Thrillers and Suspense
The River by Peter HellerThe premise: Best friends and outdoor enthusiasts Jack and Wynn are on summer break from Dartmouth College and decide to go on a short canoeing trip in the beautiful but rugged woods of northern Ontario.
The problem: Their summer gear is insufficient for a sudden, rapidly advancing cold front and from the other direction, a forest fire is gaining ground. As they try to escape, they will have to withstand the threats of both Mother Nature and human nature if they want to make it out alive.
Author alert: Peter Heller is best known for the suspenseful pandemic novel The Dog Stars.
What We Did by Christobel KentStarring: Bridget Webster, a suburban boutique owner and survivor of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of an esteemed music teacher.
The more things change... Bridget is stunned when the teacher enters her shop accompanied by one of his current students, a girl who reminds Bridget of her younger self. Provoked by his continued impunity, Bridget decides it's time to take action.
Reviewers say: "Readers will root for the unwitting killer in this tense, well-crafted vigilante thriller" (Booklist).
Woman 99 by Greer MacallisterPicture it: San Francisco, 1888: specifically, the "progressive" Goldengrove Asylum, where a supposedly mentally ill young woman named Phoebe Smith has been committed.
What happens: Charlotte, Phoebe's sister, believes the commitment was a mistake. She decides to go undercover as a patient to get Phoebe out, but once inside Charlotte discovers things are even worse than she anticipated.
Did you know? Woman 99 is inspired by Ten Days in a Mad-House, the 1887 exposé of asylum conditions written by trailblazing journalist Nellie Bly.
Forget You Know Me by Jessica StrawserWhat it's about: estranged friends Liza and Molly are reconnecting over a video call, but when Molly steps away for a second a masked figure shuts off her computer. Molly calls back but behaves as if nothing happened, leaving Liza puzzled and afraid.
Don't miss: the author's careful handling of Molly's chronic pain, which her husband doesn't believe is real.
You might also like: Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris; Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough.
Blood Orange by Harriet TyceFeaturing: Alison Wood, a deeply flawed defense attorney who appears to have it all, with a thriving career and a loving family.
What happens: Under the surface, Alison's law firm is as messy as a soap opera and her marriage has turned toxic, but when she's assigned a new client who is accused of murder, Alison begins to see things differently and wants to find a way to turn her life around.
Reviewers say: "a page-turner that drives to a shocking and satisfying ending" (Publishers Weekly).
A Soldier's Revenge by Matthew DunnThe setup: Former CIA agent Will Cochrane wakes up in a fancy hotel room to find a dead woman he's never seen before in the bathtub and no recollection of how either of them got there.
Best served cold: Soon he's on the lam and on the hunt for the truth, which will lead him to someone from his past -- someone willing to do anything for vengeance.
Series alert: A Soldier's Revenge is the 7th entry in Matthew Dunn's action-packed, richly detailed Spycatcher series.
Cave Dwellers by Richard GrantPicture it: Berlin, 1937: It's early enough in the Nazi regime for pockets of resistance to still exist, especially in artistic circles and the military.
An accidental spy: Oskar Langweil is a young Wehrmacht officer whose focus on his career has kept him mostly uninvolved with politics. But when he meets someone with ties to his past, Oskar is drafted by the nascent resistance to help them with a high-stakes mission.
Read it for: the colorful supporting cast, including a gay SS officer and a directionless young socialist; the lovingly rendered Germany countryside; the mix of pulse-pounding action and occasional farce.
The Fall of Moscow Station by Mark HenshawWhat it is: the fast-paced, intricately plotted story of what happens when a high-level CIA agent inexplicably defects to Russia, exposing every American covert operative working in the country.
Series alert: This is the third novel in the Red Cell series, following Cold Shot.
You might also like: The American by Andrew Britton; The Defector by Daniel Silva.
Who is Vera Kelly? by Rosalie KnechtThe premise: It's the early 1960s, and Vera Kelly spends her time working at a radio station and, when she can work up the nerve, visiting underground lesbian bars in Greenwich Village. At least until her skill with electronics gets her noticed and eventually recruited by the CIA.
The problem: Sent to Argentina to infiltrate a leftist student group, Vera is making progress until a military coup leaves her stranded in Buenos Aires with no way to contact her handlers.
Read it for: Vera herself, who is as flawed as she is compelling; the poignant parallels between Vera's personal and professional lives, both of which are clandestine.
The Wolf of Sarajevo by Matthew PalmerStarring: Eric Petrosian, a former journalist who witnessed the devastating war in the Balkans in the 1990s. Twenty-five years later, he's working at the American embassy in Sarajevo and trying to confront his memories.
What happens: The rise of a popular politician threatens to plunge Bosnia back into sectarian conflict, and when Eric realizes that he once saw the politician committing war crimes, he sets out to find proof and bring him down.
Author alert: Like The Wolf of Sarajevo, Matthew Palmer's previous novels Secrets of the State and Enemy of the Good are informed by his own 25-year career with the U.S. State Department.
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