In some ways, it feels like 2023 has barely gotten started, but here we are, closing out January and heading straight into February—where a ton of great thrillers are waiting.
In fact, February is one of the most stacked months of the year when it comes to can’t-miss, must-read thrillers.
As always, we’ve chosen a few titles to highlight, and this month our Featured Selections are The Last Orphan by Gregg Hurwitz, Burner by Mark Greaney, Dempsey by Andrews & Wilson, and Storm Watch by C.J. Box. Find out more about these titles, and everything else hitting bookstores this month, below.
Tuesday, February 7th
Unnatural History by Jonathan Kellerman
The most enduring detectives in American crime fiction are back in this electrifying thriller of art and brutality from the #1 New York Times bestselling master of suspense.
Los Angeles is a city of stark contrast, the palaces of the affluent coexisting uneasily with the hellholes of the mad and the needy. That shadow world and the violence it breeds draw brilliant psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware and Detective Milo Sturgis into an unsettling case of altruism gone wrong.
On a superficially lovely morning, a woman shows up for work with her usual enthusiasm. She’s the newly hired personal assistant to a handsome, wealthy photographer and is ready to greet her boss with coffee and good cheer. Instead, she finds him slumped in bed, shot to death.
The victim had recently received rave media attention for his latest project: images of homeless people in their personal “dream” situations, elaborately costumed and enacting unfulfilled fantasies. There are some, however, who view the whole thing as nothing more than crass exploitation, citing token payments and the victim’s avoidance of any long-term relationships with his subjects.
Has disgruntlement blossomed into homicidal rage? Or do the roots of violence reach down to the victim’s family—a clan, sired by an elusive billionaire, that is bizarre in its own right?
Then new murders arise, and Alex and Milo begin peeling back layer after layer of intrigue and complexity, culminating in one of the deadliest threats they’ve ever faced.
The House Guest by Hank Phillippi Ryan
The House Guest is another diabolical cat-and-mouse thriller from USA Today bestselling author Hank Phillippi Ryan―but which character is the cat, and which character is the mouse?
After every divorce, one spouse gets all the friends. What does the other one get? If they’re smart, they get the benefits. Alyssa Macallan is terrified when she’s dumped by her wealthy and powerful husband. With a devastating divorce looming, she begins to suspect her toxic and manipulative soon-to-be-ex is scheming to ruin her―leaving her alone and penniless. And when the FBI shows up at her door, Alyssa knows she really needs a friend.
And then she gets one. A seductive new friend, one who’s running from a dangerous relationship of her own. Alyssa offers Bree Lorrance the safety of her guest house, and the two become confidantes. Then Bree makes a heart-stoppingly tempting offer. Maybe Alyssa and Bree can solve each others’ problems.
But no one is what they seem. And the fates and fortunes of these two women twist and turn until the shocking truth emerges: You can’t always get what you want. But sometimes you get what you deserve.
The Cradle of Ice by James Rollins
The second book in the New York Times bestselling Moonfall series from thriller master James Rollins, The Cradle of Ice is a page-turning tale of action, adventure, betrayal, ambition, and the struggle for survival in a harsh world that hangs by a thread.
To stop the coming apocalypse, a fellowship was formed.
A soldier, a thief, a lost prince, and a young girl bonded by fate and looming disaster.
Each step along this path has changed the party, forging deep alliances and greater
enmities. All the while, hostile forces have hunted them, fearing what they might
unleash. Armies wage war around them.
For each step has come with a cost—in blood, in loss, in heartbreak.
Now, they must split, traveling into a vast region of ice and to a sprawling capital of the world they’ve only known in stories. Time is running out and only the truth will save us all.
A Killing of Innocents by Deborah Crombie
New York Times bestseller Deborah Crombie returns with a new novel featuring Scotland Yard detectives Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James as they race to solve the shocking murder of a young woman before panic spreads across London.
On a rainy November evening, trainee doctor Sasha Johnson hurries through the evening crowd in London’s historic Russell Square. Out of the darkness, someone jostles her as they brush past. A moment later, Sasha stumbles, then collapses. When Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his sergeant, Doug Cullen, are called to the scene, they discover that she’s been stabbed.
Kincaid immediately calls in his detective wife, Gemma James, who has recently been assigned to a task force on knife crimes which are on the rise. Along with her partner, detective sergeant Melody Talbot, Gemma aids the investigation. But Sasha Johnson doesn’t fit the profile of the task force’s typical knife crime victim. Single, successful, career-driven, she has no history of abusive relationships or any connection to gangs. Sasha had her secrets, though, and some of them lead the detectives uncomfortably close to home.
As the team unravels the victim’s tangled connections, another murder raises the stakes. Kincaid, Gemma, and their colleagues must put even friendships on the line to find the killer stalking the dark streets of Bloomsbury.
Encore in Death by J.D. Robb
The homicide cop with a passion for justice returns in the captivating crime thriller series by the #1 New York Times bestselling author.
It was a glittering event full of A-listers, hosted by Eliza Lane and Brant Fitzhugh, a celebrity couple who’d conquered both Hollywood and Broadway. And now Eve Dallas has made her entrance—but not as a guest. After raising a toast, Fitzhugh fell to the floor and died, with physical symptoms pointing to cyanide, and the police have crashed the party.
From all accounts, he wasn’t the kind of star who made enemies. Everyone loved him—even his ex-wife. And since the champagne cocktail that killed him was originally intended for Eliza, it’s possible she was the real target, with a recently fired assistant, a bitter rival, and an obsessed fan in the picture. With so many attendees, staff, and servers, Eve has her work cut out determining who committed murder in the middle of the crowd—and what was their motivation. As one who’s not fond of the spotlight herself, she dreads the media circus surrounding a case like this. All she wants is to figure out who’s truly innocent, and who’s only acting that way . . .
More than Meets the Eye by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen
New York Times bestselling authors Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen team up for another electrifying thriller that pits a serial killer against Kendra Michaels’ heightened powers of deduction.
After scoring a plea deal in a high-profile murder trial, serial killer James Michael Barrett leads a grim parade of law enforcement officers to the body of his last victim. At the alleged burial site, the officers swing their shovels down and are met with a strange metallic sound they weren’t expecting. In a blink, a terrific explosion rocks the woods, killing Barrett and most of the officers instantly.
The detonation is only the beginning of a shocking case for FBI consultant Kendra Michaels—a string of heinous murders in the style of the very-dead Barrett mysteriously continue, and it becomes clear that he may not have been working alone. As the crimes accelerate, Kendra reluctantly accepts help from college student Tricia Walton, the only survivor of Barrett’s attacks. But the killer has a terrifying plan that Kendra and her team are only beginning to understand.
Tuesday, February 14th
The Last Orphan by Gregg Hurwitz (Featured Selection)
Evan Smoak returns in The Last Orphan, the latest New York Times bestselling Orphan X thriller–when everything changes and everything is at risk.
As a child, Evan Smoak was plucked out of a group home, raised and trained as an off-the-books assassin for the government as part of the Orphan program. When he broke with the program and went deep underground, he left with a lot of secrets in his head that the government would do anything to make sure never got out.
When he remade himself as The Nowhere Man, dedicated to helping the most desperate in their times of trouble, Evan found himself slowly back on the government’s radar. Having eliminated most of the Orphans in the program, the government will stop at nothing to eliminate the threat they see in Evan. But Orphan X has always been several steps ahead of his pursuers.
Until he makes one little mistake…
Now the President has him in her control and offers Evan a deal – eliminate a rich, powerful man she says is too dangerous to live and, in turn, she’ll let Evan survive. But when Evan left the Program he swore to only use his skills against those who really deserve it. Now he has to decide what’s more important – his principles or his life.
From TRBS: Orphan X is back, and this time, he faces a moral conundrum like never before. A one-sit read that’ll have you flipping pages into the night, Hurwitz is on his A-game here, delivering another winner that his fans will devour in no time.
The Cliff’s Edge by Charles Todd
In the aftermath of World War I, nurse Bess Crawford is caught in a deadly feud between two families in this thirteenth book in the beloved mystery series from New York Times bestselling author Charles Todd.
Restless and uncertain of her future in the wake of World War I, former battlefield nurse Bess Crawford agrees to travel to Yorkshire to help a friend of her cousin Melinda through surgery. But circumstances change suddenly when news of a terrible accident reaches them. Bess agrees to go to isolated Scarfdale and the Neville family, where one man has been killed and another gravely injured. The police are asking questions, and Bess is quickly drawn into the fray as two once close families take sides, even as they are forced to remain in the same house until the inquest is completed.
When another tragedy strikes, the police are ready to make an arrest. Bess struggles to keep order as tensions rise and shots are fired. What dark truth is behind these deaths? And what about the tale of an older murder—one that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the Nevilles? Bess is unaware that when she passes the story on to Cousin Melinda, she will set in motion a revelation with the potential to change the lives of those she loves most—her parents, and her dearest friend, Simon Brandon.
Black Wolf by Kathleen Kent
A “masterful” and “riveting” thriller about a female CIA agent whose extraordinary facial recognition powers lead her into the dangerous heart of the Soviet Union—and the path of a killer who shouldn’t exist (Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author).
It is 1990 when Melvina Donleavy arrives in Soviet Belarus on her first undercover mission with the CIA, alongside three fellow agents—none of whom know she is playing two roles. To the prying eyes of the KGB, she is merely a secretary; to her CIA minders, she is the only one who can stop the flow of nuclear weapons from the crumbling Soviet Union into the Middle East.
For Mel has a secret; she is a “super recognizer,” someone who never forgets a face. But no training could prepare her for the reality of life undercover, and for the streets of Minsk, where women have been disappearing. Soviet law enforcement is firm: murder is a capitalist disease. But could a serial killer be at work? Especially if he knew no one was watching? As Mel searches for answers, she catches the eye of an entirely different kind of threat: the elusive and petrifying “Black Wolf,” head of the KGB.
Filled with insider details from the author’s own time working under the direction of the U.S. Department of Defense, Black Wolf is a riveting new spy thriller from an Edgar-nominated crime writer, and a biting exploration of the divide between two nations, two masterminds, and two roles played by a woman pushed to her breaking point, where she’ll learn that you can only ever trust one person: yourself.
From TRBS: One of my favorite authors, Joseph Finder, had this to say about Kent’s book: “Part spy novel, part serial-killer novel, Black Wolf is masterful, a riveting tale and a powerful depiction of the collapse of the Soviet Union as seen through the eyes of Melvina Donleavy, a uniquely talented CIA recruit who deserves a series of her own.” That’s good enough for me!
Tuesday, February 21st
Burner by Mark Greaney (Featured Selection)
Court Gentry is caught between the Russian mafia and the CIA in this latest electrifying thriller in the #1 New York Times bestselling Gray Man series.
When you kick over a rock, you never know what’s going to crawl out.
Alex Velesky is about to discover that the hard way. He’s stolen records from the Swiss bank that employs him, thinking that he’ll uncover a criminal conspiracy. But he soon finds that he’s tapped into the mother lode of corruption. Before he knows it, he’s being hunted by everyone from the Russian mafia to the CIA.
Court Gentry and his erstwhile lover, Zoya Zakharova, find themselves on opposites poles when it comes to Velesky. They both want him but for different reasons.
That’s a problem for tomorrow. Today they need to keep him and themselves alive. Right now, it’s not looking good.
From TRBS: Having read this one, I can honestly say it’s Greaney’s best work to date. My favorite Gray Man book has always been Back Blast, which is one of my all-time favorite thrillers. This one might be better. Seriously.
The Last Kingdom by Steve Berry
From celebrated New York Times bestselling author, Steve Berry, comes the latest Cotton Malone adventure, in which the discovery of a lost historical document challenges the global might of the United States.
King Ludwig II of Bavaria was an enigmatic figure who was deposed in 1886, mysteriously drowning three days later. Eccentric to the point of madness, history tells us that in the years before he died Ludwig engaged in a worldwide search for a new kingdom, one separate, apart, and in lieu of Bavaria. A place he could retreat into and rule as he wished. But a question remains: did he succeed?
Enter Cotton Malone. After many months, Malone’s protégé, Luke Daniels, has managed to infiltrate a renegade group intent on winning Bavarian independence from Germany. Daniels has also managed to gain the trust of the prince of Bavaria, a frustrated second son intent on eliminating his brother, the duke, and restoring the Wittelsbach monarchy, only now with him as king. Everything hinges on a 19th century deed which proves that Ludwig’s long-rumored search bore fruit–legal title to lands that Germany, China, and the United States all now want, only for vastly different reasons.
In a race across Bavaria for clues hidden in Ludwig’s three fairytale castles–Neuschwanstein, Linderhof and Herrenchiemsee–Malone and Daniels battle an ever-growing list of deadly adversaries, all intent on finding the last kingdom.
THE STAND meets William R. Forstchen’s ONE SECOND AFTER in New York Times and USA Today bestselling author John Gilstrap’s third pulse-pounding thriller set in an America ravaged by global conflict. As a community of survivors strives to rebuild all they have lost, they look to one woman – single mother and former West Virginia congressional representative Victoria Emerson—to balance survival with justice…
“One of the most compelling heroines to come along in years.”
One-time congressional representative Victoria Emerson has received a request from the deposed president of the United States—come to the bunker at Hilltop Manor, where the remnants of the U.S. government have been imprisoned. A ruthless band has seized power, leaving civilians to die of starvation and untreated injuries. The self-appointed leader, Roger Parsons, plans to punish the former rulers for thrusting the country into Hell Day, the devastating war that changed the world in just a few hours.
Victoria is reluctant to leave Ortho, the West Virginia town she has developed and defended. But as a born leader, she feels the call of duty. Forging her way through a landscape terrorized by local warlords and desperate scavengers, she arrives at Hilltop Manor to find a powder keg of battling factions.
The lofty ideals on which the Republic was founded and the values that once held society together have devolved into anarchy. Calling on her deepest personal resources and her unwavering convictions, Victoria must somehow return the rule of law to a society where many of the old rules and laws don’t matter anymore.
Dempsey by Andres & Wilson (Featured Selection)
The world is more volatile, unpredictable, and dangerous than ever before. To stop the architect of this chaos, Dempsey is given the most dangerous tasking of his career … a mission only he can complete against an adversary he must face alone.
After Task Force Ember’s successful intervention in Ukraine, John Dempsey disappears without a trace — with no notice or explanation given to his teammates. Spotty intelligence eventually places him in Russia where he is rumored to have been captured by the Russian FSB and is now presumed dead. Mourning his loss, Ember is forced to pick up the pieces, restructure, and continue their mission of keeping America safe. As the president’s “go-to” black ops asset, Ember is directed to find and finish off the Russian spymaster Arkady Zhukov and any last remnants of Zeta cell.
Unbeknownst to his teammates, Dempsey is very much alive and on mission. At behest of Vice President Jarvis, he is deep undercover — in the heart of Russia’s nexus of organized crime and politics. For his mission to succeed, he will have to team up with a man who has been his adversary — the one man in all the world he most wants dead. The risks are higher than ever, as Dempsey pursues a high-stakes plot of Russian regime change. And if he fails, the Kremlin’s retribution will be swift and terrible and certain to drag the world into World War III.
From TRBS: The long-awaited next Demsey book is right around the corner, and Andrews & Wilson have dialed up one of their most explosive adventures yet. Fans of this series are going to absolutely flip for this one.
Arch-Conspirator by Veronica Roth
In this gripping and atmospheric reimagining of Antigone, #1 New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth reaches back to the root of legend and delivers a world of tomorrow both timeless and unexpected.
“I’m cursed, haven’t you heard?”
Outside the last city on Earth, the planet is a wasteland. Without the Archive, where the genes of the dead are stored, humanity will end.
Antigone’s parents – Oedipus and Jocasta – are dead. Passing into the Archive should be cause for celebration, but with her militant uncle Kreon rising to claim her father’s vacant throne, all Antigone feels is rage.
When he welcomes her and her siblings into his mansion, Antigone sees it for what it really is: a gilded cage, where she is a captive as well as a guest.
But her uncle will soon learn that no cage is unbreakable. And neither is he.
Paris Requiem by Chris Lloyd
A gripping World War II murder mystery—and a beautifully drawn portrait of Paris under Nazi occupation—with compelling and conflicted hero Detective Eddie Giral at its heart.
As the city adjusts to life under Nazi occupation, Detective Eddie Giral struggles to reconcile his job as a policeman with his new role enforcing a regime he cannot believe in, but must work under.
He’s sacrificed so much in order to survive in this new world, but the past is not so easily forgotten. When an old friend—and an old flame—reappear, begging for his help, Eddie must decide how far he will go to help those he loves.
The notion of justice itself quickly becomes as dangerous, blurred, and confused as the war itself. And Eddie’s morale compass, ever on unreliable foundations, will be questioned again and again as the ravages of the German occupation steadily attempt to grind him—and the city he loves—into submission.
Negotiating a path between resistance and collaboration, he can remain a good man and do nothing—or risk everything he has achieved in a desperate act of resistance.
It’s One of Us by J.T. Ellison
“A heart-stoppingly tense thriller about the price of secrets and the layers behind every marriage.” —Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author of The It Girl and The Woman In Cabin 10
Everybody lies. Even the ones you think you know best of all . . .
Olivia Bender designs exquisite home interiors that satisfy the most demanding clients. But her own deepest desire can’t be fulfilled by marble counters or the perfect rug. She desperately wants to be a mother. Fertility treatments and IVF keep failing. And just when she feels she’s at her lowest point, the police deliver shocking news to Olivia and her husband, Park.
DNA results show that the prime suspect in a murder investigation is Park’s son. Olivia is relieved, knowing this is a mistake. Despite their desire, the Benders don’t have any children. Then comes the confession. Many years ago, Park donated sperm to a clinic. He has no idea how many times it was sold—or how many children he has sired.
As the murder investigation goes deeper, more terrible truths come to light. With every revelation, Olivia must face the unthinkable. The man she married has fathered a killer. But can she hold that against him when she keeps such dark secrets of her own?
This twisting, emotionally layered thriller explores the lies we tell to keep a marriage together–or break each other apart . . .
Tuesday, February 28th
Storm Watch by C.J. Box (Featured Selection)
Wyoming Game Warden Joe Pickett investigates a mysterious death at a secret remote high-tech facility in this riveting new novel from #1 New York Times bestseller C.J. Box
When a prominent University of Wyoming professor goes missing, authorities are stumped. That is, until Joe Pickett makes two surprising discoveries while hunting down a wounded elk on his district as an epic spring storm descends upon him. First, he finds the professor’s vehicle parked on a remote mountainside. Then Joe finds the professor’s frozen and mutilated body. When he attempts to learn more, his investigation is obstructed by federal agents, extremists, and Governor Colter Allen.
Nate Romanowski is rebuilding his falconry company—and financing this through crypto mining with the assistance of Geronimo Jones. He’s then approached by a shadowy group of local militant activists that is gaining in power and influence, and demanding that Wyoming join other western states and secede from the union—by force, if necessary. They ask Nate to throw in with them, but he’s wary. Should he trust them, or is he being set up?
As a storm of peril gathers around them, Joe and Nate confront it in different ways—and maybe, for the first time, on opposite sides.
From TRBS: The best series in print today, regardless of genre, continues with Storm Watch, my early pick for book of the year. If you’re not reading Box’s work, you’re really missing out. Change that right away!
Device Free Weekend by Sean Doolittle
Seven friends, one eccentric billionaire, an all-expenses paid reunion on a private island with one catch: no phones, tablets or laptops allowed. It’ll be a weekend to remember–for those who make it out alive.
Ryan Cloverhill, founder and CEO of the world’s most popular social media platform, invites his six best friends from college to his home on his private island near Puget Sound. For Stephen, Emma, Perry, Will, Beau, and Lainie, day one is just what the doctor ordered: amazing food, many drinks, lots of laughter, and a sunset cruise around the island aboard their host’s custom Van Dutch 55.
Day Two, however, takes a bewildering turn when the six hungover guests wake up to find that their host has disappeared, along with all connection to the mainland. A touchscreen tablet of unknown make awaits them, blatantly defying the rules of the weekend with its on-screen challenge: Unlock Me! The passcode to the tablet is hidden somewhere in the group’s shared history. But what seems at first like just another silly game turns deadly serious when the group discovers what unlocking the tablet really means. Is it the key to their futures, a Pandora’s box none of them will ever be able to close, or both?
Only one thing is clear: their old friend Ryan has something unthinkable planned. Now it’s up to the six of them to stop him. And when this weekend is over, the world will never be the same.
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 is building a growing community on Twitch. His debut thriller, FIELDS OF FIRE, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Jack Carr says “will leave you speechless and begging for more,” is now available. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. And to take part in free, exclusive BOOK CLUBS each month, join The Real Book Spy on Discord.