Win the March ’19 bookshelf of signed thrillers!

March 1, 2019

Welcome to the March bookshelf of signed thrillers!

This month the International Thriller Writers have provided some superb thrillers for you to win. There are a couple of incredible debuts, lots of bestselling authors, true crime, romantic suspense, unreliable narrators and more! To enter, go to the Win Books page. More books may be added throughout the month, so check back often.

Best of luck!

THE BLACK ASCOT by Charles Todd: An unexpected tip lands Inspector Ian Rutledge on the trail of a suspect behind a royal horse-race murder, only to find his own sanity brought into question by shocking events.

A LETHAL LEGACY by Heather Graham: Summoned to a New York island by his father’s mysterious death, an FBI agent teams up with a compelling local to investigate a present-day killer.

MY LOVELY WIFE by Samantha Downing: A seemingly typical suburban husband discloses the secret ways that his wife of 15 years and he keep their marriage alive and chase away domestic boredom by orchestrating creative ways to get away with murder. A first novel.

THE FIFTH DOCTRINE by Karen Robards: Offered her freedom in exchange for a dangerous undercover assignment, master manipulator Bianca St. Ives poses as an elite hacker to feed strategic misinformation to North Korea’s tyrannical regime.

BLOOD OATH by Linda Fairstein: A key witness’ revelation about a sexual assault at the hands of a prominent official is complicated by rumors about a colleague’s abusive conduct and another associate’s violent, mysterious collapse.

THE PERFECT ALIBI by Phillip Margolin: Two rape cases at the same bar are complicated by a prominent athlete’s threats, baffling DNA evidence, suspicious attacks on case lawyers and a D.A.’s resolve to prosecute a killing in self-defense.

AND EVERY WORD IS TRUE by Gary McAvoy: Sixty years after news of the 1959 Clutter murders took the world stage, “And Every Word Is True” pulls back the curtain for a suspenseful encore to the true story of “In Cold Blood.”

HOUSE ON FIRE by Bonnie Kistler: Believing in the strength of their blended family, a couple is horrified when the son of one is charged in the drunk-driving death of the other’s daughter, triggering a manslaughter trial that is rocked by conflicting accounts.

BLOOD ORANGE by Harriet Tyce: A young lawyer’s idyllic family life and blossoming career is upended by a murder case involving a questionable confession and the lawyer’s toxic affair with a manipulative senior partner. A first novel.

YOU OWE ME A MURDER by Eileen Cook: Stuck on a class trip to London with her unfaithful ex and his new girlfriend, 17-year-old Kim imparts her woes to a good-humored stranger only to find herself set up for her ex’s murder and blackmailed into committing another.

You can win autographed copies of these books! If you are new to the site, each month I run a contest in conjunction with the International Thriller Writers organization. We put together a list of books from debut authors to bestsellers, 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! Books with multiple authors will be signed by at least one of the authors.

Penguin Random House books for giveaway were provided by the publisher. #PRHpartner

Don’t forget, if you subscribe to the newsletter or follow this blog, you get an extra entry into every contest you enter. Check out the Win Books page for more information on all these books and how you to enter this month’s contest.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!

INSPECTION by Josh Malerman

March 19, 2019

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Malerman has the wonderful ability to deliver exciting books with “different” plots for his readers. Inspection is no exception to this rule.

At the beginning the reader will fully be invested in the idea that it is a situation existing in a future when “Big Brother” is watching every move made by the residents of their country. This is not the case. It is set in a present time when a radical deviation from the norm has been set up by wealthy people interested in proving a point they are sure of.

Two separate schools have been built in a forest location very far from prying eyes. One is an institution populated only by boys with no females around, and the other by girls with no males around. Each has existed for years with no contact with the outside world. The children, as they are, have no nouns in their language that lead to the realization that there is an opposite sex. They have been given the names only of the letters of the alphabet and told that they developed on special trees and taken off when ready to survive on their own.

The head of the boys unit is known as D.A.D. with the girls’ supervisor M.O.M. The children are being trained with advanced courses in the arts and sciences with the thinking that left without the distraction of sex they will not be subjected to the strains that normally exist with the interaction between men and women. They will, therefore develop into geniuses and make contributions to mankind beyond the normality of other groups growing up in regular circumstances.

The story moves between the boy “J” and the girl “K” as they both independently begin questioning their supervision and the constraints of their sheltered existences. The ending is a completely logical one given the circumstances as developed and complete an extremely engrossing novel. Several sleepless, but rewarding, nights are in store for the reader as they are drawn into the world created by the author. Very well done.

3/19 Paul Lane

INSPECTION by Josh Malerman. Del Rey (March 19, 2019). ISBN 978-1524796990 400p.



RUN AWAY by Harlan Coben

March 19, 2019

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There is a truism involved in reading any of Harlan Coben’s books. I have found it so over the years that I have had the pleasure of reading them. And that is one has to begin to read his latest novel early on an otherwise free day. And that is because the author captures you quickly and it is impossible to put it down before finishing it. “Run Away” is no exception although it does involve a stretch of the imagination to accept the plot closely adhering to what might be real life. But that is the author’s job: telling a good story in a way that captures his or her reader’s interest and attention. And that is what Coben does and does well with this novel being no exception.

Ingrid and Simon, husband and wife, live in Manhattan with their three children. They are both successful in their individual careers; Ingrid a pediatrician and Simon a partner in a lucrative counselling service advising others how to invest their money. Due to their professions an upscale life style is attained. It would be perfect except for a conflict with their eldest child: Paige. She has had many strong arguments with her parents and the opening of the book is at a point where Paige has run away from home. She has not returned nor even called during that period. Simon misses her very much and has taken to sitting in a section of the nearby Central Park at a spot that his daughter loved thinking of her.

About six months after Paige disappeared and while Simon is sitting in that spot he sees his daughter playing the violin for money from the onlookers there. He attempts to talk to her, but she runs from him. The remainder of the book sets up Simon and his wife’s search for Paige. They run into drug dealers, a cult, DNA testing and it’s consequences, two murderers and the killing done by these people. Yes. a search such as is being described would most likely not have all the depicted events occur in real life. But in the hands of Harlan Coben these become a necessary part of the plot and termed the author’s literary license to tell his story. Well done and engrossing novel.

3/19 Paul Lane

RUN AWAY by Harlan Coben. Grand Central Publishing (March 19, 2019). ISBN 978-1538748466. 384p.



THE CHANCE by Robyn Carr

March 18, 2019

3/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE CHANCE by Robyn Carr. MIRA; 1st edition (February 25, 2014). ISBN 978-0778315995. 360p.




March 17, 2019

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The novel opens with the sudden appearance in the Timber logging town of Carverville by a middle aged man calling himself JP. Carverville is an area of the U.S. that has seen better days and the consequent relocation of many of it’s young people looking for a better future.

JP is one of these and has returned after an absence of 40 years. He finds work at a run down motel basically trying to tidy the place in return for food and room to park the RV that he has arrived in.

Events involve in James, as his name is, discovering that shadows envelope the town and corruption runs rampant. As more and more facts emerge about what is going on in Carverville the author makes his personal position clear. He indicates through his characters that the downfall of many areas n the country are being adversely affected by the actions of the government. While this opinion may not be held by the reader the story is still an interesting one.

James finds old high school friends and what has happened to them over the years. The corruption is done by people that he knew in the past and gave indications even than of what they will become later. There is no surprise in reading Downie’s novel and the ending is one that is totally logical based on events as described.

The book is not an all night grabber but is a good story written by an author who has a good many credits to his name.

3/19 Paul Lane

THE GARDENER OF EDEN by David Downie. Pegasus Books; 1 edition (March 5, 2019). ISBN 978-1643130040. 272p.


THE HERO by Robyn Carr

March 16, 2019

3/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE HERO by Robyn Carr.  MIRA; 1st edition (August 27, 2013). ISBN 978-0778314592. 379p.




March 15, 2019

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One can say that this book is a wonderful love story, but it is a novel far above the recounting of a romance. It is a story that moves through various twists and turns granting the mesmerized reader a good deal of sleepless moments while glued to the pages.

Maddie (Madeline) and Ian’s love story begins when she is in a position overseas and visits a friend of hers in a nearby country. At a party she meets Ian who is a professional soldier in the British army. He is currently part of a detachment guarding diplomats stationed at embassies in that country. She falls for him, and he for her but it takes a period of 16 years for the two to finally marry and settle in Maddie’s home state of Kansas. Their union produces a beautiful son named Charlie loved by both in a marriage that seems very successful.

Things change when Maddie suffers an accident during a camping trip, scarring her face and causing her to begin seeing a therapist to help her come to grips with the disfigurement. It is during her visits to the analyst that the fact that Ian suffers from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) due to his constant postings into combat areas comes out. Since it is Maddie that is used as the first person narrator we learn much about the symptoms of Ian’s PTSD as outlined by her. She is, by her own admission, living with a man with an abundance of phobias that make life for both difficult.

The ending is an incredible piece of writing which brings the reader through several complete changes of view about what has and is happening. Ward has written other novels prior to “Beautiful Bad” but she has certainly vaulted to a place right at the apex of the literary world. I can’t wait for her next book and I’m sure that this will be the reaction of anyone reading this book.

3/19 Paul Lane

BEAUTIFUL BAD by Annie Ward. Knopf (March 5, 2019). ISBN 978-0525521877. 272p.




March 14, 2019

Reinhardt (Tell Us Something True) brings two families together on a vacation at a luxurious villa in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in this marital farce.

Jenna plans the trip for her husband Peter’s 50th birthday and invites his best friend/business partner, Solly, along with his family – his second, much younger wife, their young son and Solly’s disreputable teenage son from his first marriage. Jenna’s sullen teenage daughter is attracted to the troubled teen which makes Jenna uncomfortable, but her real problem is Peter’s beautiful, young assistant that he’s left in charge of the business, and their secretive phone conversations.

Meanwhile, Solly is the life of the party while Peter is acting the sycophant, and both of them are getting on Jenna’s last nerve. Things come to a head when political unrest in the town forces everyone to stay inside, causing feelings that have been brewing beneath the surface to explode.

Verdict: The interaction of all these characters makes for compelling reading and is often amusing, while book groups should find lots to discuss. Should appeal to fans of Jane Green and Emma Straub.

©Library Journal, 2019

3/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

TOMORROW THERE WILL BE SUN by Dana Reinhardt. Pamela Dorman Books (March 12, 2019). ISBN: 978-0525557968. 288p.

From Paul Lane:

Jenna and her husband Peter have been married for 20 years, have a 16 year old daughter. They are comfortable; not rich, with Peter in business with his lifelong best friend Solly. Jenna is a planner and makes the decision to plan an extraordinary vacation to best celebrate Peter becoming 50 years of age, with Solly to reach that age a few months later. After much research and deliberation Jenna sets up a dream seven day trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. She rents a private villa with all the trimmings right next to the ocean.

Both couples, Jenna’s daughter and Solly’s two boys are with them, all primed to have the vacation of a lifetime. Upon arrival at the villa they are greeted by their maid and butler who will do all the cooking, serve drinks, clean up the quarters and leave the vacationers nothing to do but enjoy themselves. it does start out that way, but begins to go downhill slowly but surely. Using Jenna as the first person narrator, Reinhardt keeps the reader following the changes in situation and in the thinking and feeling of the group. She shows herself to be a master in painting the personalities and characters of the adults, teenage children and a young, quite spoiled little boy.

This is indicated as being Reinhardt’s first adult novel after writing many children’s books. After spending all night panting to finish the book I certainly am hoping she follows up with more adult fiction which I’m sure will give me additional sleepless, but pleasant evenings. A very well done book with a very surprising ending becoming the capstone of an excellent read.

THE RIVER by Peter Heller

March 13, 2019

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Rafting or canoeing on a swift flowing river is a passion for many people, with the actuality of such a trip a dream come true. Wynn and Jack, two friends meeting in college, find that they share this love and have taken several such trips during their academic careers.

Heller follows them on an adventure in northern Canada canoeing on the Maskwa river. The background and descriptions supplied by the author are sufficient enough to allow any reader to vicariously experience the trip with the boys. But the events depicted also make for a rousing adventure story that will make the novel an excellent read.

At the onset of the trip, Wynn and Jack are flown by plane with the idea that after the trip ends the pilot can be telephoned to come and pick them up. But, after several days of voyaging they detect a huge forest fire starting behind them and realize that they cannot turn back but must continue on to a point from which a pickup can be arranged.

Continuing on, they meet two men halted and getting drunk. The boys tell them about the fire and continue on. Further along they hear a heated argument between a man and a woman coming from the fogbound shore area and decide that they should be left alone. The next day they spot a man, alone, paddling along and decide to investigate the whereabouts of the woman.

The interactions between the fire, the boys the two drunks, and the man and woman provide the ingredients for the story. A well told adventure tale and one that will engage the reader and keep him or her riveted to the book.

3/19 Paul Lane

THE RIVER by Peter Heller. Knopf (March 5, 2019). ISBN 978-0525521877. 272p.



THE NEWCOMER by Robyn Carr

March 12, 2019

3/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE NEWCOMER by Robyn Carr.  MIRA; 1st edition (June 25, 2013). ISBN 978-0778314523. 360p.



OF FIRE AND LIONS by Mesu Andrews

March 10, 2019

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A well written novel based on the Old Testament story of Daniel. The author evidences a great deal of research in presenting a novel like account of the life and times of the prophet. Daniel lived during the tumultuous times characterized by the rule of Nebuchadnezzar over the city state of Babylon and his conquests of much of the known world. The novel begins as the young girl Abigail is taken prisoner by the invading army of the Babylonians conquering Jerusalem and taking her and many others captives. They are being brought to Babylon as slaves. Along with her are five young men including Daniel and four of his friends. Daniel takes a liking and interest in Abigail starting a lifetime of love between them.

Andrews does not gloss over the miracles attributed to Daniel’s times and caused by the one god, Yahweh, that was worshiped by his people. There is the survival of his friends thrown into a blazing furnace and the later survival by Daniel of being thrown into a pit with several hungry lions. He is brought to Babylon in order to be trained to govern under the sway of Nebuchadnezzar along with other selected Hebrews as a means of assuring the rule of a wide variety of men selected from Babylon’s conquests. This is seen as a means of assuring loyalty to Babylon and is a far reaching belief going beyond the period being looked at.

Andrews, as is her practice, has done a good deal of research into the period surrounding Daniel’s life both by close reading of the book of Daniel and other prophets of that era as well as other surviving works available at present day. Literary license allows the author to resurrect conversations that possibly could have taken place based on events depicted. As an historical work the recreating of the world of about 500 B.C. is truly an engrossing project. The book is made into both a captivating novel as well as the creation of life lived in another and stranger period. The novel is by any definition a mesmerizing read and an all nighter for the reader.

3/19 Paul Lane

OF FIRE AND LIONS by Mesu Andrews. WaterBrook (March 5, 2019). ISBN 978-0735291867. 400p.