The Real Book Spy’s January 2019 Reading Guide

Happy New Year, thriller fans!

Thanks to a star-studded month of nonstop major releases, 2019 kicks off with a bang, including must-read titles from some of the most famous authors in the genre today. Browse our January reading guide below and, for more coverage, see our complete 2019 Guide, which has over 120 titles set to hit bookstores in the coming months.

Happy reading!


Tuesday, January 1st

 

Hunt Them DownHunt Them Down by Simon Gervais

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.

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The Killer COllectiveThe Killer Collective by Barry Eisler

A fast-paced, page-turning novel of betrayal, vengeance, and depraved secrets in high places from the New York Times bestselling author of the John Rain and Livia Lone series.

When a joint FBI–Seattle Police investigation of an international child pornography ring gets too close to certain powerful people, sex-crimes detective Livia Lone becomes the target of a hit that barely goes awry—a hit that had been offered to John Rain, a retired specialist in “natural causes.”

Suspecting the FBI itself was behind the attack, Livia reaches out to former Marine sniper Dox. Together, they assemble an ad hoc group to identify and neutralize the threat. There’s Rain. Rain’s estranged lover, Mossad agent and honeytrap specialist Delilah. And black ops soldiers Ben Treven and Daniel Larison, along with their former commander, SpecOps legend Colonel Scot “Hort” Horton.

Moving from Japan to Seattle to DC to Paris, the group fights a series of interlocking conspiracies, each edging closer and closer to the highest levels of the US government.

With uncertain loyalties, conflicting agendas, and smoldering romantic entanglements, these operators will have a hard time forming a team. But in a match as uneven as this one, a collective of killers might be even better.

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Tuesday, January 8th

 

Daughter of War smallDaughter of War by Brad Taylor (Featured Selection)

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.

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The New Iberia BluesThe New Iberia Blues by James Lee Burke

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.

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First kill all the lawyersFirst Kill the Lawyers by David Housewright

P.I. Holland Taylor returns in David Housewright’s Edgar Award-winning series with First, Kill the Lawyers, where Taylor is hired to recover stolen files before they are leaked, ruining more than just the careers of five local lawyers.

Five prominent attorneys in Minneapolis have had their computer systems hacked and very sensitive case files stolen. Those attorneys are then contacted by an association of local whistleblowers known as NIMN and are quietly alerted that they have received those documents from an anonymous source. If those files are released, then not only will those lawyers be ruined, but it might even destroy the integrity of the entire Minnesota legal system. This group of lawyers turns to Private Investigator Holland Taylor with a simple directive: stop the disclosure any way you can.

But while the directive is simple, the case is not. To find the missing files and the person responsible, Holland must first dive into the five cases covered in the files―divorce, bribery, class action, rape, and murder. While Taylor is untangling the associates and connections between the cases and families affected, things take another mysterious turn and the time before the files are released is running out. As the situation becomes more threatening, Holland Taylor is trapped in the middle of what is legal and what is ethical―between right, wrong, and deadly.

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The first conspiracyThe First Conspiracy by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch

Taking place during the most critical period of our nation’s birth, The First Conspiracy tells a remarkable and previously untold piece of American history that not only reveals George Washington’s character, but also illuminates the origins of America’s counterintelligence movement that led to the modern day CIA.

In 1776, an elite group of soldiers were handpicked to serve as George Washington’s bodyguards. Washington trusted them; relied on them. But unbeknownst to Washington, some of them were part of a treasonous plan. In the months leading up to the Revolutionary War, these traitorous soldiers, along with the Governor of New York, William Tryon, and Mayor David Mathews, launched a deadly plot against the most important member of the military: George Washington himself.

This is the story of the secret plot and how it was revealed. It is a story of leaders, liars, counterfeiters, and jailhouse confessors. It also shows just how hard the battle was for George Washington and how close America was to losing the Revolutionary War.

In this historical page-turner, New York Times bestselling author Brad Meltzer teams up with American history writer and documentary television producer, Josh Mensch to unravel the shocking true story behind what has previously been a footnote in the pages of history. Drawing on extensive research, Meltzer and Mensch capture in riveting detail how George Washington not only defeated the most powerful military force in the world, but also uncovered the secret plot against him in the tumultuous days leading up to July 4, 1776.

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Tuesday, January 15th 

 

The Night Agent smallThe Night Agent by Matthew Quirk (Featured Selection)

“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.

Until tonight.

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.

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Tear it downTear it Down by Nick Petrie

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.

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Code Name LiseCode Name: Lise by Larry Loftis (Featured Selection)

From internationally bestselling author of the “gripping” (Michael Connelly, #1 New York Times bestselling author) Into the Lion’s Mouth comes the extraordinary true story of Odette Sansom, the British spy who operated in occupied France and fell in love with her commanding officer during World War II—perfect for fans of Unbroken, The Nightingale, and Code Girls.

The year is 1942, and World War II is in full swing. Odette Sansom decides to follow in her war hero father’s footsteps by becoming an SOE agent to aid Britain and her beloved homeland, France. Five failed attempts and one plane crash later, she finally lands in occupied France to begin her mission. It is here that she meets her commanding officer Captain Peter Churchill.

As they successfully complete mission after mission, Peter and Odette fall in love. All the while, they are being hunted by the cunning German secret police sergeant, Hugo Bleicher, who finally succeeds in capturing them. They are sent to Paris’s Fresnes prison, and from there to concentration camps in Germany where they are starved, beaten, and tortured. But in the face of despair, they never give up hope, their love for each other, or the whereabouts of their colleagues.

In Code Name: Lise, Larry Loftis paints a portrait of true courage, patriotism, and love—of two incredibly heroic people who endured unimaginable horrors and degradations. He seamlessly weaves together the touching romance between Odette and Peter and the thrilling cat and mouse game between them and Sergeant Bleicher. With this amazing testament to the human spirit, Loftis proves once again that he is adept at writing “nonfiction that reads like a page-turning novel” (Parade).

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No Exit by Taylor Adams

“What a box of tricks! This full-throttle thriller, dark and driving, rivals Agatha Christie for sheer ingenuity and James Patterson for flat-out speed. Swift, sharp, and relentless.”A. J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window

A brilliant, edgy thriller about four strangers, a blizzard, a kidnapped child, and a determined young woman desperate to unmask and outwit a vicious psychopath.

A kidnapped little girl locked in a stranger’s van. No help for miles. What would you do?

On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers.

Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate.

Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her?

There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one?

Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape.

But who can she trust?

With exquisitely controlled pacing, Taylor Adams diabolically ratchets up the tension with every page. Full of terrifying twists and hairpin turns, No Exit will have you on the edge of your seat and leave you breathless.

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Tuesday, January 22

 

 

CrucibleCrucible 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?

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Tuesday, January 29th

 

The Rule of LawThe Rule of Law by John Lescroart

Release Date: January 29th

In “master of the legal thriller” (Chicago Sun-Times) John Lescroart’s electrifying new novel, attorney Dismas Hardy is called to defend the least likely suspect of his career: his longtime, trusted assistant who is suddenly being charged as an accessory to murder.

Dismas Hardy knows something is amiss with his trusted secretary, Phyllis. Her out-of-character behavior and sudden disappearances concern Hardy, especially when he learns that her convict brother—a man who had served twenty-five years in prison for armed robbery and attempted murder—has just been released.

Things take a shocking turn with Phyllis is suddenly arrested at work for allegedly being an accessory to the murder of Hector Valdez, a coyote who’d been smuggling women into this country from El Salvador and Mexico. That is, until recently, when he was shot to death—on the very same day that Phyllis first disappeared from work. The connection between Phyllis, her brother, and Hector’s murder is not something Dismas can easily understand, but if his cherished colleague has any chance of going free, he needs to put all the pieces together—and fast.

Proving that he is truly “one of the best thriller writers to come down the pike” (USA TODAY), John Lescroart crafts yet another whip-smart, engrossing novel filled with shocking twists and turns that will keep you on your toes until the very last page.

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The SuspectThe Suspect by Fiona Barton

The New York Times bestselling author of The Widow returns with a brand new novel of twisting psychological suspense about every parent’s worst nightmare…

When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft, and frantic with worry. What were the girls up to before they disappeared?

Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth—and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, whom she hasn’t seen in two years, since he left home to go travelling.

As the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think . . .

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judgment joe finderJudgment by Joseph Finder

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.

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Out of the DarknessOut of the Dark by Gregg Hurwitz (Featured Selection)

“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.

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The Break LineThe Break Line by James Brabazon

British intelligence operative and hardened assassin, Max McLean, battles a nightmarish enemy in this stunning debut thriller from an award-winning war correspondent.

When it comes to killing terrorists British intelligence has always had one man they could rely on, Max McLean. As an assassin, he’s never missed, but Max has made one miscalculation and now he has to pay the price.

His handlers send him to Sierra Leone on a seemingly one-way mission. What he finds is a horror from beyond his nightmares. Rebel forces are loose in the jungle and someone or something is slaughtering innocent villagers. It’s his job to root out the monster behind these abominations, but he soon discovers that London may consider him the most disposable piece in this operation.

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The Crooked Street smallThe Crooked Street by Brian Freeman

The hunt for a killer in San Francisco becomes a dizzying game of cat and mouse in a thrilling novel of psychological suspense.

“Lombard is your Moriarty, Frost. Taking him down will be the most dangerous thing you’ve ever done.”

San Francisco homicide detective Frost Easton hadn’t seen his estranged friend Denny in years. Not until he dies in Frost’s arms uttering a final inexplicable word: Lombard. Denny appears to be the latest victim in a string of murders linked by a distinctive clue: the painting of a spiraled snake near the crime scenes. Is it the work of a serial killer? Or is Denny’s death more twisted and personal?

To find the answer, Frost reaches into a nest of vipers—San Francisco’s shady elite—where the whispered name of Lombard is just one secret. Now, drawn into a cat-and-mouse game with an enemy who knows his every move, Frost finds there is no one he can trust. And somewhere down the crooked streets of the city, Frost’s cunning adversary is coiled and ready to strike again.

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Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

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8 comments

  1. Just finished “the last airship”. This book had everything,except cowboys and Indians,and I was hooked from the very beginning to the last page. My rating 41/2 stars.

  2. “Hunt them down” was so good that I immediately downloaded all of his other books.. five stars. It has the “wow“ factor. Terrific action,good client development and I couldn’t put it down.

  3. “The burglar“ was just too complicated, and contained too much Information that I neither wanted nor needed. I am a fan of Thomas Perry but some of his books are much better than others. My rating is three stars.

  4. Just finished “tear it down“ by Nick Petrie.Slow beginning evolving into the “wow” factor, which for me is terrific action, coupled with great Characterizations.and not being able to put the book down. Five star rating

  5. “No middle name“ by Child.Glad I didn’t pay for this book. A compilation of his short stories but they were not special enough To deserve their own book.Rated it three stars.

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