Quick Review: THE MAN BETWEEN by Charles Cumming (Harper Collins)

CummingC-ManBetweenUKA spy novelist finds himself recruited into the world of espionage…

He risked it all to become a spy. Now he must pay the price.

One simple task for British Intelligence takes him into a world of danger.

Successful novelist Kit Carradine has grown restless. So when British Intelligence invites him to enter the secret world of espionage, he willingly takes a leap into the unknown.

But the glamour of being a spy is soon tainted by fear and betrayal, as Carradine finds himself in Morocco on the trail of Lara Bartok a mysterious fugitive with links to international terrorism.

Bartok is a leading figure in Resurrection, a violent revolutionary movement whose brutal attacks on prominent right-wing politicians have spread hatred and violence throughout the West.

As the coils of a ruthless plot tighten around him, Carradine finds himself drawn to Lara. Caught between competing intelligence services who want her dead, he soon faces an awful choice: to abandon Lara to her fate or to risk everything trying to save her.

Charles Cumming is one of my favourite thriller authors. It’s becoming almost cliché to compare him to le Carré, but he remains the best comparator. Cumming writes intelligent, engaging and interesting espionage thrillers. In his latest novel — The Man Between in the UK, and The Moroccan Girl in North America — he takes a premise that is very interesting and possibly something many thriller authors think/fantasize about frequently: what if an author of the genre was recruited by a secret service to aid them in an investigation? I really enjoyed this novel. Continue reading

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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

Upcoming: AMERICAN HEROIN by Melissa Scrivner Love (Crown)

LoveMS-LV2-AmericanHeroinUSHCMelissa Scrivner Love‘s debut novel, Lola, marked the critically-acclaimed beginning of a new voice in crime fiction, not to mention the introduction of an interesting new protagonist: Lola Vasquez, the leader of a drug gang in Los Angeles. Early next year, Lola returns in American Heroin, which sounds really good:

The unforgettable protagonist of Lola returns in a gritty, high-octane thriller about a brilliant woman who will stop at nothing to protect her growing drug empire, even if she has to go to war with a rival cartel… or her own family

It took sacrifice, pain, and more than a few dead bodies, but Lola has clawed her way to the top of her South Central Los Angeles neighborhood. Her gang has grown beyond a few trusted soldiers into a full-fledged empire, and the influx of cash has opened up a world that she has never known–one where her daughter can attend a good school, where her mother can live in safety, and where Lola can finally dream of a better life. But with great opportunity comes great risk, and as Lola ascends the hierarchy of the city’s underworld she attracts the attention of a dangerous new cartel who sees her as their greatest obstacle to dominance. Soon Lola finds herself sucked into a deadly all-out drug war that threatens to destroy everything she’s built.

But even as Lola readies to go to war, she learns that the greatest threat may not be a rival drug lord but a danger far closer to home: her own brother.

Edgy, complex, and breathtakingly propulsive, Melissa Scrivner Love has crafted a novel sure to please not only those who loved her first book but everyone who enjoys a gripping thriller.

American Heroin is due to be published in North America by Crown Publishing in February 2019, and Point Blank in the UK in March 2019. Lola is out now in paperback, published by Broadway Books in North America and Point Blank in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: THE MANSION by Ezekiel Boone (Atria/Emily Bestler)

BooneE-MansionUSThis December, Atria/Emily Bestler Books is due to published Ezekiel Boone‘s latest novel, The Mansion. I’ve only read the first novel in Boone’s Hatching trilogy (which was very good — so I’m not sure why I haven’t moved quicker on reading the other two, which I also have).

A family moves into a home equipped with the world’s most intelligent, cutting-edge, and intuitive computer ever — but a buried secret leads to terrifying and catastrophic consequences…

After two years of living on cheap beer and little else in a bitterly cold tiny cabin outside an abandoned, crumbling mansion, young programmers Shawn Eagle and Billy Stafford have created something that could make them rich: a revolutionary computer they name Eagle Logic.

But the hard work and escalating tension have not been kind to their once solid friendship — Shawn’s girlfriend Emily has left him for Billy, and a third partner has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. While Billy walks away with Emily, Shawn takes Eagle Logic, which he uses to build a multi-billion-dollar company that eventually outshines Apple, Google, and Microsoft combined.

Years later, Billy is a failure, beset by poverty and addiction, and Shawn is the most famous man in the world. Unable to let the past be forgotten, Shawn decides to resurrect his and Billy’s biggest failure: a next-generation computer program named Nellie that can control a house’s every function. He decides to set it up in the abandoned mansion they worked near all those years ago. But something about Nellie isn’t right — and the reconstruction of the mansion is plagued by accidental deaths. Shawn is forced to bring Billy back, despite their longstanding mutual hatred, to discover and destroy the evil that lurks in the source code.

This sounds like it has the potential to be deliciously techno-creepy. I’m really looking forward to reading it. In the meantime, I’ll have to get caught up on the second and third books in the Hatching trilogy…

The Mansion is due to be published by Atria/Emily Bestler Books on December 4th in the US. I could only find a listing for an imported edition for the UK, but a proper UK edition may still be in the works.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: WHITE PEAK by Ronan Frost (St. Martin’s Press)

FrostR-WhitePeakUSI was browsing through a Macmillan catalogue, when I stumbled across this title. I rather like the cover, even though it’s not the most eye-catching. Then I saw the tag, “A new adventure book in the tradition of Matthew Reilly and James Rollins”. Well, I like both Reilly and Rollins (I’m a sucker for action-adventure fiction), so I read the rest of the synopsis. It sounds pretty interesting:

Greg Rask, a dying tech billionaire, has invested millions chasing miracle cures. None of them are worth a damn, but he refuses to give up. Now, he’s gathering a team willing to go to the ends of the earth chasing life.

Each of Rask’s crew has beaten incredible odds to rise from the ashes of their old lives to where they are now. Together, their next task is to retrieve a painting that is believed to hide a map which, if genuine, marks it as a treasure of the Ahnenerbe, the occult wing of the SS, who had devoted dozens of expeditions in search of the three cintamani stones for their combined properties, and the lost city where they were rumored to lay hidden: Shambhala. But a mystical brotherhood sworn to protect the secrets of the ancients — the same secrets that allow its members to defy death — will stop at nothing to ensure that Rask’s crew fail.

In an adrenalin-pumping quest through some of the most savage terrains known to man, the crew will be pushed to the limits of endurance and beyond.

Ronan Frost‘s White Peak is due to be published by St. Martin’s Press on April 9th, 2019, and will be available in the UK. I’m really looking forward to giving it a try.

Follow the Author: Goodreads

Upcoming: DRAGON HEART by Peter Higgins (Gollancz)

HigginsP-DragonHeartUKI haven’t read as much of Peter Higgins‘s work as I would like. I really enjoyed his debut, Wolfhound Century, though, and have always meant to read more of his work (so many books, so little time…). Gollancz recently unveiled the cover for the author’s next novel: Dragon Heart. A novel “[f]or readers of Cormac McCarthy and Justin Cronin”, it is pitched as “the story of one family’s battle for survival in a world where evil has already won”. Here’s the synopsis:

As they fight their way across a dying land, Shay and Cass will do anything to keep their daughter, Hope, alive. The family faces unimaginable dangers as they try to stay together, and stay alive, long enough to reach safety. But when the heart of a dragon starts to beat in Hope’s chest, they fear they’ll lose her to a battle they can’t possibly help her win…

Dragon Heart is due to be published by Gollancz in early January 2019.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Books on Film: THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB by

It’s been quite some time since the excellent The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo movie, starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara. This November, the long-awaited next instalment in the movie series, The Girl in the Spider’s Web will arrive in theatres. This time, though, there’s a new cast (perhaps Craig and Mara were too expensive by this point, or at least maybe their schedules just couldn’t work). This time, Claire Foy (The Crown) picks up the leathers and knives of Lisbeth Salander, and Sverrir Gudnason plays Mikael Blomkvist. The movie also stars Stephen Merchant, Sylvia Hoeks, and Lakeith Stanfield.

LarssonLagercrantz-M4-GirlInTheSpidersWebUKBased on the fourth novel in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series, written by David Lagercrantz, here’s the synopsis:

Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist have not been in touch for some time.

Then Blomkvist is contacted by renowned Swedish scientist Professor Balder. Warned that his life is in danger, but more concerned for his son’s well-being, Balder wants Millennium to publish his story — and it is a terrifying one.

More interesting to Blomkvist than Balder’s world-leading advances in Artificial Intelligence, is his connection with a certain female superhacker.

It seems that Salander, like Balder, is a target of ruthless cyber gangsters – and a violent criminal conspiracy that will very soon bring terror to the snowbound streets of Stockholm, to the Millennium team, and to Blomkvist and Salander themselves.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web is published in the UK by Quercus, and in North America by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard.