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The Border - Don Winslow

Metropolis - Philip Kerr

The Paris Diversion - Chris Pavone

The Network - Jason Elliott

Our Man Down In Havana - Christopher Hull

Mission To Paris - Alan Furst

A Dangerous Man - Robert Crais

Resurrections - Jeffrey Meyers

Spy Games - Adam Brookes

Podcast Favorites

   In this episode of the entertraining Books of the Year podcast, Simon Mayo and Matt Williams ask Lee Child about his legendary coffee consumption, at my request. 

@booksoftheyear, @simonmayo

I'll listen to Layne Norton discuss and argue passionately about nutrition any day. Mark Bell does a great job moderating an engaging conversation between Norton and Shawn Baker about health, fitness, food and nutrition. Science wins! @marksmellybell, @BioLane

Shane Whaley and David Craggs talk spy and espionage fiction, writing, politics and books with the outspoken, brilliant writer, Charles Cumming.

@Spybrary, @CharlesCumming

Malcolm Gladwell digs deep into the one song Elvis Presley couldn't consistently sing, "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" This episode is a gripping, utterly fascinating discussion of how Elvis recorded, sang live, and interpreted his life through music. @Gladwell

Entries in @duttonbooks (6)


Daughter of War by Brad Taylor

Brad Taylor is an accomplished military-ops-thriller author. His Pike Logan series is popular, and more realistic than other military-themed adventures. This is all a long way to say I enjoy Taylor’s books. Primary character Logan reads like a human, rather than an invincible killing machine. 

Daughter Of War, Taylor’s latest venture, fully captured me. I’ll call this the best Pike Logan adventure yet.

Logan and his partner Jennifer find themselves unraveling a dangerous, complex plan by North Korea to smuggle a rare essential and lethal substance to the Syrians, in Daughter of War. Used against both Kurd and American armed forces, the Syrians getting their hands on it would dangerously change the balance of power in the world. Further complicating matters, the North Koreans involved themselves in a complex double cross with the Syrians. It's a mess.

 Taylor writes patiently, letting storylines develop, as Logan and allies grapple with stray leads and knowledge, dots they’re attempting to connect. 

The plots in Daughter of War, involving a young refugee, unknowingly in possession of data central to everything, connected with me. Logan initially doesn’t want to interact with her, but eventually grasps her role. Gaining her trust is a tough first step, against a cascade of bad odds. The scene when Logan comes to grips with how badly he wants to protect this girl is powerfully written. 

Daughter of War is a complex action tale laden with spy tradecraft. I’m impressed with how Taylor weaves this new level of intrigue, and some unusual geography, into the story while maintaining the level of action and excitement he does. More spy-themed intrigue and activity in this story adds depth and interest. It’s nice to see his writing skills take on a new edge as his mainstay character, Pike Logan, ages and evolves himself. 


@DuttonBooks, @bradtaylorbooks, #daughterofwar



Decisions, Decisions...

These two upcoming novels landed on my porch yesterday. I'm looking forward to reading each, for different reasons. Brad Taylor's Pike Logan military adventures are superior to most of the Operator/Seal/One-Man-Indestructibe-Army thrillers flooding the market today. Not just better, but among the best of the special-ops niche. Logan is a fallible guy, with foibles and shortcomings in addition to his skills and training and attitude. I enjoy the swiftly moving adventures Brad Taylor weaves. Looking forward to Daughter of War.

James Lee Burke is in a different category for me than most any other novelist. He ranks with LeCarre and Deighton, in fact. The New Iberia Blues is the 37th novel of this legendary author's career, featuring Detective Dave Robichaeux, the mainstay of so many of Burke's finest books. I'll hold reading this until I have some good stretches of uninterrupted time, so I can savor and enjoy and re-read as I go. Burke is a treasure.

@simonschuster, @duttonbooks, #jamesleeburke, #newiberiablues, @bradtaylorbooks, #daughterofwar


Short Takes on New Thrillers


The Last Stand by Mickey Spillane

Mickey Spillane would be 100 years old this month! I grew up seeing his pulpy novels in my parent’s basement, and in my lifetime have enjoyed reading many over the years. Spillane was a larger-than-life character.

The Last Stand is the novel Spillane was working on when he died in 2006. Only now can The Last Stand be read and enjoyed. A bonus addition to this volume is the also previously-unpublished novella A Bullet For Satisfaction, written early in Spillane’s career. Max Allan Collins, the fine writer who has done much to keep Spillane’s work alive, adds a lively introduction revealing how these two manuscripts were found.

@HardCaseCrime, @MaxAllenCollins, #mickeyspillane

  Closer Than You Know by Brad Parks

Brad Parks writes the sort of psychological thrillers typically I'm not attracted to. However, I got into and enjoyed Closer Than You Know.  This novel takes place in the world of social services, inadequate child protective policies, and mis-treated children. Author Parks creates deeply emotional issues and often helpless characters who demand a great deal from readers. Happily (for all of us), Parks also has a strong protagonist in the person of Melanie Barrick. Her adventures and struggles fuel Closer Than You Know, a legal thriller that kept me thinking and reading and turning pages.

@DuttonBooks, @Brad_Parks, #closerthanyouknow


Beautiful Music by Michael Zadoorian

I’m from Michigan, grew up in the late ‘60s and the ‘70s as immersed in the world of rock’n’roll as possible. I published a fanzine, wrote reviews as a freelancer, then in the late ‘70s moved to Detroit to work full-time editing and writing for a magazine about popular music publishing and record collecting.

Beautiful Music pushes all my buttons - Detroit, 1970s, the MC5, Iggy Pop. I was rushing to read the book before I knew a thing about author Zadoorian, another Michigan native. Set in Detroit in the early 1970s, a few years after the riots of 1967, a young Danny Yzemski has a startlingly poor home life, school is tough, and he's eternally confused. Danny begins to find salvation through music, even as his life and family goes downhill. 

Beautiful Music reads like rock’n’roll music, and affected me deeply. Zadoorian writes a mean lyric disguised as a wonderful, emotive sentence. at the same time, Yzemski discovers how rock’n’roll music can lift one’s soul.

@AkashicBooks, @zadoorian, #beautifulmusic


The Word Is Murder by Anthony Horowitz

Horowitz seemingly can write anything. Tell him to bring James Bond to life on the page - he does. How about the world of Sherlock Holmes - why not? In The Word Is Murder Horowitz clearly allowed his deep imagination to run wild, with interesting, amazing results.

Very much like Sherlock Holmes, Daniel Hawthorne is a smart, disgraced, police detective with less than optimal bedside manner. Author Horowitz is the Dr. Watson-like partner to Hawthorne, journaling about his cases.

The Word Is Murder becomes complex, intriguing, and just when I thought a narrative was unfolding in a manner I could follow, a blind turn appeared. Allow yourself to flow with the twists and turns and enjoy Horowitz’ mastery of the printed word. 

@HarperBooks, @AnthonyHorowitz, #thewordismurder



Into the Black Nowhere by Meg Gardiner


Oh man, what a gripping, suspenseful ride author Gardiner provides in her second UNSUB novel, Into The Black Nowhere. Even with the kudos from writers I trust such as Don Winslow and Stephen King, I was unprepared for how deeply I fell into the exploits and story of FBI profiler Caitlin Hendrix. This is another of those books that follows me around the house, and anywhere I go when I think I may have a few free minutes. Forget about checking Twitter; I’d rather pull Into The Black Nowhere from my laptop bag. 

Agent Hendrix is in Texas hunting a seemingly charismatic killer who somehow is snatching blond women from plain sight. Their bodies eventually turn up as if on display, in white nightgowns, surrounded by creepy Polaroid photo displays. None of the usual weirdo-abductor-creep rules seem to apply to this case. 

Gardiner came up with an innovative, complex plot loosely based upon the 1970s serial killer Ted Bundy. Reading, I never fell into comparing Into The Black Nowhere with what I knew and remembered about Bundy, but the comparisons are concrete. I found the character of FBI agent Caitlin Hendrix fully-formed, she’s flawed and insightful like all of us, and felt her journey through the world of crisis call centers was particularly well drawn and vivid on the page. 

Hendrix gets into situations rivaling the most action-packed of thrillers. The complexities of profiling, searching, and how this process gets into Hendrix’ head and emotions is engrossing and unbelievably well written. From the first page to the last, the great story pulled me along and Gardiner’s writing and thoroughly-developed characters fed my brain and emotions.

I’m impressed with Into The Black Nowhere and Meg Gardiner’s casual (to my reading) expertise as a writer. Hollywood is all over her for the book; it’s already sold to CBS for series rights. Frankly, I’m excited to discover a writer I’ve only read about but never actually read a book by until this. Let the searching for Meg Gardiner’s other titles begin!

@MegGardiner1, @DuttonBooks, #IntoTheBlackNowhere


(I'm deep) Into The Black Nowhere by Meg Gardiner

Oh baby, is this UNSUB novel by Gardiner a great one! Somehow this is the first Gardiner I've read, certainly the initial UNSUB book of hers to make it into my hands, and I'm hooked... Began reading yesterday and eager to get back to it tonight.

Serial killing, kidnapping, psychological mysteries ... following FBI profiler Caitlin Hendrix as she and her team pursue an unknown killer is captivating reading in the hands of Gardiner. Not usually the type of book I fall so deeply for, Into The Black Nowhere fascinates and thrills.

@MegGardiner1, @DuttonBooks, #IntoTheBlackNowhere, #MegGardiner