The thriller genre is about to get a big boost.
Though he is best known for his hard-hitting, fan-favorite Logan West series, author Matthew Betley recently signed a deal with Blackstone Publishing to release his first-ever standalone thriller, The Neighborhood.
After breaking onto the scene in 2016 with his hit debut, Overwatch, which first introduced readers to West (a former Marine officer turned special “consultant” to assist the FBI as part of a special task force) and his ass-kicking, one-line-dropping buddy John Quick, Betley went on to release three more high-octane thrillers in that series. Now, he’s stepping away from Logan temporarily to deliver a novel that’s best described as a cross between Harlan Coben and Joseph Finder—which is set for publication in late 2021 or early 2022.
Additionally, Betley is gearing up to publish a novella set within the Logan West universe following Amira Cerone, the scene-stealing character who first popped up in Oath of Honor (2017). The e-short, titled Amira, is set ten months after the conclusion of Rules of War (a Dana Perino Book Club pick in 2019) and is slated to come out on March 14, 2021. Fans can pre-order that one here.
To learn more about his forthcoming projects, I caught up with Mathew Betley last week just ahead of Thanksgiving, and he went on the record for a quick, insightful interview where I asked him about both The Neighborhood and Amira, among other things—including why he felt the timing was finally right to pen his first standalone story now.
TRBS: What’s the new book about, and when does it finally hit bookstores?
Betley: As you know, 2020 is the first year I haven’t published a book since OVERWATCH dropped back in 2016. I know my fans were disappointed when I made that announcement, but I did it for a very strategic reason. While the Logan West books have done well and received critical acclaim, as well as a Barry award nomination, I really wanted to bring in new readers to the Betley Experience, readers who might not normally enjoy geopolitical action thrillers but still want to read an intense, visceral, wild ride that I’m known for delivering. As a result, I decided to write a standalone thriller, THE NEIGHBORHOOD, and just recently finalized a deal with Blackstone Publishing for it. It’s about a gated community 40 miles west of Washington DC that comes under siege in the middle of the night from an assault force looking for something they believe one of the residents stole. It has atypical protagonists, including a suburban dad and a 17-year-old female high school track star, who have to figure out how to survive this attack. While the entire story takes place in a contained environment, it’s still a very intense, emotional, and action-packed experience. I’m thrilled with how it turned out, and I’m incredibly excited to have Blackstone Publishing onboard, as I’ve heard nothing but great things about how they promote their books. This book is something new readers can pick up without having read a Logan West thriller and be introduced to the type of thriller I try to deliver each and every time. Then again, you know this, as I let you read an advanced copy months ago, and I’m sure you can add something about it from your point of view. As for the timeline, we’re looking at late 2021 or early 2022.
TRBS: Your fans will no doubt be excited to get their hands on THE NEIGHBORHOOD, but what’s going on with Logan West, and do you have any plans to bring him back down the road?
The world of Logan West has become a rich one, with stories and characters intentionally interwoven across all four books. I always viewed that world as an amusement park, with each book serving as a main attraction you could ride over and over. And one of the fan-favorite characters, year after year, since I introduced her, has been Amira Cerone. I’d always had plans to write an origin story for her, and now seems like the perfect time. As a result, I’ve already started the novella, working title AMIRA, which takes place 10 months after the events of RULES OF WAR. In the context of a current national security threat, it tells the story of how Amira was recruited into the CIA. Additionally, an event I described in OATH OF HONOR in the first few pages where she’s introduced has a key role in the story of AMIRA. I’m incredibly excited about this novella. It should be finished within the next few months, and then I’m going to publish it immediately on Amazon, which I think is the perfect venue. And while AMIRA is all about her, no doubt Logan West, John Quick, and Cole Matthews will be involved. You can’t have one without the others.
TRBS: Lastly, you’ve teased there could be a movie deal in the works. Any update with that?
I was fortunate months ago, even before I finalized a book deal, that THE NEIGHBORHOOD was picked up by a major Hollywood production company, led by a true A-list producer. They believe THE NEIGHBORHOOD could be a major action thriller franchise for them, and two screenwriters have already turned in what Hollywood calls a “treatment,” a sort of proposal, and the book is also with four major directors that 99% of moviegoers would recognize. But since this isn’t my first movie rodeo, as we had a deal for OVERWATCH which fell apart – signed contracts and all – because the producer took another job, there are no guarantees in this business. But in this case, I know I’m with the best people possible to try and make this movie a reality.
Finally, I have a few other major things potentially in the works, but I’m playing those close to the vest, at least at this point. 2020 has been a surreal hellscape for many, and I’m hoping that with both THE NEIGHBORHOOD and AMIRA, as well as a few of these other projects, 2021 could be the kind of year that gets me closer to my goals, and more importantly, delivers the kind of entertainment my readers and fans deserve.
Having read an early cut of The Neighborhood, I can confirm that Betley’s readers are indeed in for an exciting, heart-pounding adventure. Not only is the plot unique and filled with Betley’s trademark action sequences, but his diverse cast of characters and breakneck pacing combine to make this one a reading experience unlike anything else. Without giving anything away, let’s just say that it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the hero of this book pop up on our Top Ten Most Lethal Characters list in the near future. The only question is, will that be in 2021 or 2022?
We’ll have more coverage of The Neighborhood and Amira in the coming months, so make sure to check back soon. In the meantime, be sure to follow Matthew Betley on Twitter and that you’ve signed up for his official newsletter for more details.
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.