Joe Ledger: Unstoppable

As the protagonist of five novels and numerous short stories, Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger is a fully formed character with recognizable traits. This new anthology, JOE LEDGER: UNSTOPPABLE, shows how a group of other authors, selected by the Editors, handle Ledger and his various missions with the Department of Military Science (DMS). The stories vary in both length and perspective, but adhere to the series’ combination of thriller and science fiction, and are for the most part worthy additions to the Ledger canon.

In “Banshee,” by James A. Moore, Ledger, with the able assistance of his DMS teammates Bug and Bunny, tracks down a nearly invisible, possible female assassin that has been murdering foreign diplomats. The method of the murders further suggests the assassin is something other than human. In Steve Alten’s “The Honey Pot” Ledger wakes up to find himself naked in an expensive Paris hotel room, with a beautiful girl in his bed and no memory of how he got there.

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Night School

Lee Child’s 21st Jack Reacher novel, NIGHT SCHOOL, now available in paperback, is a prequel that has Reacher still serving as an Army officer in the Military Police. But that’s only one of the notable features in this latest title of the long-running and increasingly popular mystery/thriller series.

It is 1996, and as the novel opens Reacher has received his second Legion of Honor medal. But before he decides where to keep it, Reacher is ordered to report to his commanding officer, who tells Reacher he is being sent back to school. When Reacher arrives he finds two other men in the classroom, representatives from the CIA and the FBI—both as unaware of the purpose of the school as Reacher himself. Then members of the National Security Council appear and tell the three men, “This is not school.”

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A Legacy of Spies

Devoted readers of John le Carré know the character, Peter Guillam, as the staunch colleague and disciple of George Smiley, the seemingly ordinary but brilliant agent of the British Secret Service, known as the Circus. Guillam assists Smiley in Le Carre’s breakthrough novel, THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD, and more prominently in the trio of novels (TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY; THE HONERABLE SCHOOL BOY; and SMILEY’S PEOPLE) where Smiley unmasks the Soviet mole deep within the Circus and then sets out to bring down Karla, his nemesis of Moscow Center

Now Guillam is the protagonist of le Carré’s latest novel, A LEGACY OF SPIES, and finds himself reliving his past, as well as that of his mentor Smiley and other high-ranking Circus agents.

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Girl in a Big Brass Bed / The Spy Who Was 3 Feet Tall / Code Name Gadget

Along with his several noir mysteries and Daniel Port crime fiction series, Peter Rabe wrote a three-novel series in the mid-1960s featuring attorney Manny deWitt. These three novels — GIRL IN A BRASS BED, THE SPY WHO WAS 3 FEET TALL and CODE NAME GADGET — are now available in an omnibus volume from Stark House Press’s Noir Classics.

The deWitt series comes as close to the popular spy fiction of the time as Rabe ever got. But in typical Rabe fashion, the deWitt novels are decidedly different from other works of spy or espionage fiction. And while they are not among Rabe’s best works, they will be of particular interest to Rabe’s many devoted readers.

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House of Spies

Daniel Silva’s latest novel, HOUSE OF SPIES, the 17th featuring Israeli intelligence agent Gabriel Allon, takes place almost immediately after the events of last year’s THE BLACK WIDOW and follows Allon in his new administrative role, while continuing his search for an elusive and deadly ISIS terrorist leader.

Four months after the deadliest attack on America since 9/11, terrorists leave a trail of death and destruction through the theatrical district of London’s West End. The intelligence world is convinced that it is the latest attack planned and executed by the shadowy Islamic terrorist leader known only as Saladin.

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Stillhouse Lake

Rachel Caine’s STILLHOUSE LAKE is a powerhouse of a book with a fairly unique concept. Our protagonist is the victim. She was the wife of a vicious serial killer, a man who tortured and killed young women in the garage of the house. All unbeknownst to her and the couple’s two young children. The crimes only come to light when a drunk driver accidentally careens through their garage door revealing a corpse hung therein.

While at first, Gina Royal is thought to be a suspect, a helper in these grisly murders, it turns out that she really was that naïve, knew nothing, and so is eventually acquitted, given custody of her children, and sent back into the world.

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Lawyer and former U.S. Navy intelligence officer Timothy J. Lockhart’s debut novel SMITH is the story of a skilled killer who becomes a professional assassin. It begins with the promise of a riveting thriller, but sadly loses most of its power through predictability and diminishing trust in its main protagonist.

We first meet Smith as she expertly kills three men with a long-range rifle for mysterious but apparently personal reasons. Not long after these killings, Smith – and yes, that’s the only name she knows and answers to – is approached by a recruiting officer from a group known as The Enterprise. Smith quickly learns that The Enterprise is a clandestine, black ops organization called upon by the U.S. government to eliminate problematic individuals when all else fails. And the offer they make to Smith is literarily one she can’t refuse.

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Shark Island

If you’re considering writing a novel about sharks, you have to realize that comparisons will be made. For those over 30 years of age, you’re going to be brought up against people who have read Peter Benchley’s JAWS and seen Steven Spielberg’s movie adaptation of the same name. For those under 30, you’ll have an easier road because people will just compare you to SHARKNADO.

In the former, you’re going to come off poorly, but you’ll probably win the latter battle. That’s the case with Chris Jameson’s enviro-thriller SHARK ISLAND.

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Forever and a Death

Hard Case Crime is promoting FOREVER AND A DEATH as both the Donald E. Westlake novel that was never before published and the James Bond movie that was never made. So explanations are in order.

In the mid 1970s the producers of the long-running James Bond movie franchise hired crime novelist Donald E. Westlake to come up with a story for the next Bond movie. Westlake developed a story based on what was then the recent transferal of Hong Kong back to the Chinese after decades of British rule. But political concerns intervened and the movie was never made. Westlake then took his idea and made it into a thriller novel that was never published during his life.

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A Time of Torment

John Connolly brings private detective Charlie Parker back for his 13th novel. Now in trade paperback, A TIME OF TORMENT has all the usual characteristics expected from the series. But Connolly readers may be disappointed by the noticeable lack of Parker himself in this latest outing.

Jerome Burnel was once considered a hero. But then he was suddenly arrested for a crime he swears he never committed and sent to prison. In prison he was first ignored, then brutalized by fellow inmates. Now, with his prison term completed and a free man once again, Burnel seeks out P.I. Charlie Parker to tell his story.

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