Excerpt: THE EXPHORIA CODE by Antony Johnston (Lightning Books)

JohnstonA-BS1-ExphoriaCodeAntony Johnston is perhaps best known as the writer of The Coldest City, the graphic novel that was adapted into the Charlize Theron-starring Atomic Blonde. This week, Lightning Books is due to publish his first novel, The Exphoria Code, which sounds really interesting. The publisher has kindly allowed me to share the first chapter from the book. First, though, here’s the synopsis:

Brigitte Sharp, a cyber-espionage specialist with MI6, has been deskbound and in therapy for three years, after her first field mission in Syria went disastrously wrong. But now one of her best friends has been murdered, and Bridge believes his death is connected to strange posts appearing on the internet, carrying encrypted hidden messages.

When Bridge decodes the messages, she discovers evidence of a mole inside a top-secret Anglo-French military drone project. Her MI6 bosses force her back into the field, sending her undercover in France to find and expose the mole… who may also be her friend’s killer. But the truth behind the Exphoria code is worse than she could have imagined.

Soon she’s on the run, desperate and alone – as a nuclear terrorist plot unfolds and threatens everything Bridge has left to live for.

The Exphoria Code is the first novel in the author’s Brigitte Sharp series. Read on for Chapter 1…

Continue reading

Advertisements

Quick Review: THE ROOSTER BAR by John Grisham (Doubleday/Hodder)

GrishamJ-RoosterBarUSGrisham had an issue or two he wanted to talk about

Mark, Todd, and Zola came to law school to change the world, to make it a better place. But now, as third-year students, these close friends realize they have been duped. They all borrowed heavily to attend a third-tier, for-profit law school so mediocre that its graduates rarely pass the bar exam, let alone get good jobs. And when they learn that their school is one of a chain owned by a shady New York hedge-fund operator who also happens to own a bank specializing in student loans, the three know they have been caught up in The Great Law School Scam.

But maybe there’s a way out. Maybe there’s a way to escape their crushing debt, expose the bank and the scam, and make a few bucks in the process. But to do so, they would first have to quit school. And leaving law school a few short months before graduation would be completely crazy, right?

As long-time readers of Civilian Reader will know, Grisham is one of my favourite authors — even though I think he’s quite inconsistent. Some of his novels have been excellent, while others feel either rushed or bloodless. I enjoyed Camino Island, a fun and quickly-paced caper-type novel. In The Rooster Bar he returns to the genre that has made him a global bestseller: a legal thriller. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy this as much as I’d hoped. Continue reading

Quick Reviews: ORDER TO KILL and ENEMY OF THE STATE by Kyle Mills (Atria/Emily Bestler)

Flynn&Mills-MitchRapp15&16-1

The latest two novels featuring Mitch Rapp, the CIA super-spy and assassin created by Vince Flynn. I’ve read all of the books in the series, and it remains one of my favourites. These are Mills’s second and third instalments, following The Survivor (which he finished following Flynn’s passing). Both novels show the author becoming ever-more comfortable with the character, developing him, his colleagues, and returning antagonists brilliantly. The series is in very safe hands. I really enjoyed both of these novels.

Continue reading

Review: KILLFILE and FLASHMOB by Christopher Farnsworth (William Morrow/Zaffre)

FarnsworthC-KillfileUSThe first two John Smith novels… which will make you terrified of the internet

John Smith possesses a special gift that seems more like a curse: he can access other people’s thoughts. He hears the songs stuck in their heads, knows their most private traumas and fears, and relives the painful memories they can’t let go of. The CIA honed his skills until he was one of their most powerful operatives, but John fled the Agency and now works as a private consultant, trying to keep the dark potentials of his gift in check — and himself out of trouble.

Unfortunately, John is unexpectedly plunged into dangerous waters when his latest client, billionaire software genius Everett Sloan, hires him to investigate a former employee — a tech whiz kid named Eli Preston — and search his thoughts for some very valuable intellectual property Sloan is convinced he’s stolen. But before John can probe Preston’s mind, his identity is compromised and he’s on the run for his life, along with Sloane’s young associate, Kelsey Foster.

Hunted by shadowy enemies with extensive resources and unknown motives, John and Kelsey must go off the grid. And John knows that using his powers to their fullest potential is their only hope for survival — even if it means putting his own sanity at risk.

In Killfile, we’re introduced to John Smith: the man you call if you need a situation handled quietly, and out of the eyes of the law. He’s also the one you contact if you need to extract information or discover others’ intentions. You see, from the opening pages, we learn that he is pretty unique: he is psychic — actually psychic, not a parlour magician who’s just very good at reading gullible tourists.

Killfile is a briskly-paced novel, and one that will pull the reader through from start to finish. I blitzed through this in just two sittings, and immediately began the sequel. A strong series opener, in a series that looks like it could have strong staying power. Continue reading

Upcoming: A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF THE VAMPIRE UPRISING by Raymond A. Villareal (Mulholland)

VillarealRA-APeoplesHistoryOfTheVampireUprisingUSStumbled across this on Hachette’s website the other day, and thought it sounded really interesting. A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising will be published by Mulholland Books in North America and in the UK, in June 2018. It looks like something rather unusual for Mulholland, venturing as it does into the horror/urban fantasy sandbox. Here’s the synopsis:

A virus that turns people into something somehow more than human quickly sweeps the world, upending society as we know it.

This panoramic thriller begins with one small mystery. The body of a young woman found in an Arizona border town, presumed to be an illegal immigrant, walks out of the town morgue. To the young CDC investigator called in to consult the local police, it’s a bizarre medical mystery.

More bodies, dead of a mysterious disease that solidifies their blood, are brought to the morgue, and disappear. In a futile game of catch-up, the CDC, the FBI, and the US government must come to terms with what they’re too late to stop: an epidemic of vampirism that will sweep first the United States, and then the world.

Impossibly strong, smart, poised, beautiful, and commanding, these vampires reject the term as derogatory, preferring the euphemistic “gloamings.” They quickly rise to prominence in all aspects of modern society: sports, entertainment, and business. Soon people are begging to be ‘re-created,’ willing to accept the risk of death if their bodies can’t handle the transformation. The stakes change yet again when a charismatic and wealthy businessman, recently turned, decides to do what none of his kind has done before: run for political office.

This sweeping yet deeply intimate fictional oral history — told from the perspectives of several players on all sides of the titular vampire uprising — is a genre-bending, shocking, immersive and subversive debut that is as addictive as the power it describes.

The novel has already been optioned by Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen of 21 Laps, the production company Arrival and Stranger Things.

Follow the Author: Goodreads

Excerpt: THE DYING GAME by Åsa Avdic (Windmill/Penguin)

AvdicA-DyingGameUKToday, we have an excerpt from a novel I’m really looking forward to reading: Åsa Avdic‘s The Dying Game. Published in the UK by Windmill Books, here’s the synopsis:

‘Oh, it’s really quite simple. I want you to play dead.’

On the remote island of Isola, seven people have been selected to compete in a 48-hour test for a top-secret intelligence position. One of them is Anna Francis, a workaholic with a nine-year-old daughter she rarely sees, and a secret that haunts her. Her assignment is to stage her own death and then observe, from her hiding place inside the walls of the house, how the other candidates react to the news that a murderer is among them. Who will take control? Who will crack under pressure?

But as soon as Anna steps on to the island she realises something isn’t quite right. And then a storm rolls in, the power goes out, and the real game begins…

The Dying Game is out now, published in the UK by Windmill Books, and in North America by Penguin. Now, on with the excerpt!

Continue reading

Excerpt: HUNT YOU DOWN by Christopher Farnsworth (Zaffre)

FarnsworthC-HuntYouDownUKToday, we have a short excerpt from Christopher Farnsworth‘s latest thriller, Hunt You Down. The second novel in the author’s John Smith series, it is published in the UK by Zaffre today. Here’s the synopsis:

John Smith is no ordinary gun for hire.

Smith is a man of rare gifts, and he knows your every thought…

Hired to track down a shooter targeting the rich and famous, Smith must complete his mission before another attack takes place. But when a website on the dark net is found to have connections to the murders, Smith realises that taking down a shadowy figure who has weaponised the internet will prove more difficult than he first thought.

And no matter how hard he tries, this criminal mastermind continues to remain one step ahead.

The novel is published in North America by William Morrow, as Flashmob. The first novel in the series, Kill File, is also published by Zaffre and William Morrow. Now, here’s the excerpt…

Continue reading