Guest Post: “The Final Chapter of the Bowers Files” by Steven James

JamesS-BF11-EveryWickedManUSIt was 2005 and I was a frustrated wannabe novelist.

I’d been wanting to write a thriller for years, but every time I started one, I found that my story wasn’t as fresh and original as I needed it to be. I was about ready to give up.

Then one day, while researching investigative techniques, I stumbled across an article about geospatial investigation, a little known, cutting-edge way of analyzing the timing, location, and progression of serial crimes that the FBI was starting to use.

It was unique, different, and perfect for my story. Everything began to click and FBI Special Agent Patrick Bowers was born.

The Pawn released in 2007 and my life would never be the same again.

Since each book takes me around a year to research and write, chronicling Patrick’s adventures and cases has been a labor of love for more than a decade.

And now, with the release of the eleventh and final book, Every Wicked Man, the long-running series is coming to an end and it’s come time to say goodbye to my old friend. Continue reading

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Upcoming: LAST NIGHT by Karen Ellis (Mulholland)

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In January 2019, Mulholland Books are due to published Last Night, the second novel in Karen Ellis‘s Searchers crime series. I enjoyed the first novel in the series, A Map of the Dark, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the character(s) develop in this second outing. Here’s the synopsis:

NYPD detective Lex Cole tracks a missing Brooklyn teen whose bright future is endangered by the ghosts of his unknown father’s past…

One of the few black kids on his Brighton Beach block, Titus “Crisp” Crespo was raised by his white mother and his Russian grandparents. He has two legacies from his absent father, Mo: his weird name and his brown skin. Crisp has always been the odd kid out, but a fundamentally good kid, with a bright future.

But one impulsive decision triggers a horrible domino effect — an arrest, no reason not to accompany his richer, whiter friend Glynnie on a visit to her weed dealer, and a trip onto his father’s old home turf where he’ll face certain choices he’s always strived to avoid.

As Detective Lex Cole tries to unravel the clues from Crisp’s night out, they both find that what you don’t know about your past can still come back to haunt you.

Last Night is due to be published by Mulholland Books in North America and in the UK, in January 2019.

Also on CR: Review of A Map of the Dark

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Quick Review: A MAP OF THE DARK by Karen Ellis (Mulholland)

EllisK-1-AMapOfTheDarkThe first novel in the Searchers series

A girl missing

A woman, searching

A killer, planning…

If you’re lost she’ll find you

But who will save her?

Elsa Myers is smart, determined, and gifted with an extraordinary ability to find missing children. When vulnerable teenager Ruby disappears from Queens, she is put on the case.

But Elsa’s skills are rooted in her own troubled past. She is haunted by her mother’s murder, her father is dying, and her relationship with her sister is crumbling. As the case begins to look hopeless, it becomes more and more personal, tangling with the traumatic history she has worked so hard to hide.

As the darkness gathers around her, Elsa has to make a choice: can she save Ruby, if it means losing herself?

A Map of the Dark is the first in an interesting new series from Karen Ellis that introduces us to Elsa Myers, an FBI agent struggling with her own inner demons. While this is a novel far more about the protagonist than it is the crime she and her colleagues are investigating, I enjoyed the novel, and I think the series has promise. Continue reading

Quick Review: AFTERLIFE by Marcus Sakey (Thomas & Mercer)

SakeyM-AfterlifeAn intriguing, cinematic action thriller

Between life and death lies an epic war, a relentless manhunt through two worlds… and an unforgettable love story.

The last thing FBI agent Will Brody remembers is the explosion — a thousand shards of glass surfing a lethal shock wave.

He wakes without a scratch.

The building is in ruins. His team is gone. Outside, Chicago is dark. Cars lie abandoned. No planes cross the sky. He’s relieved to spot other people — until he sees they’re carrying machetes.

Welcome to the afterlife.

Claire McCoy stands over the body of Will Brody. As head of an FBI task force, she hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep in weeks. A terrorist has claimed eighteen lives and thrown the nation into panic.

Against this horror, something reckless and beautiful happened. She fell in love… with Will Brody.

But the line between life and death is narrower than any of us suspect — and all that matters to Will and Claire is getting back to each other.

I’ve been aware of Marcus Sakey’s work for many years, and have faithfully bought a fair number of his novels. For some strange reason, though, I keep forgetting I have them on my Kindle… I started to see many thriller authors whose work I very much enjoy sharing praise for Afterlife not so long ago, so I snapped it up and started reading right away. I was certainly an entertaining read. Continue reading

Quick Review: NIGHTSHADE by Melissa F. Olson (Tor.com)

OlsonMF-NightshadesThe beginning of an intriguing new urban fantasy series…?

Alex McKenna is the new Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago office of the Bureau of Paranormal Investigations — the division tasked with investigating crimes involving shades.

Or vampires, as they’re more widely known.

Children have been going missing, and agents are routinely being slaughtered. It’s up to McKenna, and some unlikely allies, to get to the bottom of the problem, and find the kids before it’s too late.

This is another interesting novella from Tor.com. Olson takes an interesting, newish look at vampire mythology and places them into the global spotlight. I enjoyed this quite a bit.

Vampires have only recently been revealed to a still-skeptical world, and the FBI is trying to get a handle on what they mean for law enforcement, and what they should do about them — they are, after all, far more powerful and dangerous than any other criminal the Feebies are used to tackling. The characters are well-drawn, for the most part, echoing classic types found in urban fantasy and crime/mystery thrillers. There were a few moments of info-dumping or “Now, pay attention, this is important Exposition”, and one instance of slightly-cheesy action-movie partner-bro telegraphing, but generally speaking this is a well-written, tightly told story.

Nightshades offers a good, fast-paced, sometimes creepy (the chase in the field at night!) introduction to this reality, with plenty of potential for expansion. (Something I’d be all for — I finished this definitely thinking, “More, please.”) Certainly recommended for anyone looking for a cool new urban fantasy/mystery.

*

Nightshades is due to be published by Tor.com on July 19th, 2016.

Upcoming: RED RIGHT HAND by Chris Holm (Mulholland)

HolmC-2-RedRightHandUSThe sequel to The Killing Kind (a novel that has escaped the top of my TBR mountain so far, but is rapidly speeding to the top), Chris Holm‘s Red Right Hand is due out in September 2016. It’ll be published by Mulholland Books. Here’s the synopsis:

If the good guys can’t save you, call a bad guy.

When viral video of a terrorist attack in San Francisco reveals that a Federal witness long thought dead is still alive, the organization he’d agreed to testify against will stop at nothing to put him in the ground.

Special Agent Charlie Thompson is determined to protect him, but her hands are tied; the FBI’s sole priority is catching the terrorists before they strike again. So Charlie calls the only person on the planet who can keep her witness safe: Michael Hendricks.

Once a covert operative for the US military, Hendricks makes his living hitting hitmen… or he did, until the very organization hunting Charlie’s witness — the Council — caught wind and targeted the people he loves. Now Hendricks is determined to take the Council down, even if that means wading into the center of a terror plot whose perpetrators are not what they seem.

For more, be sure to check out the author’s website, and follow him on Twitter and Goodreads.

Review: CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE & THE KILL FEE by Owen Laukkanen (Corvus)

Two more excellent Stevens & Windermere cases

LaukkanenO-S&W2-CriminalEnterprise

CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE

From the outside, Carter Tomlin’s life looks perfect: a big house, a pretty wife, two kids — a St. Paul success story. But Tomlin has a secret. He’s lost his job, the bills are mounting, and that perfect life is hanging by a thread. Desperate, he robs a bank. Then he robs another.

As the red flags start to go up, FBI Special Agent Carla Windermere hones in on Tomlin from one direction, while Minnesota state investigator Kirk Stevens picks up the trail from another. The two cops haven’t talked since their first case together, but that’s all going to change very quickly. Because Carter Tomlin’s decided he likes robbing banks. And it’s not because of the money, not anymore. Tomlin has guns and a new taste for violence. And he’s not quitting anytime soon…

In the second novel in Laukkanen’s excellent Stevens & Windermere series, the financial crisis drives a successful accountant to walk on the darkside. Unfortunately, it awakens a side of himself that had hitherto been hidden. When desperation drives Tomlin to start robbing banks, his taste for crime leads his exploits into deadly escalate. Into the mix, FBI Special Agent Windermere is assigned to the bank robberies, which eventually brings her back in touch with BCA investigator Stevens. The two haven’t been in contact since the events of The Professionals, and their relationship remains somewhat strange and comfortable-and-uncomfortable at the same time. It’s a fast-paced novel, as Tomlin spirals out of control, and Stevens (and, ultimately, his family) gets roped into the case. I enjoyed this as much as the first novel. Highly recommended.

LaukkanenO-S&W3-KillFee

THE KILL FEE

In Saint Paul, Minnesota state investigator Kirk Stevens and his sometime colleague FBI special agent Carla Windermere witness the assassination of a local billionaire. The shooter flees the scene, but not before the pair see his face — and the blank expression in his eyes. Stevens and Windermere investigate and are led across the country, down dead ends and into long-forgotten cold cases, until they finally discover a chilling clue: a high tech murder-for-hire website. It’s a break in the case but only the beginning. Who is the dead-eyed shooter? Who recruits the assassins? And who profits from the fee? It is a race against the clock, and the killer has his next target in sight…

In this third novel, Laukkanen seems to be stretching his authorial-wings, in less of a rush to tell his story. This is no bad thing, but I certainly noted the less-breakneck pacing. It’s an interesting novel, and just as good, too. Stevens and Windermere have been keeping in touch, maintaining a friendship, and it is on one of their coffee dates that they witness a professional hit go down in St. Paul. They follow the killer as he flees the scene, but there’s something off about him — beyond the fact that he’s a killer,of course. Windermere and Stevens are tasked with uncovering the identity and motive of the killer. As more deaths pile up, though, they realise that there’s something far more sinister going on. The novel is an interesting look at manipulation and the depravations of PTSD. As it turns out, the novels main villain is not the killer, but someone far worse. A slower novel, but no less gripping as a result. Another great novel in what is fast becoming a favourite. Highly recommended.

*

Criminal Enterprise and The Kill Fee are published in the UK by Corvus Books; in the US the series is published by Berkley. The fourth novel, The Stolen Ones, is out now. The fifth novel, The Watcher in the Wall is out in March 2016.