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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The Nightwalker

Sebastian Fitzek is known for his willingness to take chances with the mystery genre, and his predilection for layering twists and turns into the story so you’re not always sure of the reality of what you’re reading.

And there’s plenty of that in THE NIGHTWALKER, a book that starts with an intriguing premise, turns it around multiple times, and ends with … well, I won’t spoil it, but frankly, the ultimate ending was far less satisfying than what had come before.

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Spook Street

I had never come across Mick Herron’s series of novels featuring Slough House special agents, but SPOOK STREET is the fourth book in the line (there’s also a novella) and is so fun and entertaining, that I can strongly recommend not just this title, but I’d plan on picking up the other entries as well.

Slough House agents are referred to as “slow horses” by the rest of the British intelligence agencies. It’s the place where disgraced or incompetent agents go to live out their careers in anonymity. As the author says, it’s not really an arm of the intelligence services, and not really a finger because you could say you have a finger on the pulse of the problem, it’s more like a fingernail of the intelligence services, a cutting that you discard.

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Cruel Mercy

CRUEL MERCY is the fifth novel in the series featuring Scottish Detective Sergeant Aector MacAvoy, written by David Mark, and in a series that can be somewhat hit or miss, this one falls mostly in the “miss” category. The first slight misstep, and it is very slight, is that this book is set in New York City not Yorkshire. It would have been a disaster if the author had excluded two of the strongest female characters in detective fiction, MacAvoy’s gypsy wife Roisin and his boss, Trish Pharaoh. Thankfully, these two do make multiple appearances between phone calls, text messages and Skype sessions.

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The Passenger

passengerpbLisa Lutz forsakes the comic-crime ambiance of her popular Spellman Family series for her noticeably more serious stand-alone novel, THE PASSENGER, newly available in trade paperback. While the protagonist is intriguing and first-person narration assured, the story unfortunately doesn’t venture far from its opening premise.

Forty-eight hours after finding her husband dead at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois quickly gathers what cash she can pull together, dyes her hair, and flees town. Thus begins her cross-country odyssey of different temporary residences, jobs, and identities. All the while she insists her innocence in the death of her husband.

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