Jon’s Picks: Spring’s Best New Thrillers with a Twist

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BookTrib columnist and bestselling author Jon Land returns with a new set of “Jon’s Picks,” the best new thrillers and suspense novels you should be reading this season. Filled with dark secrets, villainous plot twists and startling encounters with killers make this one of Jon’s best lists yet!

After Anna, Lisa Scottoline (St. Martin’s Press)

Lisa Scottoline never shies away from confronting her characters with hard choices and life-changing predicaments, both of which are powerfully on display in After Anna (St. Martin’s Press). Talk about your familial nightmares! Widower Noah Alderman has finally put his life back on track, thanks to a new marriage and fresh dedication to his career as a doctor.. All is well, until his new wife’s estranged, now seventeen-year-old daughter enters the picture. When the girl is murdered, and Noah is charged with the crime, After Anna morphs into a terrific, investigative courtroom thriller that flips back and forth in both POV and timeline to help us get to the shattering truth. Like Lisa Gardner, Scottoline has perfected the suburban nightmare thriller, and her latest is a bold, bracing and brilliant masterpiece of roiled emotions and tortured souls.

The Disappeared, C. J. Box (Putnam)

It’s difficult to come up with new superlatives to describe C. J. Box’s Joe Pickett series, but his latest, The Disappeared, (Putnam) makes it a whole lot easier. That’s because stalwart game warden Picket, never much when it comes to politics, finds himself dealing with a different kind of poacher in the person of the new Wyoming governor. Colter Allen puts Joe on the trail of a British tourist gone missing in the state’s hinterlands, and finding her might be the only way Pickett can save his job. Good thing the equally apolitical, but deadly proficient Nate Romanowski is along for the ride to watch Joe’s back once the bullets and bombshells start flying. The Disappeared is thriller writing at its very best, as big and broad as the Wyoming landscape painted in shades mixed perfectly between dark and light.

Power Game, Christine Feehan (Berkley)

Christine Feehan’s niche of paranormal-centric thrillers gets a big boost from the exceptional Power Game (Berkley).  Once again, the darkly mystical GhostWalkers take center stage, in the form of Gino Mazza. Assigned this time to rescue a cyber-security expert from the clutches of a Chinese mob boss, Mazza wastes no time to uncovering where the bodies are buried and burying a few of his own. Things, of course, are not entirely as they seem and Mazza, no stranger to the otherworldly, finds Washington to be anything but normal as well. This hybrid thriller reminded me a lot of Heather Graham at her best with dashes of John Farris from seminal works like The Fury, Feehan’s plumb storytelling skills making Power Game a winner for anyone who dares play.

Skyjack, J. Howe (Quercus)

J. Howe’s Skyjack (Quercus) races out of the gate and doesn’t slow down for a single page or minute. Featuring the return of international kidnap expert Thea Paris, Howe’s latest puts Thea up against enemies both old and new while sorting through the morass associated with the hijacking of a jet on which she was a passenger. The villain, apparently, wants Thea and the international private security firm for which she works to perform a service for him. With the lives of a plane-load of passengers hanging in the balance, Thea’s desperate trek weaves through present and past, secrets and subterfuge, in unearthing the fact that far more is going on here than meets the eye. Skyjack is a supremely effective effort, relentless in its approach and riveting in its execution.

Too Close to Breathe, Olivia Kiernan (Dutton)

Olivia Kiernan pulls no punches in the tense, atmospheric Too Close to Breathe (Dutton)—literally since Detective Superintendent Frankie Sheehan is still reeling from her last encounter with a killer. In a set-up that’s equal parts Fiona Barton and Gillian Flynn, a woman is found hanging in a picture-perfect Dublin neighborhood home, the kind of thing that’s not supposed to happen. Now that it has, Olivia has every reason to suspect foul play, though not necessarily the fact that the killer soon strikes again. Finding the culprit means putting her own life in danger once more in a fashion that reminded me a bit of Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs. A crime thriller extraordinaire.

Warning Light, David Riccardi (Berkley)

Speaking of extraordinary, David Riccardi’s Warning Light (Berkley) just might be the best amateur-spy-on-the-run tale since James Grady’s brilliant Six Days of the Condor. The amateur in question is CIA analyst Zac Miller who has no choice but to throw caution to the wind in order to disappear into it after a route surveillance job goes horribly wrong. In true Hitchcockian fashion, intelligence agents from all over the globe race to find him for reasons Miller doesn’t entirely understand himself, casting him at once as a man knows too much while grasping none of it. Warning Light is a tour de force of suspense and international intrigue in the best tradition of Frederick Forsyth, Robert Ludlum and Daniel Silva. A must for all political thriller fans.

Crimson Lake, Candace Fox (Forge)

Candace Fox’s Crimson Lake (Forge) is one of those mysteries that sparkles on every page, thanks to an ever-shifting plot and angst-riddled, conflict-driven characters. At the heart of this Australian-set tale is former detective Ted Conkaffrey, whose life has been a living hell since he was falsely accused of a teenager’s brutal death. He flees to Crimson Lake, amid the mangrove-like world of predatory crocodiles, to rebuild his life and promptly meets fellow tortured soul, and savvy private detective, Amanda Pharrell. The case they take on together offers Conkaffrey a redemptory rope, if he can survive long enough to solve it. This is mystery writing of the highest order, raising Fox to the rarified air occupied by the likes of John Hart and Robert Crais.

 

Which of these books are you looking forward to reading? Let us know in the comments and share with our readers some new thrillers this month that didn’t make the cut, but you find exciting.

 

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