Fiction Previews, Jan. 2013, Pt. 2: 15 Thrillers, from Crais to Palmer to Rankin; Get ’em All

Connolly, John. The Wrath of Angels: A Charlie Parker Thriller. Atria: S. & S. Jan. 2013. 416p. ISBN 9781476703022. $26. THRILLER
In the 11th Charlie Parker novel from redoubtable Irish author Connolly, no bodies are uncovered from a plane wreck found in the Maine woods, but the wreck does hide something more tantalizing‚ a list of powerful people who have made a deal with the Devil. Lots of people (both good and evil) want that list, including a scarred but beautiful woman who likes to kill, a child who recalls his own death, a serial killer known as the Collector, and Charlie Parker himself. And then there’s that evil someone or something, out in the woods, that won’t give up without a fight.

Cook, Robin. Nano. Putnam. Jan. 2013. 432p. ISBN 9780399160820. $26.95; CD: Penguin Audio. THRILLER
Beleaguered medical student Pia Grazdani needs some time off after everything she went through in last year’s Death Benefit, so she accepts a job with Nanobots, a secretive but splendidly endowed nanotechnology institute overlooked by the majestic Rockies. Among the hot new products being investigated there are microbivores, tiny nano-robots that swallow up viruses and bacteria. Alas, when Pia encounters a colleague in the midst of a seizure, she starts to wonder whether the product is being tested on hapless workers. Especially if you liked Death Benefit.

Crais, Robert. Suspect. Putnam. Jan. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780399161483. $27.95 THRILLER
Meet LAPD cop Max Kent, nearly killed in a nighttime assault that wiped out his partner, Allie. Now meet Max’s new partner, Maggie, a German Shepherd that’s survived three tours of duty in the Middle East and lost her handler to an IED. They’re both wrecks, hardly fit for duty, and take on the one case no one else will touch: tracking down Allie’s killers. With a national tour, helped along by a book video.

Ellis, Warren. Gun Machine. Mulholland: Little, Brown. Jan. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780316187404. $25.99. Downloadable: Hachette Audio. THRILLER
You might recognize Ellis as the author of the graphic novel Red, the basis for the 2010 movie starring Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren, as well as many of Marvel Comics’s big series. He’s got a juicy premise here: when his partner is killed in a shootout at a condemned building on Pearl Street, New York detective John Tallow discovers a room stacked to the rafters with guns. Each leads to a different, unsolved murder, and together they suggest that someone has been on a 20-year killing spree that has facilitated financial wheeling dealing in the Big Apple. Cool.

Griffin, W.E.B. & William E. Butterworth IV. Empire and Honor: An Honor Bound Novel. Putnam. Jan. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780399160660. $27.95. THRILLER
In this latest Honor Bound novel, the war is over, but there are battles ahead for Cletus Frade and his colleagues in the OSS. The U.S. government has secretly agreed to sneak out members of German Intelligence’s Soviet Intelligence in exchange for information about spies in America’s atomic weapons program. It’s a delicate assignment, to say the least.

Hunter, Stephen. The Third Bullet: A Bob Lee Swagger Novel. S. & S. Jan. 2013. 416p. ISBN 9781451640205. $26.99. CD: Brilliance Audio. THRILLER
If you want to know why the third bullet aimed at John F. Kennedy exploded, don’t ask the Warren Commission. Ask a sniper, like Bob Lee Swagger, starring in his next thriller from the former Pulitzer Prize‚ winning film critic for the Washington Post. Fifty years after the assassination, Swagger digs through archives and follows clues to find out what really happened.

Kuzneski, Chris. The Death Relic. Putnam. Jan. 2013. 432p. ISBN 9780399158995. $26.95. THRILLER
When the members of her research team vanish in the Yucatán Peninsula, archaeologist Maria Pelati hires Jonathon Payne and David Jones to find them. Soon they realize that Pelati’s research holds the key to solving this particular riddle (and much more). And since her research involves the legend that that the Spaniards were able to crush the Aztec and Mayan cultures because they possessed a distinctive artifact‚ the strange and powerful Death Relic‚ things look pretty tense indeed. Another echoes-of-the-past scarefest from the best-selling author.

Meltzer, Brad. The Fifth Assassin. Grand Central. Jan. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9780446553971. $26.99. lrg. prnt. CD: Hachette Audio. THRILLER
What connects John Wilkes Booth, Charles J. Guiteau, Leon Czolgosz, and Lee Harvey Oswald? They were the four successful assassins of U.S. Presidents, and‚ as The Inner Circle‘s Beecher White discovers‚ they were all working together over 100 years. How? And why? With a fifth assassin in the wings, we’re about to find out. The Inner Circle debuted in the top spot on the New York Times best sellers list, selling nearly 200,000 copies in hardcover and nearly 300,000 copies in trade paperback thus far, so readers will be waiting. With a ten-city tour.

Milchman, Jenny. Cover of Snow. Ballantine. Jan. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780345534217. $26; eISBN 9780345534231. THRILLER
Organizer of the successful Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, chair of the International Thriller Writers’ Debut Authors Program, and a member of the Mystery Writers of America, among other writers’ organizations, Milchman is clearly a can-do person. Her first novel is a psychological chiller set in an isolated Adirondack village, where Nora Hamilton has been living with solid, dependable policeman husband Brendan. But now he’s committed suicide, and things suddenly seem off-kilter; he had been prescribed sedatives shortly before his death, for instance, and a local starts telling Nora strange things about Brendan’s past. Lots of promotion.

Palmer, Michael. Political Suicide. St. Martin’s. Jan. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9780312587550. $27.99. CD: Macmillan Audio. THRILLER
Welcome back Dr. Lou Welcome from the best-selling Oath of Office. Unfortunately, he’s facing a true mess: through the Physician Wellness Office, he’s been supervising Dr. Gary McHugh (the society doc), a once dangerous drinker taking his recovery rather lightly. Now he’s found unconscious in a car wreck, the big-time congressman he has just finished treating is dead, and the congressman’s wife tells Welcome that she just ended an affair with McHugh. A one-day laydown on January 22 attests to Palmer’s popularity; lots of social media.

Rankin, Ian. Standing in Another Man’s Grave. Little, Brown. Jan. 2013. 400p. ISBN 9780316224581. $25.99. THRILLER
What better way to celebrate the 20th anniversary of thrillmeister Rankin’s first U.S. publication than with another scary novel? Here, a teenage girl has vanished while hitchhiking in the Scottish countryside, and the detectives in charge soon discover that there have likely been other disappearances along this stretch of road, dating back for a decade. Complicating the case considerably are conflicting witness reports and the missing girl’s gangster stepdad. Get it.

Rollins, James & Rebecca Cantrell. The Blood Gospel: The Order of the Sanguines Series. Morrow. Jan. 2013. 448p. ISBN 9780061991042. $26.99; eISBN 9780062235756. lrg prnt. CD: Harper Audio. THRILLER
This latest from Rollins, written with Macavity Award winner Cantrell, layers on the paranormal. (It’s described as The Da Vinci Code meets Interview with a Vampire.) Dedicated to battling evil and known throughout history by various names, e.g., the Vatican’s Vampires, the Sect of the Sanguines was born in the time of Christ, and it’s after the long-lost Blood Gospel that explains how he managed to perform miracles, which it knows must be kept secret or the world’s done for. A clue to the gospel’s whereabouts has just surfaced, but it is connected to a nonbeliever named Erin Granger, who’s in big trouble.

Sanchez, Thomas. American Tropic. Knopf. Jan. 2013. 240p. ISBN 9781400042326. $25.95; eISBN 9780307961389. THRILLER
Murder most foul is fouling up paradise‚ Key West, that is, the southernmost reach of the continental United States. What’s more, even as an offshore pirate radio operator, a female Cuban American police lieutenant, and a visionary veteran of our latest wars vie for our attention, a ruthless developer wants to turn the island into one vast amusement park. This ecothriller by the award-winning Sanchez (Rabbit Boss), who’s a part-time Key West resident, is reputedly urgent and angry, and it’s published to catch the folks who crowd the Keys in winter to avoid the snow and sleet.

Taylor, Brad. Enemy of Mine. Dutton. Jan. 2013. 400p. ISBN 9780525953104. $26.95. THRILLER
Having had hugely best-selling success with his first two Pike Logan thrillers, retired Delta Force officer Taylor gives us a third. Here, Israel and Palestine have gingerly agreed to peace, but Taskforce operator Logan discovers that an assassin is gunning for the American envoy tasked with helping firm up the treaty. For Logan and partner Jennifer Cahill, following the assassin’s trail through the Middle East is like wading into quicksand.

Woods, Stuart. Collateral Damage. Putnam. Jan. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780399159862. $26.95. Downloadable: Penguin Audio. THRILLER
Bel-Air is great, but Stone Barrington would rather be in Manhattan, which is where he is when the book opens, wining, dining, and enjoying high society. Then who should show up but Holly Barker, CIA assistant director and Stone’s occasional lover, who drags Barrington into a case involving very high stakes. A bomb has exploded in London, the foreign secretary has been killed, and someone from a supposedly shut-down terrorist cell may still be at large.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.