Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Meg's Picks: December 2015

As I mentioned earlier this month, December releases are a little scant this year. But there are LOTS of great things coming in January, so hang in there--the winter doldrums will be anything but dull for readers this year.

In the meantime, there are a few hidden gems being released next month that I wanted to make sure to mention. If you're a fan of British crime fiction, pay close attention!

One is Harbour Street, by Ann Cleeves. Cleeves's work is worthy of LOTS of note. First, her thriller Raven Black won the Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award in 2006. Secondly, her Vera Stanhope series (Harbour Street is book 6) has been made into an extremely popular television series, Vera, which is currently filming its fifth season--fans of series like Midsomer Murders and Broadchurch should absolutely check out Vera. Here, DI Stanhope avoids the holiday festivities by rushing to a Metro station in (fictitious) Northumberland, where an elegant woman has been found stabbed to death in one of the train cars. Just days after Vera launches an investigation with Det. Joe Ashworth, a second woman dies, and the clues keep leading to Harbour Street, whose residents are surprisingly uncooperative. If you're a fan of contemporary English mysteries, this series is not to be missed.

The Verdict, by Nick Stone. Terry Flynt is a struggling legal clerk, desperately trying to get promoted. And then he is given the biggest opportunity of his career: to help defend a millionaire accused of murdering a woman in his hotel suite. The only problem is that the accused man, Vernon James, turns out to be not only someone he knows, but someone he loathes. This case could potentially make Terry's career, but how can he defend a former friend who betrayed him so badly? Stone is being called Britain's John Grisham, so this is very much worth your time.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Reading Ahead: December 2015, part 4

Sometimes you just need a fast, easy, uncomplicated read, a guilty pleasure, if you will. If that sounds good right about now, here are a couple of titles to look forward to next month.

Precious Gifts, by Danielle Steel. After Paul Parker, handsome, charming bon vivant, lackadaisical parent at best, passes away, his children--three very different daughters and a son who has spent life careening from one failure to the next, convene for the reading of his will. And his final wishes are full of surprises and secrets that will shake his family to its very core. Steel's fans are already clamoring for their copies, so don't miss out!

Secret Sisters, by Jayne Ann Krentz. They knew his name, the man who tried to brutally attack twelve-year-old Madeline in her grandmother's hotel. They thought they knew his fate. He wouldn't be bothering them anymore...ever. Still their lives would never be the same. Madeline has returned to Washington after her grandmother's mysterious death. And at the old, abandoned hotel—a place she never wanted to see again—a dying man’s last words convey a warning: the secrets she believed buried forever have been discovered. This tale of romantic suspense is sure to win Krentz even more fans.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Reading Ahead: December 2015, part 3

Need a distraction from all the holiday cheer on the horizon? Enjoy something a little dark and mysterious regardless of the season? Here are a few to look forward to next month.

Ashley Bell, by Dean Koontz. Koontz has been delighting readers with tales of creepy suspense for decades, and thankfully he's showing no signs of slowing down. In his latest, Bibi has cheated death but must use the borrowed time to save someone else--a woman named Ashley Bell. But who is she? Bibi will have to undertake a search both mysterious and dangerous to make the best of her second chance.

A Dream of Ice, by Gillian Anderson & Jeff Rovin. Second in Anderson (The X-Files, Hannibal, etc) & Rovin's (Tempest Down) EarthEnd Saga (after 2014's A Vision of Fire), this tale of paranormal suspense rejoins child psychologist Caitlin O’Hara, who has been left with strange new powers. Suddenly she can heal her young patients with her mind and see things from other places and other times. But as she learns more about her powers, she also realizes that someone is watching her, perhaps hunting her—and using her son to do it. The first entry has been hailed as original and addictive--fans of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child should absolutely check this series out.

Dark Corners, by Ruth Rendell. This is actually just out, having had its publication date bumped up at the last minute. Rendell's latest mystery is a compelling story of blackmail, murders both accidental and opportunistic, and of one life’s fateful unraveling. When his father dies, Carl Martin inherits a house in an increasingly rich and trendy London neighborhood. Carl needs cash, however, so he rents the upstairs room and kitchen to the first person he interviews, Dermot McKinnon. That was colossal mistake number one, and it's just the beginning of Carl's long, creepy road of bad luck. Rendell's fans will not be disappointed.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Reading Ahead: December 2015, part 2

Thrillers and suspense novels have no season--they're perfect year-round. Here are a few new titles to help you through the holidays.

After She’s Gone, by Lisa Jackson. Cassie Kramer and her younger sister, Allie, learned the hazards of fame long ago. Together, they’d survived the horror of a crazed fan who nearly killed their mother, former Hollywood actress Jenna Hughes. Still, Cassie moved to L.A., urging Allie to follow. As a team, they’d take the town by storm. But Allie, finally free of small-town Oregon, and just that little bit more beautiful, also proved to be more talented—and driven. Where Cassie got bit parts, Allie rose to stardom. But now her body double has been shot on the set of her latest movie—and Allie is missing. Police discover that the last call to Allie’s phone came from Cassie, though she has no recollection of making it. Instead of looking like a concerned relative, Cassie is starting to look like a suspect. Jackson's work is very popular--if you like Lisa Gardner, Karin Slaughter, or Chevy Stevens, giver her a try.

The Relic Master, by Christopher Buckley. If you're unfamiliar with Buckley's work (Little Green Men, Boomsday), you are really missing out. His is a unique blend of intrigue and humor guaranteed to entertain; Tom Wolfe calls him "one of the funniest writers in the English language." Fans of authors like Christopher Moore, Carl Hiaasen, and Tim Dorsey should take note. This, his latest, is a compelling and hilarious adventure featuring a sixteenth-century relic hunter and his best friend, Albrecht Dürer, who conspire to forge the Shroud of Turin. If the holidays have got you feeling a little blue, this just might be the antidote!

Forty Thieves, by Thomas Perry. Perry, bestselling author of the Jane Whitefield series (most recently A String of Beads, 2014), returns here with a lethally paced standalone novel. Sid and Ronnie Abel are a first-rate husband-and-wife detective team, both retirees of the LAPD. Ed and Nicole Hoyt are married assassins-for-hire living in the San Fernando Valley. Except for deadly aim with a handgun, the two couples have little in common—until they are both hired to do damage control on the same murder case.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Reading Ahead: December 2015, part 1

It's that time again! I have to say that pickings look a little slim for December books right now--apparently publishers think that people have other things going on next month?  Whether you do or you don't, here are a few titles you might want to add to your reading list.

The Forgotten Soldier, by Brad Taylor. Latest in Taylor's Pike Logan series (the series starts with 2011's One Rough Man), The Forgotten Soldier pits Logan against a most deadly adversary: a Taskforce Operator gone rogue.  For years, the extralegal counter-terrorist unit known as the Taskforce has worked in the shadows, anticipating and preventing attacks around the globe. Created to deal with a terrorist threat that shuns the civilized rule of law, it abandoned the same, operating outside of the US Constitution. Though wildly successful, it was rooted in a fear that the cure could be worse than the disease. And now that fear has come home.

The Bone Labyrinth, by James Rollins. In this new installment in his long-running Sigma Force series (if you're new to the series, consider starting with book 1, Sandstorm), Rollins takes us to humankind's next great leap, but whether that will be a leap forward or straight into our demise remains to be seen. And in the search for truth, Commander Gray Pierce of Sigma Force must look back 50,000 years into the past. As he and Sigma trace the evolution of human intelligence to its true source, they will be plunged into a cataclysmic battle for the future of humanity that stretches across the globe . . . and beyond. Rollins has a solid following--if you're not among them, you might want to reconsider. I recommend him to readers who like Dan Brown and Clive Cussler.

Tom Clancy Commander in Chief, by Mark Greaney. Clancy fans have spoken, and the consensus is that Greaney is doing an admirable job with Tom Clancy's (1947-2013) Jack Ryan series. Here, only one man recognizes an ominous pattern in the reports of terror from around the globe. U.S. President Jack Ryan sees a guiding hand in a rash of worldwide chaos, but before he can act he needs proof. While his intelligence agencies race to uncover the truth behind the global attacks, the President struggles to unite a fractious and distrustful coalition of Western nations against the schemes of a Russian dictator. If you're missing Clancy but haven't given Greaney a try, what are you waiting for?