G. Robert Frazier

In the 1980s, Paul Newman began working with screenwriter Stewart Stern to compose an oral history about the actor’s life, from his difficult upbringing to his Hollywood career to his passions for racing and philanthropy. But the project remained incomplete after Newman’s death in 2008—until the arrival of The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man (9 hours).

Newman’s story is raw, unfiltered and brutal. He explains that his acting career originated from a “hunch,” and fortunately for us, it’s a hunch that paid off, yielding memorable roles in such movies as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, Cool Hand Luke and The Color of Money (for which he won an Academy Award). But at times Newman considered himself to be a great failure as a father, husband and actor, and he credits much of his success to his wife, Joanne Woodward.

The audiobook is superbly narrated by actor Jeff Daniels, whose heartfelt passion and sincerity come through loud and clear. The voices of family and peers, including Newman’s daughters Melissa Newman and Clea Newman Soderlund, fill in the rest of the story.

Read our review of the print edition of The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man.

The audiobook for Paul Newman’s memoir is superbly narrated by actor Jeff Daniels, whose heartfelt passion and sincerity come through loud and clear.

The privileged, insular art world serves as the backdrop for a pair of engrossing whodunits from debut author Alex Kenna and veteran Jonathan Kellerman.

In Kenna’s What Meets the Eye, disgraced police officer Kate Myles, now a private investigator, tackles the death of painter Margot Starling. The police have deemed it a suicide, but Margot’s father is convinced she didn’t kill herself and enlists Kate to get to the truth.

At first reluctant to take on the case and disappoint her client (most deaths suspected to be suicides turn out to be just that), Kate is surprised when she unearths enoughevidence to suggest that foul play may have been involved after all. A litany of former lovers, jealous art students and conniving agents and art dealers lend further credence to her suspicions, leading Kate to believe that Margot was the target of individuals attempting to exploit her. But the more she digs, the more Kate realizes that Margot’s ego and pride, and not just her talent, may have created a number of potential suspects as well.

Kenna ensures that Kate is similarly complex, delving into how her addiction to painkillers led to the loss of a promising job with the police department, the dissolution of her marriage and the possible removal of custody of her daughter. The vivid portraits of both women, and the absorbing mystery that surrounds them, signal a master in the making. 

Kellerman is already an accomplished artist in the medium of mystery novels. Unnatural History, the 38th installment in the author’s Alex Delaware series, finds the psychologist lending his insights to longtime partner Detective Milo Sturgis as they work to solve the murder of well-to-do photographer Donny Klement. 

Donny had recently received media attention for a project titled “The Wishers,” which featured portraits of members of Los Angeles’ homeless community as the people they fantasized about being. Several critics, however, maintained that Donny was simply exploiting his subjects for his own benefit. Alex wonders if, having given people a taste of a different life and then discarding them, Donny sowed the seeds of his own destruction. But there are plenty of other suspects to go around. The wealthy son of an even wealthier father, Donny is surrounded by an eccentric family, any member of which may have had reason to kill him. 

In typical Kellerman fashion, the story is painted in clear, linear fashion, with nothing left abstract. As such, the book is easily accessible to new readers of the series, who will immediately understand what loyal fans have known for years—that they are in the confident hands of a real artist.

The privileged, insular art world serves as the backdrop for a pair of engrossing mysteries from debut author Alex Kenna and veteran writer Jonathan Kellerman.

The past has a way of catching up to you when you least expect it. The characters of Alex Finlay’s new thriller, What Have We Done, learn this the hard way.

A TV producer (Nico), a rock star (Donnie) and a former assassin (Jenna) all believe they left a shared secret from their childhood in the past as they forged successful lives as adults. All three of them were once residents of Saviour House, a home for abandoned teenagers, but they haven’t seen one another in 25 years.

Then each of them is suddenly targeted by a pair of ruthless twin assassins. Nico is nearly killed in a mine explosion on the set of a reality show he’s been producing, Donnie is forced overboard on a cruise ship and left to drown, and Jenna becomes the hunted when she refuses to kill an old friend. These murder attempts come on the heels of the death of another friend from Saviour House, forcing the trio to realize their past transgressions have come back to haunt them. Nico, Donnie and Jenna have a common foe set on revenge, and they’ll have to pool their talents together if they’re going to survive.

Told in short chapters from Nico’s, Donnie’s and Jenna’s alternating perspectives, the story moves at a quick-fire pace reminiscent of a James Patterson thriller (there are more than 85 chapters!), only slowing when the leads reflect on the past. Devoted more to action and plot than to personalities, the novel is a bit of a departure from Finlay’s previous, more character-driven efforts (Every Last Fear, The Night Shift). Still, he skillfully blends storylines past and present in What Have We Done, resulting in a suspense-filled romp.

Alex Finlay (Every Last Fear, The Night Shift) skillfully blends storylines past and present in this suspenseful romp.

Sometimes you can’t help but root for the bad guys. 

Such is the case with housekeeper-turned-criminal mastermind Mrs. Dinah King and her eclectic gang of co-conspirators in Alex Hay’s debut novel, The Housekeepers. The novel is set in London’s wealthy Park Lane in 1905 during the height of the Edwardian era, which Hay describes in his introduction as a time of “opulence, scrappy characters, remarkable flashes of modernity, and layers of corruption that exist just underneath all that glamour.” 

The sprawling de Vries mansion, where Mrs. King works, is “seven floors high from cellars to attics. Newly built, all diamond money, glinting white” with treasures in every room: “stupendous Van Dycks, giant crystal bowls stuffed with carnations. Objets d’art in gold and silver and jade, cherubs with rubies for eyes and emeralds for toenails.” When we first meet Mrs. King, she is already on her way out the door, fired for certain indiscretions and making a mental list of everything of value as she goes. Unlike many disgruntled employees dismayed by the sudden loss of a steady paycheck, she is already plotting to turn her misfortune into opportunity. After recruiting a ragtag team of women, Mrs. King reveals her plot to take her former employers for everything they have.

From the outset, Hay makes it clear that Mrs. King is calling the shots. She tells her team in no uncertain terms that “we will have one object, one single plan. There will be no grumbling, no discord. If you’re given an order, you follow it.” And they do it with panache and style, right under the noses of the de Vries and their guests during a lavish costume ball.

Hay is equally in control, weaving a quick-fire, almost whimsical story of class and privilege, of low and high society. Half the fun is watching as the team stealthily smuggles in various burglary tools and smuggles out their pilfered treasures. But, as with most criminal endeavors, the slightest miscue or misstatement threatens to upend everything midheist. 

Already an award-winning book in its native U.K., The Housekeepers is mischievous, suspenseful and just plain fun from start to finish.

Alex Hay’s The Housekeepers is mischievous, suspenseful and just plain fun as it follows a gang of female thieves in Edwardian England.

Written and narrated by Tricia Hersey, founder of the Nap Ministry, Rest Is Resistance: A Manifesto (5.5 hours) is a powerful reminder to prioritize mental health and overall well-being. To listeners who are smothered and exhausted by “grind culture,” Hersey offers a fierce clarion call, encouraging them to defy the dehumanizing demands of our capitalist society.

Hersey draws a damning thread between capitalism and white supremacy’s quest for power. She makes it clear that people who have grown up in poverty—particularly Black people and those in historically excluded communities—find themselves in a constant hustle just to survive. She advocates for finding inner peace via the simple act of resting: letting your worries ebb away for small intervals at a time, and allowing your dreams and imagination to take center stage. 

Hersey’s clear message will no doubt resonate with listeners seeking a reprieve from overwork and hopelessness.

Read our starred review of the print edition of Rest Is Resistance.

To folks who are exhausted and smothered by “grind culture,” Tricia Hersey offers a fierce clarion call, encouraging listeners to defy the dehumanizing demands of our capitalist society.

Who would have thought a discussion about the intelligence (or lack thereof) of humans and animals could be so fascinating and fun? Such is the case in If Nietzsche Were a Narwhal: What Animal Intelligence Reveals About Human Stupidity (7 hours), thanks to the conversational prowess and keen (I’ll go ahead and say it) intellect of behavioral scientist Justin Gregg.

Gregg excels as both author and narrator, laying out arguments for and against humankind’s intellectual advancements in concise, accessible language. With witty commentary and humorous anecdotes, he draws comparisons to our counterparts in the animal kingdom, who appear to be doing just fine without technology, political discourse or overriding ambitions for power, wealth or popularity. 

Each of the seven chapters starts with a thought-provoking passage from German philosopher Frederick Nietzsche, whose criticisms of the human condition laid the groundwork for modern thinkers. In whimsical fashion, Gregg breaks down Nietzsche’s arguments into easily digestible chunks of information. All in all, it’s a joy for listeners.

Image of author Justin Gregg

Read more: Justin Gregg, author of If Nietzsche Were a Narwhal, extols the virtues of stupid animals.

Behavioral scientist Justin Gregg excels as both author and narrator, laying out arguments for and against humankind’s intellectual advancements in concise, accessible language.
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It’s 1952 in San Francisco, and homosexuality is illegal and largely frowned upon by society—except at Lavender House. The home of soap manufacturing magnate Irene Lamontaine has become a refuge for her extended queer family. But when Irene falls over a staircase railing to her death, her widow (in all but name) hires recently fired gay police detective Evander “Andy” Mills to discern if there is a killer in their midst.

The tone of this book is similar to the pulpy, hard-boiled style of your sci-fi mystery, Depth. Was there anything different about your approach this time around? Was there a particular author or series you drew upon to re-create that style of writing?
It’s funny. With Depth I was trying to bring the flavor of old-school noir to a futuristic world. With Lavender House, the old-school noir is easier because of the setting. But because we’re talking queer history, which is so often erased, there was a lot more research involved and, weirdly, an emphasis on making sure everything felt believable. With sci-fi, people are either going to buy it or they’re not, depending on what they like and read. When talking about a history that keeps being erased, it’s about proving it—proving we existed. 

As for the tone itself, the hard-boiled vibe, I always go back to Chandler. I have his complete works, and I’ve read them several times. There’s just something about the way he cuts a sentence. And, of course, the movies: I was raised on noir of the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, so I saw most of the movies before I read the books. The vibe of those movies is what lives in my head when I’m writing, even more so than the books, because the movies sometimes had a bit of hope to them (Laura, The Big Sleep). They’re not happy endings exactly, but there’s a chance for a bright future at the end of them, and I knew I wanted that for this book. I wanted to show that not only did us queer folk exist before Stonewall, but that even though our lives were noir—in the sense that we were sort of trapped and stalked all the time—we still thrived in community. We found each other. We found love. And in that, we found a bit of hope. 

“. . . queer history is always hidden and rewritten . . .”

How much research did you have to do to re-create the feel and culture of 1950s San Francisco? Are Lavender House and its inhabitants based on any real locations or people? 
I owe a huge debt of thanks to Nan Alamilla Boyd and her book, Wide-Open Town, for this one. It’s a book entirely about the queer history of San Francisco. Originally, when I was coming up with this story, my instinct was to put it in NYC (or just outside) because that’s where I’m from. But as I did research on the queer histories of various cities, what I found was that in the ’50s, New York’s queer culture was much more stratified. There wasn’t nearly as much mingling of gay communities of different classes or races as there was in San Francisco. And knowing it was going to be a series, I wanted a community that was more fluid. Luckily, for this first book, so much of it takes place outside the city that I could make stuff up—Lavender House itself is pure fiction, as are the characters in it—but I owe a lot not just to Boyd but to several San Francisco historians, photographers and Facebook groups where older people share stories and pictures of their neighborhoods. I’m sure I still got things wrong, but I hope they’re not too distracting.

Lavender House jacket

What was the biggest challenge this book presented? What was the biggest opportunity?
The research. So much research. And because queer history is always hidden and rewritten, the research often took me down many paths and led to several answers. There’s one sentence in Lavender House about a woman in a suit that’s changed so many times based on what I’ve learned about cross-dressing laws and ordinances at the time at the national, state and city levels—and I’m still not sure it’s accurate! Information is contradictory. California is so interesting in the early ’50s because of this state Supreme Court ruling in ’51 where a judge said it wasn’t illegal for gay people to congregate at a bar. It was a huge victory for the community, but it was also so small, because while being gay was suddenly legal (only in California), acting gay was not—and that could mean a lot of things. Same-sex dancing was still illegal, and so was touching the wrong way, if a cop decided it was the wrong way. So many cases and laws and the constant harassment of queer bars and people were about what the cop on duty was feeling and if he’d been bribed. So the small legal details were killer to figure out. 

The biggest opportunity I’m less sure of! There’s so much I got to do; making a big queer family was such a blessing once I let myself do it. Even those laws being so hard to look up, since they were pretty subjective depending on the police, meant I could have them be as strict or lenient as I wanted (within certain bounds, of course). Sometimes the research being blurry just gives you more room to play. But I think overall the biggest opportunity was to get to the heart of what it means to learn to love yourself in ’52 as a queer man. Because if Andy can do it, I think people today can, too. 

“You can be out and proud but still not quite know how to love your queerness and the queerness of others.”

Who is your first reader? What is most valuable or useful about that initial feedback for you?
It varies, depending on people’s time and schedules. I have a writing group, I have writer friends who will read for me, I have a librarian husband. And I think what feedback is most valuable varies book to book as well. What am I worried about? Should I be, or did I pull it off? With Lavender House, my worry was always that it wouldn’t coast that line between noir and camp noir: the noir that’s a bit bigger and, frankly, a bit more fun. Lauren Bacall asking if you know how to whistle in To Have and Have Not? That’s a little camp at this point, but it’s my favorite thing. Some people see that scene and roll their eyes, but I light up. So did I pull off that tone in a way that feels authentic to a modern reader? Did they get it? 

You’ve explored the idea of a sanctuary for members of the LGBTQ+ community before, in your young adult rom-com, Camp (written under the name L.C. Rosen). Why do you think you keep returning to this theme? How did Lavender House allow you to explore this idea further?
It’s funny, I hadn’t thought of it that way; the word I’ve always used is community. But sanctuary, yeah, I guess I do write about that a lot. And I write about the push and pull between queer community or sanctuary and the outside world, where we may not always be allowed to be ourselves safely. Part of that is just that I like writing about a bunch of queer people: I think just one or two feels unrealistic, because we tend to find one another. I think it’s interesting the way we can sort of form our own community and deal with our own problems when we don’t have to worry about the outside world. Camp was about figuring out what sort of internal prejudices we bring into that sanctuary, because we all come from a world that tells us to hate ourselves or to only be one kind of gay. But Lavender House is about dealing with the fear of the outside knowing about us at all. That’s partially because of the historical element, of course, but I think it’s something we still see today: How much do we let other people in? How dangerous is it?

Read our starred review of ‘Lavender House’ by Lev AC Rosen.

Do you see any parts of yourself in Andy?
Sure. I see parts of myself in every character I write. I think you have to. Even when you’re writing someone bad, you need to understand where they’re coming from—and I don’t mean they need to be sympathetic or understandable. I think we as a society have actually gone too far, as a whole, in that sense. Sometimes bad people are just bad, and they don’t need a tragic backstory to make you feel sorry for them. We shouldn’t lose sight of that. But as writers, you have to understand their outlook, even if you don’t need to justify it to yourself. So why would someone do this? What are their values? How do they see the world?

With Andy specifically, I think certainly there’s a coming-out element to his story. He’s out, but he doesn’t love his queerness much, and over the course of the novel, he learns to do that. He learns to reconcile with what it means to be queer in 1952, and while that might be very, very hard, there’s a lot of benefit to it, too. I think that’s something every queer person should figure out. You can be out and proud but still not quite know how to love your queerness and the queerness of others. I don’t mean you need to want to clack a fan and wear heels, but you have to love that other guys do in order to really love what queerness is. Once you’ve done that, the world just becomes so much brighter. 

What do you hope readers take away from this novel? 
The main thing I always hope a reader takes away is the feeling of having had a good time. I believe first and foremost my job is to entertain. If I can make people think or see things in a new light, that’s even better. And for Lavender House, I hope they take away a stronger understanding of queer history—not just the idea that we’ve always been here but also the idea that we’re still dealing with a lot of the same problems. Across the country, people are trying to ban books about queer teens—and often succeeding. They’re trying to prevent kids from coming out, and they’re firing queer teachers or making it illegal for them to talk about their queerness, even casually. They’re trying to make it now like it was in the ’50s, and I hope people see those parallels and understand that there’s still so much work to do if we want to say we’ve moved on.

What’s next for you? Will Andy Mills return at some point?
It was a two-book deal, so he’s coming back at least one more time, though I’m hoping he’ll be around for a while. The sequel is titled The Bell in the Fog, and it should be out sometime in the fall of 2023. Before that, though, I also have Tennessee Russo coming out in the spring, which is the start to a YA series about a queer teen archeologist digging up ancient queer history to make sure it’s not erased while avoiding traps and pitfalls. More queer history! Just older.

Photo of Lev AC Rosen by Rachael Shane.

In the 1950s-set Lavender House, the titular home is a haven for the queer Lamontaine family—until one of them is murdered.

Banneker Terrace “ain’t pretty, but it’s home,” says Mimi of apartment 14D. In the opening story of Sidik Fofana’s debut collection, Stories From the Tenants Downstairs (6 hours), Mimi describes the Harlem high-rise as “one long gray-ass building” with 300-some apartments across 25 floors. The laundry machines don’t work, and the trash chute smells. But the people of Banneker Terrace are marvelous to behold, brought to memorable life by a talented cast of stage, television and voice actors.

Fofana reads the poetic “Intro,” then Joniece Abbott-Pratt, Nile Bullock, Dominic Hoffman, DePre Owens, André Santana, Bahni Turpin and Jade Wheeler voice the book’s eight stories, weaving together the tenants’ deeply personal tales and highlighting their individual struggles, fears and hopes.

Fofana’s intimate, unfiltered stories are powerful enough on the page, but they’re gloriously amplified by these performers.

Sidik Fofana’s intimate, unfiltered stories are powerful enough on the page, but they’re gloriously amplified by these performers.

When the main characters in these two novels return to their hometowns after long absences, mysteries past and present collide.


In Jackal, 30-something Black woman Liz Rocher reluctantly returns to her childhood home for the wedding of her longtime friend Melissa Parker. While she’s overjoyed at Mel’s newfound happiness and upcoming marriage, she’s less than enthusiastic about her return to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a predominantly white town nestled in the Appalachian Mountains that immediately rekindles haunting memories.

Years ago, Keisha Woodson, one of Liz’s only Black friends, disappeared after a party in the woods. She was discovered dead, her heart ripped from her chest. Police were quick to close the book on the case, concluding that Keisha died from exposure and that her body was ravaged by a bear. But Liz has always had doubts. When Mel’s daughter, Caroline, also goes missing, Liz launches an investigation into the other Black children who have disappeared over the years. As suspicion, racial tension and even irrational fears of a legendary creature in the woods grow, Liz desperately tries to discover the truth and save Caroline before it’s too late.

In her debut novel, Erin E. Adams transcends the typical hometown mystery with an effective blend of social and supernatural terrors that build in intensity and mystique throughout. Liz’s first-person narration accentuates the emotional stakes of what’s happening in Johnstown, drawing readers in as they sympathize with her plight.

The Witch in the Well

Norwegian author Camilla Bruce’s The Witch in the Well revolves around popular spirituality influencer Elena Clover, whose return to her hometown (referred to only as F”) ignites a feud with her former childhood friend Cathy over their town’s local legend, the titular witch.

Cathy had been researching and blogging for years about Ilsbeth Clark, who was accused of being a witch, then arrested and tried for the deaths of numerous children in 1862. Ilsbeth was eventually acquitted, but believing the court made a mistake, the townsfolk threw her in the local well and drowned her.

Elena, who believes that each person has a voice in their head that can converse with their soul, is convinced that Ilsbeth is that voice for her. She returns to F” to write her next book about Ilsbeth, which prompts Cathy to exact a series of petty retaliations.

The book begins with an open letter to the community from Cathy, who contends that she has been wrongly implicated in Elena’s death. Bruce, who earned accolades for her previous thriller You Let Me In, expertly unravels the trio’s stories, jumping back and forth in time via Elena’s journal, Cathy’s blogs and Ilsbeth’s own archived accounts. The Witch in the Well is a compelling, creepy story of angst, obsessions and lost friendship.

In Erin E. Adams' Jackal and Camilla Bruce's The Witch in the Well, the places you know best are the ones that pose the greatest threat.

For his many fans, a new book from John Grisham is always a reason to celebrate, but audiobook listeners are in for a treat thanks to the excellent voice talents of Jeff Daniels, Ethan Hawke and January LaVoy.

Sparring Partners (10 hours) comprises three legal-thriller novellas, including “Homecoming,” a new story starring Grisham’s beloved hero Jake Brigance. Daniels (known for his roles in Dumb & Dumber, “American Rust,” “The Newsroom” and more) brings Jake and his supporting cast of characters to vibrant life. His playful Southern drawl is particularly fun when voicing Jake’s sometime legal partner and rival Harry Rex. 

Actor and novelist Hawke brings a more youthful vibe to Cody Wallace, the narrator of “Strawberry Moon,” with a performance marked by deadpan humor and emotional angst. In his final hours on death row for murder, Cody is both incredulous of and moved by the series of visitors to his cell. Award-winning audio narrator LaVoy capably voices the titular tale about feuding brothers who inherited a law firm from their father, who’s on the verge of a pardon from his prison sentence.

All three narrators highlight Grisham’s storytelling trademark: fascinating characters facing unusual circumstances with wry humor and real emotion.

Actors Jeff Daniels, Ethan Hawke and January LaVoy highlight John Grisham's wry humor and emotion in these three legal-thriller novellas.

No one would expect Chinese Canadian actor Simu Liu’s origin story to be as electrifying and action-packed as that of the iconic superhero he portrays on the big screen, but We Were Dreamers: An Immigrant Superhero Origin Story (8 hours) is still compelling, uplifting and, at times, totally unexpected.

In 2021, Liu became a household name after starring in Marvel’s first superhero movie with an Asian lead character, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. In the audiobook of his memoir, Liu confidently narrates the story of his rise to stardom, from his childhood living with his grandparents in rural China to his reunion with his parents in Canada, from his failed attempts to fit into the corporate business world to his journey to success as a TV actor. As Liu regales listeners with stories about his early fascination with astronauts and science fiction, his calm, laid-back demeanor and passionate voice are a winning combination.

Discover the three best celebrity memoirs of summer 2022, including ‘We Were Dreamers.’

Marvel actor Simu Liu narrates the audiobook for his memoir, and his calm, laid-back demeanor and passionate voice are a winning combination.

Daniel Nieh’s Take No Names is a blast from start to finish, a classic crime thriller that shifts into an over-the-top action romp.

Chinese American Victor Li is keeping a low profile in Seattle after being wrongfully accused of killing his father, who secretly worked for a Chinese criminal syndicate (the plot of Nieh’s 2019 debut, Beijing Payback). Drinking buddy Mark Knox recruits Victor to his security tech business for Victor’s computer skills and ability to speak Chinese and Spanish. But it’s not long before Mark enlists Victor in a lucrative side job: breaking into a government storage yard to steal and then sell unclaimed items seized from deported immigrants. It’s on one of these ventures they discover a painite, a rare gem worth a cool $250,000. The pair smuggle the gem to a buyer south of the border, where they are soon embroiled in a scheme by a U.S. military contractor to derail construction of a new Chinese-built airport in Mexico City.

Along the way, the two men form uneasy alliances with Victor’s estranged sister, Jules, and Sun Jianshui, who once worked for the same criminal syndicate as Victor’s father—and was the person who actually killed him. The interactions among all four main characters lead to both humorous and emotionally charged moments as they try to worm their way out of the mess they’ve gotten themselves into. Victor and Mark are particularly likable, a pair of outcasts who have forged a unique and unexpected friendship.

Nieh, who has lived in the United States, China and Mexico, maintains a steady balance of humor, action and thrills, while also making some barbed commentary on American capitalism and Chinese globalization. The twists and turns come often, keeping the intrepid Victor and Mark on their toes as they run for their lives from one chapter to the next. What starts as a Joe R. Lansdale-esque crime thriller morphs halfway into an espionage caper à la Mission Impossible. If it sounds a bit over the top, it is—but that’s what makes Take No Names such an irrepressibly fun read.

Daniel Nieh's Take No Names is a blast from start to finish, a classic crime thriller that shifts into an over-the-top action romp.

There comes a point in many people’s lives when they wonder, what if I could start over? What if I could be someone else, free of the baggage and the travails that have accumulated until now? In Chris Pavone’s suspenseful new novel, Two Nights in Lisbon, recently married couple Ariel Price and John Wright have shirked their former identities for new lives unfettered by past encumbrances.

Or so they think.

Only Pavone knows their secrets, and he reveals them slowly and deliberately, expertly seeding the novel with intrigue and suspense, one page at a time.

Chris Pavone on why no one gets a fresh start in his new thriller.

While accompanying John on a business trip to Lisbon, Portugal, Ariel awakes to an empty bed. She immediately reports John’s absence to the police and, when they don’t appear to be overly concerned, the American embassy. The authorities have plenty of questions for which she only has vague answers, because John has his own secrets; decades of his life are unknown to her. Her panic intensifies as his absence lengthens, and then her worst fears are confirmed with the arrival of a ransom note. As Ariel learns more about John, and Pavone reveals more of Ariel’s secrets, the collision of both characters’ pasts and presents fuels the increasingly thrilling tension.

“We tell ourselves stories about each other, about ourselves too, our pasts. We construct our narratives,” Pavone writes. “Maybe she doesn’t know her husband at all.” Pavone himself had to reinvent his life in 2015, when he left a successful career as a book editor to move to Luxembourg with his wife. His Edgar and Anthony Award-winning debut The Expats explored this territory, and Two Nights in Lisbon proves that it’s still fertile ground, packed with stay-awake-all-night thrills for readers.

Chris Pavone's latest novel is packed with stay-awake-all-night thrills as it follows a recently married couple with no shortage of secrets.

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