Upcoming: WHILE JUSTICE SLEEPS by Stacey Abrams (Doubleday/Harper Collins UK)

AbramsS-WhileJusticeSleepsUSBest known as one of the most charismatic, capable, and compelling American politicians of the day, Stacey Abrams is also an author of fiction, and has been for quite some time. I haven’t had a chance to read any of her novels, yet, but While Justice Sleeps — due out later this year — looks very interesting. I’m really looking forward to reading this one:

Avery Keene, a brilliant young law clerk for the legendary Justice Howard Wynn, is doing her best to hold her life together — excelling in an arduous job with the court while also dealing with a troubled family. When the shocking news breaks that Justice Wynn — the cantankerous swing vote on many current high-profile cases — has slipped into a coma, Avery’s life turns upside down. She is immediately notified that Justice Wynn has left instructions for her to serve as his legal guardian and power of attorney. Plunged into an explosive role she never anticipated, Avery finds that Justice Wynn had been secretly researching one of the most controversial cases before the court — a proposed merger between an American biotech company and an Indian genetics firm, which promises to unleash breathtaking results in the medical field. She also discovers that Wynn suspected a dangerously related conspiracy that infiltrates the highest power corridors of Washington.

AbramsS-WhileJusticeSleepsUKAs political wrangling ensues in Washington to potentially replace the ailing judge whose life and survival Avery controls, she begins to unravel a carefully constructed, chesslike sequence of clues left behind by Wynn. She comes to see that Wynn had a much more personal stake in the controversial case and realizes his complex puzzle will lead her directly into harm’s way in order to find the truth. While Justice Sleeps is a cunningly crafted, sophisticated novel, layered with myriad twists and a vibrant cast of characters. Drawing on her astute inside knowledge of the court and political landscape, Stacey Abrams shows herself to be not only a force for good in politics and voter fairness but also a major new talent in suspense fiction.

Stacey Abrams’s While Justice Sleeps is due to be published by Doubleday in the US and Canada (May 11th), and Harper Collins in the UK (May 27th).

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Upcoming: NOTHING BUT BLACKENED TEETH by Cassandra Khaw (Tor Nightfire)

Nothing But Blackened 4c.inddCassandra Khaw is going to have a pretty busy 2021, it seems. In addition to the print/eBook edition of Walk Among Us, and The All-Consuming World, the author’s creepy-looking Nothing But Blackened Teeth will also arrive just in time for Halloween. The awesome cover was unveiled earlier today, and it certainly looks like the perfect novel to read (with the lights on):

A gorgeously creepy haunted house tale, steeped in Japanese folklore and full of devastating twists

A Heian-era mansion stands abandoned, its foundations resting on the bones of a bride and its walls packed with the remains of the girls sacrificed to keep her company.

It’s the perfect wedding venue for a group of thrill-seeking friends.

But a night of food, drinks, and games quickly spirals into a nightmare. For lurking in the shadows is the ghost bride with a black smile and a hungry heart.

And she gets lonely down there in the dirt.

Cassandra Khaw’s Nothing But Blackened Teeth is due to be published by Tor Nightfire in North America and in the UK, on October 19th, 2021.

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Very Quick Review: THE LAW OF INNOCENCE by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown/Orion)

ConnellyM-MH7-LawOfInnocenceUSMickey Haller, murderer?

On the night he celebrates a big win, defense attorney Mickey Haller is pulled over by police, who find the body of a former client in the trunk of his Lincoln. Haller is immediately charged with murder but can’t post the exorbitant $5 million bail slapped on him by a vindictive judge.

Mickey elects to represent himself and is forced to mount his defense from his jail cell in the Twin Towers Correctional Center in downtown Los Angeles. All the while he needs to look over his shoulder — as an officer of the court he is an instant target, and he makes few friends when he reveals a corruption plot within the jail.

But the bigger plot is the one against him. Haller knows he’s been framed, whether by a new enemy or an old one. As his trusted team, including his half-brother, Harry Bosch, investigates, Haller must use all his skills in the courtroom to counter the damning evidence against him.

Even if he can obtain a not-guilty verdict, Mickey understands that it won’t be enough. In order to be truly exonerated, he must find out who really committed the murder and why. That is the law of innocence.

Just wanted to post a very quick review of Michael Connelly’s latest thriller. I read it in two late-night sittings, on tenterhooks: I just had to know how Mickey Haller was going to get himself out of his latest predicament. If you’re a fan of Connelly’s novels, then you’ll no doubt have already picked up/read this one. If you still haven’t given Connelly’s thrillers a try, then I can’t recommend them highly enough. Gripping, well-paced, and another excellent read, The Law of Innocence did not disappoint. Continue reading

Upcoming: ISLAND REICH by Jack Grimwood (Michael Joseph)

GrimwoodJ-IslandReichUKI’ve been a fan of Jack Grimwood‘s writing for some time. I enjoyed his  Assassini series (an atmospheric horror/vampire trilogy), and was intrigued when he decided to move into historical thrillers. His first Cold War thriller/mystery, Moskva was great, and introduced readers to Tom Fox (who also appears in Nightfall Berlin). This year, Penguin are due to publish a new stand-alone World War II mystery, Island Reich, which also sounds really interesting:

An unlikely spy.

July 1940. As Britain braces itself for invasion, ex-Tommy and safecracker Bill O’Hagan is glad to have escaped the battlefield. But when a job goes wrong, he finds himself forced to serve his country once more.

A former king.

Spurned by his government and fearing for his life, the Duke of Windsor flees to Portugal with the woman for whom he abdicated the throne, Wallis Simpson. As a web of Nazi trickery threatens to ensnare him, his fate and the fate of Britain rest on one man.

The fate of a nation in their hands.

Dropped on an occupied Channel Island without backup, Bill must crack an enemy safe and get its contents to safety. Failure will devastate any hope Britain has of winning the war.

But with the layers of deception and intrigue drawing ever more tightly around them, Bill and the Duke both learn they aren’t the only players in this game. And Berlin – which has the Duke in its own sights — is plotting its greatest move yet…

Jack Grimwood’s Island Reich is due to be published by Penguin in the UK, on May 27th, 2021. (Couldn’t find any information about a North American release, at the time of writing.)

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Quick Review: THE TWO LOST MOUNTAINS by Matthew Reilly (Orion)

ReillyM-JW6-TwoLostMountainsUKHCThe penultimate novel in the action-packed Jack West, Jr., series.

AN INCREDIBLE VICTORY AT A TERRIBLE PRICE

Against all the odds, Jack West Jr found the Three Secret Cities – but at a heartbreaking cost.

TO THE MOUNTAINS AND THE FALL

Still reeling from his loss, Jack must now get to one of the five iron mountains – two of which have never been found – and perform a mysterious feat known only as ‘The Fall’.

A NEW PLAYER ARRIVES

Amid all this, Jack will discover that a new player has entered the race, a general so feared by the four legendary kingdoms they had him locked away in their deepest dungeon.

Only now this general has escaped and he has a horrifying plan of his own…

I’ve been reading Reilly’s Jack West Jr. series since the paperback release of Seven Ancient Wonders, which I think I picked up on a whim (from WH Smiths, if I recall correctly). It introduced a host of fun new characters, and offered an action-packed thrill-ride. A blockbuster movie on the page, filled with secret history, insane action scenes, some fun technology, and superb pacing. Each of the series novels since (the titles have been counting down) has offered much the same level of entertainment and action, building nicely on the mythology of its particular secret history. The Two Lost Mountains is another fast-paced novel, which sets up the final book very nicely. Continue reading

Upcoming: THE THOUSAND CRIMES OF MING TSU by Tom Lin (Little, Brown)

LinT-ThousandCrimesOfMingTsuUSThe Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu by Tom Lin is described as a blend of the “violent ardor of Cormac McCarthy” and the “otherworldly inventiveness of Ted Chiang”. In an early blurb, Jonathan Lethem name-checks a number of comparators, including the Coen Brothers and Ray Bradbury. An intriguing mix. The novel is “a thriller, a romance, and a story of one man’s quest for redemption in the face of a distinctly American brutality”. Quite looking forward to giving this a try. Here’s the full synopsis:

An astounding debut that reimagines the classic Western through the eyes of a Chinese American assassin on a quest to rescue his kidnapped wife and exact his revenge on her abductors

Orphaned as a boy, Ming Tsu, the son of Chinese immigrants, is raised by the notorious leader of a California crime syndicate, who trains him to be his deadly enforcer. But when Ming falls in love with Ada, the daughter of a powerful railroad magnate, and the two elope, he seizes the opportunity to escape to a different life. Soon after, in a violent raid, the tycoon’s henchmen kidnap Ada and conscript Ming into service for the Union Pacific Railroad.

Battered, heartbroken, and yet defiant, Ming partners with a clairvoyant old man known only as the Prophet. Together the two set out to rescue his wife and to exact revenge on the men who destroyed him, aided by a troupe of magic-show performers, some with supernatural powers, whom they meet on the journey. Ming fights his way across the West, settling old scores with a single-minded devotion that culminates in an explosive and unexpected finale.

Tom Lin’s The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu is due to be published by Little, Brown in North America and in the UK, on June 1st, 2021.

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Upcoming: ASCENSION by Oliver Harris (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Little, Brown)

HarrisO-2-AscensionUSA couple of years ago, Oliver Harris introduced readers to his new protagonist, British spy Elliot Kane, in A Shadow Intelligence. This year, Kane returns in Ascension, which sees the agent pulled into a mystery surrounding the death of a close friend. Here’s the synopsis:

British spy Elliot Kane is forced out of semi-retirement to investigate a colleague’s suspicious death on Ascension Island, a remote and rocky outpost of the British military in the middle of the Atlantic.

Despite uncovering a deep plot to incite a new world war, Elliot Kane has been on probation with the service since his misadventures in Kazakhstan. Having taken up a job teaching college literature and linguistics, he surprisingly enjoys living a conventional life and wonders if he would even go back to spycraft. Then a colleague from an ages-ago mission reaches out with a request. One of her tech specialists was on a long-term mission, in deep cover, but has suddenly killed himself. The agency is afraid to finish this vital mission without knowing what prompted this seemingly healthy man to take his own life. The carrot in this offer is helping his old friend; the stick is a worse punishment from the Agency if he doesn’t comply. So Elliott poses as an academic researcher and heads to one of the most remote places on the planet, Ascension Island. 

Arriving on a rocky, barely livable island located in the Atlantic Ocean, halfway between Brazil and Angola, Kane is unsure whom to trust and why this lonely outpost is so important to the British military… until he uncovers dangerous secrets that lead straight back to London’s highest offices.

Oliver Harris’s Ascension is due to be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in North America (July 13th) and Little, Brown in the UK (July 1st).

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Upcoming: THE NINTH METAL by Benjamin Percy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Hodder)

PercyB-CC1-NinthMetalIn June, readers will be able to enjoy a new novel by Benjamin Percy: The Ninth Metal is the first novel in the Comet Cycle series. I’m a big fan of Percy’s fiction, non-fiction, and comics, so this was always going to be on my most-anticipated list for 2021. Here’s the synopsis:

An explosive, breakout speculative thriller in which a powerful new metal arrives on Earth in the wake of a meteor shower, triggering a massive new “gold rush” in the Midwest and turning life as we know it on its head. The first of a cycle of novels set in a shared universe.

It began with a comet. When it came into view on a close pass by Earth, people took off work, gathering on sidewalks and in parking lots to watch it burn by. One year later, Earth spun into the debris field the comet left behind. The worldwide effects of the meteor shower are yet to be known, but in the first book of the Comet Cycle, Minnesota seemed to bear the brunt of the damage: meteors annihilated barns and silos, cratered pastures and hardwood forests, tore up county highways, and evaporated one small town in an instant.

At first, it is a colossal disaster. Until the people of Minnesota notice deposits of unusual metal in the comet’s debris. Not gold, silver, copper, tin, iron or any of the noble metals, it’s a previously unknown ninth metal: omnimetal. With high-density charging capabilities and conductive properties that can change the world as an energy source, the deposit might be the best thing that ever happened to the northern section of the state, where the economy has been dying for a long time. Or it might be the worst.

It is then that the “gold rush” begins. Farmers sell their metal-rich land for millions. Comet-worshipping cults set up compounds and repeat the phrase “Metal is” as their mantra. Roughnecks flood the town, hungry for work and trouble. Prostitutes flourish. Businesses rise. Families are divided. Saudis bid against the Chinese on land grabs. Bodies lie in shallow graves. As witnessed when oil was discovered in the Bakken Formation of North Dakota, the heartland in our story goes from the middle of nowhere to the center of everything. And one family — the Frontiers — hopes to control it all.

Benjamin Percy’s The Ninth Metal is due to be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in North America (June 1st) and Hodder in the UK (June 10th). The second novel in the series — The Unfamiliar Garden — is due out in January 2022.

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Upcoming: ROVERS by Richard Lange (Mulholland Books)

LangeR-RoversUSA few years back, I stumbled across Dead Boys, a short story collection by Richard Lange. I loved the way he wrote, and how he created and constructed characters, and he became an author I always kept an eye open for. Since then, he’s published a handful of interesting, gripping novels of crime fiction, including the LA noir The Smack. In 2021, he’s taking a swerve into horror/fantasy territory with Rovers, which I’m really looking forward to reading:

Two immortal brothers crisscross the American Southwest to elude a murderous biker gang and protect a young woman in this tautly paced thriller…

Summer, 1976. Jesse and his brother, Edgar, are on the road in search of victims. They’re rovers, nearly indestructible nocturnal beings who must consume human blood in order to survive. For seventy years they’ve lurked on the fringes of society, roaming from town to town, dingy motel to dingy motel, stalking the transients, addicts, and prostitutes they feed on.

This hard-boiled supernatural hell-ride kicks off when the brothers encounter a young woman who disrupts their grim routine, forcing Jesse to confront his past and plunging his present into deadly chaos as he finds himself scrambling to save her life. The story plays out through the eyes of the brothers, a grieving father searching for his son’s murderer, and a violent gang of rover bikers, coming to a shattering conclusion in Las Vegas on the eve of America’s bicentennial.

Richard Lange’s Rovers is due to be published by Mulholland Books in North America and in the UK, on July 27th, 2021.

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Upcoming: CITY ON THE EDGE by David Swinson (Mulholland)

SwinsonD-CityOnTheEdgeUSDavid Swinson is at the author of the superb Frank Marr trilogy, set in Washington, DC — if you’re looking for a great crime story, starring a complicated cop protagonist, then I highly recommend you pick up The Second Girl.

For his highly-anticipated next novel, City on the Edge, he takes readers to Beirut, and introduces us to a new protagonist. Here’s the synopsis:

In the wake of a baffling tragedy, 13-year-old Graham moves with his family to Beirut, Lebanon, a city on the edge of the sea and cataclysmic violence. Inquisitive and restless by nature, Graham suspects his State Department father is a CIA operative, and that their family’s fragile domesticity is merely a front for American efforts along the nearby Israeli border. Over the course of one year, 1974, Graham’s life will utterly change. Two men are murdered, his parent’s marriage disintegrates, and Graham, along with his two ex-pat friends, run afoul of forces they cannot understand.

THE CITY ON THE EDGE is elegiac, atmospheric, and utterly authentic. It’s the story of innocents caught within the American net of espionage, of the Lebanese transformed by such interference, of the children who ran dangerously beside the churning wheel of history. One part Stephen King’s “The Body” and another John le Carre’s A Perfect Spy, it’s a transformative crime story told with heart and genuine experience.

David Swinson’s City on the Edge is due to be published by Mulholland Books in North America and in the UK, on May 25th, 2021.

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