Five Lists of Five: The Best Thrillers of 2019 (So Far)

Looking for a roundup of the best thrillers of 2019 (so far)? Well, we’ve broken ’em down according to sub-categories of the thriller genre—based entirely on TRBS scores for this year’s hottest releases.

Below, browse the very best of the best, plus a quick preview of the best thrillers still to come!

 

Best Mystery/Crime/Psychological Thrillers

Someone Knows 1Someone Knows by Lisa Scottoline

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 it stands out: Scottoline keeps readers guessing as well as anyone out there, and this time, the Queen of Suspense dialed up plenty of misdirection and a sweet twist, setting up a fabulous final act that does not disappoint. The character development is the key here, because if you don’t care about the characters, the story doesn’t matter. By creating a relatable ensemble, it’s hard for readers to not see at least part of themselves in one or more of the characters—which really takes this one over the top.

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A DANGEROUS MANA Dangerous Man by Robert Crais

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 bed, 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 it stands out: Crais is a master of his craft, consistently putting out top-notch stuff. This year, though, was a bit different because, for the first time in a while, Joe Pike is the lead, with Elvis Cole providing support along the way. Honestly, I think he’s at his best with Pike as the main, and his latest grabs readers in right away, tightening its grip over three-hundred-plus pages of nonstop suspense.

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The First MistakeThe First Mistake by Sandie Jones

From Sandie Jones, the author of the Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick and New York Times bestseller The Other Woman, comes an addictively readable new domestic suspense about a wife, her husband, and the woman who is supposedly her best friend.

THE WIFE: For Alice, life has never been better. With her second husband, she has a successful business, two children, and a beautiful house.

HER HUSBAND: Alice knows that life could have been different if her first husband had lived, but Nathan’s arrival into her life gave her back the happiness she craved.

HER BEST FRIEND: Through the ups and downs of life, from celebratory nights out to comforting each other through loss, Alice knows that with her best friend Beth by her side, they can survive anything together. So when Nathan starts acting strangely, Alice turns to Beth for help. But soon, Alice begins to wonder whether her trust has been misplaced . . .

The first mistake could be her last.

Why it stands out: Nobody puts out a debut like The Other Woman and then finds a way to top themselves just a year later . . . except for Sandie Jones, who hit a no-doubter, out-of-the-park home run with this one, solidifying her position as one of the best psychological suspense thriller writers on the planet. Oh, and after an awesome, magician-like twist last year, she pulls off another in this one.

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The New Iberia BluesNew 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 Dave’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 it stands out: Does James Lee Burke age? No, seriously. Does he? Burke, the ageless wonder, is a national treasure and one of the purest, most talented crime writers alive. Nobody makes the setting of their novel come to life the way he does with Louisiana, and poor Robicheaux . . . I guess riding off happily into the sunset was never in the cards, as Burke continues to send his beloved sheriff on one dangerous adventure after another. This time, he mixes it up with a hotshot Hollywood director who made it after living off the streets in New Orleans twenty years ago. And yeah, things become personal, which raises the stakes even more for Dave and the gang.

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The Better SisterThe Better Sister by Alafair Burke

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?

Keep your enemies close and your sister closer.

Though Chloe was the younger of the two Taylor sisters, she always seemed to be the one in charge. She was the honor roll student with big dreams and an even bigger work ethic. Nicky—always restless and more than a little reckless—was 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 that 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 teenage 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 it stands out: Alafair Burke is every bit as talented as her father but brings a vastly different perspective and style to her work. One thing that is similar, however, is the darker tones she works with. The story might not be set in New Orleans, but Burke knows (like her best-selling father) how to use locations to set the tone, and builds out from there. Where she’s really made a name for herself is with misdirection and never-see-them-coming twists and turns, on top of thought-provoking storylines that cover relatable topics–like two estranged sisters having to work together to save a kid, even if it means digging up all kinds of family secrets in the process. This one’s wild, and a hell of a lot of fun too.

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Best Military/Action Thrillers

Daughter of War smallDaughter of War by Brad Taylor

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 it stands out: When you think “military thriller,” Brad Taylor’s name should be the first thing that pops into your head. The action, obviously, stands out—but really, the thing he should be given more credit for was how he started writing kickass women into his books long before the #MeToo or feminist movements dominated headlines, and the subsequent influx of female characters into the genre that followed. Whereas other writers seem to be trying to play to the masses, Taylor set the standard for strong, independent women ruling in his books. That’s the case again here, with another scene-stealing character who finds herself in the middle of all kinds of trouble and decides to fight her way out, if necessary.

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Mission CriticalMission Critical by Mark Greaney

From Mark Greaney, the New York Times bestselling author of Gunmetal Gray and a coauthor 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 it stands out: Greaney is a machine. This guy trots out high-octane thrillers like it’s nothing, always one-upping himself year after year. Just when you think he’s peaked, guess again. In this one, Court encounters enough trouble for two books, and if seeing him throw down isn’t enough, there’s a totally lethal female agent, codenamed Anthem, who makes her presence felt early and often.

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Rules of War SDRules of War by Matthew Betley

A DANA PERINO BOOK CLUB PICK

Following the events of the “fast, hard-hitting, and impossible to put down” (The Real Book Spy) Field of Valor, Logan West continues his mission to bring America’s traitorous vice president to justice, even as the clandestine group pulling all the strings makes one last deadly bid to regain their power.

The vice president of the United States is missing, the director of the National Security Agency has been assassinated, and the mysterious organization orchestrating global instability is in tatters. While John Quick recovers from a gunshot wound that nearly killed him, Logan West is on the hunt to bring the vice president back to the US to face justice for his treason. The final stakes have never been higher and Logan and his task force are left with little to no options. Will it be this warrior’s end?

“As a former Marine, Betley really knows his stuff” (#1 New York Times bestselling author Kyle Mills), and rules of Rules of War is filled with the gripping, nonstop action thriller fans crave.

Why it stands out: Since he broke onto the thriller scene a few years back, Betley has constantly churned out high-action, high-concept thrillers featuring Logan West and his sarcastic partner, John Quick. With the action sequences and tough-guy one-liners on point yet again, Betley flashes a deeper ability to manipulate readers’ emotions in this one. There are several powerful scenes that are legit super emotional, showing that Betley can really do it all. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll cheer . . . but most of all, you’ll be counting down the days until the next book arrives.

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Game of SnipersGame of Snipers by Stephen Hunter

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.

With all-too-real threats and a twisty, masterful storytelling, Game of Snipers is another gripping addition to a bestselling Bob Lee Swagger series.

Why it stands out: Bob Lee is back behind the long gun, and he’s him versus the other deadliest sniper on the planet. Two heavyweights going toe-to-toe with everything on the line. Need I say more? Didn’t think so.

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Reaper Threat ZeroReaper: Threat Zero by Nicholas Irving & A.J. Tata

The next book in the explosive new thriller series by former special operations sniper and New York Times bestselling author of The Reaper.

A convoy of cars carrying several family members of the President’s cabinet to Camp David for “Family Day” is ambushed, killing and wounding wives, husbands and children.

Immediately in the aftermath, Vick Harwood watches a Facebook live feed of his former ranger buddy Sammie Samuelson’s apparent suicide and confession in his Thurmont, Maryland apartment, just one mile from Camp David. Remnants of a firefight are in the background: sniper rifle, rocket launchers, and ammunition. Simultaneously, an intruder breaks into Harwood’s house.

Harwood arrives in Thurman to investigate the suicide and, with the help of attractive FBI agent Valerie Hinojosa, traces evidence left by Samuelson to a fiendish plot involving transnational terrorists and domestic political opponents.

Meanwhile, the president wants retribution, and will stop at nothing to get it. Harwood joins Team Valid, whose mission is to kill the family members of terrorists and eliminate their seed from the earth. Team Valid, consisting of Hinojosa, Harwood, a Navy SEAL sniper, and a Marine Force Recon sniper, travels to Crimea, Iran, and Azerbaijan before realizing the mission is not what it seems. Harwood struggles to balance his orders with his sense of right and wrong―without losing his life in the process. As Samuelson is implicated in the Camp David ambush, it is a race to protect his remaining family and uncover the sinister plot in the homeland.

Why it stands out: Irving and Tata have done a fantastic job fictionalizing Irving’s persona, the Reaper, and turning him into the star of a major action series. The first book was impressive, but this one is even better. Not only do we see Vick “The Reaper” Harwood go after some bad guys, but Tata and Irving explore the moral conundrum he faces when Vick is given orders from the president . . . but questions the reason behind them. Just because you can kill doesn’t mean you should. And just because you’re given a target, doesn’t mean that they’re the right person to go after. Sometimes, as Vick learns here, there’s more to the story.

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Best Spy/Political Thrillers

True Believer - Jack CarrTrue Believer by Jack Carr

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 it stands out: I wasn’t covering thrillers back when Vince Flynn stole the show back in the late 1990s, but I imagine it would have felt a lot like this. Carr is the genre’s next superstar, and while he’s certainly earned those comparisons to Flynn, Brad Thor, Stephen Hunter, and other top-notch writers, the truth is, he’s really come into his own here, and it won’t be long until we’re comparing the next big up-and-comer to Jack Carr.

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The Russian SDThe Russian by Ben Coes

“This new series has me very excited.” ―Brad Thor

As the brutal Russian mafia becomes the most powerful and deadly criminal enterprise in the U.S., it’s up to covert operative Rob Tacoma to fight back, in a new series by New York Times bestseller Ben Coes.

Ruthless, clever, and unbelievably violent, the Russian mafia has rapidly taken over the criminal underworld in the U.S. and law enforcement has been unable to stem the tide. When a powerful Russian mob family declares war by publicly executing two high-profile American politicians, the message is unmistakable – opposition will be met with overwhelming deadly force. With no other viable options, the President creates a clandestine assassinations team to find and eliminate the unreachable men running this deadly criminal operation.

The CIA recruits two Tier 1 operators – former Navy SEALs Billy Cosgrove and Rob Tacoma. But before they can even get started, the Russians act – murdering Cosgrove in his own home. Now Tacoma is on his own against an organization with endless resources and no boundaries. Step one requires the near impossible – find and kill the hidden mob boss behind Cosgrove’s death. To do this, he’ll have to take on an army in a battle where there are no rules and no limits.

Why it stands out: Coes gambled by benching Dewey Andreas, his franchise protagionist, for one book to feature Rob Tacoma, and in the end, he won big. The payoff was huge, as Coes did more than just swap out leads here. Writing to better fit Tacoma’s style and background, The Russian is way different than anything Coes has ever done before. Darker with added grit, this one has a noir-ish vibe to it that mixes perfectly with the Russian criminal underworld it’s set in. Think The Equalizer meets John Wick. That’s what you’re getting with this one, but bigger in scope.

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The Persian GambleThe Persian Gamble by Joel C. Rosenberg

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 it stands out: Nobody predicts future events and then writes them into their thrillers better than Rosenberg. If you’re curious to see where a conflict with Russia could one day lead, and how other countries might align themselves when and if it happens, pick up this one. It’s fiction, yes, but Rosenberg’s been known to pen what I call prophetic-fiction, and though he’s delivered a number of other bestselling series and trilogies, this is some of his finest work to date.

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Out of the DarknessOut of the Dark by Gregg Hurwitz

When darkness closes in―he’s your last, best hope. Evan Smoak returns in Gregg Hurwitz’s #1 international bestselling Orphan X series in Out of the Dark.

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 it stands out: Oh, Gregg Hurwitz, how will you ever top yourself after this one? I’ve all but shouted from the rooftops (both here on TRBS and in my monthly CrimeReads Column) that this is the book Hurwitz will be remembered for when it’s all said and done. This is his Consent to Kill or Red Storm Rising—that book everyone thinks of when you mention the author’s name. Orphan X finally finds out who’s behind the program that turned him into a killer, and now that he has his target, there’s just one problem . . . that man is now the president of the United States, the most heavily-guarded man on earth. Get ready for an action-packed showdown, because Hurwitz holds nothing back with this one.

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The Night Agent smallThe Night Agent by Matthew Quirk

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.

Why it stands out: Quirk has always been a super underrated thriller novelist with major breakout potential. Now, he’s officially arrived, delivering a phenomenal tale of espionage that feels almost like a modern take on le Carre and Forsyth. Expect misdirection, twists, nonstop action, and a deep conspiracy that feels a little too real for comfort these days.

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Best books of 2019 (So Far)

BacklashBacklash by Brad Thor

“Raw emotion, nonstop action, and relentless pacing makes Backlash another one-night read from Brad Thor, who delivers the book to beat in 2019.” —The Real Book Spy

#1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and #1 Publishers Weekly bestselling author Brad Thor is back with his most gripping thriller yet!

In ancient texts, there are stories about men who struck from the shadows, seemingly beyond the reach of death itself. These men were considered part angel, part demon. Their loyalty was to their families, their friends, and their kings. You crossed these men at your peril. And once crossed, there was no crossing back.

They were fearless; men of honor who have been known throughout history by different names: Spartan, Viking, Samurai.

Today, men like these still strike from the shadows. They are highly prized intelligence agents, military operatives, and assassins.

One man is all three.

Two days ago, that man was crossed—badly.

Now, far from home and surrounded by his enemy, Scot Harvath must battle his way out.

With no support, no cavalry coming, and no one even aware of where he is, it will take everything he has ever learned to survive.

But survival isn’t enough. Harvath wants revenge.

In the most explosive novel Brad Thor has ever written, page after captivating page of action, intrigue, loyalty, and betrayal will keep you hooked until the very last sentence.

Why it stands out: Someone tell Brad Thor to take a bow. This is his masterpiece. Everything Scot Harvath has ever been through, all that he’s overcome and learned along the way . . . it all comes down to this. They say that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and to overcome the odds this time around, Harvath will need to draw on every ounce of strength and all his experience to make it out alive and avenge the loved ones who were murdered in cold blood by his enemies. I promise you, this is one of the best action thrillers ever written . . . the only real question is, what will Thor do for an encore in 2020?

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The New GirlThe New Girl by Daniel Silva

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Daniel Silva, this summer’s hottest thriller.

Now you see her. Now you don’t. THE NEW GIRL. A new thriller of deception, betrayal, and vengeance.

She was covered from head to toe in expensive wool and plaid, the sort of stuff one saw at the Burberry boutique in Harrods. She carried a leather bookbag rather than a nylon backpack. Her patent leather ballet slippers were glossy and bright. She was proper, the new girl, modest. But there was something else about her

At an exclusive private school in Switzerland, mystery surrounds the identity of the beautiful raven-haired girl who arrives each morning in a motorcade fit for a head of state. She is said to be the daughter of a wealthy international businessman. In truth, her father is Khalid bin Mohammed, the much-maligned crown prince of Saudi Arabia. Once celebrated for his daring social and religious reforms, he is now reviled for his role in the murder of a dissident journalist. And when his only child is brutally kidnapped, he turns to the one man he can trust to find her before it is too late.

What’s done cannot be undone …

Gabriel Allon, the legendary chief of Israeli intelligence, has spent most of his life fighting terrorists, including the murderous jihadists financed by Saudi Arabia. Prince Khalid—or KBM, as he is known—has pledged to finally break the bond between the Kingdom and radical Islam. For that reason alone, Gabriel regards him as a valuable if flawed partner. Together they will become unlikely allies in a deadly secret war for control of the Middle East. The life of a child, and the throne of Saudi Arabia, hang in the balance. Both men have made their share of enemies. And both have everything to lose.

Filled with dark humor, breathtaking twists of plot, and an unforgettable cast of characters, The New Girl is both a thrilling, page-turning tale of entertainment and a sophisticated study of political alliances and great-power rivalries in a dangerous world. And it is once again proof that Gabriel Allon is “one of fiction’s greatest spies” (Kirkus) and Daniel Silva is “quite simply the best” (Kansas City Star) writer of foreign intrigue and suspense at work today.

Why it stands out: John le Carre has always been the gold standard among spy novelists, but with back-to-back-to-back near-perfect thrillers from Silva, he’s all but closed the gap. How is it possible that, this far into his series, Silva manages to simply get better each time out? If you take any other author, tell them that their star character is too old to be in the field and must instead take an administrative position overseeing things, they’d tell you that’s a recipe for disaster. Not even Tom Clancy could overcome that obstacle with Jack Ryan, and yet here we are, with Gabriel Allon now serving as chief of the Office, Israel’s vaunted foreign intelligence service, and somehow . . . some way . . . Daniel Silva has never been better. Bottom line: to read one of Silva’s books is to witness greatness. If you aren’t reading him, start.

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THe Border smallThe Border by Don Winslow

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 of Mexico 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, street traffickers, addicts, 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 it stands out: “The Force is Don Winslow’s best book, and one of the greatest books ever.” C’mon, we all said it two years ago when that book came out. Even Stephen King called it “The Godfather, but with cops.” And all the while, it turns out, Winslow’s best was yet to come. The Border, while politically-charged for sure, and thus may not be fully appreciated by those on the right, wraps up what might very well be the greatest crime trilogy ever written. Notice how often the words “greatest” and “best” pop up around Winslow? That’s no accident.

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Wolf PackWolf Pack by C.J. Box

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 it stands out: Who would have thought that an average, family-loving, honest-to-a-fault game warden from Wyoming would go on to anchor one of the best series in print today? C.J. Box is truly incredible. Joe Pickett, his main character, has been through a lot . . . but he’s never faced anything quite like this. A group of assassins has arrived in Saddlestring, and whatever’s going on, Joe and his family—along with buddy Nate Romanowski—are right in the middle of it all. Now nineteen books in, Box has never been better.

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The WarehouseThe Warehouse by Rob Hart

Cloud isn’t just a place to work. It’s a place to live. And when you’re here, you’ll never want to leave.

Paxton never thought he’d be working for Cloud, the giant tech company that’s eaten much of the American economy. Much less that he’d be moving into one of the company’s sprawling live-work facilities.

But compared to what’s left outside, Cloud’s bland chainstore life of gleaming entertainment halls, open-plan offices, and vast warehouses…well, it doesn’t seem so bad. It’s more than anyone else is offering.

Zinnia never thought she’d be infiltrating Cloud. But now she’s undercover, inside the walls, risking it all to ferret out the company’s darkest secrets. And Paxton, with his ordinary little hopes and fears? He just might make the perfect pawn. If she can bear to sacrifice him.

As the truth about Cloud unfolds, Zinnia must gamble everything on a desperate scheme—one that risks both their lives, even as it forces Paxton to question everything about the world he’s so carefully assembled here.

Together, they’ll learn just how far the company will go…to make the world a better place.

Set in the confines of a corporate panopticon that’s at once brilliantly imagined and terrifyingly real, The Warehouse is a near-future thriller about what happens when Big Brother meets Big Business–and who will pay the ultimate price.

Why it stands out: Every once in a while, someone writes the kind of book that breaks the mold, makes you think, and entertains you all at the same time. Hart’s The Warehouse is one of those books . . . I could go on and on about this one, but honestly, the less you know about it, the better.

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Best Thrillers Still to Come

Lethal Agent SDLethal Agent (A Mitch Rapp thriller) by Kyle Mills

An unprecedented and terrifying bioterrorism plot threatens to kill millions in the midst of a divisive presidential election in this new thriller from the #1 New York Times bestselling Mitch Rapp series.

A toxic presidential election is underway in an America already badly weakened by internal divisions. While politicians focus entirely on maintaining their own power and privilege, ISIS kidnaps a brilliant French microbiologist and forces him to begin manufacturing anthrax. Slickly produced videos chronicling his progress and threatening an imminent attack are posted to the Internet, intensifying the hysteria gripping the US.

ISIS recruits a Mexican drug cartel to smuggle the bioweapon across the border, but it’s really just a diversion. The terrorist organization needs to keep Mitch Rapp and Irene Kennedy distracted long enough to weaponize a deadly virus that they stumbled upon in Yemen. If they succeed, they’ll trigger a pandemic that could rewrite the world order.

Rapp embarks on a mission to infiltrate the Mexican cartels and track down the ISIS leader who he failed to kill during their last confrontation. But with Washington’s political elite increasingly lined up against him, he knows he’ll be on his own.

“In the world of black-ops thrillers, Mitch Rapp remains the gold standard” (Booklist, starred review).

Why it stands out: Mitch Rapp is the hero America needs, and right now, we need him more than ever. By far, Rapp is the baddest man in the thriller genre has to offer, and whenever he shows up, bad guys tend to die in bunches. Especially in this one, as Mills turns Rapp loose on the leader of ISIS, who is planning a devastating biological attack. On top of that, America finds itself in the middle of the most controversial presidential election in decades, and there will be political fallout for both Rapp and his boss, CIA Director Irene Kennedy. Everything about this one feels like an old school Vince Flynn book, which is exactly what fans have been begging for.

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The Night FireThe Night Fire by Michael Connelly

Harry Bosch and LAPD Detective Renée Ballard come together again on the murder case that obsessed Bosch’s mentor, the man who trained him—new from #1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Connelly

Back when Harry Bosch was just a rookie homicide detective, he had an inspiring mentor who taught him to take the work personally and light the fire of relentlessness for every case. Now that mentor, John Jack Thompson, is dead, but after his funeral his widow gives Bosch a murder book that Thompson took with him when he left the LAPD 20 years before — the unsolved killing of a troubled young man in an alley used for drug deals.

Bosch brings the murder book to Renée Ballard and asks her to help him find what about the case lit Thompson’s fire all those years ago. That will be their starting point.

The bond between Bosch and Ballard tightens as they become a formidable investigative team. And they soon arrive at a worrying question: Did Thompson steal the murder book to work the case in retirement, or to make sure it never got solved?

Why it stands out: Michael Connelly is so good that it’s almost unfair to other mystery and crime writers publishing new books around the same time this one comes out. Harry Bosch is as steady as they come, and the addition of Renee Ballard, who brings youth and energy, was a brilliant move by Connelly, who easily bought himself another five to ten books, minimum, before it’s even time to consider retiring Harry once and for all.

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Red SpecterRed Specter by Andrews & Wilson

It’s strike—and counterstrike—as John Dempsey takes the fight to the Russians in a riveting Tier One Thriller by the Wall Street Journal bestselling authors of American Operator.

When shadow warrior and former Tier One Navy SEAL John Dempsey goes undercover to meet with a Vory arms dealer, he thinks he’s laying the groundwork to penetrate the Russian criminal underground. Instead, he walks into a trap orchestrated by Zeta, the secret Russian task force behind a recent assassination attempt on the US President. For Dempsey and his team, the only way out is to lay waste to the Russians, putting a target on Ember’s back.

With Ember pitted against Zeta, a dangerous game of strike and counterstrike ensues—sanctioned in the halls of the Kremlin and the White House but disavowed to the world. As the line between espionage, counterterrorism, and spec ops blurs, Ember is ordered to eliminate their ultimate adversary, which means taking the fight against Zeta to Russian soil. But like a phoenix risen from the Cold War embers, Zeta is more capable than anyone imagines, and the Russians retaliate with an operation that will find Dempsey and task force Ember battling for survival.

Why it stands out: Andrews and Wilson are among the most criminally underrated authors in the genre. Their series is good enough to go toe-to-toe with just about anything else on store shelves, and their hero, John Dempsey, ranks up there with Scot Harvath and the Gray Man. This time out, the secret program that Dempsey is part of is attacked by their Russian counterpart, kicking off a high-stakes shadow war that does not disappoint.

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Agent running in the fieldAgent Running in the Field by John le Carré

“[Le Carré’s] novels are so brilliant because they’re emotionally and psychologically absolutely true, but of course they’re novels.” —New York Times Book Review

A new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author John le Carré

Nat, a 47-year-old veteran of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, believes his years as an agent runner are over. He is back in London with his wife, the long-suffering Prue. But with the growing threat from Moscow Centre, the office has one more job for him. Nat is to take over The Haven, a defunct substation of London General with a rag-tag band of spies. The only bright light on the team is young Florence, who has her eye on Russia Department and a Ukrainian oligarch with a finger in the Russia pie.

Nat is not only a spy, he is a passionate badminton player. His regular Monday evening opponent is half his age: the introspective and solitary Ed. Ed hates Brexit, hates Trump and hates his job at some soulless media agency. And it is Ed, of all unlikely people, who will take Prue, Florence and Nat himself down the path of political anger that will ensnare them all. Agent Running in the Field is a chilling portrait of our time, now heartbreaking, now darkly humorous, told to us with unflagging tension by the greatest chronicler of our age.

Why it stands out: The Godfather of the spy thriller genre, le Carre helped pave the way for most of the authors on this list over the course of his iconic career. It’s incredible that he’s still writing, now deep into his 80s, but if you read his last book—A Legacy of Spies—then you know the GOAT has still got it. I don’t know how he does it, but he’s been doing it for a long time . . . and he’s still getting it done better than just about anyone else.

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Blue Moon promoBlue Moon by Lee Child

In the next highly anticipated installment of Lee Child’s acclaimed suspense series, Jack Reacher comes to the aid of an elderly couple . . . and confronts his most dangerous opponents yet.

“Jack Reacher is today’s James Bond, a thriller hero we can’t get enough of.”—Ken Follett

“This is a random universe,” Reacher says. “Once in a blue moon things turn out just right.”

This isn’t one of those times.

Reacher is on a Greyhound bus, minding his own business, with no particular place to go, and all the time in the world to get there. Then he steps off the bus to help an old man who is obviously just a victim waiting to happen. But you know what they say about good deeds. Now Reacher wants to make it right.

An elderly couple have made a few well-meaning mistakes, and now they owe big money to some very bad people. One brazen move leads to another, and suddenly Reacher finds himself a wanted man in the middle of a brutal turf war between rival Ukrainian and Albanian gangs.

Reacher has to stay one step ahead of the loan sharks, the thugs, and the assassins. He teams up with a fed-up waitress who knows a little more than she’s letting on, and sets out to take down the powerful and make the greedy pay. It’s a long shot. The odds are against him. But Reacher believes in a certain kind of justice . . . the kind that comes along once in a blue moon.

Why it stands out: Stop me if you heard this one before . . . Reacher travels to a little nowhere town, goes looking for a good cup of coffee, finds a bunch of trouble instead, throws down with said bad guys, uncovers a conspiracy, then burns that to the ground before skipping town and riding off into the sunset. That’s, like, literally every Jack Reacher book to date. Honestly, if Lee Child ever got too far away from that formula, fans would likely revolt, as that’s what they love about the giant, ass-kicking nomad. Still, after a while, things can feel predictable if a writer doesn’t switch it up a bit, which is exactly what Child does here. Yes, there’s a familiar setup, but Child proves he still has a few tricks up his sleeve . . . and if you think you’ve seen Reacher unleashed before, trust me, you’re in for a real treat with this one.

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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.

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2 comments

  1. I have to disagree about The Russian”. I’m about halfway into it and had a hard time putting it down. Next for me is Lethal Agent. I had trouble adjusting to Mills after Flynn but I’m now hover that. Silva is always a must for me. Thanks for the excellent job in your site.

  2. “Lethal agent“ is really reminiscent of Vince Flynn‘s writings. 4 1/2 stars. Some of the best action scenes that I’ve ever read.

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