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All Thriller Coverage

No one does an art thriller quite like B.A. Shapiro, and with such as novels The Art Forger and The Muralist, she’s carved out quite the niche by blinding literary thrills with questions of authenticity, value, museum politics and the inner workings of various historical art scenes.

Shapiro’s next novel, Metropolis, arrives this spring from Algonquin Books, and BookPage is delighted to reveal its cover and an exclusive excerpt!

First, read a bit about Metropolis in the official synopsis from Algonquin:


This masterful novel of psychological suspense from the New York Times bestselling author of The Art Forger follows a cast of unforgettable characters whose lives intersect when a harrowing accident occurs at the Metropolis Storage Warehouse in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

But was it really an accident? Was it suicide? A murder? Six mysterious characters who rent units in, or are connected to, the self-storage facility must now reevaluate their lives. We meet Serge, an unstable but brilliant street photographer who lives in his unit, which overflows with thousands of undeveloped pictures; Zach, the building’s owner, who develops Serge’s photos as he searches for clues to the accident; Marta, an undocumented immigrant who is finishing her dissertation and hiding from ICE; Liddy, an abused wife and mother, who re-creates her children’s bedroom in her unit; Jason, who has left his corporate firm and now practices law from his storage unit; and Rose, the office manager, who takes kickbacks to let renters live in the building and has her own complicated family history. 

The characters have a variety of backgrounds: They are different races; they practice different religions; they’re young and they’re not so young; they are rich, poor, and somewhere in the middle. As they dip in and out of one another’s lives, fight circumstances that are within and also beyond their control, and try to discover the details of the accident, Shapiro both dismantles the myth of the American dream and builds tension to an exciting climax.


Metropolis hits bookstores and libraries on May 17, 2022. While you wait, we’re delighted to reveal the cover from designer Sara Wood and art director Christopher Moisan. Plus, an exclusive excerpt after the jump!


BOSTONGLOBE.COM, JANUARY 7, 2018. Cambridge, MA—Rescue workers were dispatched to the Metropolis Storage Warehouse at Massachusetts Avenue and Vassar Street in response to a 911 call at 11:15 this evening. At least one person was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital with critical injuries after a fall down an elevator shaft. Details are limited, and neither police nor hospital officials identified the victim. Questions were raised about what people were doing at the self-storage facility at that hour, and police are investigating other violations concerning the building. This is a developing story. It will be updated.

ONE

Zach 

May 2018

It’s Rose’s fault. It’s Aetna’s fault. It’s Otis Elevator’s fault. All of the above and none of the above. Zach Davidson hovers at the edge of the crowd, but at six two it’s tough to blend into the background. The auctioneer doesn’t know Zach is the recipient of the money from the forthcoming sales, and he wants to keep it that way, although he doesn’t know why this matters. He isn’t even sure why he’s come, unless as some perverse form of self-flagellation. 

“Most of you know the rules,” the auctioneer begins in her booming voice, “but I’m going to go over them quickly. Due to foreclosure of the building, the contents of twenty-two abandoned storage units are up for sale. The minimum bid is one hundred dollars. Cash only. I’ll open the door to each unit, and you’ll have five minutes to see what’s inside, and then I’ll start the auction. You may not cross the threshold. You may not touch anything. You may not ask me any questions, because I don’t have any answers. You take it all or you leave it all. Then we move on to the next unit. Is this clear?”

There’s a murmur of acceptance, which echoes off the concrete walls and floor, the steel-reinforced ceiling. They’re standing outside Rose’s old office, the woman Zach shouldn’t have relied on. Every direction he looks pisses him off. Rose’s empty desk, the dim bulbs, the peeling paint. He turns his back on the yellow police tape stretched across the elevator.

It’s been almost four months since it happened, and still no one knows for sure if it was an accident, a suicide attempt, or a murder attempt. Could be any of them, but it doesn’t make all that much difference. He’s screwed any which way. Damn elevator. Damn Rose. Damn hard luck. 

He follows the auctioneer as she marches down a corridor lined with heavy metal doors, each imprinted with a round medallion containing a large M intertwined with a smaller S and W. Metropolis Storage Warehouse. One hundred and twenty-three years old. Six stories high. Ninety feet wide. Four hundred and eighty feet long. Almost four hundred storage units of various sizes and shapes; some even have windows. Zach knows it well.

Author B.A. Shapiro

The potential bidders are a mixed bunch. Two men in ratty clothes smell as if they’ve been sleeping on the street, which they probably have. Another three look like lawyers or real estate developers, and there’s a foursome of gray-hairs who appear to have just stepped off the golf course. A gaggle of middle-aged women in running shoes sends stern glances at a girl clutching a pen and a pad of paper, who seems far too young to be the mother of the children she’s yelling at. Male, female, tall, short, fat, slim, white, Black, brown, rich, poor, clever, or not so clever. Like the inner recesses of Metropolis itself, a diverse assemblage that stands in contrast to the archipelago of cultural and economic neighborhoods Boston has become. 

Zach has owned Metropolis for ten years, bought at a ridiculously low price in a quasi-legal deal that looked to be the way out of the consequences of his bad choices. Although it still belongs to him, however temporarily, he has no idea what’s behind any of the doors. The building had a well-deserved shady reputation when he purchased it, and he concluded he was better off not knowing what people were storing in their units. In retrospect, a little prying might have averted this mess.

The auctioneer, a beefy woman with biceps twice the size of Zach’s, takes a key from her backpack and dramatically twists it into the lock. Then she slides the ten-foot-wide fireproof door along its track on the floor to reveal a murky room, lumpy with shadowy objects. She reaches inside and flips on the light. 

“Take it all! Leave it all!” she cries. “Five minutes!”

Revealed by naked light bulbs hanging from the eleven-foot ceiling, #114 is decidedly dull. An old refrigerator, an electric stove, a bunch of mismatched chairs, a couple of mattresses, clothes overflowing from open cartons scattered all over the floor. There are at least two dozen sealed boxes lined up against the far wall and a four-foot pile of empty picture frames ready to topple. Everything is coated with what appears to be decades of dust. Zach groans inwardly. He needs every cent he can squeeze out of this auction, and no one’s going to bid on any of this junk. 

But he’s wrong. After the auctioneer starts rippling her tongue in an impenetrable torrent of words, people start raising their hands. When the contents go for $850, Zach is flabbergasted. The other units surely contain more impressive stuff than this and should generate even higher bids.

Some do, some don’t, and two are completely empty. 

“Take it all! Leave it all! Five minutes!” 

When the auctioneer unlocks the door of #357, there’s a collective gasp. The interior looks like a stage waiting for the evening performance to commence: a complete upscale office suite, including a desk, bookshelves, and a small conference table surrounded by four chairs. Bizarre. It goes for $3,500. 

On the fifth floor is a tiny and perfectly immaculate unit: a neatly made single bed, an intricately carved rolltop desk, a chair, a small bureau. Nothing else. One thousand dollars. In #454, there’s another bizarre tableau. Creepy, actually. It appears to belong to a couple of teenagers. Two desks piled with books and trophies, walls covered with movie posters, and corkboards adorned with invitations and photos and newspaper clippings. Did they come here to study? To hide? Zach stretches his neck in as far as he can without the auctioneer cutting it off. 

She almost does. “Step back, sir!” she yells, her voice stiletto-sharp. “This minute!” Everyone looks at him as if he’s committed a heinous crime. “Take it all! Leave it all! Five minutes!”

Annoyed, he does as she orders, but he wants to see more, surprised to find himself interested in the lives lived here. This is something he’d never considered before, or to be more correct, he had thought about it, but only as a means to get the bad guys out of the building and clean up his own act. Now the questions surge. Who were these people? Why these particular items? And, most intriguing of all, why did they leave so much behind? 

Unit 421 is another stage, but this one is freakish in its attention to detail. It’s a double unit with two round windows, and it looks like an upscale studio apartment, perhaps a pied-à-terre. Against one wall, a queen-size bed is covered by a rumpled silk bedspread and an unreasonable number of pillows. A nightstand holding a lamp and a clock sits to its right side; a large abstract painting is centered over the headboard. At the other end of the unit is an overstuffed reading chair, a writing desk, and a sectional couch, also with too many pillows, facing a large-screen television. In the corner, there’s a small table, two chairs, and a compact kitchen featuring cabinets, a refrigerator, a microwave, and a fancy hot plate. 

“Take it all! Leave it all! Five minutes!”

This time there’s no doubt in Zach’s mind to whom the unit belongs, or rather, to whom it had belonged. Liddy Haines. He closes his eyes and presses his forefinger to the bridge of his nose in an attempt to make the horrific image go away, which it does not. Six thousand dollars. 

Unit 514 was apparently used as a darkroom, and from the looks of it, also as a bedroom. He stares at the sheets pooling at the edge of a cot, at the dirty clothes heaped on the floor. He’s seen three beds in three different units over the last hour, and he clenches his fists to contain his anger. If Rose didn’t know people were living here, she should have. It was a lawsuit waiting to happen—even if it wasn’t the lawsuit now upending his life. An irony he’d appreciate more if he weren’t so damn furious. 

In contrast to Liddy Haines’s unit, there’s no expensive furniture here, but there is a lot of high-quality photographic equipment. A long table edges the south side of the room, overflowing with trays, chemicals, jugs, paper, an enlarger, and an assortment of spools, filters, thermometers, and timers. A clothesline with pins attached stretches over the jumble, and there are at least a dozen five-gallon Poland Spring containers, most of them full, along with another dozen warehouse-size cartons of energy bars. 

A Rolleiflex camera is perched atop a stack of cartons, its well-worn leather strap dangling. Zach recognizes it because of the nature photography he’s been doing lately, his current obsession. Highpointing, climbing the highest peak in every state, was his last one, and that’s what got him into taking landscape pictures in the first place. But his interest in mountaineering has been waning—thirty-two states is more than enough—as his new interest in photography has waxed. He’s usually only good for one obsession at a time, dropping the previous one when another grabs his fancy. He’s an all-in or all-out kind of guy. 

The Rolleiflex is a twin-lens reflex, medium format, which hardly anyone uses anymore. But if you know what you’re doing, it takes remarkable photos. Zach rented one when he was at Bryce last year, and the first time he looked down into the viewfinder—which is at waist, rather than eye, level—he was blown away. 

The vastness of the mountains and the big sky in front of him were perfectly reflected through the lens, without the tunnel vision effect of a standard camera. When he returned to Boston, he kept it a few extra days and experimented with street photography. The cool part is that because you’re looking down rather than directly at your subject, no one is aware they’re being photographed. Vivian Maier, arguably one of the greatest street photographers ever, used a Rolleiflex. 

Zach leans into the unit as far as the Nazi will allow, searching for pictures. There are a few lying about, but it’s difficult to see them from the hallway. The ones he can see are all square rather than rectangular, a feature of the Rolleiflex. He tilts his head and squints at a photo on the end of the table closest to him: a striking black-and-white with afternoon sunlight cutting a diagonal across the image. 

A man is standing in front of an open door with an arched top; the word “Office” can be clearly read behind his head. His shoulder leans against the doorframe, one knee slightly bent. His eyes stare off into the distance. Before Zach understands what he’s seeing, his stomach twists. It’s a photograph of him.


Photo of B.A. Shapiro by Lynn Wayne. Excerpt from Metropolis © 2022 B.A. Shapiro. Reprinted with permission of Algonquin Books.

BookPage reveals the cover and an excerpt of B.A. Shapiro’s novel Metropolis.

Cottonwood Estates seems like an idyllic neighborhood to raise a family in. It’s affluent, populated by overworked dads and over-involved moms, and thanks to the gossipy monthly book club, everyone knows everyone else’s business. In The Neighbor’s Secret, author L. Alison Heller scratches away at this suburban facade to reveal secrets that are slowly bringing the small community to the verge of collapse.

Through brief, interstitial passages, the reader learns that not only is a murder about to be committed, but also that another one was covered up years ago. The question remains: Who are the killers?

Annie is harboring a secret from 15 years ago and worrying that her eighth grade daughter, Laurel, might be destined to repeat it. Laurel is acting out, getting drunk with friends at the annual Fall Fest and keeping secrets from her ever-vigilant mother. Jen is similarly worried about her young son, Abe, with good reason: Abe has been expelled from school and diagnosed as a sociopath. Jen struggles with fear of her own son and guilt over her abilities as a parent, all while hiding his diagnosis from the teachers at Abe’s new school as well as from her friends and neighbors. Finally, there is Lena. A widow and empty nester, Lena watches the neighborhood but keeps apart from it socially. She understands that nothing in their peaceful community is what it seems. When a vandal begins targeting homes, the petty property crimes set off a chain of events that will end in one explosive, deadly night.

Heller excels at the complex characterization required to engage readers, resulting in a book that’s truly impossible to put down. The myriad anxieties her characters feel—fear for their children, their reputation, their community—are entirely relatable. A sense of dread and foreboding permeates the narrative. We know a murder is coming; Laurel, Abe and Lena all seem on the verge of imploding. With such a wonderful buildup and a truly surprising finish, The Neighbor’s Secret is a delight to read.

Cottonwood Estates seems like an idyllic neighborhood to raise a family in. It’s affluent, populated by overworked dads and over-involved moms, and thanks to the gossipy monthly book club, everyone knows everyone else’s business.

Career criminals crisscross Europe as they tread a perilous path to revenge, and FBI agents race to solve bizarre murders plaguing an historic Southern city. But otherworldly forces lurk around the edges, turning these two thrillers into something else altogether.

The Nameless Ones

John Connolly’s The Nameless Ones is a bleak, unflinching look at the ways in which the effects of war ripple ever outward, endlessly destructive, never truly resolved. In places where this kind of conflict is never-ending, there are some—such as Serbian brothers Spiridon and Radovan Vuksan—who might decide that crime does pay. After committing countless atrocities in the 1990s Yugoslav wars (Spiridon prefers hands-on torture, Radovan is a hands-off strategist), the men now lead a crime syndicate and have amassed money, power and influence.

But these things don’t render them invincible, especially where Louis and Angel are concerned. These fan-favorite characters, a loving gay couple who happen to be an assassin and a thief, are front and center in this 19th installment of the Charlie Parker series, though Parker makes cameos here and there. Louis and Angel are on a mission to avenge the death of De Jaager, a Dutch fixer whom the Vuksan brothers and their colleagues murdered, along with three others, in Amsterdam.

De Jaager’s death is the latest in a round robin of revenge that’s decreasing the likelihood of the Vuksans ever returning to Serbia as free men. Connolly delves into the logistics of organized crime while illustrating how escalating pressures are fraying the Vuksan brothers’ contentious relationship. Complicating matters is Parker’s late daughter, Jennifer, who appears to Louis and Angel in their dreams, plus a woman named Zorya whose presence is discomfiting and mystifying. Will she help or hinder the Vuksans as Louis and Angel, enraged and determined, draw ever closer?

Multiple characters and points of view factor into the complex plot, offering history and context for the sociopaths, narcissists and opportunists that populate The Nameless Ones. There are moments of wit and wisdom, too—and sinister questions that will leave fans eager for the next installment.

Bloodless

This November, it will have been 50 years since people first began asking, “Who the hell was D.B. Cooper?” Fans of Aloysius X.L. Pendergast will be delighted that Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child have chosen to mark the anniversary of Cooper’s famously unsolved skyjacking in Bloodless, the 20th title in their bestselling series featuring the unusual and inimitable FBI special agent who’s solved more than 100 cases and counting.

The book opens with a closer look at what might’ve happened during Cooper’s fateful crime in the sky, and then it fast-forwards to the present day wherein Pendergast, his companion Constance Greene and his partner Armstrong Coldmoon are embarking on a weird new case. They’ve been called to Savannah, Georgia, where a body has been found completely drained of blood, and the residents have no insight or information to offer. (Or do they?)

In short order, there are more victims who look “like alien creatures or wax manikins” and a continued and confounding lack of clues, much to the dismay of an obnoxious senatorial candidate who pushes the FBI and local police for a quick resolution. Other complicating factors include a brash documentary crew, with dubious ethics, in town to chronicle the city’s alleged paranormal activity; rumors that the elderly Chandler House hotel proprietor Felicity Frost is actually a vampire; and kooky residents and tourists who keep things messy.

And then things get really messy, as whoever is killing people ratchets up the gruesomeness, splattering the charming historical city with blood and gore while infusing the humid air with abject terror. History, mystery, action and the unexplainable collide as the FBI team draws closer to their prey while trying to avoid being hunted themselves.

Bloodless is rife with inventive scenarios, amusing exchanges (especially between oft-impatient Coldmoon and eternally placid Pendergast) and tantalizingly spooky mysteries, topped off with a gloriously wild finale that is as action-packed as it is memorable.

Horrors both supernatural and all-too-human haunt two new installments of popular, long-running series.

College freshman Chloe Sevre has two secrets: 1) She’s a psychopath, and 2) she’s plotting to kill frat boy Will Bachman. Chloe has no sense of empathy or remorse, but she is acutely aware of being wronged.

Chloe thought Will was her friend, but he hurt her in an especially devastating way when she was just 12 years old, and she’s spent years plotting her revenge. Chloe got into Adams University, the same college Will attends, by enrolling in a special study. Along with seven other students who have been diagnosed as psychopaths, Chloe will get a free ride if she agrees to group therapy and biometric monitoring. For Chloe, this is purely a means to an end—access to Will—until someone begins murdering the students in the group. Suddenly, Chloe is in a cat-and-mouse game with a killer, even as she continues with her own murderous plot for justice.

While Chloe isn’t empathetic per se, she is vicariously fun to read about in a way that brings to mind Villanelle from “Killing Eve,” and author Vera Kurian gives readers two equally suspenseful plotlines to follow. First is Chloe’s mission to kill Will. Even though her actions are illegal and morally wrong, Will’s crime is so heinous that it’s not hard to understand why Chloe would resort to murder rather than turn to an unreliable justice system.

And then there’s the catch-me-if-you-can secondary plot of Chloe trying to discover who is killing members of the study she belongs to. She aligns with two other members of the group to flush out the killer, but her companions are as untrustworthy as she is. The fact that Never Saw Me Coming has multiple characters that lie and manipulate without issue makes detecting its central killer all the more challenging. All of this adds up to a unique reading experience: Even though there aren’t necessarily any “good guys” to root for, Kurian compels her readers to be deeply invested in Chloe’s success regardless.

With a satisfying (if bloodthirsty) quest for vengeance and a twisty mystery to solve, Never Saw Me Coming will tempt readers into staying up all night to get answers.

College freshman Chloe Sevre has two secrets: 1) She’s a psychopath, and 2) she’s plotting to kill frat boy Will Bachman. Chloe has no sense of empathy or remorse, but she is acutely aware of being wronged.

Peter Heller takes readers on another thrilling wilderness adventure in The Guide, set at a luxurious fly-fishing compound near Crested Butte, Colorado. Protagonist Jack, first introduced in Heller’s Deliverance-like novel, The River, is still recovering from the tragedy that unfolded before his eyes during a canoe trip three years ago. He has also never recovered from witnessing his mother’s violent death when he was a boy, another tragedy for which he feels responsible. 

A virus known as Covid Redux threatens the world, but Jack hopes to lose himself in the rhythms of a pristine Rocky Mountain river as a fishing guide. “It’d be nice to have one summer of peace,” he muses. Fishing, in fact, is Jack’s therapy for his trauma and PTSD: “He had learned that it was much less a distraction than a form of connection: of connecting to the best part of himself, and to a discipline that demanded he stay open to every sense, to the nuances of the season and to the instrument of his own body, his own agility or fatigue.”

Jack is assigned to guide the perfect client, a fishing expert named Alison K who also happens to be kind, beautiful and a world-famous singer. Romance ensues, and things could hardly be better for Jack—except for strange events that build from a slow drip into a heavy cascade. There are security cameras on bridges and a nearby closely guarded fortress. Jack’s boss barks gruff, odd orders at him. Jack hears shots fired and strange screams, and finds a mysterious boot buried in the dirt that later disappears.

Heller is an expert at building suspense, and he’s a first-rate nature writer, lending authenticity to the wealth of wilderness details he provides. (He has traveled the world as an expedition kayaker.) He also uses a notable layout technique—adding space between each paragraph—that makes readers turn his thrilling pages even faster. One warning, however: Heller’s novels, especially The River, are not for the faint of heart. Still, The Guide is a glorious getaway in every sense, a wild wilderness trip as well as a suspenseful journey to solve a chilling mystery. 

The Guide is a glorious getaway in every sense—a wild wilderness trip as well as a suspenseful journey to solve a chilling mystery.

Five decades into an almost singularly successful career, Stephen King goes in an intriguing new direction with Billy Summers. Though this novel includes many classic King touchstones—revenge, a writer hero, unlikely friendships, trauma, justice—its dedication to realism and intense, almost meditative focus on the titular main character make it a standout among his works.

As the novel opens, 44-year-old military sniper-turned-assassin Billy Summers is reluctantly agreeing to take on one last job. Though he only kills bad people (he considers himself “a garbageman with a gun”), Billy is tired of the isolation and violence his chosen career entails, as well as of the dull, incurious persona he puts on to deflect the attention of the dangerous people who hire him. The payday for this final assignment is astronomical, and the target undeniably deserves his fate, but what really convinces Billy to take on the job is the cover: He’ll have to pose as a writer who’s renting space in an office building to complete his first novel.

The criminals who hired Billy find this cover story to be ironic due to Billy’s “dumb self” mask, but Billy, who secretly reveres Émile Zola and Tim O’Brien, is attracted to the idea of putting his own story on paper. As Billy begins to write about his traumatic childhood, his cover becomes increasingly real to him. But even as he sinks into his identity as “Dave,” the guileless would-be great American novelist who beats the pants off his neighbors at Monopoly and grabs drinks with a woman who works in his office building, he begins to sense that there’s more to this job than he’s being told. And of course, the hit is only the beginning of the action.

The poignant beats in this early portion of Billy Summers will be familiar to readers of 11/23/63, which also features a main character with a hidden mission who becomes a part of a community even as he deceives the people around him. But given that this novel is about a hit man, the violence kicks in quickly and continues through most of the book. King’s trademark skill with suspense and action is on display in several thrilling set pieces, including the breathlessly paced original hit, but this novel also stretches his literary ambitions. Much of Billy’s autofiction appears on the page in a book within a book that gives readers a deeper understanding of its main character. And while Billy shifts between personas and dons physical disguises with aplomb, his internal self comes more clearly into focus as he writes about his experiences and interrogates the stories he’s been telling himself about his past—and about himself. Billy might kill only bad people, but he’s still a killer. Can a person who ends the lives of others ever be considered good? 

Misery, The Dark Half, Lisey’s Story and The Shining all feature writers as characters, but their craft was either incidental or corrosive. In Billy Summers, the art of creating fiction is portrayed as an empowering force. By taking control of our stories, King suggests, we can begin to heal, find hope and even discover a truth that is more profound than reality. These resonant ideas provide a somber counterpoint to the action in this contemplative thriller.

 

Five decades into an almost singularly successful career, Stephen King goes in an intriguing new direction with Billy Summers. Though this novel includes many classic King touchstones—revenge, a writer hero, unlikely friendships, trauma, justice—its dedication to realism and intense, almost meditative focus on the titular main character make it a standout among his works. As […]

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