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Girl Unknown Cover Image
ISBN: 9780805098747
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Henry Holt & Company - February 6th, 2018

Karen Perry is the pen name of two award winning Dublin authors.

David is a professor of history and Caroline, his wife, has just returned to work. They are caring for David's aging mother and have two school-aged kids, Robbie and Holly. They've had their ups and downs, but right now things seem to be on an even keel.

Then one day a young student appears in David's office at the university to tell him that she believes he is her father. And everything changes. Zoe begins to insert herself into their lives and everything begins to fall apart.

There is palpable tension in this book. The reader is stacking up the stranger lies and deceptions, waiting for something big and awful to happen. But when it does, it's almost anti-climatic. Good as the authors were at ratcheting up the tension, I'm not sure the finale delivers.

One thumb up, one thumb down - what do you think?

The Secrets She Keeps Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501170324
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner Book Company - January 2nd, 2018

I raced through this thriller by the author Stephen King called "...an absolute master". 

Agatha stocks shelves at the supermarket, and the one thing that keeps her going is glimpses of Meg - a woman about Agatha's age who lives the glamorous lifestyle of Agatha's dreams. She's pregnant, just as Agatha is, but instead of toiling all day and returning to a lonely, dismal flat at night, Meg has coffee with her friends, goes to yoga and then picks up her two darling children and returns home to her handsome, famous husband. 

Finally the two meet, and the similarity of their due dates gives them common ground. Agatha daren't tell Meg the truth about herself, and has no idea that Meg, too, has secrets and a far from perfect life.

Soon the lives of these two women are entangled in a way the reader only gradually sees coming. This was one of those peeking-through-your-fingers, "oh no, it's not going to be that" novels that felt original, memorable and as powerful as a thriller gets. It's a must read. 

The Woman in the Window Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062678416
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Published: William Morrow & Company - January 2nd, 2018

The teaser on the front of my advance reading copy of this psychological thriller says 'it isn't paranoia if it's really happening' and that phrase not only sums up this remarkable debut, but would perhaps have made a better title than the title.

The Woman in the window is Dr. Anna Fox. Since her husband and daughter left her, she's become severely agoraphobic - unable to leave her house. She occupies her days online and pointing her camera out the windows to watch her neighbors.

And her new neighbors are fascinating indeed. Right up until she sees young Jane Russell with a stab wound, sliding down the window, trailing her hand through her own blood.

Anna tries to go outside to help her after dialing 911, but wakes up in the hospital with police telling her she hallucinated the whole thing.

This is a creepy thriller and Finn has somehow put us right there inside Anna's mind with her as she fights for her sanity.

This book is very accomplished for a first novel. You must check out The Woman In The Window.

Munich Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525520269
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Published: Knopf Publishing Group - January 16th, 2018

This smart thriller is set against the backdrop of the Munich Conference of 1938, and is peopled with real characters - from Hitler to Chamberlain and Mussolini.

Hugh Legat is a lowly private secretary to Neville Chamberlain, and a rising star in the British diplomatic service.

His old mate from his Oxford days, Paul von Hartmann, is on staff for the German Foreign office, but he's a secret member of an anti-Nazi faction and working behind the scenes to prevent Hitler's ambitious expansion plans. When Legat and von Hartmann are both assigned to their respective country's delegation, the chance for them to reconnect and possibly impact world events is suddenly a possibility.

I liked the way the story was set against a background we've all read about before, but managed to put a fresh spin on events that made me feel as if I was reading a real behind-the-scenes narrative.

Robert Harris has the chops to pull this off, and he does it assuredly. Two thumbs up. 

Grist Mill Road Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250150288
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador USA - January 9th, 2018

In 1982 in a small town in upstate New York, three young friends - Patrick, Matthew, and Hannah - become inextricably linked by a terrible crime.

Fast forward to 2008. Patrick and Hannah are married, but the things they've kept from each other about that summer they were 13 is a wedge that's driving them apart. When Matthew, who ended up serving time after that fateful summer, reappears in their lives, no one can tell if it's to make amends or something far more devastating.

As what really happened in the woods in '82 is slowly revealed, the reader begins to gradually sense the real tragedy of this story. Grist Mill Road is a gripping, unsettling read you won't soon forget.

Staff Pick Logo
I'll Be Your Blue Sky Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062431936
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow & Company - March 6th, 2018

It's a rare author who can draw her characters so vividly that the reader just 'knows' them. So completely that they can pick up a book and escape thoroughly into someone else's world.  And for me, Marisa de los Santos has always been one of those authors.

In I'll Be Your Blue Sky, I was charmed by elderly Edith Herron, whose extraordinary life in the 1950s is uncovered by her surprised young heir, Clare Hobbs.  Edith, a stranger on a park bench, gave Clare the courage to call off her marriage on the eve of her wedding by casually noting that 'no one should live with someone who scares her'. Not only did that advice save Clare from an unhappy future, it became her first clue into Edith's own life as Clare first explores the charming seaside cottage Edith has mysteriously left her in her will.

de los Santos has a gift for endowing her characters with the very qualities which endear us to the people we love in real life, and perhaps that's the secret which draws us oh-so-willingly into her novels.

The Kremlin's Candidate (Red Sparrow Trilogy #3) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501140082
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner Book Company - February 13th, 2018

Several years ago, I told you about a new talent in the world of espionage thrillers - Jason Matthews. His first book, Red Sparrow, is one of my permanent staff picks and has just been released in movie theaters nationwide. The Kremlin’s Candidate is the final book in the trilogy, and completes the story of Russian agent Dominika Egorova and her entanglement with the CIA.

In this story, the Kremlin has devised a way to eliminate a high-ranking US official and replace him with a long-standing Russian mole.

Complex and full of intrigue, The Kremlin’s Candidate races around the world, pitting conflicting interests against each other and playing greed against patriotism.

If you like the good old spy stories of John Le Carre and Frederick Forsyth, you won’t want to miss a word of Jason Matthews’ Red Sparrow Trilogy.

Say Nothing Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101985595
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Published: Dutton Books - March 7th, 2017

Judge Scott Sampson has a pretty great life - until the day his wife Alison texts him and says he doesn't have to pick the twins up from school like he usually does on Wednesdays.

Unfortunately, the text was a ruse and his twins have been kidnapped. Further instructions tell the couple to wait for direction, but above all, not to contact the authorities and to say nothing.

Scott's first directive is to manipulate a case before him in court - a move that makes his already unbelievable new reality that much more difficult.

Deceit, betrayal, suspicion and high-tension terror are buried throughout this fast moving thriller. Scott and his wife will, of course, stop at nothing to get the children back - but is it even possible?

Thriller lovers take note. This one races toward a conclusion you won't see coming.

Run Cover Image
ISBN: 9780345540737
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ballantine Books - June 2nd, 2015

You know how you always have those books or authors you say you're going to read 'someday'?

Well, Andrew Grant was one of those authors for me, so I finally read Run.

Marc Bowman is a very successful tech consultant who finds himself in a very nasty situation - he's taken some data from his last job to use to develop his next big project. But it turns out there was more than innocent data on those memory sticks, and some very bad dudes want to get their hands on them.

This is a book of corporate espionage and desperate acts, with a fun twist at the very end.

Fun facts: Andrew Grant is Lee Child's brother, and he is married to Tasha Alexander.

Here and Gone Cover Image
ISBN: 9780451499578
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Crown Publishing Group (NY) - June 20th, 2017

This story is an every-mother's-worst-nightmare scenario.

Audra is fleeing from her abusive husband with her two young children when, in a desolate corner of Arizona, she's pulled over. Things go awry quickly and a second patrol car is called to collect her kids while Audra is taken into custody.

When, in her cell, Audra repeatedly asks where they've taken her children, the Sheriff asks "What children?", and then the real nightmare begins.

This novel is unsettling and definitely brings out the fierce mother bear instinct in the reader. I wanted the bad guys - and there are many of them here - to pay, and to pay in horrible, painful ways.

And when a book can bring out powerful, visceral emotions in the reader, you know the author has done their job well.

Hayden Beck is a pseudonym for acclaimed crime writer Stuart Neville. Kudos to you, Haylen, aka Stuart. Here and Gone is a powerful story well-told!