The Real Book Spy’s December 2018 Reading Guide

2018 is finally over and, man, has it been a great year for thrillers! 

We’ll have our yearly round-up and 2019 preview up soon, but before we turn the page completely, there’s still one more month of new releases to go and plenty of must-read thrillers about to hit bookstores.

Admittedly, December is a little lighter than past months, but there are still some big-name new releases, including new offerings from Nora Roberts, Matthew Reilly, Lisa Jewell, W.E.B. Griffin, Ian Rankin, and the writing duo of Preston & Child. Taylor Stevens also has a fantastic new book coming out, as does Ezekiel Boone, who will publish his first non-spider-apocalyptic novel. Likewise, Sarah Bailey has a solid new book, and David Poyer is gearing up to release one of his best thrillers in years. Browse all the titles from those authors, and others, below. 

 

Happy Reading! 


Need help finding the perfect gift for the reader in your life? Check out our 2018 Holiday Shopping Guide! 

Also, don’t forget to check out our list of Every Must-Read Thriller Hitting Bookstores this Winter.


 

Tuesday, December 4th

 

Of Blood and BoneOf Blood and Bone by Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the epic Year One returns with Of Blood and Bone, a new tale of terror and magick in a brand new world.

They look like an everyday family living an ordinary life. But beyond the edges of this peaceful farm, unimaginable forces of light and dark have been unleashed.

Fallon Swift, approaching her thirteenth birthday, barely knows the world that existed before―the city where her parents lived, now in ruins and reclaimed by nature since the Doom sickened and killed billions. Traveling anywhere is a danger, as vicious gangs of Raiders and fanatics called Purity Warriors search for their next victim. Those like Fallon, in possession of gifts, are hunted―and the time is coming when her true nature, her identity as The One, can no longer be hidden.

In a mysterious shelter in the forest, her training is about to begin under the guidance of Mallick, whose skills have been honed over centuries. She will learn the old ways of healing; study and spar; encounter faeries and elves and shifters; and find powers within herself she never imagined. And when the time is right, she will take up the sword, and fight. For until she grows into the woman she was born to be, the world outside will never be whole again.

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Deep War by David PoyerDeep War by David Poyer

The war against China turns dire, as the United States struggles to survive in this gripping thriller featuring Navy commander Dan Lenson

After the United States suffers a devastating nuclear attack, and facing food shortages, power outages, cyber and AI assaults, and a wrecked economy, Admiral Dan Lenson leads an allied force assigned to turn the tide of war in the Pacific, using precisely targeted missiles and high-tech weapons systems.

But as the campaign begins, the entire Allied military and defense network is compromised―even controlled―by Jade Emperor, a powerful Chinese artificial intelligence system that seems to anticipate and counter every move. While Dan strives to salvage the battle plan, his wife Blair helps coordinate strategy in Washington, DC, Marine sergeant Hector Ramos fights in an invasion of Taiwan, and Navy SEAL master chief Teddy Oberg begins a desperate journey into central China on a mission that may be the only way to save the United States from destruction and defeat.

Thrilling, filled with near-future technology, and deeply grounded in the human cost of war, David Poyer’s Deep War is a brilliant novel by an acknowledged master of military fiction.

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The MansionThe Mansion by Ezekiel Boone

In this white-knuckle thriller from the internationally bestselling author of the “apocalyptic extravaganza” (Publishers Weekly) The Hatching series, a family moves into a home equipped with the world’s most intelligent, cutting-edge, and intuitive computer ever—but a buried secret leads to terrifying and catastrophic consequences. 

After two years of living on cheap beer and little else in a bitterly cold tiny cabin outside an abandoned, crumbling mansion, young programmers Shawn Eagle and Billy Stafford have created something that could make them rich: a revolutionary computer they name Eagle Logic.

But the hard work and escalating tension have not been kind to their once solid friendship—Shawn’s girlfriend Emily has left him for Billy, and a third partner has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. While Billy walks away with Emily, Shawn takes Eagle Logic, which he uses to build a multi-billion-dollar company that eventually outshines Apple, Google, and Microsoft combined.

Years later, Billy is a failure, beset by poverty and addiction, and Shawn is the most famous man in the world. Unable to let the past be forgotten, Shawn decides to resurrect his and Billy’s biggest failure: a next-generation computer program named Nellie that can control a house’s every function. He decides to set it up in the abandoned mansion they worked near all those years ago. But something about Nellie isn’t right—and the reconstruction of the mansion is plagued by accidental deaths. Shawn is forced to bring Billy back, despite their longstanding mutual hatred, to discover and destroy the evil that lurks in the source code.

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The Three Secret CitiesThe Three Secret Cities by Matthew Reilley

The thrilling new novel featuring Jack West, Jr. from New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Matthew Reilly!

A shadow world behind the real world

When Jack West, Jr. won the Great Games, he threw the four legendary kingdoms into turmoil.

A world with its own history, rules and prisons

Now these dark forces are coming after Jack…in ruthless fashion.

That is reaching into our world…explosively

With the end of all things rapidly approaching, Jack must find the Three Secret Cities, three incredible lost cities of legend.

It’s an impossible task by any reckoning, but Jack must do it while he is being hunted…by the greatest hunters in history.

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51E0SHwvs+L._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThe Boy by Tami Hoag

An unfathomable loss or an unthinkable crime? #1 New York Times bestselling author Tami Hoag keeps you guessing in her most harrowing thriller yet.

A panic-stricken woman runs in the dead of night, battered and bloodied, desperate to find help . . .

When Detective Nick Fourcade enters the home of Genevieve Gauthier outside the sleepy town of Bayou Breaux, Louisiana, the bloody crime scene that awaits him is both the most brutal and the most confusing he’s ever seen. Genevieve’s seven-year-old son, KJ, has been murdered by an alleged intruder, yet Genevieve is alive and well, a witness inexplicably left behind to tell the tale. There is no evidence of forced entry, not a clue that points to a motive. Meanwhile, Nick’s wife, Detective Annie Broussard, sits in the emergency room with the grieving Genevieve. A mother herself, Annie understands the emotional devastation this woman is going through, but as a detective she’s troubled by a story that makes little sense. Who would murder a child and leave the only witness behind?
The B
When the very next day KJ’s sometimes babysitter, twelve-year-old Nora Florette, is reported missing, the town is up in arms, fearing a maniac is preying on their children. With pressure mounting from a tough, no-nonsense new sheriff, the media, and the parents of Bayou Breaux, Nick and Annie dig deep into the dual mysteries. But sifting through Genevieve Gauthier’s tangled web of lovers and sorting through a cast of local lowlifes brings more questions than answers. Is someone from Genevieve’s past or present responsible for the death of her son? Is the missing teenager, Nora, a victim, or something worse? Then everything changes when Genevieve’s past as a convicted criminal comes to light. 

The spotlight falls heavily on the grieving mother who is both victim and accused. Could she have killed her own child to free herself from the burden of motherhood, or is the loss of her beloved boy pushing her to the edge of insanity? Could she have something to do with the disappearance of Nora Florette, or is the troubled teenager the key to the murder? How far will Nick and Annie have to go to uncover the dark truth of the boy?

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41OxwJMYIIL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_ (1).jpgInto the Night by Sarah Bailey

After the shocking murder of a high-profile celebrity, Gemma Woodstock must pull back the layers of a gilded cage to discover who among the victim’s friends and family can be trusted–and who may be the killer.

Troubled and brilliant, Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock finds herself lost and alone after a recent move to Melbourne, brokenhearted by the decisions she’s had to make. Her new workplace is a minefield and Detective Sergeant Nick Fleet, the partner she has been assigned, is uncommunicative and often hostile. When a homeless man is murdered and Gemma is put on the case, she can’t help feeling a connection with the victim and his lonely, isolated existence.

Then Sterling Wade, an up-and-coming actor filming his breakout performance in a closed-off city street, is murdered in the middle of an action-packed shot, and Gemma and Nick have to put aside their differences to unravel the mysteries surrounding the actor’s life and death. Who could commit such a brazen crime? Who stands to profit from it? Far too many people, and none of them can be trusted. Gemma can’t imagine a pair of victims with less in common–and yet as Gemma and Fleet soon learn, both men were keeping secrets that may have led to their deaths.

With riveting suspense, razor-sharp writing, and a fascinating cast of characters, INTO THE NIGHT proves Sarah Bailey is a major new talent to watch in the world of literary crime fiction.

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December 11th

 

The Enemy of my enemyThe Enemy of My Enemy by W.E.B. Griffin 

Special agent James Cronley Jr. finds that fighting both ex-Nazis and the Soviet NKGB can lead to strange bedfellows, in the dramatic new Clandestine Operations novel about the birth of the CIA and the Cold War.

A month ago, Cronley managed to capture two notorious Nazi war criminals, but not without leaving some dead bodies and outraged Austrian police in his wake. He’s been lying low ever since, but that little vacation is about to end. Somebody–Odessa, the NKGB, the Hungarian Secret Police?–has broken the criminals out of jail, and he must track them down again.

But there’s more to it than that. Evidence has surfaced that in the war’s last gasps, Heinrich Himmler had stashed away a fortune to build a secret religion, dedicated both to Himmler and to creating the Fourth Reich. That money is still out there in the hands of Odessa, and that infamous organization seems to have acquired a surprising–and troubling–ally.

Cronley is fast finding out that the phrase “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” can mean a lot of different things, and that it is not always clear which people he can trust and which are out to kill him.

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PandemicPandemic by Robin Cook

New York Times-bestselling author Robin Cook takes on the cutting-edge world of gene-modification in this pulse-pounding new medical thriller.

When an unidentified, seemingly healthy young woman collapses suddenly on the New York City subway and dies upon reaching the hospital, her case is an eerie reminder for veteran medical examiner Jack Stapleton of the 1918 flu pandemic. Fearful of a repeat on the one hundredth anniversary of the nightmarish contagion, Jack autopsies the woman within hours of her demise and discovers some striking anomalies: first, that she has had a heart transplant, and second, that, against all odds, her DNA matches that of the transplanted heart. 

Although the facts don’t add up to influenza, Jack must race against the clock to identify the woman and determine what kind of virus could wreak such havoc–a task made more urgent when two other victims succumb to a similar rapid death. But nothing makes sense until his investigation leads him into the fascinating realm of CRISPR/CAS9, a gene-editing biotechnology that’s captured the imagination of the medical community. . . and the attention of its most unethical members. Drawn into the dark underbelly of the organ transplant market, Jack will come face-to-face with a megalomaniacal businessman willing to risk human lives in order to conquer a lucrative new frontier in medicine–and if Jack’s not careful, the next life lost might be his own.

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December 18th

 

515h076uhfL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgLiar’s Paradox by Taylor Stevens

A master of international intrigue, New York Times bestselling author Taylor Stevens introduces a pair of wild cards into the global spy game—a brother and sister who were raised to deceive—and trained to kill . . .
 
They live in the shadows, Jack and Jill, feuding twins who can never stop running. From earliest memory they’ve been taught to hide, to hunt, to survive. Their prowess is outdone only by Clare, who has always been mentor first and mother second. She trained them in the art of espionage, tested their skills in weaponry, surveillance, and sabotage, and sharpened their minds with nerve-wracking psychological games. As they grew older they came to question her motives, her methods—and her sanity . . . 
 
Now twenty-six years old, the twins are trying to lead normal lives. But when Clare’s off-the-grid safehouse explodes and she goes missing, they’re forced to believe the unthinkable: Their mother’s paranoid delusions have been real all along. To find her, they’ll need to set aside their differences; to survive, they’ll have to draw on every skill she’s trained them to use. A twisted trail leads from the CIA, to the KGB, to an underground network of global assassins where hunters become the hunted. Everyone, it seems, wants them dead—and, for one of the twins, it’s a threat that’s frighteningly familiar and dangerously close to home . . . 
 
Filled with explosive action, suspense, and powerful human drama, Liars’ Paradox is world-class intrigue at its finest.

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519xsroEcLL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgSins as Scarlet by Nicolás Obregón

“A dark, brutal ride through the underbelly of LA.” ―Anthony Horowitz, author of Magpie Murders

In this follow-up to Nicolás Obregon’s critically acclaimed Blue Light Yokohama, Inspector Iwata returns―in a murder case in his new home of Los Angeles.

After a brutal investigation ripped apart his life, Kosuke Iwata quit both his job as a detective with the Tokyo Police Department and his country, leaving Japan for the sunnier shores of Los Angeles, California. But, although he’s determined to leave his past behind, murder still follows him.

Having set up shop as a private investigator, Iwata is approached by someone from his old life. Her daughter has been killed and the case has gone cold. Out of loyalty, Iwata agrees to take on the case and reinvestigate the homicide. However, what seems initially like a cold-blooded but simple murder takes a complex turn when a witness, a vagrant, recalls the killer’s parting words: “I’m sorry.”

From the depths of Skid Row to the fatal expanse of the Sonoran Desert, Iwata tracks the disparate pieces of a mysterious and heartbreaking puzzle. But the more he unearths, the more complex this simple act of murder becomes.

Lives untangle, fates converge, and blood is spilled as Inspector Iwata returns.

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December 26th

 

51x8kbE3nLL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgWatching You by Lisa Jewell

The instant New York Times and #1 Sunday Times bestselling author of the “riveting thriller” (PopSugarThen She Was Gone delivers another suspenseful page-turner about a shocking murder in a picturesque and well-to-do English town, perfect “for fans of Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, and Luckiest Girl Alive” (Library Journal).

Melville Heights is one of the nicest neighborhoods in Bristol, England; home to doctors and lawyers and old-money academics. It’s not the sort of place where people are brutally murdered in their own kitchens. But it is the sort of place where everyone has a secret. And everyone is watching you.

As the headmaster credited with turning around the local school, Tom Fitzwilliam is beloved by one and all—including Joey Mullen, his new neighbor, who quickly develops an intense infatuation with this thoroughly charming yet unavailable man. Joey thinks her crush is a secret, but Tom’s teenaged son Freddie—a prodigy with aspirations of becoming a spy for MI5—excels in observing people and has witnessed Joey behaving strangely around his father.

One of Tom’s students, Jenna Tripp, also lives on the same street, and she’s not convinced her teacher is as squeaky clean as he seems. For one thing, he has taken a particular liking to her best friend and fellow classmate, and Jenna’s mother—whose mental health has admittedly been deteriorating in recent years—is convinced that Mr. Fitzwilliam is stalking her.

Meanwhile, twenty years earlier, a schoolgirl writes in her diary, charting her doomed obsession with a handsome young English teacher named Mr. Fitzwilliam…

In Lisa Jewell’s latest brilliant “bone-chilling suspense” (People) no one is who they seem—and everyone is hiding something. Who has been murdered—and who would have wanted one of their neighbors dead? As “Jewell teases out her twisty plot at just the right pace” (Booklist, starred review), you will be kept guessing until the startling revelation on the very last page.

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December 31st

 

In a house of liesIn A House of Lies by Ian Rankin

A new investigation threatens to unearth skeletons from Rebus’s past in this “must-read” (Tana French) mystery.

Rebus’ retirement is disrupted once again when skeletal remains are identified as a private investigator who went missing over a decade earlier. The remains, found in a rusted car in the East Lothian woods, not far from Edinburgh, quickly turn into a cold case murder investigation. Rebus’ old friend, Siobhan Clarke is assigned to the case, but neither of them could have predicted what buried secrets the investigation will uncover.

Rebus remembers the original case–a shady land deal–all too well. After the investigation stalled, the family of the missing man complained that there was a police cover-up. As Clarke and her team investigate the cold case murder, she soon learns a different side of her mentor, a side he would prefer to keep in the past.

A gripping story of corruption and consequences, this new novel demonstrates that Rankin and Rebus are still at the top of their game.

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Verses the DeadVerses for the Dead by Preston & Child

Preston & Child return with their #1 bestselling series, confronting FBI Special Agent Pendergast with the one challenge he never expected: a partner.

After an overhaul of leadership at the FBI’s New York field office, A. X. L. Pendergast is abruptly forced to accept an unthinkable condition of continued employment: the famously rogue agent must now work with a partner.

Pendergast and his new colleague, junior agent Coldmoon, are assigned to investigate a rash of killings in Miami Beach, where a bloodthirsty psychopath is cutting out the hearts of his victims and leaving them with cryptic handwritten letters at local gravestones. The graves are unconnected save in one bizarre way: all belong to women who committed suicide.

But the seeming lack of connection between the old suicides and the new murders is soon the least of Pendergast’s worries. Because as he digs deeper, he realizes the brutal new crimes may be just the tip of the iceberg: a conspiracy of death that reaches back decades.

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5 comments

  1. Preston and Child been pre-ordered.
    Keep a few titles from your list for next year orders.
    Your newsletter is great,many thanks!

  2. Just finished “TIer One”. Rated it 4 stars,even though it did not have the sense of urgency that I look for in a thriller. Splendid creativity, and fabulous action.

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