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Endangered by C. J. Box (2015)

endangeredAre men what their mothers make them? C. J. Box’s Endangered may make you think so. Here is a family living remotely, but none would want them as neighbors. Except Joe Pickett’s daughter, April, takes up with Dallas, the rodeo star son of the family, until she is found badly beaten and unconscious in a road-side ditch. Joe (local game warden) is determined to see that justice is done even if it must be western style. Joe's friend, Nate, has just been released from prison on a deal with the feds about catching a bad guy of great importance. It’s not clear why Nate was in prison, but he does say, “I never did kill anyone who didn’t need killing.” Brenda, mother of Dallas and two other sons, goes all out to make sure her son is cleared of any suspicion involving April. Brenda’s sons say “she covers all the bases.” The ending is a surprise and somewhat incredible, but Joe is satisfied that justice is done.

The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard (2015)

waysworld"Max" Maxted is a WWI veteran and former POW who plans to open a flight school on the family property. When his father dies under mysterious circumstances in Paris at the peace talks, Max is determined to get to the bottom of it. Although by the end of the book many questions are answered, more have arisen to make us early anticipate book two of this trilogy. What was Max's father really raising money for? What is the secret of Max's birth? Will his pill of a brother and sister-in-law get their comeuppance?

The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard is a throwback to those 1930s and early forties movies, often, but not always by Hitchcock, where an innocent man gets pulled into a web of espionage and hidden societies. Think The 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes, or Ministry of Fear.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (2015)

girltrainOriginally, something in the description of The Girl on the Train struck a chord reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller Rear Window. It is definitely NOT another Rear Window, but Paula Hawkins nonetheless captured my attention from the first sentence and took me on a train ride through the heartbreak of relationships and alcoholism to the suspense and red herrings of a classic mystery. Rachel Watson is not the picture perfect girl next door she emulates, but readers will quickly find themselves in her corner against all odds.

Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight (2015)

wheretheyfoundherThis novel begins with a tragedy in the small affluent college town of Ridgedale, New Jersey: the body of a newborn girl is found buried in the woods near the university.

Molly Sanderson is a journalist, new to town, assigned to cover the sad story. It’s a real challenge for her, as she is suffering from a severe depression following the loss of her own baby. As Molly continues her investigation, she uncovers secrets that have been hidden for decades and comes to the realization that Ridgedale is not the idyllic place that its residents make it out to be.

Where They Found Her has good characters and some surprising twists. I hope Kimberly McCreight plans on writing more novels!

Gray Mountain by John Grisham (2014)

graymountainThe 2008 economic downturn affected even New York lawyers like Samantha who thought she was on a fast track to partner but was abruptly put on furlough. In order to grasp a questionable volunteer opportunity, she retreats to Brady, Virginia, and becomes an intern at the Mountain Legal Aid Clinic, run by Mattie, a local lawyer. On the way, Samantha is arrested and taken to jail for speeding, but is soon released with the help of Donovan (Mattie’s nephew), a lawyer representing coal workers in large disability claims against their employers. Samantha’s adventures in rural Virginia lets her see the coarse tactics of the coal companies, the reliance on guns to solve problems, drug use by the locals, and the satisfaction that comes from helping someone really in need.

Samantha is not without capable contacts—her father was a high-income, personal injury lawyer focusing on airline crashes before he was disbarred, and now runs a consulting company advising other law firms. Her mother (divorced from her father) has a high level position in the Justice Department. Samantha finds Donovan alluring and he even offers her a position, but she sees a lot of similarities between him and her father so she must decide what type of lawyer she wants to be. After all of the trials and adventures in Gray Mountain, there are enough loose ends remaining for John Grisham to write another story about Samantha.

Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay (2009)

feartheworstLinwood Barclay’s thrillers are usually good at grabbing the reader right from the beginning and pulling him in. Fear the Worst is no exception to that rule. In this story, Tim Blake is just an average guy who is good at selling cars. He has an ex-wife and a 17-year-old daughter who is staying with him for the summer. His real nightmare begins when his daughter disappears, supposedly into thin air. When he starts to search, no one has heard of her, not even at the place she was working.

To make matters worse, he is constantly being watched because others are looking for his daughter too. They’re not planning a welcome home celebration, though. This is a good mystery that will keep you up late at night turning pages.

Signal by Patrick Lee (2015)

signalWith a device that can't be explained by logic or reality, power hungry villains, and a secret government project, Signal is another fast-paced futuristic thrilling adventure. Once I got over my disappointment that we wouldn't be seeing more of Rachel, I became engrossed in Sam's next escapade. Brought in by his old colleague Claire, Sam must race against the clock to battle a sightless enemy with a constant advantage.

Just like the first in the series (Runner), you'll need to suspend your disbelief. A lot of crazy stuff is going to happen, but you'll be frantically flipping the pages to discover what comes next in Patrick Lee’s latest conspiracy novel.

Alex by Pierre Lemaitre (2013)

alexThis 2013 Crime Writers International Dagger Award winner will stun you first and shock you later. A thrilling race against time story told from multiple points of view is worthy of its award.

Alex Prevost is kidnapped, beaten, suspended from the ceiling of an abandoned warehouse in a tiny cage, and left for rats to feed on. Will she die before the rats are satisfied?

Police Commandant Camille Verhoeven has nothing to go on: no leads, no family or friends of the victim, no suspects, so he tries to find out more about her or her history. Alex by Pierre Lemaitre is a very graphic and emotionally wrenching, wholly unpredictable story. A lot of twists and turns make it an unforgettable experience.

The Church of Dead Girls by Stephen Dobyns (1997)

churchofdeadgirlsA series of disappearances of young adolescent girls in a small upstate New York town creates suspicion and violence amongst the town’s other inhabitants. From its truly creepy beginning to its end, Stephen DobynsThe Church of Dead Girls is one suspenseful story.

Neuromancer by William Gibson (1984)

neuromancerWilliam Gibson’s critically acclaimed Neuromancer tells the story of Henry Dorsett Case, a master computer hacker forced into a life of petty street crime after crossing an employer who wrecked his nervous system as payback. As Case spirals down a self-destructive path on the streets of near-future Chiba, Japan, a mysterious benefactor offers to repair his nervous system – allowing Case to once again explore the myriad gleaming pathways of Cyberspace – in exchange for a highly dangerous, confidential job. Case accepts, and is plunged into a tangled web of conspiracies with dire implications.

Neuromancer is fascinatingly paced: the first half or so reads like a series of connected short stories, while the latter half begs to be read in one sitting. The plot is a gripping tale of intrigue, and the characters are compellingly written, but where the novel really shines is in its prediction. Gibson’s deeply atmospheric prose envisages a world dramatically changed by incredible advances in computer science and biotechnology combined with growing corporate influence on political and legal matters.

Neuromancer’s frankly portrayed adult subject matter and occasionally unsettling themes definitely aren't for everyone. But for everyone else, it comes highly recommended to those looking for an engaging sci-fi thriller.

Twisted by Andrea Kane (2008)

twistedFormer FBI Special Agent Sloane Burbank still struggles with her career-ending hand injury. When her consultant gig brings her to the attention of her childhood friend’s parents, Sloane knows the chances of finding the long-missing Penny are remote. Reluctantly partnering with ex-flame Derek Parker, Sloane follows a bizarre trail of evidence suggesting that Penny isn’t the only missing woman – and that Sloane might be at the center of it all.

A psychological thriller with a bit of romance, Twisted by Andrea Kane is a pulse-pounding page turner – I finished it in one sitting. Find more romantic suspense novels on our website.

The Messenger (2006) and The Secret Servant (2007) by Daniel Silva

messengerGabriel Allon, the Israeli spy in many of Daniel Silva’s novels, is cast against terrorist groups from al-Qaeda and the sword of Allah who would attack the Vatican and kill the Pope and/or the U.S. President should their schemes succeed. The Secret Servant follows The Messenger and includes many of the same characters and intrigues of the prior novel. These adventures give the reader a bad taste for most of the antagonists and an appreciation for Israeli secret service. The Secret Servant has an extra twist of an Arab willing to help the Israelis in an effort to save a woman’s life as well as that of his own son. In both novels, a young woman is in great danger in the hands of terrorist but Allon and his team come to the rescue.

An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris (2014)

officerspyThis is a fictional re-telling of the infamous Dreyfus Affair which tore France apart in the late 1890s, and revealed a deep-seated anti-Semitism in French society. The novel is told from the point of view of Georges Picquart, an intelligence officer who came to believe in Dreyfus’s innocence and was himself persecuted for his refusal to let an innocent man die in prison without a fight.  Many historical novels based so closely on real events can be stiffly told with flat characters, but Robert Harris manages to fill An Officer and a Spy with real people in an era that he brings to life on the page.

Runner by Patrick Lee (2014)

runnerGripping, suspenseful, definitely need to suspend disbelief, but oh what a ride. In Runner, Patrick Lee keeps you guessing from beginning to end. In the wee hours of the morning, ex-special forces operative Sam Dryden encounters 12-year-old Rachel. She’s terrified, on the run, and can’t remember anything from before two months ago. What follows is a heart-pounding adventure with endearing characters.

Raúl Esparza narrates the book brilliantly – I kept inventing excuses to stay in the car so I could listen to just a bit more of the audiobook.

Sycamore Row by John Grisham (2013)

sycamorerowA very rich man (Seth) kills himself by hanging and leaves much of his estate to his black caregiver by a holographic will. Of course, Seth’s family challenges the will; a jury must determine whether Seth’s handwritten will is valid.

John Grisham’s masterful storytelling leads the reader through the trial, the families’ histories and a look at justice and redemption. This is one of Grisham’s best novels set in Clanton, Mississippi, with a street lawyer (Jake) from A Time to Kill as the principal character. Grisham teases the reader to find out why a deceased man would abandon his children and grandchildren in such a manner; how he accumulated such a fortune; and what became of his brother who is mentioned in the handwritten will. Amazing characters, afflicted with greed, stupidity, racism and drink color the story in Sycamore Row and entertain the reader as he navigates through this engaging tale. For more information, read this review in the New York Times.