Fiction Previews, May 2013, Pt. 1: 17 Thrillers, from Adler-Olsen to Trussoni

Adler-Olsen, Jussi. A Conspiracy of Faith: A Department Q Novel. Dutton. May 2013. 384p. ISBN 9780525954002. $26.95. CD/Downloadable: Penguin Audio. THRILLER
Denmark’s top crime writer and the author of several New York Times best sellers, Adler-Olsen gives the message-in-a-bottle plot a new twist. This message, written in blood by two young brothers imprisoned in a boathouse by the sea, has floated on the tide for years, then sat on a police shelf for a few more. Det. Carl Mørck of Department Q, which handles cases best described not as cold but positively deep freeze, determines to discover what happened. Adler-Olsen really hit this country with a bang; don’t hesitate.

Ahmad, A.X. The Caretaker. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. May 2013. 304p. ISBN 9781250016843. $24.99; eISBN 9781250016836. CD: Macmillan Audio. THRILLER
A former Indian army captain with some missteps in his past, Ranjit Singh now works as a caretaker on Martha’s Vineyard. His family has no place to stay, so he sneaks them into a senator’s empty house. Bad move: armed men break in, intent on stealing (of all things) an antique doll, and Ranjit must chase down some dark secrets involving the senator while confronting his own troubled past. Former architect Ahmad, now a full-time writer, was a finalist for Glimmertrain’s Short Story Award. A big publicity push.

Atkins, Ace. Robert B. Parker’s Wonderland: A Spenser Novel. Putnam. May 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780399161575. $26.95. THRILLER
Tapped by Robert B. Parker’s estate to continue the Spenser novels after Parker’s death in January 2010, Edgar nominee Atkins proved himself worthy by turning out Robert B. Parker’s Lullaby, a New York Times best seller that fans seem to think got Spenser just right. Now he has the chance to move the story along. Spenser and apprentice Zebulon Sixkill help Henry Cimoli, Spenser’s old boxing trainer, when he’s pressured by thugs to sell his condo. Seems that someone wants to develop some oceanfront land north of Boston—the land where the old Wonderland dog track once stood—to make way for a casino, of course.

Berry, Steve. The King’s Deception. Ballantine. May 2013. 368p. ISBN 9780345526540. $27; eISBN 9780345526564. CD/Downloadable: Random Audio. lrg. prnt. THRILLER
Alas for Cotton Malone, back in another adventure by Berry. Since he’s heading to Europe with his 15-year-old son, Gary, Cotton has agreed to assist the Justice Department by escorting a teenage fugitive back to London. There, with both teenagers having vanished, he finds himself in the midst of international intrigue. To stop the British from releasing the Libyan terrorist convicted of bombing Pan Am flight 103 in 1988, the CIA is digging up evidence dating back to the Tudors that challenges Britain’s legal hold on Northern Ireland. Wow, can Berry pull that off?

Coonts, Stephen. Pirate Alley. St. Martin’s. May 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780312372842. $26.99. THRILLER
After Somali pirates capture a cruise ship, things go from bad to worse. A rescue attempt fails bloodily, a $200 million ransom must be paid or the hostages will be slaughtered, and Coonts stalwarts Jake Grafton and Tommy Carmellini discover that the hostages might be slaughtered anyway to provoke an all-out attack by America that will set the Islamic world on fire. Can Grafton, Carmellini, and the Navy SEALs save the hostages and stop a war? What a question!

Dietrich, William. The Barbed Crown: An Ethan Gage Adventure. Harper: HarperCollins. May 2013. 368p. ISBN 9780062194077. $25.99; eISBN 9780062194114. lrg. prnt. HISTORICAL THRILLER
Adventurer, treasure hunter, ladies’ man, spy: American expatriate Ethan Gage is all those things and a supporter of Napoleon to boot—until the emperor kidnaps his son and nearly gets his wife killed. Now Ethan is out to stop Napoleon’s grand ambitions, starting with a plot to replace the crown with the Crown of Thorns at Napoleon’s coronation and moving right along to the crucial Battle of Trafalgar. Not huge but steadily popular.

Flynn, Vince & Brian Haig. Untitled. Atria: S. & S. May 2013. NAp. ISBN 9781451608335. $27.99. CD: S. & S. Audio. THRILLER
Flynn is the New York Times best-selling author of political thrillers starring CIA counterterrorism agent Mitch Rapp. Haig is the New York Times best-selling author of military thrillers starring U.S. Army lawyer Sean Drummond. They’re joining forces to launch a new series that will clearly have a current-events edge. No plot details and just bumped from February, so things are looking fluid.

Grecian, Alex. The Black Country: A Murder Squad Novel. Putnam. May 2013. 416p. ISBN 9780399159336. $26.95. CD/Downloadable: Penguin Audio. THRILLER
Having solved the nasty murder of one of its own in Grecian’s successful debut, The Yard, Scotland Yard’s recently minted Murder Squad goes farther afield. Inspector Walter Day and Sergeant Nevil Hammersmith are called to investigate when a leading family vanishes from a British Midlands mining town, and soon forensic pioneer Dr. Bernard Kingsley joins them. Tough case, though; the Midlands is not called the Black Country for nothing. Remember that Grecian is also author of the highly regarded graphic novel series “Proof.”

Gross, Andrew. No Way Back. Morrow. May 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780061655982. $26.99; eISBN 9780061750878. THRILLER
Suburban mom Wendy Gould has “no way back”; off-the-rail feds want to shut her up forever after she’s witnessed a murder at a hotel. She joins forces with Lauritzia Velez, a nanny in hiding until she can clear her name, and together they figure out some nasty business involving drug lords, arms dealers, and bad guys in the government. Gross has made it big; there’s a one-day laydown on April 30 and a 200,000-copy first printing.

Lange, Richard. Angel Baby. Mulholland: Little, Brown. May 2013. 288p. ISBN 9780316219822. $24.99. THRILLER
Lange won an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for his bristly first collection, Dead Boys; his first novel, This Wicked World, was pitched as Elmore Leonard meets Denis Johnson. He’s also been featured in Best American Mystery Stories 2004 and 2011. Clearly, Lange has always straddled the literary/commercial divide, but this tale is being forcefully presented as commercial, even cinematic. The plot: Luz is fleeing home, but it’s not easy; her husband is El Principe, a drug-cartel high-up.

Lescroart, John. The Ophelia Cut. Atria: S. & S. May 2013. 368p. ISBN 9781476709154. $26.99; eISBN 9781476709178. THRILLER
Dismas Hardy and Moses McGuire have been friends since fighting together in Vietnam; their daughters are first cousins. Now Moses’ daughter, Brittany, has been raped by an obsessive ex-boyfriend, and Moses is charged with murder when the boyfriend turns up dead. Dismas is defending him but worries that an unstable Moses will spill the beans about a dark secret they share. He also worries that the defense he’s crafted could lead to more trouble. Hot water for the ever popular protagonist.

Matthews, Jason. Red Sparrow. May 2013. Scribner. NAp. ISBN 9781476706122. $26.99; eISBN 9781476706146. THRILLER
State intelligence officer Dominika Egorova doesn’t like her assignment, but in Putin’s Russia she apparently doesn’t have a choice; she must train as a “Sparrow,” or seductress, for the good of the state. Her target is Nathaniel Nash, a first-tour CIA officer tasked with penetrating Russian intelligence. Naturally, the two fall for each other, and naturally Dominika turns double agent. A retired officer in CIA’s former Operations Directorate, Matthews must know his stuff. Yes, espionage thrillers are heating up again.

Morrell, David. Murder as a Fine Art. Mulholland: Little, Brown. May 2013. ISBN 9780316216791. $25.99. THRILLER
Thriller Master Morrell, whose First Blood served as the basis of the Rambo film franchise, goes historical in a work based on the notorious Ratcliffe Highway murders (as bloody as Jack the Ripper’s spree) and starring Thomas De Quincey. Someone is copycatting De Quincey’s true-crime essay, “On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts,” and De Quincey must overcome his opium addiction to stop the carnage. Fans of Matthew Pearl and Caleb Carr should line up.

Rose, M.J. Seduction. Atria: S. & S. May 2013. 384p. ISBN 9781451621501. $24; eISBN 9781451621525. THRILLER
When Victor Hugo’s 19-year-old daughter drowned in 1843, Hugo sought to contact her through séances and claimed that in the process he chatted with Plato, Shakespeare, Jesus, and others whose comments he transcribed and published—but for one, the mysterious Shadow of the Sepulcher. Now Jac L’Etoile, the heroine of The Book of Lost Fragrances, is hunting for the transcript of that conversation. Originally scheduled for March and still a conundrum; ghost story or thriller?

Sandford, John. Silken Prey. Putnam. May 2013. 416p. ISBN 9780399159312. $27.95. CD/Downloadable: Penguin Audio. THRILLER
Lucas Davenport is back, investigating the disappearance of a political fixer who we know has been carted off by two particularly nasty thugs sometime in the night. Clues point to the Minneapolis police force and one breathtakingly manipulative woman. Fans keep Preying.

Trussoni, Danielle. Angelopolis. Viking. 400p. ISBN 9780670025541. $27.95. CD/Downloadable: Penguin Audio. THRILLER
After triumphing with her memoir, Falling Through the Earth, Trussoni went for paranormal thrills in Angelology, a New York Times best seller that pitted art historian V.A. Verlaine and the young nun Evangeline against a race of nasty angel-human hybrids called Nephilim. Now the Nephilim are intent on building their own paradise on Earth, and Verlaine wants to stop them but can’t trust Evangeline, who by the end of the first book had sprouted wings. With a five-city tour; the book itself travels to Paris and St. Petersburg, which should be fun.

Tuomainen, Antti. Holt. The Healer. May 2013. 224p. ISBN 9780805095548. $25; eISBN 9780805095555. THRILLER
Good news, fans of Nordic thrillers! Tuomainen has won the Clue Award for Best Finnish Crime Novel and has been translated into 23 languages, so he’s bound to be good. Here, climate change is hitting Helsinki in a big way; the subway tunnels are flooded, and malaria and Ebola are rampant. But small-time poet Tapani Lehtinen has a bigger problem; his journalist wife has vanished while reporting on a story about a politically motivated serial killer called the Healer. And it looks as if secrets from her past connect her to the murders.

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.