Review: NEED TO KNOW by Karen Cleveland (Ballantine / Doubleday / Bantam)

ClevelandK-NeedToKnowUSA fast-paced, gripping spy thriller

In pursuit of a Russian sleeper cell on American soil, CIA analyst Vivian Miller uncovers a dangerous secret that will threaten her job, her family — and her life. On track for a much-needed promotion, she’s developed a system for identifying Russian agents, seemingly normal people living in plain sight.

After accessing the computer of a potential Russian operative, Vivian stumbles on a secret dossier of deep-cover agents within America’s borders. A few clicks later, everything that matters to her — her job, her husband, even her four children — is threatened.‎

Vivian has vowed to defend her country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. But now she’s facing impossible choices. Torn between loyalty and betrayal, allegiance and treason, love and suspicion, who can she trust?

This novel received a lot of pre-publication buzz. Russian sleeper cells infiltrating the CIA; movie rights sold to Universal Pictures, with Charlize Theron attached; and lots of praise from other thriller and mystery authors. All of this during a political environment characterized (in part) by Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. So, with expectations high, I’m glad to report that Need to Know exceeded my hopes. A gripping novel that I devoured in two sittings. Continue reading


Upcoming: MISSING PERSON by Sarah Lotz (Mulholland/Hodder)

LotsS-MissingPersonUSA new novel by Sarah Lotz! Unfortunately, it’s still pretty far away: Missing Person is due out in April 2019… Nevertheless, I spotted it in the Mulholland Books catalogue, and decided to feature it on the site. It is also due out in the UK, to be published by Hodder in March 2019.

Reclusive Irish bookseller Shaun Ryan has always believed that his older brother, Teddy, died in a car accident. It’s only on his mother’s deathbed that he learns the truth: Teddy, who was gay, fled the Catholic, deeply conservative County Wicklow for New York decades earlier. Shaun finds no sign of him in New York or anywhere else–until he comes across the unsolved murder of a John Doe whose description matches Teddy’s.

Desperate for information, Shaun tracks down Chris Guzman, a woman who runs a website dedicated to matching missing persons cases with unidentified bodies. Through Chris’s site, a group of online cold case fanatics connect Teddy with the notorious “Boy in the Dress” murder, believed to be one of many committed by a serial killer targeting gay men.

But who are these cold case fanatics, and how do they know so much about a case that left the police and the FBI stumped? With investigators, amateurs, and one sadistic killer on a collision course, Missing Person is Sarah Lotz at her most thrilling and terrifying.

Sarah Lotz is the author of a number of superb novels, including The Three (on sale in the UK at the time of writing), Day Four and The White Road. Lotz’s novels are published in the UK by Hodder.

Also on CR: Interview with Sarah Lotz (2014); Reviews of The Three and Day Four

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Excerpt: DAYFALL by Michael David Ares (Tor)

AresMD-DayfallToday, we have an excerpt from Michael David Ares‘s new novel, Dayfall. Published by Tor Books, here’s the synopsis…


In the near future, patches of the northern hemisphere have been shrouded in years of darkness from a nuclear winter, and the water level has risen in the North Atlantic. The island of Manhattan has lost its outer edges to flooding and is now ringed by a large seawall.

The darkness and isolation have allowed crime and sin to thrive in the never-ending shadows of the once great city, and when the sun finally begins to reappear, everything gets worse. A serial killer cuts a bloody swath across the city during the initial periods of daylight, and a violent panic sweeps through crowds on the streets. The Manhattan police, riddled with corruption and apathy, are at a loss.

That’s when the Mayor recruits Jon Phillips, a small-town Pennsylvania cop who had just single-handedly stopped a high-profile serial killer in his own area, and flies him into the insanity of this new New York City. The young detective is partnered with a shady older cop and begins to investigate the crimes amidst the vagaries of a twenty-four hour nightlife he has never experienced before. Soon realizing that he was chosen for reasons other than what he was told, Jon is left with no one to trust and forced to go on the run in the dark streets, and below them in the maze of the underground. Against all odds he still hopes that he can save his own life, the woman of his dreams, and maybe even the whole city before the arrival of the mysterious and dreaded event that has come to be known as… DAYFALL.

Read on for the excerpt…

Continue reading

Upcoming: MOTHERLAND by Lauren Beukes (Mulholland)

BeukesL-MotherlandUSI’m a big fan of Lauren Beukes‘s novels, so I was very excited to learn about her upcoming book, Motherland. Due to be published by Mulholland Books in April 2019 (so far away!), it sounds really interesting:

This is America, but not like you know it. Years after the decimation of the male population by a super-virus, the country has refashioned itself with new laws, new customs, and new methods of shame and punishment. Now, hiding a living and healthy male is one of the gravest offenses, rivaled only by the murder of a man. Cole is a mother on the run, guilty of both crimes, and desperate to find a safe life for her adolescent boy Miles.

As the two drift throughout the transformed states of the West, they hide Miles’ identity while evading a mysterious, powerful man bent on justice. From a commune in the Rockies to a high security laboratory in the redwoods of northern California, the two tensely negotiate an existence on the fringes of a new America.

Cole’s goal for her son and herself is escape, a family in South Africa, a slim chance at a better life. Mother and child see their chance, at last, in the wanderings and secret goals of a cult — if only Cole can keep Miles’ true self hidden, and as long as they can stay one step ahead of an ex-boyfriend from hell.

If you can’t wait that long, I’d highly recommend The Shining GirlsBroken Monsters and the graphic novel Survivors’ Club.

Also on CR: Reviews of The Shining Girls and Broken Monsters

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: RED WAR by Kyle Mills (Atria/Emily Bestler)

MillsFlynn-MR17-RedWarUSToday, Kyle Mills unveiled the cover to his next novel, Red War. The seventeenth novel in the Mitch Rapp series, originally created by Vince Flynn, it continues the story Mills began in The Survivor (the novel he finished following Flynn’s death), and continued in Order to Kill and Enemy of the State. Here’s the synopsis:

Mitch Rapp races to prevent Russia’s gravely ill leader from starting a full-scale war with NATO.

When Russian president Maxim Krupin discovers that he has inoperable brain cancer, he’s determined to cling to power. His first task is to kill or imprison any of his countrymen who can threaten him. Soon, though, his illness becomes serious enough to require a more dramatic diversion — war with the West.

Upon learning of Krupin’s condition, CIA director Irene Kennedy understands that the US is facing an opponent who has nothing to lose. The only way to avoid a confrontation that could leave millions dead is to send Mitch Rapp to Russia under impossibly dangerous orders. With the Kremlin’s entire security apparatus hunting him, he must find and kill a man many have deemed the most powerful in the world.

Success means averting a war that could consume all of Europe. But if his mission is discovered, Rapp will plunge Russia and America into a conflict that neither will survive.

The Mitch Rapp series is easily one of my favourite thriller series, so if you have any interest in action-packed espionage novels, then I would highly recommend it. Red War is due to be published in October 2018 by Atria/Emily Bestler in North America, and Simon & Schuster in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Excerpt: THE FINAL GIRLS by Riley Sager (Ebury)

SagerR-FinalGirlsUKRiley Sager‘s Final Girls has been racking up some impressive fans: Stephen King called it “the first great thriller of 2017”; Karin Slaughter called it “terrific”; Lisa Gardner called it “the best book of 2017”; and Whoopi Goldberg called it “Fantastic” — to name but a few. Today, I have an excerpt from the novel, to whet your appetite. But first, the synopsis:

Three girls. Three tragedies. One unthinkable secret.

The media calls them the Final Girls – Quincy, Sam, Lisa – the infamous group that no one wants to be part of. The sole survivors of three separate killing sprees, they are linked by their shared trauma.

But when Lisa dies in mysterious circumstances and Sam shows up unannounced on her doorstep, Quincy must admit that she doesn’t really know anything about the other Final Girls. Can she trust them? Or can there only ever be one?

All Quincy knows is one thing: she is next.

Final Girls is out now, published by Ebury in the UK, and Dutton in the US.

Continue reading


SweterlitschT-AuthorPic (c - Michael Ray)

Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Tom Sweterlitsch?

I’m a dad, I’m a husband, I’m a science fiction writer living in Pittsburgh — that about sums me up. I’ve written two novels, Tomorrow and Tomorrow and The Gone World. I’ve also done a little bit of screenwriting, co-writing three short films with director Neill Blomkamp for Oats Studios: Rakka, Firebase and Zygote.

Your new novel, The Gone World, will be published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in February. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

The Gone World is a time travel thriller about an NCIS special agent fighting to prevent the end of mankind. Continue reading