When you think of October, you may think of ghosts, mysteries, thrills, and chills. So do we! We LOVE Halloween! The costumes, the candy and mostly, all the”creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky” reads that come with this season. Here are some of our favorite new thrillers just in time for Halloween!
When They Come for You, James W. Hall
When They Come for You puts front and center everything that makes James W. Hall one of our finest novelists and not just thriller writers, even though his seminal series hero Thorn is nowhere to be found.
Taking Thorn’s place is photographer Harper McDaniel who finds herself in her own private hell after her husband and baby are burned to death. Finding her way out means taking a dark road paved with obsession and vengeance that winds its transcontinental way through the Ivory Coast en route to unraveling a conspiracy somehow related to the cocoa trade. Little did we know that chocolate was dangerous for more than just the sugar and calories.
Once Harper unleashes her martial arts skills, we know we’re in the familiar territory of the hardcore thriller, albeit one navigated with rare brilliance of language and sense of scene. Hall is as good as ever, as adept with this landscape as his more familiar backyard of Florida, helping to make When They Come for You bold, bracing and brilliant.
The Last Mrs. Parrish, Liv Constantine
The best thing about The Last Mrs. Parrish is that it doesn’t have the word “girl” in the cover, rare these days in the world of female-driven psychological thrillers.
This terrific, noir-steeped tale written by the writing team comprising Liv Constantine actually owes more to Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley than it does to the likes of Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train. At the tale’s morally dark center is Amber Patterson, a milquetoast non-entity who finds that the quickest route to a meaningful life is to usurp someone else’s, in this case Daphne Parish. Kind of like buying a bike fully assembled instead of bothering with the heavy lifting.
The twists, turns and mechanizations are a devilishly delicious delight, much like the brilliant television show Breaking Bad where it’s hard to distinguish Dr. Frankenstein from the monster he created.
Mad Dog Vengeance, Mark Rubinstein
Mark Rubinstein’s mastery of the New York street scene is on keen display in the final installment of his “Mad Dog” trilogy, Mad Dog Vengeance. Aptly titled, given that this luridly effective tale starts with a vengeance and never slows up.
Once again, physician (psychiatrist, actually) Rubinstein’s fictional doppelganger, surgeon Roddy Dolan, finds himself embroiled in dirty dealings that threaten to destroy his career, as well as himself. You know what they say about making a deal with the devil, for which the New York mob proves an able stand-in as, in ironic counterpoint, Dolan is forced to become everything he hates to save everything he loves.
This must be the month for gritty morality tales, and Rubinstein attacks his with a skill and aplomb that blends a dash of Harlan Coben with a smidge Linda Fairstein, seasoned with just enough Andrew Vaachs. And that makes Mad Dog Vengeance a masterful modern day crime tale, infused with both charm and depth.
Cashed Out, Michael Rubin
Daring to write in the staccato, hard-nosed style championed by the likes of the incomparable Don Winslow, Rubin introduces us to “Schex” Schexnaydre, a name as challenging as his current plight. Schex is a lawyer down and out enough to make John Grisham proud. That is, until a businessman who’s made his fortune in the toxic waste industry is murdered with $5 million of his toxic cash stashed in Schex’s bank account. Add to that the fact that Schex’s own ex-wife is arrested for the man’s murder, and you’ve got the makings of a crack courtroom thriller staged against a starkly original backdrop.
Cashed Out cashes in on a character culled from the likes of Michael Connolly by way of James Lee Burke, thanks to the steamy Louisiana settings. A gem of a tale I’m so glad found its way to my in-box.
Snow, Mike Bond
This being the month for gritty noir, let’s turn next to Snow by Mike Bond, a book that hits many of the same notes as Scott Smith’s sterling A Simple Plan.
A plane crash once again serves as the catalyst, a plane this time carrying enough cocaine to cover an entire season of the classic Miami Vice TV show. Our (dark) heroes Zack, Steve and Curt happen upon the stash while hunting in the hinterlands of Montana—a deft touch, given they’re about to become hunted themselves by cops, killers and cartels alike. All of a sudden, the found money that’s the answer to all their problems becomes the source of far more.
At its best, which is most of the time, Bond’s latest, reads like a less showy and manipulative No Country for Old Men. A simple story at its heart that warps into a splendid morality tale, Snow is wrapped as tightly as a Christmas bow and just as much fun as what’s inside the box.
The Liahona Effect, Keith Kasikas
We start with the murder of the modern day leader of the Mormon Church, sparking a worldwide race to uncover an ancient mystery rooted in a combination of history and myth. At the heart of the mystery lies not only a long-buried secret, but also a powerful relic to which the secret is connected. At the helm, steering us through this maelstrom, is Michael DiBianco and his wife Crystal, who happens to be cryptologist and thus just the person to help unravel the cobweb-shrouded subterfuge.
The Liahona Effect strikes the same chords, and hits the same notes as The Da Vinci Code, only in streamlined form. A sumptuously scintillating tale that delivers on its promise, making Kasikas a potential heir to the throne currently occupied by the likes of James Rollins and Steve Berry.