-Five by Janet Evanovich

Stephanie Plum faces the toughest puzzle of her career in the twenty-fifth entry in Janet Evanovich’s #1 New York Times-bestselling series.

There’s nothing like a good deli, and the Red River Deli in Trenton is one of the best. World-famous for its pastrami, cole slaw, and for its disappearing managers. Over the last month, three have vanished from the face of the earth, and the only clue in each case is one shoe that’s been left behind. The police are baffled. Lula is convinced that it’s a case of alien abduction. Whatever it is, they’d better figure out what’s going on before they lose their new manager, Ms. Stephanie Plum.

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Long Road to MercyLong Road to Mercy by David Baldacci

#1 New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci introduces his new series character, Atlee Pine, his first-ever female protagonist, in Long Road to Mercy.

Having grown up in Andersonville, Georgia, FBI Agent Atlee Pine’s childhood was defined by one horrific moment when her twin sister, Mercy, was kidnapped in the summer of 1989. She was never located, dead or alive, and her whereabouts remain a mystery to this day, prompting Atlee — who wrestles with survivor’s guilt — to go searching for answers.

After taking a new position in Shattered Rock, Arizona, near the Grand Canyon National Park, Atlee begins investigating her sister’s disappearance in her free time. Her quest for answers leads her to a supermax prison near Denver, which is home to notorious criminals such as the Unabomber and the Boston Marathon Bomber, along with gang and cartel leaders, white supremacists, and even mafia bosses. Patrolled by guards 24/7 and protected by state-of-the-art security features and good old-fashioned endless rows of concrete, the prison is built to keep evil inside, including a man named Tor, who is perhaps the evilest of all the sadistic inmates currently incarcerated at ADX Florence. 

Standing well above six feet and a whopping 280 pounds of muscle, Daniel James Tor is a good-looking mountain of a man who is both brilliant and narcissistic. Quietly, he might be the most prolific serial killer ever. He’s also the man Atlee wants to question. She’d done her homework and knew of Tor’s fondness for math, then traced the locations of his victims, carefully mapping them out to reveal a rhombus-like shape when including the address of the home she grew up in — where Mercy was taken from. Looking him in the eyes, separated by a thick wall of glass, Atlee wants to know why he took her sister, how she died, and where her remains are. Instead, the muscled-up Hannibal Lector-like psychopath turns the tables, toying with Pine and challenging her. She doesn’t give into his antics, but she also doesn’t get the answers she’s longed for and is forced to leave, wondering what, exactly, the clever killer had meant with his responses.

Knowing Tor’s too smart to utter anything without having a distinct purpose for his words, Atlee walks away troubled, but has no time to focus on her personal case after a mule wrangler finds one of his mules in the Grand Canyon, stabbed to death and gutted. More pressing is the fact that the tourist riding the mule has gone missing, prompting a widespread ground search for the man that bears little fruit. Though Mercy is never far from her mind, nor is the intimidating presence of Tor, Atlee continues on with her search for the mule rider somewhat distractedly, only to find that the person of interest isn’t who they expected and that a far more dangerous scenario may be playing out before her.

Shockingly, Atlee is pulled from her assignment just as she begins making headway on the case and is forced to make the toughest decision since she joined the FBI. While she was focused on one monster, another quietly emerged . . . and going after them just might cost Atlee Pine her career and her life. 

Baldacci, who has no shortage of go-to heroes in his stable of bestselling series, does a fine job with Atlee, who is very different from anyone else he’s built a franchise around. Whereas the author tends to target big cities in past books, Atlee is based out west in an isolated location where she’s one of the only FBI agents for hundreds of miles. She does share some minor similarities with Amos Decker (The Fallen, 2018), including the fact that she’s endured a painful past and now uses those memories to fuel her career within the agency, but overall she’s unique and offers Baldacci’s readers a fresh series to check out. The writing is solid, the pacing is fast, and the plot has enough suspense and misdirection to keep readers engaged and guessing right up until the end. Expect to see Atlee Pine join Will Robie, Amos Decker, and John Puller on the New York Times bestsellers list this fall. 

David Baldacci continues to expand his universes by kicking off a promising new series with Long Road to Mercy, another top-notch thriller from one of today’s most popular storytellers.

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The Red RibbonThe Red Ribbon by H.B. Lyle 

In 1910 London, Captain Vernon Kell’s fledgling secret intelligence service faces being shut down before it has even begun its job of saving the British Empire from German and Russian spies.

Harassed by politicians like the ambitious Winston Churchill, bullied by Special Branch, undermined by his colleague’s ill-advised foreign ventures, and alarmed at his wife’s involvement with militant suffragettes, Kell is making no progress in tracking high-profile leaks from the government. To make matters worse, his best (and only) agent, Wiggins, would rather be working cases of his own.

Wiggins grew up on the streets of London, one of the urchins trained in surveillance by Sherlock Holmes and known as the Baker Street Irregulars. He has promised to avenge the death of his best friend and to track down a missing girl from the East End.

But when his search takes him to an embassy in Belgravia–an embassy that’s actually a high-class brothel presided over by the fearsome “Big T,” one of his fellow Irregulars–Wiggins is drawn into a conspiracy that will test both his personal and professional resolve.

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The Moscow Sleepers.jpgThe Moscow Sleepers by Liz Coyle

For fans of Homeland and The Night Manager, the latest thriller in Stella Rimington’s bestselling espionage series sees Liz Carlyle investigating a sinister Russian plot.

A Russian immigrant lies dying in a hospice in upstate Vermont. When a stranger visits, claiming to be a childhood friend, the FBI is alerted and news quickly travels to MI5 in London.

Liz Carlyle and her colleague Peggy Kinsolving are already knee-deep in conspiracies, and as they unravel the events that landed the man in the hospital, Liz learns of a network of Russians and their plot to undermine the German government. Liz and Peggy set out to locate and stop this insidious network, traveling the world from Montreal to Moscow.

The latest expertly plotted thriller in Stella Rimington’s bestselling series, The Moscow Sleepers is a white-knuckle ride through the dark underbelly of international intelligence, simmering political animosities, and global espionage.

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November 20th

 

Target Alex Cross 1Target: Alex Cross by James Patterson

A killer elite–six assassins–are on the loose. So is Alex Cross.

 

A leader has fallen, and Alex Cross joins the procession of mourners from Capitol Hill to the White House. Then a sniper’s bullet strikes a target in the heart of DC. Alex Cross’s wife, Bree Stone, newly elevated chief of DC detectives must solve the case or lose her position. The Secret Service and the FBI deploy as well in the race to find the shooter. Alex is tasked by the new President to lead an investigation unprecedented in scale and scope. But is the sniper’s strike only the beginning of a larger attack on the nation?

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Buried in Black by J.T. Patten

 

After signing a deal with Kensington, well-known self-published author J.T. Patten kicks off an all-new series taking readers deep inside the world of clandestine operations. 

Continuing on the success of his Safe Havens franchise, Sean Havens, a former operator (and Patten’s old protagonist) is now in a John Clark-like mentorship role to a new prized recruit, Drake Woolf, a man with both the physical skills and the personal motivation to hunt and kill terrorists at a breathtaking clip. 

Known as The Man From Orange, Woolf is a highly-trained, well-rounded asset working for Task Force Orange, a newly-formed government agency tasked with handling the most sensitive and dangerous missions, which also require discretion. When the government needs something handled quickly, effectively, off-the-books, and far away from the endless cycle of 24-hour cable news coverage, it’s Task Force Orange’s job to come through, and more often than not, Woolf is the one answering the call. 

This time out, Drake is tasked with tracking, finding, and killing a group of Iraqi rebels known as the “Mohawks,” who’ve used their extensive training and resources to plan a large-scale attack on American soil. Complicating matters, though, is that the Mohawks’ extensive training and resources came at the hands of the United States, who trained them in Iraq to act as surrogate soldiers, fighting to protect themselves, their way of life, and American interests in the region. However, after the United States pulled out of Iraq, things went sideways, and now the Mowhawks–whom Woolf personally trained–have flipped sides and are close to striking a blow to the heart of America. 

With the clock ticking, it’s up to Drake Woolf to find and terminate the killers he helped create before it’s too late. . . making this the most personal and critical mission of his career. 

Think The Hunted meets Brad Taylor’s Ghosts of War, and you’ve got Patten’s lightning-quick new thriller, which hits fast and never lets up. When it comes to dragging readers helplessly into the world of black ops, nobody does a better job than J.T. Patten, who puts his vast knowledge of the area and region Woolf operates in on full display. Trust me, you won’t find a more in-depth analysis than the one Patten provides, which adds realism and authenticity to every page.

As for Woolf, he’s a phenomenal new character who can throw down with anyone, but also has the brains to go with the brawn. His backstory is emotional and goes a long way towards explaining why he’s committed himself to Task Force Orange and their mission, but it also makes him relatable and flawed, allowing readers to connect with him. Havens, as mentioned above, is now in a leadership role, but make no mistake, this series stands on its own, separate from Patten’s previous two books. That said, his involvement does provide longtime fans of Patten’s work with a familiar face, and it’s fun to see the battle-tested warrior pass on his knowledge to the next generation of shadow masters.

Complex, well-thought-out, and perfectly executed, J.T. Patten kicks off his new series with a thundering bang. .Buried in Black has all the makings of a sleeper hit in 2018. 

 

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November 27th

 

Tom Clancy Oath of OfficeTom Clancy Oath of Office by Marc Cameron (Featured Selection)

Like meeting up with an old friend who’s only back in town for a few days, there’s nothing quite like catching up with Jack Ryan, America’s favorite president, who returns at a time when our country needs him the most.

After a long career in public services that began as Marine Officer before transitioning to the CIA, and ultimately the Oval Office, President Jack Ryan has seen it all. Very little surprises him these days, which is why the current situation that’s broken out in Iran, where protesters are beginning to cause real change, bothers him. Not because the Iranian people may finally taste real freedom after taking on an oppressive regime, but because he prefers a cautious approach before throwing support behind the little-known rebels, whereas the rest of the world is blinded by their excitement at the prospects of forming a Persian Spring. 

In-country, a former Russian spy named Erik Dovzhenko chooses to defect, leaving Iran and traveling to Afghanistan where he meets up with an ex-lover of Jack Ryan Jr., who is quickly brought up to speed on a dangerous situation that has Junior and his fellow Campus teammates scrambling to track down two Russian nuclear missiles that have been hijacked and fallen off the grid. 

POTUS, meanwhile, deals with a number of natural disasters at home. Floods are destroying parts of the country, mainly Louisiana and Mississippi, while a deadly flu virus runs rampant elsewhere. Though serious, First Lady Cathy Ryan, who happens to be an accomplished ophthalmologist, is disturbed by fearmongering rhetoric spewed by Senator Michelle Chadwick. Likewise, Ryan has his own issues with Chadwick, who, when she’s not shouting Fake News into every microphone within a twenty-mile radius, has taken aim at Jack personally, hellbent on bringing down his administration. 

As Jack battles political adversaries on the home front and a messy situation in Cameroon, things take a turn for John Clark and the members of the Campus when one of their colleagues is abducted, infinitely complicating things because they now must hunt whoever has taken the rogue nukes and attempt to rescue one of their own before it’s too late.

With everything going on, it’s clear that a conspiracy is rising out of the Middle East, but there’s no rulebook on fighting a faceless enemy, leaving it up to Jack Ryan to write his own and connect the dots before things reach a point of no return and the balance of power in the region is forever altered. 

Since coming on board for last year’s Tom Clancy Power and Empire, Marc Cameron has quickly left his mark on this iconic franchise. After twenty-five previous novels set in the Ryanverse, the challenge for Cameron (and Mike Maden, who has done an outstanding job with the Jack Ryan Junior books) is finding a way to keep things fresh moving forward. Essentially, minus a brief stint where he enjoyed semi-retirement after serving his first term as president, Jack Ryan has now sat behind the Resolute desk since Executive Powers (1996). While he was never really an action star even in his younger days, he is definitely not running and gunning now, which requires sharper writing and a tighter plot to hold readers’ attention without as many explosives and firefights to distract them. 

Though the Campus members provide some sizzle, Cameron relies more on his deftly plotted, high-stakes scenarios — while further developing Tom Clancy’s beloved characters — to keep readers interested. Whether it’s seeing the playful moments between Jack and Cathy in bed to start the morning or taking John Clark back into the field and giving him some great one-liners, Cameron utilizes the deep cast of characters at his disposal brilliantly. Longtime fans will be happy to know that under Cameron, “the leader of the free world’s still got it” (in more ways than one). 

Marc Cameron dazzled Clancy loyalists with Power and Empire, but now he’s kicking it up a notch for his next book . . . and Tom Clancy’s Oath of Office is going to blow readers away. 

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Blood FeudRobert B. Parker’s Blood Feud by Mike Lupica

After years of rumors and speculation, Sunny Randall, Robert B. Parker’s beloved, Boston-based PI, is finally back. 

No matter what, Sunny Randall (who was last seen in Spare Change, 2007) has always loved Richie Burke. And yet, she’s never been able to settle down and commit to their relationship. Well, not since the two divorced years back, which had a lot to do with Richie having serious ties to the Mafia. Still, even now, those ties have a way of coming between the two, especially when his uncle Felix calls Sunny in the middle of the night from Mass General to inform her that Richie had been shot. 

Sunny enters the ER waiting room to find Felix and Desmond Burke, Richie’s father, waiting for her. The two men explain to her that he’s alive, but that someone shot him in the back with zero warning. Thankfully, Richie’s saloon was close to the hospital, which might have saved his life. . . unless the shooter never intended to kill him, a question that Sunny can’t help but wonder. Felix and Desmond are asking that same question, and their instincts eventually prove correct when it’s revealed that the gunman muttered, “Sins of the father,” before putting the trigger.

Sunny believes the words were chosen carefully, meant to be a direct message to the Burke family, which sets up a great line from Felix. “Tell that f–ing f–k to send an email next time.”

Sadly, Sunny’s theory takes shape when Peter, Desmond’s youngest brother, is murdered in the little park set above Chestnut Hill Reservoir across the street from the Boston College football stadium. A student out for an early jog found the body, but something about the scene feels off. Sunny takes note of the secluded location and the fact that no cell phone was found at the scene, all of which she believes indicates that Peter had agreed to the meeting before things went south. Obviously, someone has their sights set on the Burkes, who would rather handle things themselves than have the police–or Sunny–do any digging around the family business. But why? 

As the story unfolds, old characters make cameos, new characters are introduced, and Sunny revisits some of her old stomping grounds (such as Spike’s, formerly known as Spike’s Place) as readers become reacquainted to her universe. As the body count starts to pile up, though, she goes looking for more answers and eventually discovers that an all-out mob war is close to erupting. 

With the vicious blood feud threatening to spill over onto the streets of Boston, where innocent people could wind up in the crosshairs, it’s up to Sunny Randall to put an end to things before it’s too late. 

Stepping into Parker’s enormous shoes, sports writer and Young Adult novelist Mike Lupica follows the footsteps of Reed Farrell Coleman and Ace Atkins–who have successfully resurrected Jesse Stone and Spenser, respectively–to bring back a fan-favorite character. From the opening scene in Spike’s, everything about Lupica’s work feels familiar, and his ability to mimic Parker’s voice is truly remarkable. Between Lupica, Coleman, and Atkins, Mike Lupica Clearly does the best job of staying true to Parker’s style. Everything from sentence structure to word choice, how he sets a scene to how he develops the characters, is spot-on and reads as if it were written by Robert B. Parker himself, something his diehard fans will almost certainly appreciate. Beyond that, the story is deftly plotted and moves fast, leading up to a memorable ending that’ll have fans begging for more. 

Replacing an icon can’t be easy, but you wouldn’t know it by reading Robert B. Parker’s Blood Feud. Mike Lupica mixes a heavy dose of suspense with a shot of nostalgia, effortlessly delivering a relentless thriller that might just be the best book in the series so far. 

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Kingdom of the BlindKingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny

The new Chief Inspector Gamache novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author.

When a peculiar letter arrives inviting Armand Gamache to an abandoned farmhouse, the former head of the Sûreté du Québec discovers that a complete stranger has named him one of the executors of her will. Still on suspension, and frankly curious, Gamache accepts and soon learns that the other two executors are Myrna Landers, the bookseller from Three Pines, and a young builder.

None of them had ever met the elderly woman.

The will is so odd and includes bequests that are so wildly unlikely that Gamache and the others suspect the woman must have been delusional. But what if, Gamache begins to ask himself, she was perfectly sane?

When a body is found, the terms of the bizarre will suddenly seem less peculiar and far more menacing.

But it isn’t the only menace Gamache is facing.

The investigation into what happened six months ago―the events that led to his suspension―has dragged on, into the dead of winter. And while most of the opioids he allowed to slip through his hands, in order to bring down the cartels, have been retrieved, there is one devastating exception.

Enough narcotic to kill thousands have disappeared into inner-city Montreal. With the deadly drug about to hit the streets, Gamache races for answers.

As he uses increasingly audacious, even desperate, measures to retrieve the drug, Armand Gamache begins to see his own blind spots. And the terrible things hiding there.

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7 comments

  1. #RealBookSpyReadingChallenge From this months guide. I plan on reading: Sea of Greed and Bleak Harbor

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