The Real Book Spy’s November 2019 Reading Guide

There’s only two more months left in 2019, but thankfully, there’s still a ton of great thrillers set to hit store shelves. 

As always, we’ve selected a few standout titles—and the Featured Selections for November are The Accomplice by Joseph Kanon, Red Specter by Andrews and Wilson, Twisted Twenty-Six by Janet Evanovich, and Tom Clancy Code of Honor by Marc Cameron. Scroll down to read more about those books, along with new releases from Clive Cussler, Anne Perry, Lisa Jewel, Robert Harris, Alan Furst, and others. 

 

Happy reading! 

 

Tuesday, November 5th

 

The Accomplice

The Accomplice by Joseph Kanon (Featured Selection)

From “master of the genre” (The Washington Post) Joseph Kanon, a heart-pounding and intelligent espionage novel about a Nazi war criminal who was supposed to be dead, the rogue CIA agent on his trail, and the beautiful woman connected to them both.

Seventeen years after the fall of the Third Reich, Max Weill has never forgotten the atrocities he saw as a prisoner at Auschwitz—nor the face of Dr. Otto Schramm, a camp doctor who worked with Mengele on appalling experiments and who sent Max’s family to the gas chambers. As the war came to a close, Schramm was one of the many high-ranking former-Nazi officers who managed to escape Germany for new lives in South America, where leaders like Argentina’s Juan Perón gave them safe harbor and new identities. With his life nearing its end, Max asks his nephew Aaron Wiley—an American CIA desk analyst—to complete the task Max never could: to track down Otto in Argentina, capture him, and bring him back to Germany to stand trial.

Unable to deny Max, Aaron travels to Buenos Aires and discovers a city where Nazis thrive in plain sight, mingling with Argentine high society. He ingratiates himself with Otto’s alluring but wounded daughter, whom he’s convinced is hiding her father. Enlisting the help of a German newspaper reporter, an Israeli agent, and the obliging CIA station chief in Buenos Aires, he hunts for Otto—a complicated monster, unexpectedly human but still capable of murder if cornered. Unable to distinguish allies from enemies, Aaron will ultimately have to discover not only Otto, but the boundaries of his own personal morality, how far he is prepared to go to render justice.

“With his remarkable emotional precision and mastery of tone” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), Joseph Kanon crafts another compelling and unputdownable thriller that will keep you breathlessly turning the pages.

Why you should be excited about it: Along with le Carre, Kanon is one of the all-time greats, and the fact that the two of them are putting new books out just two weeks apart is special for readers. Add in Robert Harris and Alan Furst (below), and this fall is a dream season for spy enthusiasts everywhere.

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Red Specter

Red Specter by Andrews and Wilson (Featured Selection)

It’s strikeand 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 you should be excited about it: These guys do not get enough credit, period. Jack Dempsey is one of my favorite heroes in the genre today, and nobody packs more action into their books than Andrews & Wilson. This time around, the capable Tier One operator is throwing down with the Russians, sparking a bloody fight as two heavyweights collide in the shadows. It’s Ember—the top-secret American task force—verses Zeta—Russia’s equivalent, and the group behind a recent presidential assassination. Trust me, this one’s not to be missed.

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Final Option

Final Option by Clive Cussler

In Final Option, Juan Cabrillo fights the worst enemy from his past to the terrifying and unexpected ending created by the Grand Master of Adventure, Clive Cussler, in the latest action-packed thriller in his #1 New York Times-bestselling series.

When the CIA realizes the identities of three American spies in Brazil have been compromised, they turn to Juan Cabrillo and the crew of the Oregon to rescue the agents. What seems a routine operation turns out to be a trap designed by Juan Cabrillo’s greatest enemy, a man driven by hate to seek the ultimate revenge. At the heart of the plot is a state-of-the-art ship that is identical to the Oregon: same weaponry, same technology, same ability to evade capture. The only thing it doesn’t have is Cabrillo and his talented crew. But will they be enough to go up against the one ship that rivals their own?

The crew of the Oregon must piece together a series of disturbing events, including the mysterious sinking of a nuclear attack submarine and the possible discovery of a WWII-era weapon that was thought to be lost in the jungles of Brazil, in the ultimate game of cat and mouse.

Why you should be excited about it: Boyd Morrison has done a fine job co-writing with Cussler, and in their latest thriller, Juan Cabrillo and the crew of the Oregon are forced to take on an advanced spy ship that can match them step-for-step.

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A Christmas Gathering

A Christmas Gathering by Anne Perry

A cold case adds an extra chill to the holiday season as bestselling author Anne Perry whisks readers to an elegant home in the English countryside for a Christmas of secrets, soul-searching, and forgiveness.

As beautiful as it may be, their friends’ country house is not where Lady Vespasia wishes to spend Christmas with her new husband, Victor Narraway. She’d have preferred a relaxing holiday at home with him—especially as Victor, former head of the London Special Branch, seems to be hiding undercover dealings with the other guests who have gathered at the spacious estate.

As tensions grow, the young and beautiful Iris Watson-Watt becomes the center of several men’s focus. Unbeknownst to Vespasia, Iris carries a sensitive package that she must pass to Victor in the hope of unmasking a British traitor. While Victor plots his moves, he is reminded of a similar case from twenty years before, when a young Frenchwoman also carried a clandestine message—one that resulted in her murder, unsolved to this day. Victor has always been tormented by his failure to protect her, and now, with all eyes on Iris, Victor must act fast before history repeats itself.

With the joy of Christmas at risk of being forgotten and Vespasia feeling alone with a distracted husband, Victor must ultimately learn to forgive himself in order to save both his country and the spirit of the holiday.

Why you should be excited about it: If you find yourself feeling festive just ahead of the holidays, Anne Perry is dropping a chilling Christmas mystery before Thanksgiving that should help those craving a whodunit get their fill well before the punkin’ pie and Turkey is served, or old St. Nick slides his rotund self down the chimney.

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The Family Upstairs

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewel

From the New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone comes another page-turning look inside one family’s past as buried secrets threaten to come to light.

Be careful who you let in.

Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.

Why you should be excited about it: Lisa Jewel has been killin’ it lately. I really enjoyed her last book, Watching You, and certainly have high expectations for this one. Those readers who loved A.J. Finn’s The Woman in the Window, but are disgusted with the recent allegations about Finn and are thus reluctant to support him ever again with sales, should sink their book-buying budget into Jewel. She’s more talented and has a deep backlist of top-notch stuff too.

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Tuesday, November 12th

 

Twisted Twenty-Six

Twisted Twenty-Six by Janet Evanovich (Featured Selection)

This isn’t just another case. This is family.

How far will Stephanie Plum go to protect the one person who means the most to her? The stakes have never been higher in this latest adventure from #1 New York Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich.

Grandma Mazur has decided to get married again – this time to a local gangster named Jimmy Rosolli. If Stephanie has her doubts about this marriage, she doesn’t have to worry for long, because the groom drops dead of a heart attack 45 minutes after saying, “I do.”

A sad day for Grandma Mazur turns into something far more dangerous when Jimmy’s former “business partners” are convinced that his new widow is keeping the keys to a financial windfall all to herself. But the one thing these wise guys didn’t count on was the widow’s bounty hunter granddaughter, who’ll do anything to save her.

Why you should be excited about it: Evanovich is one of the best for a reason. Stephanie Plum is a heavyweight too, and her return is always one of the biggest reading events of the fall.

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The Andromeda Evolution

The Andromeda Evolution by Michael Crichton and Daniel H. Wilson

Fifty years after The Andromeda Strain made Michael Crichton a household name—and spawned a new genre, the technothriller—the threat returns, in a gripping sequel that is terrifyingly realistic and resonant.

The Evolution is Coming.

In 1967, an extraterrestrial microbe came crashing down to Earth and nearly ended the human race. Accidental exposure to the particle—designated The Andromeda Strain—killed every resident of the town of Piedmont, Arizona, save for an elderly man and an infant boy. Over the next five days, a team of top scientists assigned to Project Wildfire worked valiantly to save the world from an epidemic of unimaginable proportions. In the moments before a catastrophic nuclear detonation, they succeeded.

In the ensuing decades, research on the microparticle continued. And the world thought it was safe…

Deep inside Fairchild Air Force Base, Project Eternal Vigilance has continued to watch and wait for the Andromeda Strain to reappear. On the verge of being shut down, the project has registered no activity—until now. A Brazilian terrain-mapping drone has detected a bizarre anomaly of otherworldly matter in the middle of the jungle, and, worse yet, the tell-tale chemical signature of the deadly microparticle.

With this shocking discovery, the next-generation Project Wildfire is activated, and a diverse team of experts hailing from all over the world is dispatched to investigate the potentially apocalyptic threat.

But the microbe is growing—evolving. And if the Wildfire team can’t reach the quarantine zone, enter the anomaly, and figure out how to stop it, this new Andromeda Evolution will annihilate all life as we know it

Why you should be excited about it: My understanding is that, though he seems credited on the dust jacket, Crichton himself contributed nothing to this book. Unlike past unfinished manuscripts his estate uncovered, this one comes fully from another author—though it is very much a sequel to Crichton’s iconic novel, The Andromeda Strain. Not all estate writers live up expectations, with many failing to fill the shoes of the legendary author they’re trying to replace. That said, it can happen. Kyle Mills has done an extraordinary job stepping in for Vince Flynn, continuing his Mitch Rapp saga with great success and acclaim. Obviously, the pressure is high for Wilson, and it’ll be fun to see Crichton’s story continue through someone else’s point of view.

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Tuesday, November 19th

Guilty Not Guilt

Guilty Not Guilty by Felix Francis

New York Times-bestselling author Felix Francis returns with another nail-biting thriller in the Dick Francis tradition.

It is said that everyone over a certain age can remember distinctly what they were doing when they heard that President Kennedy had been assassinated, or that Princess Diana had been killed in a Paris car crash, but I, for one, could recall all too clearly where I was standing when a policeman told me that my wife had been murdered.

Bill Russell is acting as a volunteer steward at Warwick races when he confronts his worst nightmare–the violent death of his much-loved wife. But, the aftermath proves much worse when he is accused of killing her and then hounded mercilessly by the media. Losing his job and in danger of losing his home too, Bill’s life begins to unravel completely. Even his best friends turn against him, thinking him guilty of the heinous crime, despite the lack of any compelling evidence.

As Bill sets out to clear his name, he finds that proving one’s innocence isn’t easy. He believes he can track down the true culprit, but can he prove it before he becomes the murderer’s next victim? Guilty Not Guilty is a journey of greed and jealousy set against the grief of personal tragedy, with many a twist and turn along the way.

Why you should be excited about it: As a writer, he’s lived in the shadow of his father, Dick Francis, for most of his career. That all changed a few years back, with Felix making a name for himself with his own brew of suspense-filled mysteries. His last book, Crisis, was very strong. Let’s see if he can top that in 2019.

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A minute to midnight

A Minute to Midnight by David Baldacci

FBI Agent Atlee Pine returns to her Georgia hometown to reopen the investigation of her twin sister’s abduction, only to encounter a serial killer beginning a reign of terror, in this page-turning thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci.

FBI Agent Atlee Pine’s life was never the same after her twin sister Mercy was kidnapped–and likely killed–thirty years ago. After a lifetime of torturous uncertainty, Atlee’s unresolved anger finally gets the better of her on the job, and she finds she has to deal with the demons of her past if she wants to remain with the FBI.

Atlee and her assistant Carol Blum head back to Atlee’s rural hometown in Georgia to see what they can uncover about the traumatic night Mercy was taken and Pine was almost killed. But soon after Atlee begins her investigation, a local woman is found ritualistically murdered, her face covered with a wedding veil–and the first killing is quickly followed by a second bizarre murder.

Atlee is determined to continue her search for answers, but now she must also set her sights on finding a potential serial killer before another victim is claimed. But in a small town full of secrets–some of which could answer the questions that have plagued Atlee her entire life–digging deeper into the past could be more dangerous than she realizes . . .

Why you should be excited about it: Atlee Pine is a great new character. Not that Baldacci was hurting for star power, with bestselling series protagonists in John Puller, Amos Decker, and Will Robie already thriving. Pine, though, is a legit star in her own right, and maybe his best character so far.

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Code of Honot

Tom Clancy Code of Honor by Marc Cameron (Featured Selection)

As President of the United States, Jack Ryan has faced many challenges, but none have been as personal as this and never has he been this helpless in the face of evil in the latest entry in Tom Clancy’s #1 New York Times bestselling series.

Father Pat West, S.J. was a buddy of the young Jack Ryan when they were both undergraduates at Boston College. Father West left a comfortable job in the philosophy department at Georgetown to work with the poor in Indonesia. Now he’s been arrested and accused of blasphemy against Islam.

President Ryan is desperate to rescue his old friend, but he can’t move officially against the Indonesians. Instead he relies on the Campus team to find out who is framing the priest.

There’s one other twist to the story. President Ryan discovers a voicemail on his private cell phone from the priest warning about a coming attack against America…

Why you should be excited about it: It’s rare for an estate author to replace a legend without much dropoff in quality. It’s almost unheard of for that to occur twice—and yet that’s exactly what’s happened since Tom Clancy’s passing, with Mark Greaney flawlessly continuing Jack Ryan’s story before giving way to Marc Cameron, who has done an amazing job with the last two books. This time around, President Ryan must find a way to help a life-long friend who was arrested in Indonesia for spreading blasphemy against Islam. Of course, when you’re the leader of the free world, getting involved in a personal matter is hard to do without starting an international situation—so Jack will have to operate carefully. Throw in a possible attack on American soil, and Cameron has all the makings of another must-read thriller.

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The Rise of Magicks

The Rise of Magicks by Nora Roberts

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Year One and Of Blood and Bone concludes her stunning new trilogy praised as “A match for end-of-the-world classics like Stephen King’s The Stand.”

After the sickness known as the Doom destroyed civilization, magick has become commonplace, and Fallon Swift has spent her young years learning its ways. Fallon cannot live in peace until she frees those who have been preyed upon by the government or the fanatical Purity Warriors, endlessly hunted or locked up in laboratories, brutalized for years on end. She is determined to save even those who have been complicit with this evil out of fear or weakness―if, indeed, they can be saved.

Strengthened by the bond she shares with her fellow warrior, Duncan, Fallon has already succeeded in rescuing countless shifters and elves and ordinary humans. Now she must help them heal―and rediscover the light and faith within themselves. For although from the time of her birth, she has been The One, she is still only one. And as she faces down an old nemesis, sets her sights on the enemy’s stronghold, and pursues her destiny―to finally restore the mystical shield that once protected them all―she will need an army behind her.

Why you should be excited about it: Nora Roberts is one of the most famous, best-selling novelists alive today, and she’s done some of her most underrated writing within this series.

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Robert B Parkers Angel Eyes

Robert B. Parker’s Angel Eyes by Ace Atkins

In the latest thriller featuring the legendary Boston PI, Spenser heads to the City of Angels to meet old friends and new enemies in a baffling missing person case that might shake Tinseltown to its core.

Gabby Leggett left her Boston family with dreams of making it big as a model/actress in Hollywood. Two years later, she disappears from her apartment. Her family, former boyfriend, friends–and the police–have no idea where she is and no leads. Leggett’s mother hires Spenser to find her, with help of his former apprentice, Zebulon Sixkill, now an L.A. private eye.

Spenser barely has time to unpack before the trail leads to a powerful movie studio boss, the Armenian mob, and a shadowy empowerment group some say might be a dangerous cult.

It’s soon clear that Spenser and Sixkill may be outgunned this time, and series favorites Chollo and Bobby Horse ride to the rescue to provide backup. From the mansions of Beverly Hills to the lawless streets of a small California town, Spenser will need to watch his step. In Hollywood, all that glitters isn’t gold. And not all those who wander are lost.

Why you should be excited about it: Atkins has done a fine job continuing Parker’s iconic character, and with tons of hype building around Spenser thanks to the forthcoming moving coming to Netflix (starring Mark Wahlberg), it’ll be interesting to see how he continues to develop the Boston-based PI moving forward.

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The Second Sleep

The Second Sleep by Robert Harris

From the internationally best-selling author of Fatherland and the Cicero Trilogy–a chilling and dark new thriller unlike anything Robert Harris has done before.

1468. A young priest, Christopher Fairfax, arrives in a remote Exmoor village to conduct the funeral of his predecessor. The land around is strewn with ancient artefacts–coins, fragments of glass, human bones–which the old parson used to collect. Did his obsession with the past lead to his death?

Fairfax becomes determined to discover the truth. Over the course of the next six days, everything he believes–about himself, his faith, and the history of his world–will be tested to destruction.

Why you should be excited about it: As noted above, John le Carre and Joseph Kanon both have books coming out this fall. Harris’ is the third highly-anticipated espionage thriller set to hit bookstores, and after a really fantastic last outing (Munich, 2018), expectations are crazy high for this one. Might this finally be the book that tops An Officer and a Spy? We’ll know soon enough!

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The Chosen One.jpgThe Chosen One by Walt Gragg

A fundamentalist Islamic army is on the march in the Middle East, and the fight to stop the spread of madness will take everything the American military can muster, in this novel from the author of The Red Line.

Two months ago, a new leader arose in the Islamic world, the Mahdi—or the Chosen One. He has rallied fundamentalist Muslim forces across the Middle East who have driven deep into Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Standing against them is an allied force made up primarily of the American military. 

It’s a desperate fight. From armored battles in the desert to American carriers desperately dodging waves of cruise missiles, the Mahdi proves to have many tricks up his sleeve. 

Marine Lieutenant Sam Erickson is in the thick of the fighting. He and his company have fought their way from a landing on the Mediterranean shore to the outskirts of Cairo. Now he finds himself at a critical juncture, but can he make the sacrifices necessary for the greater good?

Why you should be excited about it: Gragg does feel a bit like the victim of a sophomore slump here, but part of that is simply perception, based on how good his first book was. While it’s true that this one isn’t as good as The Red Line, Gragg is a fantastic writer who understands pacing and character development. It’s a solid military thriller, so fans of that particular sub-genre will want to check this one out. 

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Tuesday, November 26th

 

Criss Cross

Criss Cross by James Patterson

A killer with all the skills of a master detective has made Alex Cross the subject of his deranged “investigation.”

In a Virginia penitentiary, Alex Cross and his partner, John Sampson, witness the execution of a killer they helped convict. Hours later, they are called to the scene of a copycat crime. A note signed “M” rests on the corpse. “You messed up big time, Dr. Cross.”

Was an innocent man just put to death? Alex soon realizes he may have much to answer for, as “M” lures the detective out of the capital to the sites of multiple homicides, all marked with distressingly familiar details — details that conjure up decades-old cases. Details that conjure up Cross family secrets. Details that make clear that M is after a prize so dear that — were the killer to attain it — Alex’s heart would no longer have reason to beat

Why you should be excited about it: Alex Cross remains a stalwart character of the thriller genre, and Patterson has shown no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

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Under Occupation

Under Occupation by Alan Furst

From “America’s preeminent spy novelist” (The New York Times) comes a fast-paced, mesmerizing thriller of the French resistance fighters working secretly and bravely to defeat Hitler.

Occupied Paris, 1942. Just before he dies, a man being chased by the Gestapo hands off a strange-looking document to the unsuspecting novelist Paul Ricard. It looks like a blueprint of a part for a military weapon, one that might have important information for the Allied forces. Ricard realizes he must try to get it into the hands of members of the resistance network.

As Ricard finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into anti-Nazi efforts, and into increasingly dangerous espionage assignments, he travels to Germany and along the escape routes of underground resistance safe houses, to spy on Nazi maneuvers. When he meets the mysterious and beautiful Leila, a professional spy, they begin to work together to get crucial information out of France and into the hands of the Allied forces in London.

Why you should be excited about it: John le Carre, Joseph Kanon, Robert Harris . . . and then Alan Furst. If Frederick Forsyth could have put a book out, we’d have one from all the greats this year. Amazing, really, and fans of espionage thrillers should savor these next few months because chances are, we’ll never see another iconic run like this again. At the very least, it’ll be a long, long time.

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Active Measures by Marc Cameron

OLD ENEMIES NEVER DIE

Cuba and the United States are in talks to normalize relations, something the old guard on the Communist-controlled island has vowed to stop—by any means necessary. Zayda de la Guardia, a rogue general in the Cuban security services, has gotten his hands on a nuclear weapon leftover from the Cold War. He plans to launch it on Miami, an attack that could kill millions. There’s just one thing standing in his way: special agent Jericho Quinn and his team have traveled undercover to Cuba to unravel de la Guardia’s plot before it ignites a nuclear holocaust. Thrown into a secret prison, pursued by assassins, and trapped on the tiny island during one of the worst hurricanes of the century, Quinn and his crew must survive a trial by fire to prevent an international confrontation that would make the Cuban Missile Crisis look like a fistfight.

Why you should be excited about it: Cameron has back-to-back thrillers in November, with Jack Ryan up first, followed by the eighth book in his own series. Quinn is a great character, and Cameron has done a really solid job bringing him along. It’s been a while since the last book (Field of Fire, 2017) came out, so it’ll be nice to catch back up with Jericho and see what kind of trouble he can get himself into this time around.

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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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