Abir Mukherjee’s sweeping, emotional and epic Hunted proves the terrorism thriller isn’t dead.
Abir Mukherjee’s sweeping, emotional and epic Hunted proves the terrorism thriller isn’t dead.
A Black woman discovers the internet’s latest obsession dead in her vacation home in Missing White Woman. Plus, excellent new entries from Will Thomas, Anne Hillerman and Jean-Luc Bannalec in this month’s Whodunit column.
A Black woman discovers the internet’s latest obsession dead in her vacation home in Missing White Woman. Plus, excellent new entries from Will Thomas, Anne Hillerman and Jean-Luc Bannalec in this month’s Whodunit column.
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month! In honor of the occasion, we’ve gathered four mysteries by AAPI authors. Book clubs will love digging in to these suspenseful reads.
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month! In honor of the occasion, we’ve gathered four mysteries by AAPI authors. Book clubs will love digging in to these suspenseful reads.
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Sassy, Irish-Jewish PI Tess Monaghan, protagonist of Laura Lippman's popular series, returns in the suspenseful By a Spider's Thread. This time out, Tess takes on a referral from her Uncle Donald (of the Weinstein side of the family) and finds herself getting in touch with her Jewish side. Hired by Mark Rubin, a devout Orthodox Jew, to find his wife and three children, Tess spars with tradition, treachery and of course Tyner, her former employer and soon-to-be uncle-in-law. She works this case without help from any of her usual companions: boyfriend Crow, former roommate Whitney, former client-now-friend, Jackie. However, ex-nemesis Gretchen O'Brien reappears as the leader of a whole new web of support for Tess and other women PIs. Rubin's penchant for privacy and naiveté regarding his wife and the state of his marriage make for an initially unsympathetic client. His oldest son, Isaac, however, instantly wins our hearts as a scrapper an instinctive survivalist. Without his beloved books to keep him company, Isaac spends his time concocting new ways to escape, or at least contact his father. Through him, we see a softer side of Mark, that of a father who wishes "first and foremost that you would be a virtuous man" but who also uses Advanced Mission Battleship to teach his son that he need not be the smartest one to win.

Trapped with a mother not acting herself and a man posing as his father who clearly considers him a threat, Isaac reminds us of both the resilience of children and their sometimes overlooked maturity beyond their years.

With her usual bullheadedness, Tess bends rules, interferes where she's not welcome and experiences a handful of near-death experiences. In the process, she attains a new level of self-perspection, and takes what fans might hope is a first step in the right direction. Acclaimed author Lippman knows how to keep the reader guessing: the only thing we know for certain is that in this case, the butler didn't do it.

Like Tess, Sheri Swanson has a grandmother Weinstein.

Sassy, Irish-Jewish PI Tess Monaghan, protagonist of Laura Lippman's popular series, returns in the suspenseful By a Spider's Thread. This time out, Tess takes on a referral from her Uncle Donald (of the Weinstein side of the family) and finds herself getting in touch with her Jewish side. Hired by Mark Rubin, a devout Orthodox […]
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Memorial Day is traditionally a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service, but in Vince Flynn’s newest Mitch Rapp novel (Transfer of Power, The Third Option, Separation of Power, etc.), the peaceful May holiday will include much more than morning parades and afternoon barbecues. Memorial Day is the target date for undercover al-Qaeda operatives in the States to detonate a nuclear bomb in the nation’s capital during a dedication ceremony for the new WWII memorial. Their target: the president, leaders of Great Britain and Russia, and a few hundred thousand ill-fated infidels.

Counter-terrorism operative Mitch Rapp has one helluva score to settle. A Syracuse University All-American lacrosse player who lost the love of his life in the Pan Am Lockerbie terrorist attack in 1988, Rapp’s thirst for vengeance led him to dedicate his life to fighting terrorism by any means necessary.

Now decades later, Rapp (an amalgam of John Wayne, General George Patton and Dirty Harry) has a potential disaster on his hands. After a clandestine raid on a village on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border nets Rapp some high-ranking al-Qaeda leaders, he learns of a plot to transport a nuclear weapon into the States. But after Rapp takes his shocking findings to his boss, CIA director Irene Kennedy, and later, the president, he finds himself quickly embroiled in political claptrap. As precious hours tick away, self-righteous politicians bicker about how to handle the imminent disaster. Meanwhile, sleeper cells are becoming active and terrorists are converging on Washington, D.C., with a bomb that could turn the nation’s capital into a radioactive wasteland. In usual Mitch Rapp fashion, he takes matters into his own hands.

Flynn’s protagonist is reminiscent of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan and Dale Brown’s Patrick McLanahan: all are extremely intelligent, incredibly focused, unwaveringly patriotic loose cannons that readers can’t help but root for. And that essentially describes Memorial Day: a highly intelligent read that is virtually impossible to put down. Paul Goat Allen is a writer in Syracuse, New York.

Memorial Day is traditionally a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service, but in Vince Flynn’s newest Mitch Rapp novel (Transfer of Power, The Third Option, Separation of Power, etc.), the peaceful May holiday will include much more than morning parades and afternoon barbecues. Memorial Day is the target date […]
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L.A. traffic can be murder, especially for Jace Damon, the determined bike courier in Tami Hoag's 10th thriller, Kill the Messenger. When a sleazy lawyer dispatches Jace to deliver a parcel, the address turns out to be a vacant lot. A mysterious car creeps toward him with obvious menace, and soon the teen messenger is on the run. When the lawyer is later found murdered, the mismatched male-female homicide team of Parker and Ruiz join the hunt. With the killer, the cops and the sinister sedan on his tail, Jace must risk all to save himself and his younger brother Tyler, who lives with him in a Chinatown hovel.

BookPage speed-dialed Hoag at her L.A. home for details on her latest thriller.

BookPage: What brought you to Los Angeles, literally and fictionally?
Tami Hoag: I moved out here three years ago because I was in love. The relationship didn't work out, but I love it here. There's an energy and enthusiasm. Everybody comes here with a big dream, and while a lot of them don't happen, there's always a chance that it will.

Did L.A. traffic inspire the plot for Kill the Messenger?
Actually, the kernel of it came eight years ago when I happened to catch a TV news program about bike messengers in Los Angeles. They talked about how bike messengers run between lawyers and the court, and right away I was thinking, here's a connection between the whole law enforcement community that no one has ever thought about. What can they be pulled into? How can these people get into trouble? That's always foremost in my mind.

You wrote about sisters in Dark Horse. What attracted you to return to siblings in Kill the Messenger?
Probably the fact that I'm the youngest in my family, by a lot the next youngest is 10 years older than me. So I didn't really have that sense of having a big brother or big sister to help guide me as a friend. That relationship interests me. Jace and Tyler are sort of two sides to the same character; they have a lot in common but they also complement each other in different ways.

One thing that sets your thrillers apart is that you tend to reward the good guys in equal measure to the punishment you dish out to the bad guys. Did you always have such a strong sense of karma about your work?
I'm big on that. That is part of what really attracted me to writing thrillers. The arc of development of the good guy is as important to me as the bad guy. They go on this journey and it's going to change them somehow. They aren't going to be the same people as they were before.

Did you don a helmet and try your hand as a bike messenger?
I didn't get that brave, no; my bike riding days are long past! They ended when I hit my dog with a bike and flipped over and ended up skidding down the road. It was, OK: I'm not meant to ride a bike.

But you've ridden horses competitively all your life! (Laughs) I know! That's what everybody says: "You won't get on a motorcycle but you will get on a horse that will throw you into space?!" Well, yeah. Somehow that's different.

The team of Parker and Ruiz is a classic odd couple. How did you cook them up?
Parker is sort of the L.A. Sam Kovac (Kovac and Nikki Liska are featured in the Minnesota-set Ashes to Ashes and Dust to Dust). When I started the book, I had Kovac so in my mind and it wasn't working for me. Then this metrosexual guy came forth. He's like Kovac's L.A. cousin: into fashion, drives a Jag. That was fun to write. Ruiz is one of those characters who just sort of walked in fully formed, and her whole purpose was to just put him into a tailspin. She kept him so off-balance, which I thought was fun instead of having the guy so cool and under control.

Could this become a new series?
I am definitely going to go back to those characters because I so enjoyed writing them. I loved them all the way to the end of the book, which is very unusual. Usually by that time, the characters have so taken over and they're going in all these directions and it's like, I'm sick of you people! Solve your problems! Wrap it up! And with these characters, I didn't feel that at all.

 

L.A. traffic can be murder, especially for Jace Damon, the determined bike courier in Tami Hoag's 10th thriller, Kill the Messenger. When a sleazy lawyer dispatches Jace to deliver a parcel, the address turns out to be a vacant lot. A mysterious car creeps toward him with obvious menace, and soon the teen messenger is […]
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When Robert Ludlum died in March of 2001, millions of fans mourned the passing of a brilliant and prolific storyteller and the loss of future novels featuring his most popular character, CIA operative Jason Bourne.

But after the tremendous international success of the 2002 film adaptation of The Bourne Identity starring Matt Damon (its sequel, The Bourne Supremacy, is scheduled to hit theaters July 23) and the ever-increasing demand worldwide for a new installment in the Bourne saga, the Ludlum estate turned to Eric Van Lustbader, author of best-selling thrillers like The Ninja and Black Heart and one of Ludlum's friends. Lustbader, a longtime admirer of Ludlum's Bourne sequence, says he "jumped at the chance, because the estate promised I could do my own story and write in my own style." The result, he says, surprised even him. "In many ways it's the best novel I've ever written."

The Bourne Legacy begins with David Webb (aka Jason Bourne) retired from the CIA and teaching linguistics at Georgetown University. But when an assassin almost kills him on campus and he is framed for the murder of his two closest friends, Webb is forced to revert to his deadly Bourne persona. With the full force of the CIA and a relentless assassin closing in on him, Bourne must stay alive long enough to figure out who set him up, and why. His desperate quest, which takes him to Paris, Crete, Budapest and Iceland, also leads him to the last place he wants to go his past. Lustbader was right: The Bourne Legacy is arguably his best work to date. (And the shocking bombshells that he drops regarding the character of Jason Bourne will have fans of this series talking for months.) Powered by highly volatile, raw-edged emotion, and dozens of complex characters, each with their own intriguing history, The Bourne Legacy will leave readers furiously turning pages until its breathtaking (and heart-wrenching) conclusion.

When Robert Ludlum died in March of 2001, millions of fans mourned the passing of a brilliant and prolific storyteller and the loss of future novels featuring his most popular character, CIA operative Jason Bourne. But after the tremendous international success of the 2002 film adaptation of The Bourne Identity starring Matt Damon (its sequel, […]
Interview by

<B>Going back into the cold: Novel draws on author’s FBI tenure</B> Jeremy Waller plies his trade against a backdrop of moral ambiguities. As a new member of the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team (HRT), he is sent on killing missions by officials he doesn’t know to work with people he’s never met to achieve political goals he sometimes views as shadowy or downright unfathomable. Without any advance notice to his wife and children, he is routinely spirited away to dangerous assignments around the globe. Despite his nagging misgivings, though, he is devoted to his job. In <B>Black</B>, Christopher Whitcomb’s gripping first novel, Waller is drawn into a lethal chess game that involves ruthless American CEO Jordan Mitchell, whose new encrypted cell phones threaten to enable terrorists to communicate undetected; U.S. Senator Elizabeth Beechum, who opposes Mitchell’s scheme; and Sirad Malneaux, a regal, mysterious beauty who’s willing to swap sex for secrets.

As befits the increasingly busy author, Whitcomb spoke to BookPage by cell phone (presumably an unencrypted one) as he drove to yet another appointment. A former FBI agent and a frequent television commentator on terrorist issues, Whitcomb admits that he based his characters on his own experiences. The pressure Waller feels, Whitcomb says, is the kind he dealt with: "It is an extremely demanding job, day in and day out. You have to be absolutely at the top of your game. All the training you do can be extremely dangerous. It’s all live fire, with regular ammunition. And there are helicopters and diving and things that very easily could kill you. They try to create in training some of the stresses you’d encounter in real life." Although the HRT is a division of the FBI, Whitcomb says that it’s not at all like the face of the agency that the public generally sees. "The idea that the FBI works inside the country, and the CIA works outside, is a myth. Most people don’t know that the FBI has more offices outside the United States than they do inside. The Hostage Rescue Team is given responsibility for a lot of that work outside the United States. Sometimes the host government gives approval, and sometimes it does not." Given Whitcomb’s background in undercover work, BookPage wondered if he was surprised at the brutal interrogation techniques recently exposed in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. "No, I wasn’t," he says. "I can tell you, because I taught interrogation at the FBI academy for two years, that we have techniques we use on paper, and there are techniques people use that are not written on paper. The waterboard [in which a subject is strapped to a board and immersed in water and which crops up in <B>Black</B>] is one of them. It’s been around for a long time. There are many techniques used, and not all of them are physical torture. Most are psychological." In <B>Black</B>, Whitcomb exhibits a fine eye for detail, right down to specifying the brand names of furniture and apparel. He concedes that one reviewer charged him with being "obsessed" with brands. Not so, he counters: "I’m driving down the road right now in a car. If I said, I’m driving next to a truck, you would say, OK, you’re driving next to a truck. But if I said, I’m driving next to an orange Peterbilt with little Playboy mudflaps on the side, you might get a better description. I was a writer before I was an FBI agent, and that’s what I was taught. I want to create the most accurate picture I possibly can." In 2001, Whitcomb released his first book, a nonfiction work titled <I>Cold Zero: Inside the FBI Hostage Rescue Team</I>. It told of his journey from a relatively bucolic New Hampshire childhood to his participation in the much-publicized shootouts at Waco and Ruby Ridge. Since he was still employed by the FBI at the time, the agency had to approve his manuscript. Black required no such vetting.

While the novel may put some HRT practices in a bad light, Whitcomb says he remains close to his former employer and the friends he made there. So why did he leave? "The bottom line is that I had 17 years in government service two years on Capitol Hill [as a speechwriter for a congressman] and 15 years with the FBI. From the time I was a little kid, my life’s ambition was to write fiction. <I>Cold Zero</I> gave me the opportunity to write fiction [in that] I realized I could support myself financially as a writer. It presented itself as a new adventure. And I’ve always been an adventurer." <I>Edward Morris reviews from Nashville.</I>

<B>Going back into the cold: Novel draws on author’s FBI tenure</B> Jeremy Waller plies his trade against a backdrop of moral ambiguities. As a new member of the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team (HRT), he is sent on killing missions by officials he doesn’t know to work with people he’s never met to achieve political […]
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Sometimes it’s a bad day for news. If you work for a newspaper, that means that nothing is happening. News and Features lounge about, trying to cobble something together, and the editor worries about what can be mustered up for page one, or for the editorial space.

On a particular December day, the staff at the Alpine, Washington, Advocate faces such a challenge, with House & Home (Vida), News desk (Mitch) and editor/publisher/heroine (Emma) discussing the dearth of options for tomorrow’s paper. Fortunately for page one, the sound of police sirens on the street alerts the newsroom, and word that an eccentric artist named Craig Laurentis has been shot and wounded quickly spreads throughout town.

 
At about the same time, Sheriff Milo Dodge pushes open the newsroom door, carrying three anonymous messages he’s received that claim the innocence of one local, Larry Peterson, long ago convicted of murder and serving a life sentence. Milo also brings word that said convict has just died of a heart attack in prison. The anonymous notes were written before Peterson died, but the “coincidental” news is unsettling.
 
Thus begins The Alpine Vengeance, Mary Daheim’s 22nd entry in her Alpine Alphabet series, in which the author revisits a previous book, The Alpine Fury (book six, of course!) where Peterson’s crime and punishment topped off a story that involved Emma and many others in the extended-family atmosphere of small town Alpine.
 
Emma reruns these past events in her mind, but after she pens an obituary on Peterson’s sudden death, she herself is visited by a fourth anonymous message, this one coldly menacing. If Peterson was innocent, who was he protecting? Emma and Milo pursue the case, not willing to let sleeping—or would it be dead?—dogs lie. The duo also pursue their ongoing romance, liberally spiced by the compelling character of Milo.

Alpine is a veritable Pandora’s box of characters, and by this time (letter “V”) the author might have done well to append a cast of characters or family tree to help us cope with all the Petersons and their cousins and kin. The book’s action is oiled by quick-fire and frequently witty dialogue, with an occasional wet snowstorm thrown in to evoke the Pacific Northwest atmosphere. As the story develops, seemingly disconnected threads begin to seam together alarmingly into whole cloth. The events in Vengeance quickly prove that everything’s up for grabs as far as old murders are concerned.  

 

Sometimes it’s a bad day for news. If you work for a newspaper, that means that nothing is happening. News and Features lounge about, trying to cobble something together, and the editor worries about what can be mustered up for page one, or for the editorial space. On a particular December day, the staff at […]
Behind the Book by

Where do the people in books come from? Authors are often asked this question, and they often find difficulty in answering. As the author of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series of novels, I am often asked how it is that I have ended up writing about a woman who lives far away in Botswana, when I am a man living at the other end of the world. This strikes people as rather strange, and I suppose that in a sense it is.

I decided to write about a woman from Botswana some years ago, when I witnessed the remarkable sight of a woman chasing a chicken about the yard in a Botswana village. The chicken came off second best, and was duly dispatched to provide the next day's lunch. But what remained in my mind was the cheerfulness of the woman who performed this rather everyday task. And I thought that one day, I might write about a woman who was competent and resourceful and who was born in that particular village.

Years passed before I sat down to write a story about just such a woman. My wife and I were spending some time in the south of France. I sat down at the desk in the house in which we were staying and wrote a short story about a woman called Precious Ramotswe, who inherits cattle from her father and sells them. She decides to set up a small detective agency with the proceeds, rather than to establish a more mundane and safer business. I enjoyed writing this short story, and I found that I liked the character I had created. At the end of the story, it occurred to me that I should write further stories about this woman, and I did so. These became a book and the book became a series. These books then completely changed my life.

I had not intended to write a mystery series, and indeed there is comparatively little mystery in these books. They are really the story of one woman, Precious Ramotswe, and of those who play a part in her life her fiance, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni; her assistant, Mma. Makutsi; and her friend, the matron of an orphan farm, Mma. Potokwani. They are the sorts of people who might escape notice, except for one thing: they are all, in their various ways, good people.

I decided to write books about good people for a set of very particular reasons. I think that there are so many books which stress the dysfunctional in life, that deal with conflict and tragedy. In my books, everybody behaves rather well towards one another. They are polite people they use courteous language, they understand and forgive, they are kind. And why not? Why should we not have books about people like that? People have said to me that I am a Utopian novelist. Some people suggest that there cannot be people like this, that Precious Ramotswe cannot exist. I disagree! Botswana is a remarkable country which has made a great success of itself. It is has shown that countries in Africa can be well run and prosperous. And what is more, there are plenty of people in African countries who are leading profoundly decent lives, often in conditions of some difficulty. I hope that my books show that this is all possible. And if these books are, as some people have suggested, a love letter to a country, then I am proud to sign my name to that love letter.

The fifth book in the series, The Full Cupboard of Life, has just been published in the United States. I have finished work on the manuscript of the sixth, which will be published next year. With each visit I make to the world of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, the more I become attached to the characters and involved in their lives. They are very real to me, as I suppose must be inevitable if one is writing a series of this nature. So I hear their voices. Mma. Ramotswe, too, is at my elbow, giving me occasional pieces of advice. And if she were to walk in the door tomorrow, I know that we would sit down together and have a cup of her favorite bush tea. And then we might go for a walk, and look out over that landscape that she loves so much, with its wide plains and its thorn trees, and its great, echoing empty sky.

 

Alexander McCall Smith was born in Africa and currently lives in Scotland, where he teaches medical law at Edinburgh University. His latest book is The Full Cupboard of Life, the fifth installment in the best-selling No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series.

 

Where do the people in books come from? Authors are often asked this question, and they often find difficulty in answering. As the author of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series of novels, I am often asked how it is that I have ended up writing about a woman who lives far away in […]
Review by

The Rule of Four, a debut novel by recent Ivy League grads Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason, is comparable to numerous recently published thrillers (Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, Leslie Silbert's The Intelligencer, Lev Grossman's Codex, etc.) in which protagonists are put in mortal danger while trying to unravel cryptic secrets hidden in ancient texts. It would be an injustice, however, to categorize this novel as typical bibliophilic suspense. The Rule of Four is much more than that it's a masterfully complicated mystery, a powerfully touching romance and a cultural account of the Renaissance, as well as a bittersweet coming-of-age story about college seniors coming to grips with the "adult" world.

Tom Sullivan and Paul Harris are students at Princeton University. Paul enlists Tom's help in researching his senior thesis on the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, a real-life, renowned, shelf-bending Renaissance manuscript attributed to an enigmatic Italian nobleman. Written in seven languages with gruesome illustrations, Hypnerotomachia has mystified academics for more than five centuries. Tom, whose late father was a scholar obsessed with the text, finds that he, too, is drawn to its tantalizing secrets. What he and Paul discover is a revelation so incredible some would murder to possess it.

Readers who enjoy cipher-powered story lines will delight in Caldwell and Thomason's acrostics, anagrams, riddles and polyalphabetic cryptography. But this novel is ultimately powered by the deep relationships between the handful of protagonists, and the things they will do to sustain their friendship. The theme of responsibility increasingly prominent as the seniors near graduation (and potential incarceration) is epitomized by a professor's remark about writing the senior thesis: it's about shouldering something so big, you can't get out from under it.

Riveting, poignant and intensely intimate, The Rule of Four is a thinking person's thriller of the highest order.

 

Paul Goat Allen is a freelance editor and writer living in Syracuse, New York.

The Rule of Four, a debut novel by recent Ivy League grads Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason, is comparable to numerous recently published thrillers (Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, Leslie Silbert's The Intelligencer, Lev Grossman's Codex, etc.) in which protagonists are put in mortal danger while trying to unravel cryptic secrets hidden in ancient […]
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The ninth novel in Ridley Pearson’s series featuring Seattle police detective Lou Boldt cleverly combines a high-tech crime with one of the oldest plot twists in the mystery genre: the stolen object hidden in plain sight device first used in Poe’s “The Purloined Letter.” In fact, the title of the novel, The Body of David Hayes, is itself something of an exercise in misdirection.

David Hayes once worked as a computer specialist at the bank where Lou Boldt’s wife, Liz, now directs technical operations. A digital whiz kid, Hayes managed to embezzle $17 million that no one could trace, though investigators suspected it had been stashed in an offshore account. Convicted of wire fraud and sent to prison for four years, Hayes is paroled just as the bank is about to conclude a profitable merger. When the two institutions’ records are merged, the $17 million transaction that he has apparently hidden somewhere in the bank’s computers will disappear.

Liz Boldt is not only one of the few people with access to the bank’s highest-security computers, she was also having an extramarital affair with Hayes at the time of the embezzlement. Oh, and a videotape of her having sex with Hayes has surfaced and is quickly circulating. The Boldts’ marriage is threatened by her affair, and both of the Boldts are in danger of, at best, losing their jobs and, at worst, being implicated in an ever-lengthening list of criminal offenses. Ultimately, Liz must make an anguished choice between what is best for her family and what is best for the bank.

Pearson shows his usual mastery of the intricacies of structure and the subtleties of suspenseful pacing. He is clearly fascinated by the kinds of ironies that keep character and situation connected even as events accelerate and the characters’ understanding of those events seems always a day late and a dollar short. The situation he presents is pretty close to absolute misery for the Boldts, but this gripping thriller is a terrific diversion for Pearson’s readers. Martin Kich is a professor of English at Wright State University.

The ninth novel in Ridley Pearson’s series featuring Seattle police detective Lou Boldt cleverly combines a high-tech crime with one of the oldest plot twists in the mystery genre: the stolen object hidden in plain sight device first used in Poe’s “The Purloined Letter.” In fact, the title of the novel, The Body of David […]
Review by

With the release of Masquerade in 1996 Gayle Lynds joined the deified ranks of spy thriller authors like Robert Ludlum and John le CarrŽ. That novel was a paranoid tour de force about a CIA agent, Liz Sansborough, hunting (and being hunted by) a notorious Cold War assassin called the Carnivore, who happens to be her father. The response to the stand-alone novel was so overwhelming (Lynds says readers “asked, begged and demanded” that she bring the main characters back) that Lynds was compelled to write a sequel. The Coil finds Sansborough far removed from her former life as a CIA operative; she is contentedly teaching a course in the psychology of violence at the University of California, Santa Barbara. But her father’s legacy continues to plague her, even from the grave. Someone has unearthed the Carnivore’s secret files (who hired him, how much they paid, who was killed, etc.) and is blackmailing prominent international business and political figures to further a shadowy agenda. Sansborough becomes a target as well; when her cousin is kidnapped in Paris, Sansborough must somehow find the files before more innocents die.

With breakneck pacing, generous helpings of suspense and intrigue, and a plot with more twists than a bag of pretzels, Lynds’ novel has all the ingredients of a terrific thriller. As Sansborough desperately searches for the Carnivore’s files while trying to elude the CIA, French police and an army of assassins, she makes James Bond look like a Boy Scout learning how to tie knots. Brutally violent, delectably complicated and masterfully researched, The Coil is a spy thriller of the highest order whose mind-blowing conclusion will leave readers slack-jawed in amazement and have them salivating for more.

Paul Goat Allen is a freelance editor and writer in Syarcuse, New York.

With the release of Masquerade in 1996 Gayle Lynds joined the deified ranks of spy thriller authors like Robert Ludlum and John le CarrŽ. That novel was a paranoid tour de force about a CIA agent, Liz Sansborough, hunting (and being hunted by) a notorious Cold War assassin called the Carnivore, who happens to be […]
Review by

Edward Wozny is an ambitious young investment banker with two weeks to kill until he’s transferred from New York City to England to fill a coveted position in the bank’s London headquarters. Before he leaves, however, the powerful firm has one last request: he must help one of the company’s most important clients, the Duke and Duchess of Bowmry, organize a personal library of rare books. At first, Edward is annoyed at being shanghaied into performing such a tedious task on his vacation, but once he arrives at the clients’ expensive Manhattan digs, his resentment turns to intrigue. Hidden in the attic of the vine-covered limestone townhouse are unopened crates of ancient books some of which date from before the 16th century. Edward is told that the duchess wants him to covertly look for a legendary medieval codex authored by a minor literary figure, Gervace of Langford. Edward’s quest for the mysterious codex soon turns obsessive, and his impending job in London is almost forgotten as he becomes entangled in the codex’s shadowy purpose as well as the intrigue surrounding the tumultuous relationship between the duke and duchess. While searching for the codex in a rare book repository, Edward meets and enlists the help of Margaret Napier, a Columbia grad student who is a “cross between Stephen Hawking and Nancy Drew.” But is it mere coincidence that her dissertation is on the works of Gervace of Langford? As Edward’s obsession with the codex grows, so does his fixation with a highly addictive interactive computer game. When he finds shocking parallels between the game and secrets associated with the codex, his mundane investment banker existence is turned upside down. Lev Grossman, a book critic for Time magazine, has made the cerebral, stylish Codex one of those rare novels that transcend categorization: it is part mystery, part thriller, part romance and part literary history. No matter where this book is eventually shelved, it should and undoubtedly will be sought out by discerning readers everywhere. Paul Goat Allen is a freelance editor and writer in Syracuse, New York.

Edward Wozny is an ambitious young investment banker with two weeks to kill until he’s transferred from New York City to England to fill a coveted position in the bank’s London headquarters. Before he leaves, however, the powerful firm has one last request: he must help one of the company’s most important clients, the Duke […]
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Mario Delvecchio is one of the world’s most respected art restorers. His current project is Bellini’s altarpiece in the Church of San Giovanni Crisostomo in Venice. But when a bomb goes off at the office of Wartime Claims and Inquiries in Vienna, Mario assumes his real name, Gabriel Allon, and his part-time job assassin for Israeli intelligence.

This third volume of Daniel Silva’s trilogy dealing with the unfinished business of the Holocaust takes us from the streets of Vienna to the innermost secrets of the Vatican to Argentina and back. The first book in this cycle, The English Assassin, dealt with Nazi art looting and the collaboration of the Swiss banking system. The second book, The Confessor, examined the role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and the silence of Pope Pius XII. This third book is based, like its predecessors, on actual events. Is it possible that even today a Nazi war criminal is living in Vienna? What does he know about Aktion 1005, the attempt to destroy all evidence of the Holocaust? A Death in Vienna gives a chilling view of both the horrors of war and the politics of Austria. What is possible in today’s world when the secrets of the past cannot be contained? The sins of the fathers can control the secrets of power and politics. The search for the truth leads Gabriel to his mother’s wartime experience at the Birkenau concentration camp, and he experiences her life through her own testimony found at Yad Vashm, the world’s foremost center for Holocaust research and documentation in Israel. As he discovers the secrets of his family’s past, other truths unfold. What do the CIA and Russian intelligence have to do with the Vienna bombing? Is there ever justification for protecting a murderer? With Silva, there are often more questions than answers, but there is always a relentless search for the truth. Derrick Norman is voracious reader who spent many years in publishing and enjoys a good game of golf.

Mario Delvecchio is one of the world’s most respected art restorers. His current project is Bellini’s altarpiece in the Church of San Giovanni Crisostomo in Venice. But when a bomb goes off at the office of Wartime Claims and Inquiries in Vienna, Mario assumes his real name, Gabriel Allon, and his part-time job assassin for […]
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Edgar Allan Poe arguably one of America’s most influential writers makes an appearance in Andrew Taylor’s literary thriller An Unpardonable Crime. Although Poe, a precocious 10-year-old living with his foster family in London in 1819, is very much a peripheral figure in Taylor’s grisly tale of treachery and murder, he is the spindle on which the numerous plots and subplots revolve. The story is narrated by Thomas Shield, Edgar Allan’s teacher at the Reverend Bransby’s Manor House School. A disgraced veteran of the battle of Waterloo who was recently hospitalized for mental instability, Shield is a highly intelligent and hopelessly romantic man struggling to find his place in an England of extremes ranging from the lavish mansions of Mayfair to the crumbling tenements of St. Giles and Seven Dials. While at the school, Shield becomes involved with two young students who have befriended each other: Charles Frant, the overly sheltered son of a prominent banker, and Edgar Allan, the foster son of an American businessman managing his interests in London. In a series of gruesome plot twists that would make Poe himself proud an audacious deathbed robbery, a brutal murder, an incarceration in a coffin, the discovery of a rotting human fingertip and a French-speaking parrot squawking enigmatic warnings Shield slowly loses control of his own destiny as he is drawn into a dangerous game of subterfuge and duplicity.

Aside from the rich descriptions (the use of fog as metaphor throughout is brilliant), the most notable aspect of this novel is Taylor’s masterful use of some of Poe’s most renowned themes, including victimization, extreme states of existence, mysterious presences and mourning for the dead. A delectably dark blend of mystery, gothic horror, romance and literary history, An Unpardonable Crime will leave readers captivated until the very end a fittingly macabre tribute to the master of the macabre.

Edgar Allan Poe arguably one of America’s most influential writers makes an appearance in Andrew Taylor’s literary thriller An Unpardonable Crime. Although Poe, a precocious 10-year-old living with his foster family in London in 1819, is very much a peripheral figure in Taylor’s grisly tale of treachery and murder, he is the spindle on which […]

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