While our full 2019 write-up won’t be posted until January 1st, we decided to tease a few forthcoming new releases for readers to mark on their calendars a little early. Keep an eye out for that list, though, as it’s the biggest list we’ve ever compiled, blowing both our 2017 and 2018 previews out of the water. I won’t spoil it and tell you how many thrillers we’ve included, but I promise it’ll be our most comprehensive and complete list yet.
Also on deck is our Top Ten Baddest Dudes list, which as many of our followers know ranks the most lethal characters in fiction based on their actions in the book releases that year. Last year, Mark Greaney’s Court Gentry took the top spot, and before that, Mitch Rapp sat atop the list for two years. Will we have a new top dog in 2018? You’ll find out soon enough, but there is one more thing I can tease: For the first time ever, a first-time character cracked the top five. Check back in about a week to find out who it is!
Also coming in January is a new list we’re excited about that will rank the Top Ten Most Lethal Ladies of the thriller genre. That’s a list readers have been requesting for three years now, so we’re thrilled (pun intended) to finally roll that out and make a new yearly staple of Book Spy coverage.
To recap, there’s a ton of new coverage coming soon. Until then, browse the 2019 preview below!
Hunt Them Down by Simon Gervais
Release Date: January 1st
The dark world he’s been fighting against has caught up with him. Will his daughter pay the price?
Former Army Ranger Pierce Hunt is no stranger to violence. Fresh off a six-month suspension, he’s itching to hit a notorious Mexican drug cartel where it hurts, even if that means protecting crime boss Vicente Garcia, a witness in the case against sadistic cartel leader Valentina Mieles. But things spiral out of control when the cartel murders Garcia and kidnaps his granddaughter and an innocent bystander, Hunt’s own teenage daughter.
Mieles wants the new head of the Garcia family on a plate—literally. Hunt has seventy-two hours to deliver, or Mieles will execute the girls live on social media. With the clock ticking, Hunt goes off the grid and teams up with Garcia’s daughter, a former lover and current enemy. To save the girls, Hunt will have to become a man he swore he’d never be again: an avenging killer without limits or mercy.
Why you should be excited about it: Those who enjoyed Gervais’ previous series will devour this one, which is even better. Pierce Hunt is a great new character and Gervais uses his background in law enforcement to inject realism and authenticity into the plot.
Daughter of War by Brad Taylor
Release Date: January 8th
Former Special Forces Officer and New York Times bestselling author Brad Taylor delivers a heart-pounding thriller featuring Taskforce operators Pike Logan and Jennifer Cahill as they come face to face with a conspiracy where nothing is as it seems.
Hot on the trail of a North Korean looking to sell sensitive US intelligence to the Syrian regime, Pike Logan and the Taskforce stumble upon something much graver: the sale of a lethal substance called Red Mercury.
Unbeknownst to the Taskforce, the Syrians plan to use the weapon of mass destruction against American and Kurdish forces, and blame the attack on terrorists, causing western nations to reassess their participation in the murky cauldron of the Syrian civil war.
Meanwhile, North Korea has its own devastating agenda: a double-cross that will dwarf the attack in Syria even as it lays the blame on the Syrian government. Leveraging Switzerland’s fame for secrecy and its vast network of military bunkers, now repurposed by private investors for the clandestine storage of wealth, North Korea will use Red Mercury to devastate the West’s ability to deliver further sanctions against the rogue regime.
As the Taskforce begins to unravel the plot, a young refugee unwittingly holds the key to the conspiracy. Hunted across Europe for reasons she cannot fathom, she is the one person who can stop the attack–if she can live long enough for Pike and Jennifer to find her.
Why you should be excited about it: Brad Taylor owns the military thriller genre, and it’s not close. Second place is a long ways off and getting further away thanks to Daughter of War, which features some of Taylor’s best writing yet. A lot of authors are trying to incorporate strong female characters into their work, but Taylor’s done it longer than just about anyone, introducing readers to Jennifer Cahill and the fan-favorite Shoshana forever long ago. He continues that trend here, developing a really great new character who steals every scene she’s in.
The New Iberia Blues by James Lee Burke
Release Date: January 8th
The shocking death of a young woman leads Detective Dave Robicheaux into the dark corners of Hollywood, the mafia, and the backwoods of Louisiana in this gripping mystery from “modern master” (Publishers Weekly) James Lee Burke.
Detective Dave Robicheaux’s world isn’t filled with too many happy stories, but Desmond Cormier’s rags-to-riches tale is certainly one of them. Robicheaux first met Cormier on the streets of New Orleans, when the young, undersized boy had foolish dreams of becoming a Hollywood director.
Twenty-five years later, when Robicheaux knocks on Cormier’s door, it isn’t to congratulate him on his Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations. Robicheaux has discovered the body of a young woman who’s been crucified, wearing only a small chain on her ankle. She disappeared near Cormier’s Cyrpemort Point estate, and Robicheaux, along with young deputy, Sean McClain, are looking for answers. Neither Cormier nor his enigmatic actor friend Antoine Butterworth are saying much, but Robicheaux knows better.
As always, Clete Purcel and Davie’s daughter, Alafair, have Robicheaux’s back. Clete witnesses the escape of Texas inmate, Hugo Tillinger, who may hold the key to Robicheaux’s case. As they wade further into the investigation, they end up in the crosshairs of the mob, the deranged Chester Wimple, and the dark ghosts Robicheaux has been running from for years. Ultimately, it’s up to Robicheaux to stop them all, but he’ll have to summon a light he’s never seen or felt to save himself and those he loves.
Why you should be excited about it: James Lee Burke is an American treasure. As solid as they come, Burke has taken his writing to another level with last year’s Robicheaux and now The New Iberia Blues. Last year’s book was deeply personal for Robicheaux, and Burke’s next book follows a similar trend–wrapped around a fantastic mystery.
The Night Agent by Matthew Quirk
Release Date: January 15th
“Plenty of breathless one-more-chapter, stay-up-late suspense wrapped around a meaty and timely story … irresistible.”
— Lee Child
To find a Russian mole in the White House, an FBI agent must question everything. . . and trust no one
To save America from a catastrophic betrayal, an idealistic young FBI agent must stop a Russian mole in the White House in this exhilarating political thriller reminiscent of the early novels of John Grisham and David Baldacci.
No one was more surprised than FBI Agent Peter Sutherland when he’s tapped to work in the White House Situation Room. From his earliest days as a surveillance specialist, Peter has scrupulously done everything by the book, hoping his record will help him escape the taint of his past. When Peter was a boy, his father, a section chief in FBI counterintelligence, was suspected of selling secrets to the Russians—a catastrophic breach that had cost him his career, his reputation, and eventually his life.
Peter knows intimately how one broken rule can cost lives. Nowhere is he more vigilant than in this room, the sanctum of America’s secrets. Staffing the night action desk, his job is monitoring an emergency line for a call that has not—and might never—come.
At 1:05 a.m. the phone rings. A terrified young woman named Rose tells Peter that her aunt and uncle have just been murdered and that the killer is still in the house with her. Before their deaths, they gave her this phone number with urgent instructions: “Tell them OSPREY was right. It’s happening. . . “
The call thrusts Peter into the heart of a conspiracy years in the making, involving a Russian mole at the highest levels of the government. Anyone in the White House could be the traitor. Anyone could be corrupted. To save the nation, Peter must take the rules into his own hands and do the right thing, no matter the cost. He plunges into a desperate hunt for the traitor—a treacherous odyssey that pits him and Rose against some of Russia’s most skilled and ruthless operatives and the full force of the FBI itself.
Peter knows that the wider a secret is broadcast, the more dangerous it gets for the people at the center. With the fate of the country on the line, he and Rose must evade seasoned assassins and maneuver past jolting betrayals to find the shocking truth—and stop the threat from inside before it’s too late.
Why you should be excited about it: Of all the books on this list, Quirk’s is one of my very favorites. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect when starting this one, or even what the story was about. After the first few pages, I was hooked and found myself racing through the story, completely enthralled by the conspiracy unfolding on each page. Picture a modern John le Carre writing an episode of The West Wing . . . this one’s not to be missed.
Tear it Down by Nick Petrie
Release Date: January 15th
In the new edge-of-your-seat adventure from national bestselling author Nick Petrie, Peter Ash pursues one case–and stumbles into another–in the City of the Blues.
Iraq war veteran Peter Ash is restless in the home he shares with June Cassidy in Washington State. June knows Peter needs to be on the move, so she sends him to Memphis to help her friend Wanda Wyatt, a photographer and war correspondent who’s been receiving peculiar threats. When Peter arrives in Memphis, however, he finds the situation has gone downhill fast–someone has just driven a dump truck into Wanda’s living room. But neither Wanda nor Peter can figure out why.
At the same time, a young homeless street musician finds himself roped into a plan to rob a jewelry store. The heist doesn’t go as planned, and the young man finds himself holding a sack full of Rolexes and running for his life. When his getaway car breaks down, he steals a new one at gunpoint–Peter’s 1968 green Chevrolet pickup truck.
Peter likes the skinny kid’s smarts and attitude, but he soon discovers that the desperate musician is in far worse trouble than he knows. And Wanda’s troubles are only beginning. Peter finds himself stuck between Memphis gangsters–looking for Rolexes and revenge–and a Mississippi ex-con and his hog-butcher brother looking for a valuable piece of family history that goes all the way back to the Civil War.
Why you should be excited about it: Lots of writers want to be the next Lee Child . . . Nick Petrie’s the only one with a chance. His Peter Ash series is phenomenal, and though it’s hard to pick a favorite, I think this is his best work yet.
Crucible by James Rollins
Release Date: January 22nd
In the race to save one of their own, Sigma Force must wrestle with the deepest spiritual mysteries of mankind in this mind-expanding adventure from the #1 New York Times bestselling author, told with his trademark blend of cutting edge science, historical mystery, and pulse-pounding action.
Arriving home on Christmas Eve, Commander Gray Pierce discovers his house ransacked, his pregnant lover missing, and his best friend’s wife, Kat, unconscious on the kitchen floor. With no shred of evidence to follow, his one hope to find the woman he loves and his unborn child is Kat, the only witness to what happened. But the injured woman is in a semi-comatose state and cannot speak—until a brilliant neurologist offers a radical approach to “unlock” her mind long enough to ask a few questions.
What Pierce learns from Kat sets Sigma Force on a frantic quest for answers that are connected to mysteries reaching back to the Spanish Inquisition and to one of the most reviled and blood-soaked books in human history—a Medieval text known as the Malleus Maleficarum, the Hammer of Witches. What they uncover hidden deep in the past will reveal a frightening truth in the present and a future on the brink of annihilation, and force them to confront the ultimate question: What does it mean to have a soul?
Why you should be excited about it: Rollins always brings his A-game, but he’s definitely had his ups and downs–though his downs are never very low. If we’re being honest, his worst books are better than most authors’ best books, and he’s been on a bit of a hot streak the past two years. Still, nothing he’s ever written is quite like this, and readers will see why soon enough. Crucible is the best Sigma Force book yet.
Judgment by Joseph Finder
Release Date: January 29th
New York Times bestselling author Joseph Finder returns with an explosive new thriller about a female judge and the one personal misstep that could lead to her–and her family’s–downfall.
It was nothing more than a one-night stand. Juliana Brody, a judge in the Superior Court of Massachusetts, is rumored to be in consideration for the federal circuit, maybe someday the highest court in the land. At a conference in a Chicago hotel, she meets a gentle, vulnerable man and has an unforgettable night with him—something she’d never done before. They part with an explicit understanding that this must never happen again.
But back home in Boston, Juliana realizes that this was no random encounter. The man from Chicago proves to have an integral role in a case she’s presiding over–a sex-discrimination case that’s received national attention. Juliana discovers that she’s been entrapped, her night of infidelity captured on video. Strings are being pulled in high places, a terrifying unfolding conspiracy that will turn her life upside down. But soon it becomes clear that personal humiliation, even the possible destruction of her career, are the least of her concerns, as her own life and the lives of her family are put in mortal jeopardy.
In the end, turning the tables on her adversaries will require her to be as ruthless as they are.
Why you should be excited about it: Judgement is as impressive as anything Finder has ever written for one reason: even though the protagonist is essentially at fault for all the bad stuff happening to her, Finder manages to make her relatable in a way that readers will still root for her to beat the odds–which, by the way, are stacked firmly against her. Joe Finder can bring the suspense better than just about anyone, and he serves up a heaping dose of it here.
Out of the Dark by Gregg Hurwitz
Release Date: January 29th
“A shocking stunner in every way. The perfect thriller.” ―Robert Crais
When darkness closes in―he’s your last, best hope. Evan Smoak returns in Gregg Hurwitz’s #1 international bestselling Orphan X series.
Taken from a group home at age twelve, Evan Smoak was raised and trained as part of the Orphan Program, an off-the-books operation designed to create deniable intelligence assets―i.e. assassins. Evan was Orphan X. He broke with the Program, using everything he learned to disappear and reinvent himself as the Nowhere Man, a man who helps the truly desperate when no one else can. But now Evan’s past is catching up to him.
Someone at the very highest level of government has been trying to eliminate every trace of the Orphan Program by killing all the remaining Orphans and their trainers. After Evan’s mentor and the only father he ever knew was killed, he decided to strike back. His target is the man who started the Program and who is now the most heavily guarded person in the world: the President of the United States.
But President Bennett knows that Orphan X is after him and, using weapons of his own, he’s decided to counter-attack. Bennett activates the one man who has the skills and experience to track down and take out Orphan X―the first recruit of the Program, Orphan A.
With Evan devoting all his skills, resources, and intelligence to find a way through the layers of security that surround the President, suddenly he also has to protect himself against the deadliest of opponents. It’s Orphan vs. Orphan with the future of the country―even the world―on the line.
Why you should be excited about it: Gregg Hurwitz is an absolute genius. Since launching his Orphan X series, he’s dazzled readers with three action-packed books, all the while keeping readers in the dark as to his master plan. Now, he whips the curtain back with thundering force, revealing a shocking conspiracy that makes one thing clear. Everything that’s happened over the last three books has been leading to this . . . and he delivers in a big way. Out of the Dark has serious best thriller of the year potential.
Mission Critical by Mark Greaney
Release Date: February 19th
From Mark Greaney, the New York Times bestselling author of Gunmetal Gray and a co-author of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan novels, comes a high-stakes thriller featuring the world’s most dangerous assassin: the Gray Man.
Court Gentry’s flight on a CIA transport plane is interrupted when a security team brings a hooded man aboard. They want to kick Gentry off the flight but are overruled by CIA headquarters. The mystery man is being transported to England where a joint CIA/MI6 team will interrogate him about a mole in Langley.
When they land in an isolated airbase in the U.K., they are attacked by a hostile force who kidnaps the prisoner. Only Gentry escapes. His handlers send him after the attackers, but what can one operative do against a trained team of assassins? A lot, when that operative is the Gray Man.
Why you should be excited about it: Last year I said that with so many other heroes in the genre now 15 books or more into their respective series, Court Gentry represented the future of the genre. This year, I stand by that more than ever. Before 2019, Back Blast was my favorite Gray Man novel. Now, it’s a tie between that one and Mission Critical, which starts fast and never lets up for a second.
Never Tell by Lisa Gardner
Release Date: February 19th
#1 New York Times bestseller Lisa Gardner returns with an unpredictable thriller that puts fan favorites D. D. Warren and Flora Dane on a shocking new case that begins with a vicious murder and gets darker from there.
A man is dead, shot three times in his home office. But his computer has been shot twelve times, and when the cops arrive, his pregnant wife is holding the gun.
D. D. Warren arrives on the scene and recognizes the woman–Evie Carter–from a case many years back. Evie’s father was killed in a shooting that was ruled an accident. But for D.D., two coincidental murders is too many.
Flora Dane sees the murder of Conrad Carter on the TV news and immediately knows his face. She remembers a night when she was still a victim–a hostage–and her captor knew this man. Overcome with guilt that she never tracked him down, Flora is now determined to learn the truth of Conrad’s murder.
But D.D. and Flora are about to discover that in this case the truth is a devilishly elusive thing. As layer by layer they peel away the half-truths and outright lies, they wonder: How many secrets can one family have?
Why you should be excited about it: Coming into 2018, fans were thrilled to see Flora Dane teaming up with D.D. Warren. It was a brilliant move by Gardner, and her characters definitely have chemistry on the page. Now, both are back in Never Tell, the latest nail-biter from Gardner, who knows just what her readers want and how to give it to them.
The Border by Don Winslow
Release Date: February 19th
The explosive, highly anticipated conclusion to the epic Cartel trilogy from the New York Times bestselling author of The Force
What do you do when there are no borders? When the lines you thought existed simply vanish? How do you plant your feet to make a stand when you no longer know what side you’re on?
The war has come home.
For over forty years, Art Keller has been on the front lines of America’s longest conflict: The War on Drugs. His obsession to defeat the world’s most powerful, wealthy, and lethal kingpin―the godfather of the Sinaloa Cartel, Adán Barrera―has left him bloody and scarred, cost him the people he loves, even taken a piece of his soul.
Now Keller is elevated to the highest ranks of the DEA, only to find that in destroying one monster he has created thirty more that are wreaking even more chaos and suffering in his beloved Mexico. But not just there.
Barrera’s final legacy is the heroin epidemic scourging America. Throwing himself into the gap to stem the deadly flow, Keller finds himself surrounded by enemies―men who want to kill him, politicians who want to destroy him, and worse, the unimaginable―an incoming administration that’s in bed with the very drug traffickers that Keller is trying to bring down.
Art Keller is at war with not only the cartels, but with his own government. And the long fight has taught him more than he ever imagined. Now, he learns the final lesson―there are no borders.
In a story that moves from deserts south of the border to Wall Street, from the slums of Guatemala to the marbled corridors of Washington, D.C., Winslow follows a new generation of narcos, the cops who fight them, the street traffickers, the addicts, the politicians, money-launderers, real-estate moguls, and mere children fleeing the violence for the chance of a life in a new country.
A shattering tale of vengeance, violence, corruption and justice, this last novel in Don Winslow’s magnificent, award-winning, internationally bestselling trilogy is packed with unforgettable, drawn-from-the-headlines scenes. Shocking in its brutality, raw in its humanity, The Border is an unflinching portrait of modern America, a story of—and for—our time.
Why you should be excited about it: If I could spotlight just one title on this list, it would be Winslow’s. After scoring the first (and only) perfect 10/10 rating I’ve ever handed out for The Force in 2017, Winslow is now gearing up to bring his critically acclaimed Cartel trilogy to an end with The Border. This saga is unlike anything else in print right now, and Winslow is the only writer with the chops to pull off such an ambitious story. If you read only one book in 2019, it should probably be this one.
The Malta Exchange by Steve Berry
Release Date: March 5th
The next in New York Times top 5 bestseller Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone series involves the Knights of Malta, papal conclave, and lost documents that could change history.
A deadly race for the Vatican’s oldest secret fuels New York Times bestseller Steve Berry’s latest international Cotton Malone thriller.
The pope is dead. A conclave to select his replacement is about to begin. Cardinals are beginning to arrive at the Vatican, but one has fled Rome for Malta in search of a document that dates back to the 4th century and Constantine the Great.
Former Justice Department operative, Cotton Malone, is at Lake Como, Italy, on the trail of legendary letters between Winston Churchill and Benito Mussolini that disappeared in 1945 and could re-write history. But someone else seems to be after the same letters and, when Malone obtains then loses them, he’s plunged into a hunt that draws the attention of the legendary Knights of Malta.
The knights have existed for over nine hundred years, the only warrior-monks to survive into modern times. Now they are a global humanitarian organization, but within their ranks lurks trouble ― the Secreti ― an ancient sect intent on affecting the coming papal conclave. With the help of Magellan Billet agent Luke Daniels, Malone races the rogue cardinal, the knights, the Secreti, and the clock to find what has been lost for centuries. The final confrontation culminates behind the walls of the Vatican where the election of the next pope hangs in the balance.
Why you should be excited about it: In 2018, fans were excited to go back in time and read Cotton Malone’s origin story in The Bishop’s Pawn. However, the timing was awful, as Berry’s previous book, The Lost Order, quickly became one of the best-reviewed novels of his career. That really was no fault of his own, as writers are always working on a book a year ahead of its publication, but the unfortunate timeline may have contributed to a lukewarm reception for Cotton’s first mission and the story behind it. Now, though, Berry is back in the here and now, picking up more or less where Order left off, following another secret society. This is what his fans expect, and he crushed it.
Wolf Pack by C.J. Box
Release Date: March 12th
Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett encounters bad behavior on his own turf–only to have the FBI and the DOJ ask him to stand down–in the thrilling new novel from #1 New York Times-bestselling author C.J. Box.
The good news is that Joe Pickett has his job back, after his last adventure in The Disappeared. The bad news is that he’s come to learn that a drone is killing wildlife–and the drone belongs to a mysterious and wealthy man whose son is dating Joe’s own daughter, Lucy.
When Joe tries to lay down the rules for the drone operator, he’s asked by the FBI and the DOJ to stand down, which only makes him more suspicious. Meanwhile, bodies are piling up in and around Joe’s district in shocking numbers. He begins to fear that a pack of four vicious killers working on behalf of the Sinaloa cartel known as the Wolf Pack has arrived. Their target seems to be the mystery man and everyone–including Joe, Nate, and others–who is associated with him.
Teaming up with a female game warden (based on a real person, one of the few female game wardens at work in Wyoming today) to confront these assassins, Joe finds himself in the most violent and dangerous predicament he’s ever faced.
Why you should be excited about it: There are a few new things here–the Picketts have a new house, Joe is learning about Bluetooth, and there’s even a Kanye West reference–and yet much is the same. Following Joe, Marybeth, Nate Romanowski, and others is similar to catching up with old friends and always a blast. With Box, readers know what to expect, even if it’s the unexpected . . . and he pulls out all the stops for Wolf Pack, his most relentless story yet.
The Persian Gamble by Joel C. Rosenberg
Release Date: March 12th
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Kremlin Conspiracy comes this latest international thriller about a terrifying nuclear alliance among three world powers―Russia, Iran, and North Korea―and the man who must halt their deadly strategy.
Shot out of the air in enemy territory in the middle of the greatest international crisis since the end of the Cold War, former U.S. Secret Service agent Marcus Ryker finds himself facing an impossible task. Not only does he have to somehow elude detection and capture by Russian special forces, but he must convince his own government to grant safe harbor to the one man responsible for the global mayhem―Russian double agent and assassin Oleg Kraskin. While frantically negotiating with his contacts in the White House, Marcus learns that the unstable North Korean regime plans to use the international chaos as a smokescreen to sell nuclear weapons to Iran. With the fate of the entire free world on the line, Marcus makes a deal with the U.S. government―he will go back to work as an international operative and track down the WMDs before they end up in the hands of those with the determination and the means to use them. Marcus and Oleg worked together once before to avert a world war. Can they now find a way to stop world destruction?
Why you should be excited about it: Following the most jaw-dropping ending of his career in 2017 (Without Warning), Rosenberg kicked off a new series in 2018 with The Kremlin Conspiracy. Now, he’s set to deliver the sequel, which continues the massive showdown between the United States and Russia in classic heart-pounding Rosenberg fashion. I read this book back in October and was absolutely blown away. Trust me, you will be too.
Run Away by Harlan Coben
Release Date: March 19th
A perfect family is shattered in RUN AWAY, the new thriller from the master of domestic suspense, Harlan Coben.
You’ve lost your daughter.
She’s addicted to drugs and to an abusive boyfriend. And she’s made it clear that she doesn’t want to be found.
Then, by chance, you see her playing guitar in Central Park. But she’s not the girl you remember. This woman is living on the edge, frightened, and clearly in trouble.
You don’t stop to think. You approach her, beg her to come home.
And you do the only thing a parent can do: you follow her into a dark and dangerous world you never knew existed. Before you know it, both your family and your life are on the line. And in order to protect your daughter from the evils of that world, you must face them head on.
Why you should be excited about it: The king of suspense is back, as Harlan Coben delivers another spine-tingling plot that examines every parent’s worst nightmare, capped off with a killer twist. After not releasing a book in 2018, Coben reminds everyone why he’s still the gold standard when it comes to suspense thrillers with this one.
Treason by Rick Campbell
Release Date: March 19th
In Rick Campbell’s newest thriller, a military coup in Russia leads to a swift invasion of former Soviet territories―while the U.S. has been rendered powerless to respond.
In Russia, the military is anxious to assert its military strength and regain its role as a superpower. The Russian President refuses to greenlight a bold plan to disable American strategic nuclear capability and retake Ukraine and the Baltic States, fearing the potential consequences of involving nuclear weapons. But the generals won’t have it and at the first opportunity, they overthrow the president in a military coup. Then they use a narrow window to initiate their bold plan―the Zolotov option―which will render all of America’s B2 bombers and ballistic missiles useless. With the U.S. off the board, they swiftly invade Ukraine with an overwhelming force, an invading Army that even NATO can’t hope to resist.
Now, it’s game on. Without their primary weapons, the U.S. has to find a way to fight back on multiple fronts. If they’re to have any chance, they’ll have to overcome the malware that has grounded their ballistic missiles and planes, as well as secretly land a SEAL team to help rescue the imprisoned Russian President, and help retake control from the forces that are driving Europe into a continental war.
Rick Campbell, one of the finest young military thriller writers, returns with his biggest and boldest novel to date.
Why you should be excited about it: Campbell took 2018 off, forcing readers to wait nearly two years between books. Thankfully, Treason is worth the wait, as this is Campbell’s strongest showing yet. There’s a reason why he’s been compared to Clancy and Larry Bond, and he flashes that talent again here. His series still doesn’t have a bona fide protagonist, and while I still wish he’d go that route, the formula he’s deployed in past books works much better in this one.
True Believer by Jack Carr
Release Date: April 2nd
In acclaimed author Jack Carr’s follow-up to The Terminal List, former Navy SEAL James Reece’s skill, cunning, and heroism put the US government back in his debt and set him on another path of revenge.
When a string of horrific terrorist attacks plagues the Western world during the holiday season, the broader markets fall into a tailspin. The attacks are being coordinated by a shadowy former Iraqi commando who has disappeared into Europe’s underground. The United States government has an asset who can turn the Iraqi against his masters: James Reece, the most-wanted domestic terrorist alive.
After avenging the deaths of his family and team members, Reece emerges deep in the wilds of Mozambique, protected by the family of his estranged best friend and former SEAL Team member. When a series of events uncovers his whereabouts, the CIA recruits him, using a Presidential pardon for Reece and immunity for the friends who helped him in his mission of vengeance.
Now a reluctant tool of the United States government, Reece travels the globe, targeting terrorist leaders and unraveling a geopolitical conspiracy that exposes a traitorous CIA officer and uncovers a sinister assassination plot with worldwide repercussions.
A high-intensity roller-coaster ride, True Believer explodes with action and authenticity that cements Jack Carr as the new leader in political thrillers.
Why you should be excited about it: You’d be hard-pressed to find a more hyped debut thriller novelist of the last decade than Jack Carr, who has already drawn comparisons to Vince Flynn and Brad Thor. Judging by The Terminal List, Carr sure looks like the real deal, and his second novel is one of the most anticipated action thrillers of the year.
Someone Knows by Lisa Scottoline
Release Date: April 9th
Bestselling and award-winning author Lisa Scottoline reaches new heights with this riveting novel about how a single decision can undo a family, how our past can derail our present, and how not guilty doesn’t always mean innocent.
Allie Garvey is heading home to the funeral of a childhood friend. Allie is not only grief-stricken, she’s full of dread. Because going home means seeing the other two people with whom she shares an unbearable secret.
Twenty years earlier, a horrific incident shattered the lives of five teenagers, including Allie. Drinking and partying in the woods, they played a dangerous prank that went tragically wrong, turning deadly. The teenagers kept what happened a secret, believing that getting caught would be the worst thing that could happen. But time has taught Allie otherwise. Not getting caught was far worse.
Allie has been haunted for two decades by what she and the others did, and by the fact that she never told a soul. The dark secret has eaten away at her, distancing her from everyone she loves, including her husband. Because she wasn’t punished by the law, Allie has punished herself, and it’s a life sentence.
Now, Allie stands on the precipice of losing everything. She’s ready for a reckoning, determined to learn how the prank went so horribly wrong. She digs to unearth the truth, but reaches a shocking conclusion that she never saw coming–and neither will the reader.
A deeply emotional examination of family, marriage, and the true nature of justice, Someone Knows is Lisa Scottoline’s most powerful novel to date. Startling, page-turning, and with an ending that’s impossible to forget, this is a tour de force by a beloved author at the top of her game.
Why you should be excited about it: Lisa Scottoline is as good as they come and, after switching publishers in 2018 (a deal we reported), she’s set to release her first book with Penguin. After Anna and Feared were both major hits in 2017, and readers have every reason to be ecstatic for Someone Knows, one of the first must-read suspense thrillers coming out in 2019.
Metropolis by Philip Kerr
Release Date: April 9th
New York Times-bestselling author Philip Kerr treats readers to his beloved hero’s origins, exploring Bernie Gunther’s first weeks on Berlin’s Murder Squad.
A portrait of Bernie Gunther in his twenties: He’s young, but he’s seen four bloody years of trench warfare. And he’s not stupid. So when he receives a promotion and a ticket out of Vice squad, he knows he’s not really leaving behind the criminal gangs, the perverse sex clubs, and the laundry list of human corruption. It’s 1928 and Berlin is a city on the edge of chaos, where nothing is truly verboten. But soon a new wave of shockingly violent murders sweeps up society’s most vulnerable, prostitutes and wounded ex-soldiers begging on the streets.
As Bernie Gunther sets out to make sense of multiple murders with different MOs in a city that knows no limits, he must face the fact that his own police HQ is not immune. The Nazi party has begun to inflitrate the Alex, Berlin’s central office, just as the shakey Weimar government makes a last, desperate attempt to control a nation edging toward to the Third Reich.
It seems like the only escape for most Berliners is the theater and Bernie’s no exception. As he gets deeper into the city’s sordid underground network, he seeks comfort with a make-up artist who is every bit a match for his quick wit and increasingly sardonic view of the world. But even this space can’t remain untouched, not with this pervasive feeling that everything is for sale in Berlin if you’re man enough to kill for it.
Why you should be excited about it: Sadly, the legendary Philip Kerr passed away in 2018, may he rest in peace. Thankfully, he’d completed his next novel, which will now come out in April. So Bernie Gunther will return one final time, unless Kerr’s estate commissions another writer to continue the series. Without giving anything away, the last book did seem to set some things up for Metropolis, so fans of the series will want to get this one pre-ordered ASAP. Just don’t forget to read it slowly and savor it once it finally arrives.
The Last by Hanna Jameson
Release Date: April 9th
For fans of high-concept thrillers such as Annihilation and The Girl with All the Gifts, this breathtaking dystopian psychological thriller follows an American academic stranded at a Swiss hotel as the world descends into nuclear war—along with twenty other survivors—who becomes obsessed with identifying a murderer in their midst after the body of a young girl is discovered in one of the hotel’s water tanks.
Jon thought he had all the time in the world to respond to his wife’s text message: I miss you so much. I feel bad about how we left it. Love you. But as he’s waiting in the lobby of the L’Hotel Sixieme in Switzerland after an academic conference, still mulling over how to respond to his wife, he receives a string of horrifying push notifications. Washington, DC has been hit with a nuclear bomb, then New York, then London, and finally Berlin. That’s all he knows before news outlets and social media goes black—and before the clouds on the horizon turn orange.
Now, two months later, there are twenty survivors holed up at the hotel, a place already tainted by its strange history of suicides and murders. Those who can’t bear to stay commit suicide or wander off into the woods. Jon and the others try to maintain some semblance of civilization. But when the water pressure disappears, and Jon and a crew of survivors investigate the hotel’s water tanks, they are shocked to discover the body of a young girl.
As supplies dwindle and tensions rise, Jon becomes obsessed with investigating the death of the little girl as a way to cling to his own humanity. Yet the real question remains: can he afford to lose his mind in this hotel, or should he take his chances in the outside world?
Why you should be excited about it: Jameson’s The Last has sleeper hit written all over it and should be well received by fans of the hit TV show Lost. It has a lot of similarities, in fact, to Lost, though it’s certainly no copycat. With plenty of twists throughout, Hanna Jameson will leave readers genuinely surprised by the time they turn the final page here. It’s a little outside the normal thriller zone, but it’s also super addictive.
The Better Sister by Alafair Burke
Release Date: April 16th
From Alafair Burke—New York Times bestselling author of the runaway hit, The Wife—comes another twisty tale of domestic noir. When a prominent Manhattan lawyer is murdered, two estranged sisters—one the dead man’s widow, the other his ex—must set aside mistrust and old resentments . . . but can they escape their past?
Though Chloe was the younger of the two Taylor sisters, she always seemed to be in charge. She was the honor roll student with big dreams and an even bigger work ethic. Nicky was always restless . . . and more than a little reckless—the opposite of her ambitious little sister. She floated from job to job and man to man, and stayed close to home in Cleveland.
For a while, it seemed like both sisters had found happiness. Chloe earned a scholarship to an Ivy League school and moved to New York City, where she landed a coveted publishing job. Nicky married promising young attorney Adam Macintosh, and gave birth to a baby boy they named Ethan. The Taylor sisters became virtual strangers.
Now, more than fifteen years later, their lives are drastically different—and Chloe is married to Adam. When he’s murdered by an intruder at the couple’s East Hampton beach house, Chloe reluctantly allows her teenaged stepson’s biological mother—her estranged sister, Nicky—back into her life. But when the police begin to treat Ethan as a suspect in his father’s death, the two sisters are forced to unite . . . and to confront the truth behind family secrets they have tried to bury in the past.
Why you should be excited about it: Alafair Burke reached new heights last year with her critically acclaimed thriller, The Wife. Now, all eyes are on her as she prepares to release her highly anticipated next book, The Better Sister, which sounds every bit as twisty and turny as last year’s offering. A solid writer who’s shown off her strong prose and ability to develop characters over the years, this should be at the top of anyone’s list looking for the next great domestic thriller.
Rogue Strike by David Ricciardi
Release Date: June 4th
Jake Keller finds himself in a familiar position—on the run for his life and desperate to find the shadowy figures behind a global conspiracy.
CIA agent Jake Keller and his partner, Curt Roach, are in Yemen on an important mission. They’ve been tipped off to a secret meeting of top al Qaeda leaders. The plan is to interrupt the meeting with a few unexpected visitors—a pair of Hellfire missiles from an orbiting drone. But the drone stops responding to their signals and soon disappears over the horizon. When next seen, the drone is attacking innocent pilgrims in Mecca.
Jake and Curt are staggered. The U.S. government is desperate to disavow this atrocity. Who better to blame than a couple of rogue CIA agents? With all the governments of the Middle East looking for them and no help from their own side, they are in a desperate race to stay ahead of the mob and find out who’s actually behind the crime.
Why you should be excited about it: Not since the early days of Tom Clancy has an author taken a young, inexperienced CIA analyst and dropped them into the field with such page-turning results. David Ricciardi, like Jack Carr, has star potential moving forward.
A Dangerous Man by Robert Crais
Release Date: June 18th
A brilliant new crime novel from the beloved, bestselling, and award-winning master of the genre–and Joe Pike’s most perilous case to date.
Joe Pike didn’t expect to rescue a woman that day. He went to the bank same as anyone goes to the bank, and returned to his Jeep. So when Isabel Roland, the lonely young teller who helped him, steps out of the bank on her way to lunch, Joe is on hand when two men abduct her. Joe chases them down, and the two men are arrested. But instead of putting the drama to rest, the arrests are only the beginning of the trouble for Joe and Izzy.
After posting bail, the two abductors are murdered and Izzy disappears. Pike calls on his friend, Elvis Cole, to help learn the truth. What Elvis uncovers is a twisted family story that involves corporate whistleblowing, huge amounts of cash, the Witness Relocation Program, and a long line of lies. But what of all that did Izzy know? Is she a perpetrator or a victim? And how far will Joe go to find out?
Why you should be excited about it: In early 2018, during a Q&A with Robert Crais, he told me that his next book would follow Joe Pike more than Elvis Cole, which we now know is, in fact, the case. Pike is the lead here, which gives readers plenty of reasons to be excited when considering that past Joe-driven books (such as The Watchman) have been among Crais’ most popular books.
The Russian by Ben Coes
Release Date: July 30th
As the brutal Russian mafia becomes the most powerful and deadly criminal enterprise in the country, the U.S. has a new hero, Rob Tacoma, in New York Times bestseller Ben Coes’s new series.
After the break-up of the Soviet Union, some of the most hardened and capable criminals came to the United States. Over the past two decades, they have created a vicious and fearless underworld, breathtaking in its violence, disturbing in its efficiency, and destructive to society at large. With conventional law enforcement methods unable to stem the tide, the President issues top secret Executive Order 12-4b3 creating a small, deadly team to take on this fight behind the scenes―a kill team.
The head of the CIA’s Special Operations Group, Bo Coll, is picked to head this group and he, in turn, asks Rob Tacoma to be his deputy. Rob Tacoma―former Navy SEAL and former CIA agent―has a special reason to agree. Tacoma was raised by his grandparents after his own parents were killed by the Russian mafia. But before Tacoma can even start, Bo Coll is found murdered in his own home, as a warning from the Russian mafia itself. Now Tacoma is in charge of the team and they have their first mission, to achieve the near-impossible: find and neutralize the mob boss behind Bo Coll’s death. To do so means taking on practically an army in a battle where there are no rules and no limits.
Branching off from his bestselling Dewey Andreas novels, this is the first in a brand new series from thriller writer Ben Coes.
Why you should be excited about it: Ben Coes is currently in the middle of an unprecedented hot streak not seen since Vince Flynn was in his prime. Now, though, after writing about Rob Tacoma alongside his main series protagonist Dewey Andreas, Tacoma is getting his own book. A planned first in the series, Coes’ The Russian instantly becomes the most anticipated series launch in 2019.
Game of Snipers by Stephen Hunter
Release Date: July 30th
In this blazing new thriller from Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Hunter, master sniper Bob Lee Swagger takes on his biggest job to date…and confronts an assassin with skills that match his own.
When Bob Lee Swagger is approached by a woman who lost a son to war and has spent the years since risking all that she has to find the sniper who pulled the trigger, he knows right away he’ll do everything in his power to help her. But what begins as a favor becomes an obsession, and soon Swagger is back in the action, teaming up with the Mossad, the FBI, and local American law enforcement, as he tracks a sniper who is his own equal…and attempts to decipher that assassin’s ultimate target before it’s too late.
Why you should be excited about it: Honestly, does anyone really need a reason to be excited about Hunter’s next book? Bob Lee Swagger is a legendary character, and any concerns that he was running out of steam were put to rest with Hunter’s G-Man, which came out in early 2018. Bonus, this might be Hunter’s best title yet, especially if the plot matches.