It’s almost the end of October, and what better way to celebrate Spooky Season than some thriller recommendations by Jon Land! Read on, if you dare. Then, make sure to tell BookTrib below which books you plan to try next.
For proof of that, look no further than the book’s set-up: Reacher, typically enough, is riding a bus. Soon after it arrives at its destination, he thwarts the robbery of an older man carrying a thick wad of cash. Turns out the money is meant for a loan shark. Turns out the evil loan shark has replaced by an even more evil one of Eastern European criminal ilk. Good thing Reacher is on the case to dismantle the bad guys and their operation piece by piece and limb by limb.
Indeed, Reacher is at his level best in this post-modern neo-Western in which he again takes on the role of the classic gunfighter who rides into town to dispense justice, a genre Child invented or, at least, resurrected. Blue Moon is irresistible reading entertainment, delivering on its promises and somehow exceeding our expectations yet again with its crackling hard-boiled prose, the words bursting off the page like machine gun fire, punching holes in our nightly sleep allotment.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as they say, an old axiom proven true in The Deserter (Simon and Schuster). That’s because this riveting and relentless tale pairs Nelson DeMille for the first time with his screenwriter son Alex, proving that two heads are indeed better than one.
In this case those two heads have fashioned a tale inspired by the real-life deserter Bo Burgdahl. Only the DeMilles do reality a step better by making Captain Kyle Mercer a special ops assassin whose sudden disappearance sends shockwaves through the whole of the military community. A pair of Army investigators, Scott Brodie and Maggie Taylor, take up a chase that raises deep questions about Mercer’s motivations and whether his apparent betrayal is only part of a much bigger story.
This is thriller writing of the highest order, pressure-packed and pulse-pounding. Brodie and Taylor are a keeper of a team, as are the father and son DeMilles. Here’s hoping we hear from all parties again soon.
Gerritsen’s latest makes comparable use of a formerly peaceful New England shoreline setting, following guilt-ridden Ava Collette’s physical and emotional flight north from Boston. So shell-shocked is Ava that we can’t really be sure whether the ghostly visits she begins receiving in her new waterfront digs are real or not. But the murders roiling a small Maine town that would make Stephen King proud are definitely real and Ava flings herself into investigating in an unspoken attempt at redemption, risking the killer’s ire.
The Shape of Night is a stunningly surreal portrait finished in shades of noir. Gerritsen manages a smooth and savory mix of genres in a lightning quick tale that hits all the right notes and never misses a beat.
Mills further hones his reputation as one of the best all-out action writers going today in this tale that envisions an unholy alliance between an increasingly desperate ISIS and Mexican drug lords. The link between them is a looming biological threat against the United States, the progress of which ISIS charts on the Internet for an audience of Americans terrified that they’re going to be targeted. Good thing Mitch Rapp is still on the job, serving as a kind of dark knight for the entire country.
Mills continues to amaze with the seamless transition that followed his taking over this iconic, ground-breaking series. Lethal Agent is a gut punch of a tale that exploits our greatest fears, as brilliantly conceived as it is wondrously crafted.
Claire Abrams desperately wants to have another child in the wake of her young son’s death. The fact that tragedy was brought on by a flaw in her own DNA doesn’t leave her a lot of options, aside from cutting edge research into gene splicing that provides her only chance. The scientists behind it happen to be looking for an off-the-books guinea pig, so it appears to be a match made in heaven that turns to hell when an innocent young girl is targeted for no reason other than her genetic makeup.
Mother Knows Best aptly channels the likes of both Michael Crichton and Lisa Scottoline in fashioning a pitch-perfect thriller that’s incredibly on point.
That’s where the Dark Web resides as a clearing house for all manner of cybercrime. Good thing FBI agent and tech wizard Lisa Tanchik is on the case, following the trail of an Internet-based drug dealer of sorts who treats opioids and the like as if they were Halloween candy. The villain’s Dark Web-based company is eerily similar to any number of the platforms that have surfaced recently spouting hatred and espousing crazed conspiracy theories.
This is truly eye-opening stuff. Black Nowhere is so cutting edge, you almost need gloves to turn the pages. A relentless ride with as many dips as a roller-coaster and as many darts as NASCAR.
Rick Devlin is living proof of the old Thomas Wolfe adage that you can’t go home again, especially in the wake of his mother’s murder at his father’s hand in his once beloved Charleston, South Carolina. That is until new evidence surfaces that suggests his father may be innocent, leading Devlin to launch his own investigation. It turns out pretty much everyone involved is hiding something and it’s up to him to sort through the grisly morass to get to the truth.
This establishes Bunzel as a kind of Will Faulkner of the thriller-writing world. His effortless prose crackles with color and authenticity as the brooding Charleston skies sets the stage for the storm that’s coming.
Kudos to Strand Magazine for unearthing a splendid previously unpublished story by none other than John Steinbeck.
The single setting of the beautifully told “The Amiable Fleas” is the small restaurant of the title that has begun to gather significant notice and acclaim. None of this is lost is the restaurant’s proprietor, one M. Amié, who isn’t shy about admitting his obsession with the Michelin guidebook. But on the morning of that long-awaited visit, he inadvertently chases off his beloved cat. His only recourse to cook “Apollo” a magnificent dish to lure him back to the kitchen’s friendly confines that, in exquisite counterpoint, the Michelin reviewer finds utterly extraordinary.
“The Amiable Fleas” is a sterling success of both style and substance, a light and effusive statement on the base simplicity of the human condition and the realization of elusive dreams via an unsuspected path. It felt a bit like the best of both Nikolai Gogol (The Overcoat) and O. Henry (After Twenty Years).