Win the April ’18 bookshelf of signed thrillers!

April 1, 2018

Welcome to the April bookshelf of signed thrillers! We got off to a slow start this month, but things will be picking up from here on out. Feel free to enter at any time, and I will add titles as they become available. Thanks to Jeffery Deaver and Lee Goldberg  for kicking things off! More books will be added throughout the month, so check back often.

To enter, go to the Win Books page.

Best of luck!

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THE CUTTING EDGE by Jeffery Deaver: Returning to New York City from their honeymoon to learn that a serial killer has been targeting couples in the process of buying engagement rings, Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs discover that their target has a larger agenda than originally realized and that there is something unusual about the ring that Rhyme gave Sachs.

TRUE FICTION by Lee Goldberg: When a passenger jet crashes onto the beaches of Waikiki, best-selling thriller writer Ian Ludlow knows the horrific tragedy wasnt an accident, forcing Ian to go on the run, pursued by assassins and a global intelligence network that wants him dead.

THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF SAM HELL by Robert Dugoni: Born with ocular albinism, small-town eye doctor Sam Hill, who was called “Devil Boy” in his youth, must finally face a past tragedy that caused him to turn his back on his friends, his hometown and the life he’d always known—a journey that makes him realize what truly matters.

THE SAINT OF WOLVES AND BUTCHERS by Alex Grecian: An enigmatic hunter and his highly skilled dog track a Nazi concentration-camp administrator who has been hiding in the United States, a case that is complicated by the man’s secret ongoing work and his band of fanatical followers, who reveal a violent willingness to go to any length to protect him.

ALL THE BEAUTIFUL LIES by Peter Swanson: Devastated when his father commits suicide days before his college graduation, Harry returns to his home in Maine, where he is baffled by the increasingly sensual attentions of a mysterious woman and his own alluring stepmother, who he comes to realize are hiding dangerous secrets.

HOLD BACK THE DARK by Kay Hooper: Called in to the small North Carolina mountain town of Prosperity, where residents are acting out their nightmares and waking up the next day with no memory of their horrific acts, the Special Crimes Unit uncovers a sinister pattern that pits their most advanced skills against an unprecedented darkness.

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 to enter this month’s contest.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!

 


Meet the Author: Imbolo Mbue

April 22, 2018

BEHOLD THE DREAMERS

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A compulsively readable debut novel about marriage, immigration, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dream—the unforgettable story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy

Oprah’s Book Club selection • New York Times Bestseller • Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award • Longlisted for the PEN/Open Book Award • An ALA Notable Book

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
NPR • The New York Times Book Review • San Francisco Chronicle • The Guardian • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • Chicago Public Library • BookPage • Refinery29 • Kirkus Reviews 

Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty—and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’ summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.

However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ façades.

When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job—even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.

Praise for Behold the Dreamers

“A debut novel by a young woman from Cameroon that illuminates the immigrant experience in America with the tenderhearted wisdom so lacking in our political discourse . . . Mbue is a bright and captivating storyteller.”The Washington Post

“A capacious, big-hearted novel.”The New York Times Book Review

“Behold the Dreamers’ heart . . . belongs to the struggles and small triumphs of the Jongas, which Mbue traces in clean, quick-moving paragraphs.”Entertainment Weekly

“Mbue’s writing is warm and captivating.”People (book of the week)

“[Mbue’s] book isn’t the first work of fiction to grapple with the global financial crisis of 2007–2008, but it’s surely one of the best. . . . It’s a novel that depicts a country both blessed and doomed, on top of the world, but always at risk of losing its balance. It is, in other words, quintessentially American.”—NPR

“This story is one that needs to be told.”Bust 

Behold the Dreamers challenges us all to consider what it takes to make us genuinely content, and how long is too long to live with our dreams deferred.”O: The Oprah Magazine

“[A] beautiful, empathetic novel.”The Boston Globe

“A witty, compassionate, swiftly paced novel that takes on race, immigration, family and the dangers of capitalist excess.”St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Mbue [is] a deft, often lyrical observer. . . . [Her] meticulous storytelling announces a writer in command of her gifts.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune


MANHATTAN BEACH by Jennifer Egan

April 22, 2018

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I confess that I never read the Pulitzer Prize winning A Visit from the Goon Squad by Egan. Its desription as a novel of interlocking stories just didn’t appeal so I came to this book with an open mind. It has won numerous awards and accolades, including the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, was a New York Times and Washington Post Notable book and it made many of the best books lists in 2017. So I had high expectations, and it mostly met them.

Manhattan Beach is a neighborhood in Brooklyn, and this book is a historical look at the area. Anna Kerrigan is a young girl when her father takes to a business meeting at the home of Dexter Styles, who lives in a large house on the beach. Anna is mesmerized by the sand and sea, and Styles enjoys her pleasure in it.

Anna’s father had been ruined in the Great Depression, and the family lives in a small apartment. Anna enjoys spending time with her father, but he stops taking her to business meetings and then disappears a short time later, leaving her with her mother and sister. Her sister suffers from some sort of paralysis and brain damage, but Anna and her mother lovingly take care of her.

Years later, Anna gets a job at the Brooklyn Naval Yard during the war, when women are allowed to hold the jobs that only men once held. She sees men diving in the water off the yard and wants to learn to do that, but that is one line women cannot cross. Nonetheless, her boss gets her an interview but the man in charge is more interested in humiliating Anna than hiring her. Much to his surprise, she passes the tests for divers but he still doesn’t want her. She persists, and eventually becomes the first woman diver, repairing ships to help win the war.

Anna’s personal life is a bit of a mess. She lives with a friend’s family, and rarely dates. But one night she goes to a nightclub and finds out that Dexter Styles is the owner. He becomes intrigued with her and their relationship turns the story on its head.

This is a fascinating look at the roles of women during the Depression and the war, and the lives of sailors, politicians, and gangsters and how their lives intertwine. Anna is a terrific character and moves the story along. A very interesting and enjoyable read, especially for book groups.

4/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

MANHATTAN BEACH by Jennifer Egan. Scribner; First Edition edition (October 3, 2017).  ISBN  978-1476716732. 448p.


IN PRIOR’S WOOD by G. M. Malliet

April 21, 2018

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A Max Tudor Mystery, Book 7 

Malliet presents the 7th book written featuring Max Tudor, the Vicar of his church in the village of Nether Monkslip, situated in a charming rural section of England. Max is quite happy in his chosen role after a career with British Intelligence as an agent for MI5. He is married to a lovely lady, has a young son and is very content with his role in life.

Unfortunately, Max seems to attract murder like a fly to honey and has proven quite a help to DCI Cotton of the local police in solving these cases.

Just returning from a trip with Cotton to help with a case in another town, Max wants nothing more than to relax and concentrate on a sermon he plans to give about the ancient Israeli King David and his lust for Bathsheba. David had committed the sin of sending Bathsheba’s husband to die during a war so that she could be his wife.

Just getting involved in the sermon, the town is confronted with the apparent murder and attempted suicide pact of the wife of the local manor lord. Max is plunged into helping to solve the crime and away we go. It is probably not appropriate to use the term “charming” about a case of murder, but Malliet’s prose brings this adjective to mind. There are no grisly murder scenes depicted, merely statements that these occurred. Life in Nether Monkslip is modern; computers are used, e-books are read and the people are affected when bad things happen.

The novel is a fun read, certainly not deep nor devious, quite satisfying and certainly sure to whet the reader’s appetite for more of these books.

4/18 Paul Lane

IN PRIOR’S WOOD by G. M. Malliet. Minotaur Books (April 17, 2018).  ISBN 978-1250092809. 304p.


THE DARK CLOUDS SHINING by David Downing

April 20, 2018

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The Jack McColl Series, Book 4

The fourth, and announced as the final book featuring Jack McColl and his love Caitlin Hanley during the period just before, during and after World War I. Book three left Jack in prison in England serving a trumped up sentence and Caitlin leaving Jack in order to stay in post revolutionary Russia to help work on details of the Communist Revolution.

The opening of this novel has Jack offered a pardon if he will go to Russia to spy on members of the newly formed MI5, apparently plotting high level assassination plans. Jack goes and Caitlin is, of course, in Russia. The strength of the book is in Downing’s thoroughly researched details of the world just after the war to end all wars ends. Russia is depicted in the turmoil of a myriad of battles during her revolution between the many factions emerging to try and take power. Lenin has become the head of state and the Russian government’s ability to help it’s people is virtually nil. Scenes of mass starvation, mass murder and a country devoid of any semblance of law and order are painted in plain prose.

Entering into the mix are the supposed planned assassinations of Gandhi and the British Prince of Wales in India by Russian groups. Also Caitlin has married in the period between the books and that is the proverbial sticky wicket between Jack and her getting together again.

Downing has Jack completely disappointed in England for sending so many young men to die needlessly in World War I and undoubtedly this reflects the author’s opinion. The first three books adequately described the carnage engendered by the battles of men using modern weapons against a foe entrenched just a few yards away. The book and the series ends with a climax that reflects Downing’s opinion and is the only possible logical ending. A complete series about a period now more than a century ago. It is certain that Downing will entertain his readers again, and I trust very shortly.

4/18 Paul Lane

THE DARK CLOUDS SHINING by David Downing. Soho Crime (April 10, 2018).  ISBN 978-1616956066. 384p.


WARNING LIGHT by David Ricciardi

April 19, 2018

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Zac Miller is a long term employee of the CIA who is currently based in London. He is not a field operative, has never “run” someone that is bringing in important intelligence work for the US. His work is devoted to the necessary administrative tasks that are indispensable for the agency to function but never bring in the glory attached to spy work.

The novel opens with Zac on a trip to Paris to meet with a young lady that he already has met and would like to get to know better. Nothing is further from his thoughts than possibly taking on a secret mission and acting as a spy. Suddenly his world changes; a phone call from his boss advises that a man destined for a mission to Iran has taken ill and cannot go. Reluctantly Zac is assigned to go in the other agent’s place, in spite of the trepidation felt by his supervisor.

The plane he boards, destined for the far east, experiences engine trouble, cannot continue on its planned flight, and is forced to land at an airport in Iran. That is where Zac’s troubles start. He takes pictures of the area on his phone’s camera acting as a normal tourist would and is arrested and detained by the Iranian secret police. The why of this is part of the tale spun here.

Where Zac goes, how he does it, are fascinating views of a world in conflict in the Middle East. The research done in describing the action Zac becomes involved in is painstaking and succeeds in delivering a view of a zone that has been in conflict for many years. The statement “an all nighter” is apt but really doesn’t describe what a reader will find happening to him or her once the book is opened. I felt quite satisfied in arriving at an ending logical for this novel, but allowing enough questions to remain to logically expect another novel to follow this one shortly – can’t wait!

4/18 Paul Lane

WARNING LIGHT by David Ricciardi. Berkley (April 17, 2018).  ISBN 978-0399585739. 336p.


THE MARQUIS AND I by Ella Quinn

April 18, 2018

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The Worthingtons, Book 4

I picked up this book thinking it was a Julia Quinn book! I haven’t read Ella Quinn before and starting this series with book 4 was probably not the best idea but I didn’t realize that until I was already emeshed.

The Worthingtons are a large, somewhat confusing family unless you’ve read the previous books in the series (I assume.) But I muddled through and by the end, I still wasn’t clear on all the relationships but the main story was fine, so I’ll just stick with that.

Lady Charlotte Carpenter was kidnapped, apparently a common occurence in her family and in Regency England, who knew. But Lady Charlotte isn’t your typical British heroine, prone to vapors and hissy fits. She is a level headed young woman who has been trained in the art of lock picking, in how to use a gun and a knife, something else I wasn’t aware of as life skills taught young women at the time. But I digress.

Lady Charlotte is taken to an inn, where she is held prisoner. She is rescued by Constantine, Marquis of Kenilworth, who sneaks her out in the dead of night. But when he gets lost in trying to take her home, they are seen together and he knows her reputation will be ruined. So he announces their engagement, despite the fact they don’t know each other. But Lady Charlotte isn’t so sure she wants to marry the dashing Marquis. She has seen him at the theater in the company of courtesans, and she strongly disapproves.

Kenilworth works hard to woo her, realizing she is the right woman for him and she fights him every step of the way – until she gives in. This is a Regency romance so it is witty and the sex is not too explicit. The kidnapping angle was interesting and the romance was fun, but I would strongly recommend reading these books in order.

4/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE MARQUIS AND I by Ella Quinn. Zebra (February 27, 2018). ISBN 978-1420145168.  400p.

Kindle


BIG GUNS by Steve Israel

April 17, 2018

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A completely unabashed tongue-in-cheek look at American big business, big businessmen, Congress, the Senate and of course our president. I knew that this book was a comedy when I started it, but the remarks, the actions described and the characters are truly larger and a lot funnier than I expected.

The story opens with the mayor of Chicago desperate to somehow stop the myriad number of shootings and murders going on in his city. He therefore decides to push the Federal government into passing a law making firearms illegal. We know that this would infringe on our second amendment rights to carry and bare arms and commit mayhem to our hearts content so the blow back begins.

Otis Cogsworth, the wealthy owner and CEO of Cogsworth Arms company who we find enjoying a well deserved time out in the Long Island town of Asabogue, feels that such a law would interrupt his continued surge forward to becoming a multi-billionaire. He therefore directs his lobbyist Sunny McCarthy to get a Congressman to present a bill to force everyone to carry a gun. Complicating the matter, Lois Leibowitz, the mayor of Asabogue, and incidentally Sunny McCarthy’s mother, gets a law passed banning guns in her town. Cogsworth retaliates against Lois by financing an election between Jack Steele, a wealthy resident and former movie star, and her.

What happens and who does what to whom becomes the funniest set of circumstances possible. All I can say is that the reader’s stomach will be tender from laughing so much. In the midst of all the serious happenings in the world today, Big Guns should be made required reading as a necessary time out.

4/18 Paul Lane

BIG GUNS by Steve Israel. Simon & Schuster (April 17, 2018).  ISBN 978-1501118029. 320p.


TRUE FICTION by Lee Goldberg

April 16, 2018

 Ian Ludlow Thrillers, Book 1

Many years ago, a popular author I know told a story about how he was invited by Homeland Security to a retreat with other writers and creatives. Their goal was to dream up scenarios of terrorist attacks on the U.S. so that Homeland Security could be prepared. This was a true story, and I’m guessing Lee Goldberg was also at that meeting or at least heard the story, because that is the premise here, and it’s a really good one.

Ian Ludlow writes spy thrillers and when a man named “Bob” shows up in a limo at his door inviting him to a similar retreat with the CIA, off he goes. A few years later, reminiscent of 9/11 a plane crashes into a hotel in Hawaii, killing hundreds of people. Ian is the only one who knows exactly how it was done because he was the one who dreamed it up. He is on book tour, and realizes that the other authors that were at that meeting with him have recently died and those weird accidents he has just narrowly escaped would have left him dead as well.

Panicking, he gets his author escort, Margo, involved in helping him escape. He is convinced the CIA is after him, and when a driverless Mercedes Benz comes racing down the street right at him, Margo pushes him out of the way and realizes he is serious. Ian takes her to meet Ron Mancuso, former star of a TV series he wrote. Mancuso has gone a little off the deep end, paranoia is his best friend and he is living off the grid. He agrees to help and the race is on.

Meanwhile, the CIA is embarrassed by the attack in Hawaii when a former agent, now heading a Blackwater type private security firm called Blackthorn, shows up at CIA headquarters with a reasonable explanation of what happened and intel on where to find the perpetrators, and has the men in place to capture them – but it goes south and the men are killed. Blackthorn is just moments away from receiving a classified contract outsourcing many CIA operations except for one fly in the ointment – Ian Ludlow.

This is a fast paced story with lots of action, explosions and chase scenes as well as a lot of laughs, my favorite combination. I’m not sure if the all the technology mentioned is accurate and I really don’t want to know – if big brother is watching us all that closely, I’d be terrified.

It is a terrific introduction to a new series, and I can’t wait for the next book.

4/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

TRUE FICTION by Lee Goldberg. Thomas & Mercer (April 1, 2018). ISBN 978-1503949188. 237p.


THE FIRST FAMILY by Michael Palmer & Daniel Palmer

April 15, 2018

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Daniel Palmer credits his late father Michael Palmer as co-author of this riveting medical thriller. Michael was actually an MD and did write a good many excellent novels based on medically related ideas.

In “The First Family” a strange malady strikes the President of the United States’ son. He suddenly develops episodes of extreme fatigue, unexplained moodiness and sudden violent outbreaks of temper. At the same time a young gifted violinist named Susie Banks experiences a violent uncontrollable outbreak that catches her when she is in the middle of her first public concert. Is there a connection between the episodes experienced by these two unrelated people?

Karen Ray, a member of the Secret Service group charged with guarding the President and his family, does not agree with the diagnosis presented by the President’s physician for Cam who is the President’s son. She calls her ex-husband Lee, a family doctor, to look into Cam’s symptoms. Coincidentally Lee gets to examine Susie who is a patient at a hospital he is working at.

The reader is drawn expertly into a medical problem that has an importance to someone causing murders to be committed in order to keep the victims from being fully examined. Daniel Palmer successfully creates a scenario that keeps the reader riveted to the pages while moving from one suspicious event to another. The ending is one that upon reflexion is the correct one for the characters involved and while is not a fairy tale finale does leave the reader with the impression that this is the way real life would have evolved the events. Daniel Palmer does very well continuing his father’s custom of giving a great read to his readers. Very well done.

4/18 Paul Lane

THE FIRST FAMILY by Michael Palmer & Daniel Palmer. Atria/Emily Bestler Books (March 6, 2018).  ISBN 978-1501180811. 416p.


THE NEW NEIGHBORS by Simon Lelic

April 14, 2018

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Lelic presents us with a novel that looks at the question of how our childhood and family background affect our adult life.

Jack and Syd, boyfriend and girlfriend, find a house they like in London. It is large enough to satisfy their needs, although cluttered with the items belonging to the previous owner. The former owner had suddenly decided to move to Australia in order to be with a woman he met on line. His house then enters the market in a London suffering from a shortage of homes for sale. Jack and Syd submit an application, which much to their surprise, is accepted by the owner in spite of the couple bidding below the asking price.

The format used in telling the story is alternating sections narrated by one of the two. It is in this way that we find out that Jack is a product of a well-to-do family that is not accepting Syd.  On the other hand, Syd grew up in a home in which her father was a pathological bully, browbeating and stifling her until she moved away. Syd’s younger sister dies of a disease after Syd leaves home.

The initial set of incidents presented in the novel include mysterious footsteps and noises throughout the house leading to the possible existence of ghosts. In addition, Syd meets a young girl from the area who is suffering from an abusive father in a manner that reminds her of her own horrible childhood. Both circumstances contribute to the effectiveness of the book’s plot.

During their individual narratives, Lelic shows how both Syd and Jack react to events occurring when in the house. The move forward for both of them is very well handled and the changes in attitude of both of them are tied to their past. The novel is a fascinating study of past being prologue and character shaped during a period of great stress. The book is very well done and invites a good deal of thought about the meaning of the narrative. An engrossing novel not easily forgotten by the reader.

4/18 Paul Lane

THE NEW NEIGHBORS by Simon Lelic. Berkley (April 10, 2018).  ISBN 978-0451490452. 352p.