PositiveCriminal ElementBlack weaves past and present to create a visceral tapestry of sex and murder that will lead Valerie down some exceedingly dark alleys ... Black does a nice job of getting readers acquainted with Valerie without a lot of exposition, and his meticulous plotting will likely stymie even the most jaded thriller fans. This series keeps getting better and better, and each book is a dark gem. If you like ‘em gritty, with a beating heart at the center, this one delivers. Don’t miss it.
RaveCriminal ElementJones writes relatable women like nobody’s business, and she does the same here ... It’s hard to juggle multiple narratives, whether they’re first-person or third, but Jones handles it like a pro, and eagle-eyed readers will be keeping an eye on each strange occurrence, hoping to guess just what the hell is going on. I thought I had It figured out, but I didn’t. Not even close ... Trust and security are at the forefront of this absorbing, relentless tale ... Jones has established herself as a master craftswoman of domestic suspense.
RaveCriminal ElementAlex North’s debut isn’t your typical serial killer thriller. He juggles multiple narratives with ease, and even Tom’s voice (which is the only first-person narrative) is written in a more lyrical style, befitting that of a successful author. Readers won’t just turn the pages (and boy will they turn them fast) to find out who the killer is, but becoming invested in what happens to Tom and Jake is very easy. Their story will resonate with any parent, and especially those that have experienced the loss of a partner or a parent. North’s smart, contemporary hunt-for-a-killer tale, populated with well-drawn characters, is threaded with some uber-creepy, well-placed scares that will appeal to readers who love ghost stories. This uniquely scary and disturbing novel will keep you up late, and you’ll want to keep all the lights on.
PositiveCriminal ElementI thought I knew where this one was going, and I had no idea ... The big twist is something right out of Psycho, and not what you’d call subtle. You’ll be dying to know just what the heck is going on. It’s also hard not to root for Aimee, who seems to be living in a waking nightmare. You’ll want to allow some time for this one because you won’t want to put it down.
PositiveCriminal ElementA spine-tingling thriller ... a doozy. Lelic does quite a lot with this book while keeping much of what makes a good thriller truly good at the forefront. The pacing is fantastic ... Getting a 14-year old’s voice right is hard for any adult, but with Emily, Lelic nails it ... Lelic expertly tackles the heartache, and joy, that comes with parenthood as well as the aftermath of tragedy and our helplessness in the face of it. This one has the heart of a thriller but a lot of emotional heft, and the claustrophobic feel one gets from imagining Susanna and Adam trapped in that room together only adds to the considerable suspense. Although dark, this tense and layered story isn’t without hope. I’m such a fan of this author and can’t wait to see what he has in store next.
PositiveCriminal ElementReaders that are looking for a lightning-paced read, with a mother/daughter relationship at the core, will find a lot to like. Maggie and Ally’s alternating chapters create urgency, and Barry does a particularly great job with Maggie, a woman who is suffering debilitating grief, but finds strength and purpose in finding the truth. This one will keep readers turning the pages, and there’s even a nifty twist in the final act.
RaveCriminal ElementHarvey’s lean prose and fast pace keep the pages turning, and even if you haven’t read the first three books in the series, it’s quite easy to become fully invested in these characters without feeling like you’re missing something. A few terrifying twists up the stakes and a shocking finale will have readers reeling. Procedural fans with a soft spot for P.I. tales will love this, but a father’s love and a young woman trying desperately to crawl out of the darkness and into the light are at the heart of this crackling tale.
RaveThe Criminal ElementIt’s all here: murder, corrupt cops, a gritty 70s Boston in turmoil. But then Harvey throws such a huge curveball your head will spin. The interconnectedness of all things is a big theme, and there are some scenes (keep your eye out for the one with Daniel and the dogs—trust me, you’ll know it) that will make the little hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Harvey has a firm grip on time and place, and one-dimensional characters just aren’t in his toolbox. Harvey is a bona fide noir poet ... The whole book, even the very realistic action sequences, has an otherworldly feel, and as bad as things get, behind everything Daniel does is his intense love for his brother. The last quarter had my jaw on the floor and the last page broke my heart. Stunning.
P. J. Vernon
PositiveCriminal ElementIf you enjoy Southern Gothic chillers, P. J. Vernon’s When You Find Me is the debut for you ... Gray is an exceedingly sympathetic character ... it will send chills down your spine ... It’s a roller coaster ride to the end, and Vernon offers up plenty of surprises in an assured debut whose prose frequently approaches the poetic.
RaveCriminal ElementI dare you to start this one late at night, because you’ll stay up all night to finish it ... Daly crafts a powerful, and at times, genuinely creepy, domestic thriller. She also realistically and sympathetically tackles the sometimes-horrifying realities of traumatic brain injury, and there are some genuinely heartbreaking moments between Jane and Leon in the unimaginably difficult aftermath of his injury. This is a superb effort from a fiercely talented author.
PositiveCriminal ElementThe Night in Question by Nic Joseph is a suspenseful tale of desperation, opportunity, and ultimately murder. When one of the most famous rock stars in the world leaves his phone in your car, you blackmail him when he asks for it back, right? Well, you do if you’re Paula, an artist who drives a car for Drive Away to make ends meet after an accident left her husband Keith unable to walk about a year ago ... The story alternates between Paula’s first-person narrative and that of Detective Claire Puhl’s murder investigation, so there’s a bit of jumping back and forth in time, but it creates a propulsive narrative that will have readers turning the pages ... This is a fun, suspenseful read, and Nic Joseph is an author to watch.
PositiveCriminal Element...Blauner throws us into the deep end of things right off the bat. The book opens with a sequence taking place five years ago, in 2012, on Long Island during Hurricane Sandy. It’s apocalyptic. Cars are floating away, debris is flying, and a young pregnant woman is desperate for help, so she knocks on a door ... Cut to 2017, and NYPD Homicide Detective Lourdes Robles and her partner, Robert \'Beautiful Bobby\' Borrelli, are called to the tip of Far Rockaway, where a plastic-wrapped body has been pulled from the water. Lourdes gets a look, and after determining that it’s probably a female, she notices that there are rocks stuffed in what’s left of the esophagus. It’s a horrifying and unusual discovery, and although Lourdes’s colleagues are quick to jump to theories about MS-13 and gang killings, Lourdes isn’t so sure ... This book is chock full of creepy, downright terrifying scenes—although Blauner expertly avoids exploitation and gore ... It’s timely and will certainly resonate with readers who keep a close watch on current events. You won’t be able to put this one down.
T. Jefferson Parker
RaveThe Criminal ElementSwift Vengeance by T. Jefferson Parker is an incendiary new thriller ... this timely and terrifying story packs an emotional punch, and I shed a few tears. It’s powerful stuff, and Parker is a master at giving his readers exactly what they want in a good thriller (plenty of action and thrills) while not skimping on fully realized characters with relatable and, at times, tragic motivations. This is also a fascinating exploration of a little-known area of the military—remote drone operators—and how they cope with their missions and their aftermath as well as how, under the right conditions, someone can be radicalized and driven to murder ... he’s a highly versatile author that just keeps getting better and better.
RaveCriminal Element...[a] gripping debut ... Luckily, Caz Frear has come out of the gate with a corker of a thriller, introducing us to a firecracker of a new copper in the form of the fascinating London-based DC Catrina \'Cat\' Kinsella ... she’s believably flawed, self-deprecating, and very human—you’ll love her ... Frear has churned out a very assured, accomplished debut that’s quintessentially British and compulsively readable ... Caz Frear is now on my instant-buy list, and I can’t wait for her next book.
RaveCriminal Element...a tense locked-room mystery and a brilliant psychological thriller ... Her considerable talent is on fine display in Under a Dark Sky ... This could have so easily devolved into melodrama, but Rader-Day never lets that happen ... Rader-Day reveals these dark secrets like the slow unfurling of a poisonous flower and imbues each of her characters with enough humanity and complexity so they never descend into caricature ... This should be a huge hit, and Rader-Day deserves to be a household name.
RaveCriminal Element\"Stage does a fantastic job of steadily increasing the tension to a fever pitch, and Suzette is completely self-aware of her situation. She knows that their lives are the perfect setup for a horror movie. She even mentions to a doctor that she’s afraid no one will believe her and that Hanna will eventually drive her insane. Readers won’t have trouble believing in that possibility. This super creepy kid and her tormented mom will keep you up way past your bedtime.\
RaveThe Criminal ElementBarclay imbues his propulsive narrative with a simmering, low menace, and readers won’t help but feel for poor Paul as he falls down the rabbit hole. Is he actually going crazy, or is something else going on? It would be hard to say much more without spoiling the denouement, but I will say that Barclay takes a risk in the last act that lesser authors may not have been able to pull off. This one is a lot of fun, and you’ll want to keep an eye out for the unlikely hero that rises to the occasion in the finale.
RaveCriminal Element\"Rob McCarthy is a fantastic author who has a knack for writing meaty characters. Harry’s spiral and the fact that very young children are involved in this case give the story a lot of emotional heft. It doesn’t hurt that McCarthy is a medical student, so the medical details ring true. While it would certainly be better to read The Hollow Men first, new readers can jump in here with no problem—although you’ll certainly want to know a little more about Harry and Frankie’s fraught relationship. There are lots of plot threads floating around here, but McCarthy weaves them all together with ease while building unbearable suspense all the way to the very emotional finale.\
PositiveCriminal Element...a chilling and disquieting debut thriller ... Ripley (which is a pseudonym of Naben Ruthnum) isn’t afraid to put his readers through the ringer. You’ll stay up all night with this one.
RaveThe Criminal ElementPaper Ghosts, a title referring in large part to the images in Carl’s haunting photos, works on multiple levels. It’s an effective thriller, but it’s also a deep look at obsession and the destructive nature of grief—as well as a creepy-as-hell tour of some of the oddest places in Texas. Heaberlin’s prose, at times, approaches a kind of gritty poetry as she takes readers on a very unusual murder mystery tour with a very unusual narrator. If you think you know where this one is going, you’ll need to check those expectations at the door. Set aside some time for this one because you won’t want to put it down.
Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
RaveCriminal ElementHendricks and Pekkanen take the unreliable narrator to a whole different level. For readers that are tired of stories about enamored, blinded young women getting snowed by abusive men, you’re in for a treat. These women are smart and complicated and are certainly not wilting flowers. The twists are seamless and very clever. Just when you think that you’ve gotten hit with the big one, you get walloped by another one.
RaveCriminal ElementThis novel reads like poetry paced as a thriller, and if Madison’s story isn’t hard enough to take, Naomi also takes the case of a missing baby belonging to a young autistic woman. Additionally, Jerome is in love with Naomi, and she’s in love with Jerome, but something is holding her back from plunging ahead … This is as much Naomi’s story as it is Madison’s, and for all the awfulness and the pain, it’s ultimately a story of hope that will transform you if you let it. Never graphic, Denfeld’s lyrical writing mines the beauty found in the most harrowing of situations and affirms the human spirit and will to survive.
RaveCriminal Element[Maureen is] thrown right back into the investigation of a cop-killing, white-supremacist group, called the Sovereign Citizens, and must cooperate with the FBI—which no one in the department wants to do. Control is a big thing to Maureen, and she despises being seen as weak … Bill Loehfelm is a pro, and he manages to give just enough literary sensibility to appeal to those that love a little more meat to their thrillers, while keeping the pages turning with startling speed. Make no mistake, though, Maureen is the star of this show, dragging her tattered wings around a city that’s been through so much, and is still rebuilding—much like Maureen herself.
RaveCriminal ElementWhat really makes this a standout is Gattis’s talent for portraying people that operate firmly in the 'gray zone' (some tending toward the darker end) as very, very human and his obviously exhaustive research into the many ins and outs of various criminal enterprises. Rooster—Glasses’s boss—and his crew even use American Sign Language to communicate in certain circumstances. I loved these characters. I love that Ghost just wants to do some good in his very messed up world before he goes out for good. Hell, I loved this book. Gattis explores some pretty big themes—like addiction, mortality, and of course, the huge gap that can lie between right and wrong—without sacrificing an undeniably cinematic touch. Also, the ending will surprise you. In a good way. If you’re looking for something intelligent, fast-paced, sometimes funny, and certainly noir but with a huge heart, snap this one up.