Win the January ’18 bookshelf of signed thrillers!

January 1, 2018

Happy New Year and welcome to the January bookshelf of signed thrillers! As 2018 kicks off, I want to let you all know how much your support means to me. My regular readers who come back all the time to read reviews, share your thoughts and of course, try to win some books! New readers who find the site through their friends or social media. I appreciate every one of you, and welcome you all.

This month the International Thriller Writers have provided some excellent thrillers for you to win. To enter, go to the Win Books page. More books will be added throughout the month, so check back often.

Best of luck!

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HELLBENT by Gregg Hurwitz: When the man who raised and trained him warns him that secret government forces are trying to eliminate all surviving members of the Orphan Program, Evan Smoak is challenged to track down and protect his teacher’s last protâegâe from a brutal new Programleader.

FALSE WITNESS by Andrew Grant: Investigating the disappearances and murders of women on sequential birthdays, Detective Devereaux makes a high-profile arrest, only to discover that the wrong person has been taken into custody, a situation that leads to a race against time to prevent another killing.

CITY OF ENDLESS NIGHT by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child: Heading an investigation into the murder of a wealthy tech billionaire’s daughter, Lieutenant CDS Vincent D’Agosta teams up with FBI Special Agent A.X.L. Pendergast, only to uncover the work of a serial killer whose agenda threatens an entire city.

ACT OF REVENGE by Dale Brown: When Boston is hit by a coordinated string of terrorist attacks, robotics innovator Louis Massina leads a team of tech geniuses to deploy every bot, drone and cyberweapon at their disposal to save the city and bring the plot’s mastermind to justice.

THE WIFE by Alafair BurkeMarrying an economics professor she met while catering an East Hampton dinner party, Angela finds her tragic past coming under scrutiny at the same time she is asked to defend her husband against wrongful accusations.

THE GOD GENE by F. Paul WilsonRick Hayden and Laura Fanning investigate the baffling disappearance of Rick’s brother, a prominent NYU zoologist whose writings alluded to a mysterious gene marking the evolutionary development of human consciousness.

HONEY-BAKED HOMICIDE by Gayle Leeson, A Down South Café Mystery, Book 3: When struggling beekeeper and Southern café owner Amy’s new business partner, Stuart Landon is murdered, Amy investigates and finds herself in a sticky situation as the list of suspects grows longer, causing quite a buzz in the community. Includes recipes.

NAKED AMBITION by Rick PullenWhen newspaper reporter Beck Rikki receives an unsolicited call from a high-ranking government official sending him off to investigate a candidate for President of the United States, he doesn’t realize he’s stumbled onto the story of a lifetime.

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!

THE PRIZE by Geoffrey M. Cooper

January 17, 2018

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The prize in the title of this novel is one of the top awards in the world.  The Nobel prize to be exact.  It represents not only the monetary reward involved, but is one that  brings world wide renown for the recipient.   It is no wonder that it is a prize sought after by the people possibly  in line for it with every means possible. Cooper’s book features one attempt to win the prize and all that it means with a titanic discovery in the medical field.

Pam Weller is a research associate at a large private laboratory who has been working at finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.  Logically following protocol she leads the group she is working with into discovering a substance that arrests Alzheimer’s and actually reverses it in early stage cases. Decidedly Nobel Prize area and which will allow Pam to get tenure and promotion at her work as well as notice for those in her group.

Eric Prescott is head of his own lab and has been working on achieving success against Alzheimer’s with the idea of the Nobel prize and the world wide fame that goes with it.  He hears that Pam is getting ready to publish positive results on her findings and arranges a meeting with one of Pam’s assistants.  The results of that meeting are the meat and bones of the book.  How far will Prescott go in order to ascertain the Nobel prize for himself?  The answer makes for an interesting, riveting read and an introduction to the competitive world of medical science.  Very well done.

1/18 Paul Lane

THE PRIZE by Geoffrey M. Cooper. BookBaby (January 15, 2018).  ISBN 978-1543912173. 240p.

THE TAKE by Christopher Reich

January 16, 2018

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Simon Riske, the principal character in Christopher Reich’s latest novel, has had a checkered past, to say the least. This includes imprisonment and the spending of months in solitary confinement as punishment for refusing to divulge information sought by the police.

Out of prison, he currently owns a garage in London, specializing in expensive limited edition cars. He does have another occupation which involves acting as a freelance industrial spy. He is hired to perform small scale jobs for banks, insurance companies and the British Secret Service.

The action starts when he is hired by the CIA to look into the matter of a lot of money and a confidential letter stolen by an old acquaintance of Riske’s: one Tino Colluzzi . Colluzzi stole a huge amount of cash from a Saudi Arabian prince and with it a letter hidden in a suitcase that is supposed to have the power to upset the balance of power in the western world.

Riske accepts the job to look into the matter of the theft of money and the letter when he learns that Colluzzi was the thief. Tino was once Riske’s friend and ally until Simon took the full rap for a crime both committed with Colluzzi getting away without any punishment.

Simon’s first stop is going to France, the scene of the crime, where he is matched up against his will with a female French police officer, Nicolette Perez, who has been assigned against her will to work with Simon and keep him on the straight and narrow. Nicolette is a tough, no holds barred police officer whose only interest seems to be in doing her job as best as she can. She also happens to be a pretty girl and it is no surprise that sparks fly between the two in the course of their joint investigation in spite of initial antagonism.

Another member of the cast involved is a Russian female assassin who is assigned to kill Riske at all costs and goes about trying to complete this assignment with a great deal of skill and dedication. The novel uses all these factors in a fascinating story of spy versus spy. What is in the letter that seemingly has the power to upset the balance of western power? Is the cash recovered? An all nighter it certainly is and does leave the reader with the definite feeling that this is the first of several novels featuring Riske.  Look forward to that.


1/18 Paul Lane

THE TAKE by Christopher Reich. Mulholland Books (January 16, 2018).  ISBN 978-1681776163. 400p.


January 15, 2018

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Diamonds in the Rough Series, Book 2

Amelia Matthews became a Lady when her brother inherited a dukedom. But he goes off on his honeymoon, asking his best friend and neighbor, Thomas Heathmore, Duke of Coventry, to not only keep an eye on his sisters but help shepherd them through society. It’s important that Amelia makes a match as that will clear the way for her younger sister to do so the next season.

What Thomas didn’t know when he agreed to this was that Amelia is quite stubborn, and has a secret plant to turn a crumbling old home on the edge of a bad neighborhood, into a free school for poor children. Thomas ends up having to help her and they both end up in danger more than once. Of course, they also fall in love but both are too stubborn to do anything about it, until they have no choice.

This was not my favorite Barnes book but I did enjoy it.

1/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE DUKE OF HER DESIRE by Sophie Barnes. Avon (December 26, 2017). ISBN: 978-0062566829. 384p.


OPERATOR DOWN by Brad Taylor

January 14, 2018

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A Pike Logan Thriller 

Former Delta Force Officer Brad Taylor returns with another novel involving Pike Logan, Pike’s wife Jennifer Cahill and the rest of the mission impossible group known as the Taskforce. Col. Taylor’s formula for success is quite simple. Pike and company are tasked with completing a job assigned to them by their controllers; a top secret group at the apex of the U.S. government which includes the president. Their task is always to work outside of the United States per their charter (as it happens not always per Pike.)

This time the job is a simple one merely to determine whether or not a merchant in the Israeli Diamond Exchange is involved in a scheme that could potentially embarrass the state of Israel. As we know from being drawn into Col. Taylor’s novels centering on the Taskforce nothing is ever simple and the plots always delineate Pike’s ability to think and act outside of the box.  An American arms dealer may or may not be attempting to sell components of nuclear weapons to the highest bidder which is up to Pike and Company to determine.

At the same time characters from a previous Taskforce novel appear and alter the Taskforce’s  mission to include aiding them. These are former mosad members Shoshana and Aaron now husband and wife and working as independent contractors. Aaron gets himself captured by the people he is tracking for his current assignment and Shosana goes after him to get him away from their enemies. She is by nature a killing machine with I’d hate to have her coming after me personality. The Israelis are drawn into Pike’s assignment due to the probability of their goals overlapping. And, guess what they overlap.

As in all the Pike Logan books action is mercurial and combat situations described by a long time veteran of such actions vivid. Scenes shift from Israel to south Africa. A planned coup in a small African nation becomes a real factor in the plot and the place of the Taskforce of importance to the group fitting in neatly to the story.

Action, action and more action is the keynote to the plot and will be in future novels featuring Pike and Company.  The stories are always interesting, even though similiar, and do draw in a faithful following.

1/18 Paul Lane

OPERATOR DOWN by Brad Taylor. Dutton (January 9, 2018).  ISBN 978-1101984819. 464p.

A HIGH PRICE TO PAY by Rick Gangraw

January 13, 2018

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Rensey Goode was a young boy growing up in the beautiful setting of the North Carolina mountains. His family owned a farm and he knew that he was destined to work with them in his future. The prospect was pleasant and awaited until a cataclysmic event occurred. Suddenly, his entire outlook changed.

The year was 1861 and several southern states including North Carolina made the momentous decision to secede from the union.  Their reason was to defend themselves against a northern government that was looking to make slavery illegal and in effect take way an agricultural system that provided a comfortable living for gentlemen farmers.

With war on the horizon, Rensey and several of his friends heeded the call to join the Confederate army in order to protect their way of life. Gangraw does a good job of depicting the boys moving from their initial enthusiasm into the horror of combat.  Suddenly they are thrust into the experiencing kill or be killed, maiming, and watching their friends die. They also become aware that the enemy is not evil but consists of men and boys like themselves forced into an armed defense of their country against the division facing it.

There are many books written by anti-war activists that call attention to the horrors of the institution. Gangraw joins their ranks with a good story of what combat really is like. His contention, like those of the others writing about these horrors, is that the only winners of any war are those that survive it. Glory is an empty phrase for those that have died supposedly earning it.

1/18 Paul Lane

A HIGH PRICE TO PAY by Rick Gangraw. White Feather Press, LLC (October 3, 2017).  ISBN 978-1618081612. 260p.


DARKER by E. L. James

January 11, 2018

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Fifty Shades Darker as Told by Christian

The second entry in the Fifty Shades trilogy was my favorite. It is the most like a traditional romance, albeit a contemporary, highly erotic version, so when James released the “Christian” version, I was all in.

This is from the publisher:

E L James revisits the world of Fifty Shades with a deeper and darker take on the love story that has enthralled millions of readers around the globe.

Their scorching, sensual affair ended in heartbreak and recrimination, but Christian Grey cannot get Anastasia Steele out of his mind, or his blood. Determined to win her back, he tries to suppress his darkest desires and his need for complete control, and to love Ana on her own terms.

But the horrors of his childhood still haunt him, and Ana’s scheming boss, Jack Hyde, clearly wants her for himself.  Can Christian’s confidant and therapist, Dr. Flynn, help him face down his demons? Or will the possessiveness of Elena, his seducer, and the deranged devotion of Leila, his former submissive, drag Christian down into the past?

And if Christian does win Ana back, can a man so dark and damaged ever hope to keep her?

If you’re a fan of the books, you’ll enjoy this one. If you’re not, this won’t change your mind. I enjoyed it.

1/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

DARKER by E. L. James.  Vintage (November 28, 2017). ISBN: 978-0385543910. 560p.



January 10, 2018

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The Conor Thorn Series, Book 1

Dyer indicates that he intends to write further novels using the character of Conor Thorn introduced in The  Torch Betrayal. Conor is an agent for the O.S.S. (Office of Strategic Services.)  The office was formed during World War II  and headed by (Wild) Bill Donovan who later became the first head of the CIA the agency that evolved from the O.S.S.

The event depicted in the book take place during WWII.  Operation Torch was the plan to establish a second front against Germany. It was the plan for the invasion of North Africa. Hitler was aware that an invasion was under action and did all he could think about to determine where it would be launched.

The action starts when a written page meant for eyes only of Allied leader is stolen during course of it’s being copied. The information was, of course, the plan for Operation Torch: where and when it would take place. To prevent the page from falling into the hands of the enemy General Dwight Eisenhower in command of the allied armies assigned groups of people to locate the document and the thief. Conor Thorn is one of those assigned to find it and was paired against his will with Emily Bright, a British Intelligence agent. She was naturally against being paired with Conor with the mutual antipathy laying a neat background for romance.

Dyer has done a great deal of research in preparation for this planned series. He is successful in bringing  his readers into the era described with good portrayal of the events and places as they were at the time.  Hedy Lamarr, an American actress of the day makes a short appearance.  We also meet the enigmatic Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of the German Abweher whose sympathies were involved in getting rid of Hitler and initiating peace talks with the Allies.

The novel ends with the stage set for the next Conor Thorn book and the growth of the romance with Emily. An interesting read certainly enticing the reader to be on the lookout for the next novel in this series.

1/18 Paul Lane

THE TORCH BETRAYAL by Glenn Dyer. TMR Press; 1 edition (January 1, 2018).  ISBN 978-0999117309. 354p.

THE WIFE BETWEEN US by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

January 9, 2018
Wife Between Us

A very well written novel dealing with the interactions between a husband and his wife, and the woman that he is leaving the wife to marry.  A book that will grab you and have you reading without being able to put it down. It will bring you into the thoughts and actions of both women, wondering who is doing what to whom and what is happening with the husband.
Vanessa meets Richard, a charming, handsome and financially well off man.  She falls for him and he for her and they marry, with Vanessa’s expectations of enjoying a wonderful life with the man of her dreams.
Richard has a sister who Vanessa meets just before the ceremony who offers to help pick out the wedding dress and help with the menu for the meal.  The happy couple move up to Westchester, an upscale community north of New York City, after the wedding where Vanessa takes on the life of a full time wife with no need to help out with a second income. Her husband insists that she find something to do via volunteering and also to exercise and strictly maintain her weight which she does not object to.
Richard, who is a hedge fund manager, soon hires a new assistant named Emma.  It immediately becomes apparent that Emma also assists during the evening.  The gist of the story is about the interaction between the two women and  Richard and who does what to whom. The reader will change their opinion several times about what is really going on during the course of reading the book. Thought processes of both women are utilized by the authors to move the novel forward with the action based on what they are thinking and doing at the time.
A mesmerizing story guaranteed to keep the reader glued to the book and not at all being able to postulate the ending. That finale is based on facts brought out and logical after the fact. Pekkanen is an experienced writer with several novels under her belt, while Hendricks has been an editor with Simon & Schuster for over 20 years, but this is her first novel. Their combined input makes this a work that is guaranteed to make any reader avidly wanting the next book.

1/18 Paul Lane

Note from the BookBitch: This book is getting a lot of buzz and comparisons to the big “girl books” of previous years, “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn and “Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins. Furthermore: 

Observing that “the same book scout who urged Holly Bario to buy the rights to the book The Girl on the Train when it was a mere manuscript has struck again,” the Hollywood Reporter wrote that Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners, where Bario is president of production, “is now planning a film of the psychological thriller The Wife Between Us by a new writing duo: Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen.

THE WIFE BETWEEN US by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen. St. Martin’s Press (January 9, 2018).  ISBN 978-1250130921. 352p.

FEAR by Dirk Kurbjuweit

January 8, 2018

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A  well done novel about what an individual’s perception does to his mind, how does unreasoning fear influence decisions about action to be taken in a stressful event.

Randolf Tiefenthaler is a successful architect living and working in Berlin. He has a beautiful wife, Rebecca, and two delightful children. Due to his success he moves his family into a lovely upscale apartment. Every thing looks wonderful. He likes his neighbors and gets along as well as could be expected with them. One of them is an older man named Dieter Tiberius who at first blush seems friendly although somewhat aloof. Unfortunately Dieter  changes and his behavior becomes malevolent.

Randolph becomes more and more disturbed by Dieter’s behavior.  Dieter develops a fascination for Rebecca and begins sending erotic letters to her. He also accuses Randolph’s family of child molestation and files police reports against them while openly spying on them. Randolph files counter police reports against his antagonist but gets nowhere. He begins to feel himself unable to take care of his family and inadequate as a protective husband and father. Somewhat estranged from his own father he finally asks him for advice on what to do. Randolph’s childhood with the man that sired him was one of apparent distance and fear of the many guns his father had in the house.

As a  possible result of the consultation held with his father, Dieter is shot dead in his own apartment. Randolph’s father is arrested for the crime and sent to prison. Randolph goes through a period of self analysis which has him calling into question his own masculinity, the rule of law and violence in general. The meditation leads to him questioning his own adequacy, the concept of middle class privilege and the whole spectrum of a “civilized” life.

This is Kurbjuweit’s seventh book, and the first one translated into English. The concepts developed in this novel are certainly cause for thought and will surely develop a taste for more on the part of the reader.

1/18 Paul Lane


FEAR by Dirk Kurbjuweit. Harper (October 3, 2017).  ISBN 978-0062678348. 272p.

PROMISE NOT TO TELL by Jayne Ann Krentz

January 7, 2018
Promise Not to Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz

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Krentz has successfully published a multitude of well written novels utilizing three separate pen names. Those that I have been fortunate enough to read are all concisely written, capture the reader’s attention, and retain it throughout the book. No problem with “Promise Not to Tell;” it offers a well thought out and interesting plot, principal characters that are right on the money and an adventure that will definitely keep the reader intrigued and unable to put the book down.

Virginia Troy, an owner of an art gallery in Seattle, was one of many children caught in the machinations of a cult in their childhood. Her nightmares don’t leave her as she relives a narrow escape again and again from a fire set by the Cult founder to a small building with cult members in it. Her life and the lives of others were saved when a bystander uses an auto to smash into the building and save some of those imprisoned there. Now she is jolted when an artist featured in her gallery commits suicide, but not before sending a painting to Virginia. The painting causes her to doubt that the death was a suicide and additionally to further sink back into her own past.

Virginia decides to hire Cabot Sutter to look into the suicide. Sutter is a private investigator and another of the children that survived the long ago fire. Krentz portrays the hunt for answers in a logical progression towards solutions. The investigation proceeds quite realistically and in no way presents impossible actions.  Both can be physically hurt, and if so do not wake up and seconds later move forward as if nothing has happened.  That there are sparks between the two is not an impossibility.  Both have the mental scars of the long ago fire and each has the patience and inherent wisdom to understand that such an event and proximity to death just doesn’t go away.

A very well done addition to this author’s long list of good books.

1/18 Paul Lane

PROMISE NOT TO TELL by Jayne Ann Krentz. Berkley (January 2, 2018).  ISBN 978-0399585272. 336p.