March 1, 2014
I updated the Win Books page for March and there are some really terrific books to win!
I loved Notorious by Allison Brennan, a new series for this gifted writer. I hope you’ll love Brad Parks latest, featuring investigative reporter Carter Ross, one of my favorite series with just enough action and humor to keep the pages turning. Adrian McKinty is back with another wonderful Detective Sean Duffy thriller set in Northern Ireland. Also on the bookshelf are Sandra Parshall’s latest mystery featuring veterinarian Rachel Goddard, set in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Diane Fanning’s latest FBI thriller, Mary Behre’s ghost story and Julie Ann Lindsey’s ebook. And a new addition to the list, the latest Tea Shop Mystery by Laura Childs.
If you are new to the site, each month I run a contest in conjunction with the International Thriller Writers group. We put together a list of books including bestsellers and debut authors, so you can win some of your favorites and find some new favorites.
What makes this contest really special is that all of the books (except ebooks) are signed by the author!
Don’t forget, if you subscribe to the newsletter or follow this blog, you get an extra entry into every contest you enter.
Thanks for reading, and good luck!
March 10, 2014
Regina Robichard is a young, idealistic black lawyer working for the NAACP and her mentor/boss, Thurgood Marshall shortly after the end of World War II. Marshall receives a lot of mail, but one letter in particular touches Regina.
One of her favorite childhood authors, M.P. Calhoun, has written to ask Marshall to investigate the death of a young black soldier on his way home from the war to small town Revere, Mississippi. Enclosed is a photo of the young man with his father, and Regina latches on to it as a talisman, determined to find justice in the deep South.
Regina has her own interesting history. She never knew her father, he was lynched before she was born and her mother became a political activist. But she remembers with great fondness the book she read and reread as a child, “The Secret of Magic,” a tale of murder and a magical forest.
Living in New York City does not really prepare her for life in rural Mississippi and how blacks are treated. But Regina perseveres, despite threats, another murder and a vicious attack in her quest for fair treatment for a minority many Mississippians still feel they own.
This is fast reading that tugs at the heart with reminders of how much things have changed, and how much maybe they haven’t. My love affair with Amy Einhorn books continues.
3/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
THE SECRET OF MAGIC by Deborah Johnson. Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam; First Edition edition (January 21, 2014). ISBN 978-0399157721. 416p.
March 6, 2014
Grippando brings back Jack Swyteck, his Miami based attorney, who is marrying his girlfriend Andie Henning. Andie is an undercover agent for the FBI and Jack has to accept the fact that much of what she does is confidential and he will not know about it. The two plan a honeymoon to Key West and settle in for days of romance and getting to know each other as man and wife. The getting to know includes the revelation that Andie is pregnant and expecting in about eight months.
An unexpected glitch suddenly affects both Jack and Andie when an ocean going, Cuban owned drilling rig explodes, triggering an immense oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that wends its way towards the Florida Keys and up the coast from there. The rig is in Cuban waters and is actually a consortium between Cuba, Venezuela, China and Russia whose group prohibits the U.S. from bringing in equipment to contain the oil spill.
The problem falls into both Jack and Andie’s laps when the F.B.I. calls her back to work on what might be a terrorist plot to blow up the rig. At the same time Jack agrees to represent a girl whose fiancé was on the rig working towards a solution to be allowed to leave Cuba and be with his sweetheart in the United States.
The author covers the activities of both Jack and Andie in their work on what could be the same problem. As always, Grippando’s knowledge of the intricacies of the law and his explanations of cause and effects in the action tied to these rules makes the action very real to the reader, and allows him to think of Jack as not superman, but a good, knowledgeable practitioner of the law. Andie’s role in her portion of the events is in keeping with her image as a woman loving her job, doing it well, but aware of the dangers involved in working undercover.
Grippando’s books never cease to attract and keep the reader going, and when finished anxiously awaiting the next one.
2/14 Paul Lane
BLACK HORIZON by James Grippando. Harper (March 4, 2014). ISBN 978-0062109880. 384p.
March 5, 2014
Mexican drug cartels are shooting up the streets of Laredo and El Paso. Somali pirates are holding three U.S. tankers for ransom. The President is fed up and has what he thinks is a pretty bright idea—to get hold of Colonel Charley Castillo and his merry band and put them on the case.
Unfortunately, that will be difficult. Everybody knows that the President hates Castillo’s guts, has just had him forcibly retired from the military, and now Castillo’s men are scattered far and wide, many of them in hiding. There are also whispers that the President himself is unstable—the word “nutcake” has been mentioned. So how can Castillo “follow” the Presidents orders without creating harm to the nation.
It is truly Hazardous Duty.
3/14 Jack Quick
HAZARDOUS DUTY by W.E.B. Griffin & William E. Butterworth IV. Putnam Adult (December 31, 2013). ISBN 978-0399160677. 416p.
March 4, 2014
Leonard delivers another book in which he shows his skill in bringing characters to life, as well as setting up an interesting plot. O’Clair is a retired Detroit Homicide detective that has moved to Florida, opened up a motel and developed a love interest in Virginia, a younger, stunning girl who can fix anything and works with him.
Life looks sweet for him when suddenly he discovers a young girl killed and left on a chair outside of his motel on the adjoining beach. The circumstances are very similar to those of a series of murders he worked on while still active in Detroit. At that point he caught the serial killer who was jailed in Michigan and the case marked closed.
Circumstances appear that the actual killer in Detroit was never caught and has followed O’Clair to Florida. The murder forces him to offer his help to the homicide detective in Florida, due to the similarity to those in Detroit. The case is worked at both areas, and includes a trip revisiting people and evidence gathered in Detroit. The reasons for the murders occurring in Florida constitute a major force in the novel and help with the solution.
In all probability, Peter Leonard has developed a character that will be used again in future novels and will be a welcome one.
3/14 Paul Lane
EYES CLOSED TIGHT by Peter Leonard. Story Plant, The (March 4, 2014). ISBN 978-1611881141. 300p.
March 3, 2014
New York is a wasteland filled with crime and filth. As a former garbage man, Spademan figures it’s still a decent place to call home. Where he once picked up literal trash he now tracks down a more figurative kind of waste acting as a killer for hire. His latest job involves the daughter of a well-known religious leader. This man has made a living offering salvation to those who can afford it. His evangelism is built on the limnosphere, a new kind of industry spawned from the internet except this one allows the user to live in an artificial world and those who can afford it never have to exist in reality again. But what this man is offering isn’t all that godly or perfect as becomes evident when Spademan meets his target. Now Spademan and everyone he knows are caught in the crosshairs.
Adam Sternbergh’s debut is unique in that this post apocalyptic world is limited to New York. The rest of the world exists and continues almost as usual. Residents in New York and the surrounding area have stayed in this lawless disaster area out of choice—like Spademan—or limitation.
The limnosphere adds another interesting twist and a creepy piece of potential future. It’s not so far-fetched that this created world could exist one day and that folks will actually be able to plug in, leaving the real world behind. Of course this also adds yet another reality for criminals to rule, which is a big part of Shovel Ready.
Shovel Ready is quite dark and more than a bit disturbing—maybe even a little beyond what you’d expect in a story where the hero is a contract killer. It’s also the first in a new series so if you’re a fan of quirky crime fiction and anti heroes, that means there will be more to come.
3/14 Becky Lejeune
SHOVEL READY by Adam Sternbergh. Crown (January 14, 2014). ISBN 978-0385348997. 256p.
February 27, 2014
For Lacey and Eric, the hunt for the perfect first home is starting to feel impossible. Nothing lives up to their expectations or list of requirements. Nothing, that is, until Lacey sets eyes on 571 Forrester Lane.
This house has it all—it’s in a perfect neighborhood, the drive into work wouldn’t be too bad for Eric, and amazingly it’s in their price range. It’s a house in which Lacey can easily imagine herself raising their growing family.
But 571 Forrester Lane has a history of death and violence. The real estate agent alludes to some of this, simply stating that a previous owner died, but to Lacey this is unavoidable with any house of significant age. Then Lacey meets Drew, a strange little boy who always seems to be around. The longer she and Eric reside in the home, the more attuned Lacey becomes to its strange sense of malevolence. As she begins to learn more about the house’s history and Drew, Lacey starts to realize her dream home is anything but.
Sonja Condit’s debut is not your typical haunted house tale. The narrative does rely on many of the traditional tropes associated with ghost stories but Condit adds an unexpected and unique twist in her tale. Starter House is a chilling and wonderful read.
2/14 Becky Lejeune
STARTER HOUSE by Sonja Condit. William Morrow Paperbacks (December 31, 2013). ISBN 978-0062283054. 400p.
February 25, 2014
Thomson won me over with ONCE A SPY followed by the sequel – TWICE A SPY. In SEVEN GRAMS OF LEAD, Thomson introduces all new character – journalist Russ Thornton. If you are even the slightest bit paranoid, you may not want to get into this one.
Ostensibly the plot revolves around the development and then theft of an e-bomb – which generates an electro-magnetic pulse which fries all semiconductor material in range. However, the real “makes you wonder and keeps you up at night” part comes from the massive and pervasive overt and covert surveillance by various government agencies and the lack of oversight and control of these activities.
In this regard the book reads right out of today’s headlines about NSA eavesdropping activities, and will definitely make you shudder. On the other hand, if you are not overly paranoid, it’s a great read with a delightfully twisted ending.
2/14 Jack Quick
SEVEN GRAMS OF LEAD by Keith Thomson. Anchor (February 25, 2014). ISBN 978-0307949905. 464p.
February 24, 2014
Easter and her sister Ruby are orphans living in the foster care system. They’re settling into their new environment and things are ok until their father, Wade Chesterfield, turns up. Easter can remember the last time she saw him: when he signed away his parental rights and vanished from their lives. Of course her mother was still alive then. Wade says that when he heard about their mother’s death, he wanted to be there for them. For Easter it’s too little too late but it’s enough for Ruby to give him a chance and her older sister isn’t about to abandon her. Little do they know Wade’s interest is thanks to a recent turn of luck on his part. But this same turn of luck has now set some pretty nasty folks on his tail—folks willing to use Easter and Ruby to get to their father.
Wiley Cash is one of the most exciting new voices in fiction today. His accomplishments with A Land More Kind Than Home and now This Dark Road to Mercy set him amongst the best in the industry in my opinion.
Cash divides the story between Easter, her guardian ad litem Brady Fuller, and Pruitt, the man sent to find Wade). Of the three Easter is the only truly good and mostly innocent character, a young girl on the edge of losing everything but still full of hope. Brady is an ex-cop whose story comes out as the plot develops, as does Pruitt’s motivation behind tracking Wade. The emotions that run through the story and drive each character—love, hate, fear, devotion—are so evident and carefully built that the reader has no choice but to become drawn in by the story, swept along from the opening chapter of a girl recounting her mother’s death straight through to the pitch perfect end.
2/14 Becky Lejeune
THIS DARK ROAD TO MERCY by Wiley Cash. William Morrow; First Edition edition (January 28, 2014). ISBN 978-0062088253. 240p.
February 22, 2014
THE ENGELSFORS TRILOGY BOOK II
This follow-up to The Circle begins with the start of eleventh grade and the remaining Chosen Ones who survived the previous year. Their showdown with the last demon blessed enemy was only the beginning of their fight to save the world and this time they have an additional enemy in the notorious Council.
The governing body amongst witches previously let Adriana serve as their representative but now they’ve arrived to take on the task of investigating and prosecuting Anna-Karin’s unauthorized use of magic from the year before. But the rest of the girls aren’t going to stand by and let it go down without a fight; their strength lies together and even Ida grudgingly comes to her fellow Chosen One’s defense.
Barred from developing their skills further and under the watchful eye of the Council, the Chosen Ones are limited in their ability to fight off yet another coming evil. Meanwhile, Engelsfors is getting a healthy dose of positive energy thanks to Elias Malmgren’s mother and her Positive Engelsfors movement. But this happy revolution soon turns sour as its detractors find themselves under fire.
Fire loses none of the energy set forth by its predecessor. The second installment of the Engelsfors trilogy not only moves the plot as a whole along but also holds its own as a worthy follow-up to The Circle.
As before the story switches between each of the characters’ viewpoints but this time even Ida gets a say. And not only do we get to finally see Ida’s POV, scary as that is in the beginning, we also get to learn more of Nicolaus’s background as well as Matilda’s story.
Of course the other big inclusion in this second installment is the introduction of the Council. There are a few new characters that come along with this and more revelations about the prophecy of the Chosen Ones.
The Engelsfors trilogy is really exceptional. I highly recommend both The Circle and Fire and can’t wait to get my hands on the final book, The Key. I’m also incredibly excited to hear that there’s a movie in development in Sweden with shooting set to begin in the coming months.
2/14 Becky Lejeune
FIRE by Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg. Overlook Juvenile (January 30, 2014). ISBN 978-1468306729. 704p.