I love surprises. Wait. I should qualify that. I love books and authors that surprise me in good ways*. (Surprise parties are right out, okay?) And the best surprise I've had between the covers of a book lately is Rage Against the Dying, by new author Becky Masterman. From the first sentence, retired FBI agent Brigid Quinn is unlike any other thriller protagonist you've ever met. Long trained during years of undercover work to keep secrets and amend truth, Quinn is very honest about just how untrustworthy she is and how much she appreciates people who don't ask questions about who she was and what she's done.
As Quinn tries to settle down in Tucson with her new husband Carlo and his dogs, she begins to adopt her "housewife" persona. That's all thrown to the wind, however, when the biggest unsolved case of her career, a long-cold series of murders by an unknown serial killer only known as the Route-66 Killer, rears its ugly head. The FBI has a suspect, Floyd Lynch, and a confession. But while Lynch knows lots of unpublicized details about the crimes, including the resting place of the last known victim, Quinn's former protegee Jessica, he seems to have a few holes in his story. Those holes are picked up by current field agent assigned to the case, Laura Coleman, who thinks Lynch's confession is bogus and that he's not the real killer. And while Quinn desperately wants closure on this case, she realizes that she wants retribution more than an easy win, more than she thought she would.
This is, by far, one of the most suspenseful, unique voices in the thriller genre today. If you're looking for a fresh voice and a tensely plotted story, this is absolutely it.
*Bad surprises in books include unexplained character changes mid-plot, endings that make no sense, unexpected "whodunit" turns out to be no one the reader has met, and sudden cliche pile-ups, among others.