2019 isn’t over yet, and while there are plenty of great books set to hit store shelves over the next five months, some of the best thriller authors in the world are already reloading and gearing up to blow readers away in 2020.
Here’s an early look at 15 books that should already be on your radar for next year.
Hunter Killer by Brad Taylor
Release Date: January 7, 2020
Pike Logan tracks highly-trained Russian assassins to Brazil in this blistering, action-packed thriller from New York Times bestselling author and former Special Forces Officer Brad Taylor.
Pike Logan and the Taskforce were once the apex predators, an unrivaled hunting machine that decimated those out to harm the United States, but they may have met their match. While Pike Logan and Jennifer Cahill prepare to join their team on a counter-terrorist mission in the triple frontier—the lawless tri-border region where Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay meet—they are targeted in Charleston, South Carolina. A vicious explosion kills a friend, and the perpetrators have set it up to look like an accident. While the authorities believe this was not foul play, Pike knows the attack was meant for him.
When he loses contact with the team in South America, Pike is convinced he and the Taskforce are under assault. His men are the closest thing to family that Pike has, which means he will do anything, even ignore direct orders to stand down, to find them. Pike and Jennifer head to Brazil to investigate their disappearance and run headlong into a crew of Russian assassins. Within days they are entangled in a byzantine scheme involving Brazilian politics and a cut-throat battle for control of offshore oil fields.
Forged in combat, the Russians are the equal of anything the Taskforce has encountered before, but they make a mistake in attacking Pike’s team, because Pike has a couple of elite Israeli assassins of his own. And Pike will stop at nothing to protect his family.
Why you should be excited about it: Taylor owns the military thriller genre, and second place isn’t close. Pike Logan is one of the few bona fide badasses in the game, and Taylor continues to get better with each book. For the second year in a row, Brad Taylor’s latest is the first must-read title of the new year.
Deep State by Chris Hauty
Release Date: January 7, 2020
“The plot…rings eerily true…will keep you turning the pages well into the night.” —Jack Carr, former Navy SEAL and acclaimed author of The Terminal List and True Believer
In this white-knuckled, timely, and whip-smart debut thriller, a deadly plot against the president’s life emerges from the shadows of the Deep State.
Recently elected President Richard Monroe—populist, controversial, and divisive—is at the center of an increasingly polarized Washington, DC. Never has the partisan drama been so tense or the paranoia so rampant. In the midst of contentious political turf wars, the White House chief of staff is found dead in his house. A tenacious intern discovers a single, ominous clue that suggests he died from something other than natural causes, and that a wide-ranging conspiracy is running beneath the surface of everyday events: powerful government figures are scheming to undermine the rule of law—and democracy itself. Allies are exposed as enemies, once-dependable authorities fall under suspicion, and no one seems to be who they say they are. The unthinkable is happening. The Deep State is real. Who will die to keep its secrets and who will kill to uncover the truth?
Why you should be excited about it: I’m a little obsessed with this book. Hauty grabs readers by the throat early on and doesn’t let go, delivering a one-sit read that is wildly entertaining . . . and slightly terrifying.
Hide Away by Jason Pinter
Release Date: January 7, 2020
From the bestselling author of the Henry Parker series comes a page-turning thriller about a vigilante who’s desperate to protect her secrets—and bring a killer to justice.
On the surface, Rachel Marin is an ordinary single mother; on the inside, she’s a fierce, brilliant vigilante. After an unspeakable crime shatters her life, she changes her identity and moves to a small town in Illinois, hoping to spare her children from further trauma…or worse. But crime follows her everywhere.
When the former mayor winds up dead, Rachel can’t help but get involved. Where local detectives see suicide, she sees murder. They resent her for butting in—especially since she’s always one step ahead. But her investigative genius may be her undoing: the deeper she digs, the harder it is to keep her own secrets buried.
Her persistence makes her the target of both the cops and a killer. Meanwhile, the terrifying truth about her past threatens to come to light, and Rachel learns the hard way that she can’t trust anyone. Surrounded by danger, she must keep her steely resolve, protect her family, and stay one step ahead, or else she may become the next victim
Why you should be excited about it: Jason Pinter is a terrific writer with natural storytelling ability and a deep understanding of character development and narrative drive. I’ve been excited about this book from the moment it was announced, and can’t wait to dive into it as soon as my review copy shows up.
The Wild One by Nick Petrie
Release Date: January 14, 2020
War veteran Peter Ash tracks a murderer and his criminal family through the most forbidding and stark landscape he has ever encountered, in the latest thriller from the national bestselling author of The Drifter.
Losing ground in his fight against post-traumatic claustrophobia, war veteran Peter Ash has no intention of getting on an airplane–until a grieving woman asks Peter to find her eight-year-old grandson. The woman’s daughter has been murdered. Erik, the dead daughter’s husband, is the sole suspect, and he has taken his young son and fled to Iceland for the protection of Erik’s lawless family.
Finding the boy becomes more complicated when Peter is met at the airport by a man from the United States Embassy. For reasons both unknown and unofficial, it seems that Peter’s own government doesn’t want him in Iceland. The police give Peter two days of sightseeing in Reykjavik before he must report back for the first available seat home. . . and when they realize Peter isn’t going home until he accomplishes his mission, they start hunting him, too.
From the northernmost European capital to a rustbound fishing vessel to a remote farm a stone’s throw from the arctic, Peter must confront his growing PTSD and the most powerful Icelandic snowstorm in a generation to find a killer, save an eight-year-old boy, and keep himself out of an Icelandic prison–or a cold Icelandic grave.
Why you should be excited about it: So many writers and characters are compared to Lee Child and Jack Reacher . . . but the only author truly deserving of such praise is Nick Petrie and his protagionist, Peter Ash. With four lights-out books already in circulation, Petrie has proven himself as one of the genre’s brightest new stars. Plus, his next book is taking Ash international for the first time, adding more intrigue to an already must-read title.
House on Fire by Joseph Finder
Release Date: January 21, 2020
In New York Times bestselling author Joseph Finder’s new thriller, private investigator Nick Heller is hired to infiltrate a powerful family whose wealth and reputation hide something far more sinister.
Nick Heller, private spy, exposes secrets that powerful people would rather keep hidden.
At the funeral of his good friend Sean, an army buddy who once saved Nick’s life and had struggled with opioid addiction since returning wounded from war, a stranger approaches Nick with a job. The woman is a member of the Kimball family, whose immense fortune was built on opiates. Now she wants to become a whistleblower, exposing evidence that Kimball Pharmaceutical knew its biggest money-maker drug, Oxydone, was dangerously addictive and led directly to the overdoses and deaths of people like Sean.
Nick agrees instantly, eager to avenge Sean’s death, but he quickly finds himself entangled in the complicated family dynamics of the Kimball dynasty. The other Rhodes siblings view Nick as the enemy, and at least one will do anything to keep him from exposing the patriarch’s guilt. And Nick discovers he is not the only private investigator employed by a Kimball scion. His old lover Maggie has also been hired, reuniting the two after a conflict when they both worked at the Pentagon years ago.
Nick and Maggie soon realize the sins of the Kimball patriarch are just the beginning. Beneath the surface are the barely concealed cabals and conspiracies: a twisting story of family intrigue and lethal corporate machinations.
Why you should be excited about it: Nobody writes better suspense thrillers than Joseph Finder, who after several standalones, is returning to his Nick Heller series. Nick’s highly-anticipated return (he was last seen in the fabulous Guilty Minds back in 2016) is one of the biggest storylines to watch for in early 2020, and Finder seems to have cooked up another timely plot to mark the occasion.
Into the Fire by Gregg Hurwitz
Release Date: January 28, 2020
The New York Times bestselling Orphan X returns—facing his own uncertain future and undertaking one last mission.
Taken from a group home at age twelve, Evan Smoak was trained as an off-the-books government assassin: Orphan X. After breaking with the Program, he reinvented himself as The Nowhere Man, a figure shrouded in shadows who helps the truly desperate. But the government didn’t let go of him easily, sending their best to hunt him down and eliminate him. All of them failed. With his deadliest enemies behind him, Evan is facing a new challenge—what is he going to do now that no one is after him?
Max Merriweather is at the end of his rope. Separated from the woman he loves and barely scraping by, Max is a disappointment to everyone in his life. Then his very successful cousin Grant is brutally murdered. Two months before, Grant left Max an envelope with instructions to take it to a reporter if anything happened to him. Now the reporter is missing and Max’s apartment is ransacked. A man at the end of his rope, he calls The Nowhere Man.
With mixed feelings, Evan takes on this mission, easily finding the men who are after Max and executing a plan to keep him safe. But it isn’t as obvious as it seems—and Evan finds himself enmeshed in one of the most challenging missions of his life, one that he can’t survive on his own. With the help of Joey Morales, a genius-level hacker and the last Orphan recruited into the Program, and the brilliant, off-the-books gunsmith, Tommy Stojack, Orphan X once more heads . . . Into the Fire.
Why you should be excited about it: Hurwitz’s still relatively new series (Into the Fire is only book five) has exploded in popularity over the last couple of years, and even found its way onto the New York Times bestsellers list in 2019. Orphan X’s last mission was as big as it gets, though, so all eyes are on Evan Smoak and Gregg Hurwitz to see how he tops himself in 2020.
Hi Five by Joe Ide
Release Date: January 28, 2020
Isaiah Quintabe, the genius PI who combines book smarts, street smarts, and enough blistering action to melt the pavement of East Long Beach, is back with a new adventure. Fresh off the beating he took at the hands of a gang of ex-Abu Ghraib thugs working as paramilitary contractors, IQ is determined to build a life for himself with his new girlfriend, Grace. For once, he wants to be normal–a normal guy, with a normal PI business, doing the best he can.
But this is IQ, and trouble is never far behind him. Joined by his faithful band of fast-talking, sharp-tongued partners, Deronda and Dodson, the cases are wild, the mysteries twisty, and the driving fast.
Why you should be excited about it: Joe Ide has wasted no time staking his claim as one of the premier mystery writers on the scene today. Isaiah Quintabe is one of the best new private investigators to come along in decades, and in a genre that was beginning to grow tired and stale, IQ provides a breath of fresh air—and Ide can really, really write.
A Cold Trail by Robert Dugoni
Release Date: February 4, 2020
In New York Times bestselling author Robert Dugoni’s riveting series, Seattle homicide detective Tracy Crosswhite returns home to a brutal murder and her haunted past.
The last time homicide detective Tracy Crosswhite was in Cedar Grove, it was to see her sister’s killer put behind bars. Now she’s returned for a respite and the chance to put her life back in order for herself, her attorney husband, Dan, and their new daughter. But tragic memories soon prove impossible to escape.
Dan is drawn into representing a local merchant whose business is jeopardized by the town’s revitalization. And Tracy is urged by the local PD to put her own skills to work on a new case: the brutal murder of a police officer’s wife and local reporter who was investigating a cold-case slaying of a young woman. As Tracy’s and Dan’s cases crisscross, Tracy’s trail becomes dangerous. It’s stirring up her own haunted past and a decades-old conspiracy in Cedar Grove that has erupted in murder. Getting to the truth is all that matters. But what’s Tracy willing to risk as a killer gets closer to her and threatens everyone she loves?
Why you should be excited about it: Dugoni has come on strong the last couple of years, and his last book, The Eighth Sister, is one of the best spy novels I’ve ever reviewed. This one, of course, brings back Tracy Crosswhite, one of the best female protagonists in the genre, making it an easy pick for this list.
One Minute Out by Mark Greaney
Release Date: February 18, 2020
From Mark Greaney, the New York Times bestselling author of Mission Critical and a coauthor of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan novels, comes another high-stakes thriller featuring the world’s most dangerous assassin: the Gray Man.
While on a mission to Croatia, Court Gentry uncovers a human trafficking operation. The trail leads from the Balkans all the way back to Hollywood.
Court is determined to shut it down, but his CIA handlers have other plans. The criminal ringleader has actionable intelligence about a potentially devastating terrorist attack on the US. The CIA won’t move until they have that intel. It’s a moral balancing act with Court at the pivot point.
Why you should be excited about it: For years, Vince Flynn, Daniel Silva, and Brad Thor sat atop the political thriller genre, alone, as the best writers in the game. Greaney is the latest member of the club, recently taking his seat at the top—and the scary thing is, I’m not sure we’ve seen his best work yet. He’s riding a scorching hot streak coming into 2020, and when it comes to pre-ordering early, One Minute Out is a total no-brainer.
The Dark Corners of the Night by Meg Gardiner
Release Date: February 18, 2020
I am the legion of the night
He appears in the darkness like a ghost, made of shadows and fear–the Midnight Man. He comes for the parents but leaves the children alive, tiny witnesses to unspeakable horror. The bedroom communities of Los Angeles are gripped with dread, and the attacks are escalating.
Still reeling from her best friend’s close call in a bombing six months ago, FBI behavioral analyst Caitlin Hendrix has come to Los Angeles to assist in the Midnight Man investigation and do what she does best–hunt a serial killer. Her work is what keeps her going, but something about this UNSUB–unknown subject–doesn’t sit right. She soon realizes that this case will test not only her skills but also her dedication, for within the heart of a killer lives a secret that mirrors Caitlin’s own past. Hesitancy is not an option, but will she be able to do what must be done if the time comes?
Tense and impactful, Edgar Award winner Meg Gardiner’s latest UNSUB thriller will leave you on the edge of your seat until its riveting conclusion.
Why you should be excited about it: Meg Gardiner’s scary-good new series is one of the best in crime fiction today, and after switching publishers—a move that resulted in delaying its publication to 2020—absence has surely made hearts grow fonder, making her next UNSUB book one of next year’s most anticipated new releases.
The Warsaw Protocol by Steve Berry
Release Date: February 25, 2020
In New York Times bestseller Steve Berry’s latest Cotton Malone adventure, one by one the seven precious relics of the Arma Christi, the weapons of Christ, are disappearing from sanctuaries across the world.
After former Justice Department agent, Cotton Malone, witnesses the theft of one of them, he learns from his old boss, Stephanie Nelle, that a private auction is about to be held where incriminating information on the president of Poland will be offered to the highest bidder―blackmail that both the United States and Russia want, but for vastly different reasons.
The price of admission to that auction is one of the relics, so Malone is first sent to a castle in Poland to steal the Holy Lance, a thousand-year-old spear sacred to not only Christians but to the Polish people, and then on to the auction itself. But nothing goes as planned and Malone is thrust into a bloody battle between three nations over information that, if exposed, could change the balance of power in Europe.
From the tranquil canals of Bruges, to the elegant rooms of Wawel Castle, to deep beneath the earth into an ancient Polish salt mine, Malone is caught in the middle of a deadly war―the outcome of which turns on a secret known as the Warsaw Protocol.
Why you should be excited about it: Steve Berry hit a home run with his last book, The Malta Exchange, further proving he’s the best writer in the world at weaving historical fiction into his action thrillers, which continue to feel ripped from the headlines. His next one, which returns series hero Cotton Malone, promises to be one of his most explosive books yet.
Long Range by C.J. Box
Release Date: March 3, 2020
#1 New York Times bestseller C.J. Box returns with a blazing new Joe Pickett novel, in which the Wyoming game warden must investigate a murder that happens on his turf–a murder committed from a confoundingly long distance.
When the wife of a prominent local judge is wounded on Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett’s turf, all signs point to the shot having been taken from an impossible distance. At the same time–just as he’s adjusting to the arrival of his first child–Joe’s best friend Nate Romanowski is suspected of being the assassin. All this happens while Joe is attempting to decipher a startling grizzly attack.
Beset by threats both man-made and natural, the two men must go to great lengths to keep their loved ones safe.
Why you should be excited about it: There is no better franchise in print today, regardless of genre, than C.J. Box’s brilliant Joe Pickett series—period. If you aren’t reading him, start. And if you pre-order just one book from this list, make it Long Range. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.
Without Sanction by Don Bentley
Release Date: March 3, 2020
After surviving a clandestine operation that went tragically wrong, Matt Drake escaped Syria with his life, but little else. Now, to save the life of another, he must return to Syria and confront his biggest failure in a debut thriller Lee Child calls “sensationally good.”
Defense Intelligence Agency operative Matt Drake broke a promise. A promise that cost three people their lives and crippled his best friend. Three months later, he’s paralyzed by survivor’s guilt and haunted by the memories of the fallen. Matt may have left Syria, but Syria hasn’t left him.
In the midst of his self-imposed exile, Matt is dragged back into the world of espionage and assets that he tried to forget. A Pakistani scientist working for an ISIS splinter cell has created a terrifying weapon of mass destruction. The scientist offers to defect with the weapon, but he trusts just one man to bring him out of Syria alive–Matt Drake.
Why you should be excited about it: The next big thing is almost here. Don Bentley has turned in a masterful, action-packed debut that is going to rock readers to their core. I tore through this one in a single afternoon—and cannot wait for readers to finally get their hands on it. Mark your calendars, because this one’s not to be missed.
The Jerusalem Assassin by Joel C. Rosenberg
Release Date: March 10, 2020
With the unexpected death of Russian President Aleksandr Luganov, and Iran’s efforts to acquire fully operational nuclear warheads successfully thwarted, American President Andrew Clarke decides the moment has come to unveil his comprehensive proposal to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
However, when a series of senior American officials involved in the peace process are assassinated, Clarke orders Marcus Ryker and a team of CIA operatives to hunt down those responsible and bring the killing spree to an end.
What Ryker uncovers is a chilling plot to kill the American president himself, but at first, it’s unclear who is the driving force behind the plot. Is it the Russians, seeking payback for the assassination of Luganov? Is it the Iranians, in retaliation for the American operation to keep Tehran from acquiring nukes? Or is it another conspirator altogether, someone plotting to strike a blow against American hegemony in the Middle East and seize the leadership of the entire Sunni Muslim world?
By the time Ryker and his team fully understand the plot and who’s behind it, they find they have less than 96 hours to disrupt a terrible evil that has been set in motion.
Why you should be excited about it: Nobody is better at predicting future events and beating the headlines than Rosenberg, who, with each book, continues to add validity to the nickname he earned, “a modern-day Nostradamus,” earlier in his career. If you want to see what an all-out conflict between America, Russia, and Iran could look like, get this book.
The Last Odyssey by James Rollins
Release Date: March 10, 2020
To save the world and our future, Sigma Force must embark on a dangerous odyssey into an ancient past whose horrors are all too present in this page-turning thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author James Rollins that combines cutting-edge science, historical mystery, mythology, and pulse-pounding action.
For eons, the city of Troy—whose legendary fall was detailed in Homer’s Iliad—was believed to be myth, until archaeologists in the nineteenth century uncovered its ancient walls buried beneath the sands. If Troy was real, how much of Homer’s twin tales of gods and monsters, curses and miracles—The Iliad and The Odyssey—could also be true and awaiting discovery?
In the frozen tundra of Greenland, a group of modern-day climatologists and archaeologists stumble on a shocking find: a medieval ship buried a half-mile below the ice. The ship’s hold contains a collection of even older artifacts—tools of war—dating back to the Bronze Age. Inside the captain’s cabin is a magnificent treasure that is as priceless as it is miraculous: a clockwork gold atlas encircled by an intricate silver astrolabe. The mechanism is signed with the name of its creator, Ismail al-Jazari, a famous Muslim inventor considered to be the Da Vinci of the Arab world—a brilliant scientist who inspired Leonardo’s own work.
Once activated, the moving globe traces the path of Odysseus’ famous ship as it sailed away from Troy. But the route detours as the map opens to reveal an underground river leading to a hidden realm underneath the Mediterranean Sea. The map indicates that this subterranean world is called Tartarus, the Greek name for Hell. In mythology, Tartarus was where the wicked were punished and the monstrous Titans of old, imprisoned.
When word of Tartarus spreads—and of the cache of miraculous weapons said to be hidden there—tensions explode in this volatile region where Turks battle Kurds, terrorists wage war, and civilians suffer untold horrors. The phantasmagoric horrors found in Homer’s tales are all too real—and could be unleashed upon the world. Whoever possesses them can use their awesome power to control the future of humanity.
Now, Sigma Force must go where humans fear to tread. To prevent a tyrant from igniting a global war, they must cross the very gates of Hell.
Why you should be excited about it: Last year, James Rollins showed once again why he’s the heir apparent to the throne previously held by Michael Crichton, delivering another acclaimed thriller in Crucible, which might be his best work to date. Can he top himself in 2020? The safe bet is to say yes—and there will be a whole bunch of happy readers if he can do just that.
Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck 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.