4MK is a gruesome thriller

the fouth monkey

 

The four wise monkeys of ancient oriental myth — hear no evil, see no evil, say no evil, and do no evil — give the killer in The Fourth Monkey by J. D. Barker (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, June 28, 2017) his name. The 4MK abducts women and sends an ear to the next of kin. Two days later, the victim’s extracted eyeballs arrive in the mail. Then the tongue. Two days after that, 4MK positions the victim’s mutilated body where easily discovered.

Hear no evil, see no evil, say no evil, do no evil. Those are the rules.

Detective Sam Porter, on bereavement leave following his wife’s tragic murder by a convenience store robber, receives a phone call from his partner. The Four Monkeys Killer was accidentally run down this morning  by a Chicago bus on his way to mail an ear of his latest victim to Arthur Talbot, one of the richest men in the city.

Sam’s chased the 4MK for five years. Seven dead girls he couldn’t save. Now it appears Talbot’s illegitimate daughter Emory will be 4MK’s next victim. The clock’s ticking as Sam assembles his task force and tries to find Emory before she dies of dehydration.

The killer’s diary found on the man hit by the bus tells what it’s like to be raised in a family of psychopaths. Barker effectively rotates POV among Porter, Emory, task force members, and the diary. The burning questions become: Is the diary real? Is the dead man the 4MK? Will Emory survive? What did Talbot do to warrant punishment by 4MK? Who killed Heather, Sam’s wife, and what will happen to him?

Set in metropolitan Chicago, the action delves into underground tunnels once used by bootleggers where thousands of rats thrive and Emory may be sequestered. Will she be eaten by rats, die of hydration, or have her eyes and tongue plucked out before 4MK is through with her?

Suspense builds as time runs out. Sam, who was neither able to protect his wife nor the seven previous 4MK victims, is desperate to reach Emory before she perishes.

The Fourth Monkey is as much a great horror novel as a mystery or thriller. Very highly recommended for readers with strong stomachs, insatiable curiosities, and time on their hands because they won’t be able to stop until the very end.

A great collection worth the read

matchup

 

What a wonderful way to discover series characters and their authors. MatchUp, edited by Lee Child (Simon and Schuster, June 13, 2017), is the International Thriller Writer’s sequel to the best-selling FaceOff. Both books team-up award-winning thriller writers and their series characters to solve life-and-death mysteries or bring killers to justice. If you’ve never met these characters before, here’s your chance.

And who better to introduce you to each of them than Lee Child, Mr. Jack Reacher himself.

Contributors include: Lee Coburn and Joe Pickett in “Honor & …” by Sandra Brown and C.J. Box; Tony Hill and Roy Grace in “Footloose” by Val McDermid and Peter James; Temperance Brennan and Jack Reacher in “Faking a Murderer” by Kathy Reichs and Lee Child; Jamie Fraser and Cotton Malone in “Past Prologue” by Diana Gabaldon and Steve Berry; Liz Sansborough and Rambo in “Rambo on Their Minds” by Gayle Lynds and David Morrell; Jeffrey Tolliver and Joe Pritchard in “Short Story” by Karin Slaughter and Michael Koryta; Harper Connelly and Ty Hauck in “Dig Here” by Charlaine Harris and Andrew Gross; Regan Pescoli and Lucas Davenport in “Deserves to be Dead” by Lisa Jackson and John Sandford; Lucan Thorne and Lilliane Williams in “Midnight Flame” by Lara Adrian and Christopher Rice; Bennie Rosato and John Corey in “Getaway” by Lisa Scottoline and Nelson DeMille; and Ali Reynolds and Bravo Shaw in “Taking the Veil” by J.A. Jance and Eric Van Lustbader.

“Footloose”, although British, is my favorite. It’s filled with tons of wonderful puns, a foot-fetisher’s delight. Should DST Roy Grace, DCI Carol Jordan, and Dr. Tony Hill search for “an evil Elvis impersonator with homicidal tendencies”? Or a podophilic serial killer? Or should they look for both? Ten toes up for this one.

Liz Sansborough and Rambo in “Rambo on Their Minds” by Gayle Lynds and David Morrell is, in my humble opinion, the best-written tale in this collection, a taut thriller with a ticking time-bomb and an impossible task.

But all of the other stories are truly superb and well worth the read.

Several feature their authors’ usual supporting characters (i.e., John Sandford’s Johnson Johnson, Gayle Lynds’ Simon Childs, Lara Adrian’s Gabrielle, Michael Koryta’s Lincoln Perry, J. A. Jance’s Leeland Brooks). If you want a feel for what you’ll get in a Virgil Flowers novel, read “Deserves to be Dead”.

“Past Prologue” by Gabaldon and Berry is a fascinating time-travel story. “Dig Here” and “Midnight Flame” both have supernatural elements. “Short Story” piles complication atop complication. “Faking a Murderer” marries Jack Reacher’s military past with Temperance Brennan’s forensic acumen. “Honor &…” whacks-a-mole. And “Getaway” has a lovable dog that steals the show.

A great collection with new stories from some of the best writers in the business.

 

Best New Series Character since Jack Reacher

Tom wood final hour

 

The Final Hour by Tom Wood (Berkley Books, August 2017) is the seventh novel in the author’s “Victor” series. Victor is a freelance paid assassin who claims he doesn’t care about anything but the job. That’s a lie, of course. But he’s so religious about protecting his privacy, he refuses to reveal any of his personal weaknesses to his victims. Or even to his friends and allies.

And certainly never to his enemies, of whom there are many. This is brought home to the reader in book 6, The Darkest Day, when Victor meets a female assassin who’s been hired to kill him.

Book seven begins with Victor confessing to a priest that he has killed many men. Plus he may have killed a female assassin, but he gave her an unprecedented opportunity to save herself if she’s strong enough. He returns later and kills the priest. Not only had British Intelligence put out a contract on him, but he had heard Victor’s confession and therefore had to die.

Imagine Tom Wood pitching the Victor novels to an agent or publisher with this elevator speech: I can’t tell you all about my protagonist because then I would have to kill you. Better you learn about him a little at a time as he reveals himself through story and dialog.

Spoiler alert: the female assassin does survive, despite incredible odds, and she becomes stronger. She and Victor become allies of sorts. More than that I can’t tell you without fear Victor will have to kill me.

I can tell you The Final Hour is marvelous. There are more complications than anyone has the right to survive, but Victor and Raven are both professionals and they know how to improvise.

This novel was so well written that I had to buy the previous six novels in the series. I was hooked on the best new series character since Jack Reacher, and I think you will be, too.

Dean Koontz has a new heroine

Dean Koontz combines Richard Condon’s The Manchurian Candidate with Ira Levin’s The Stepford Wives to create his latest pulse-pounding suspense thriller The Silent Corner (Bantam Books, June 2017).

Jane Hawk’s husband commits suicide, but he isn’t the only one to die by his own hand. When Jane, a highly-trained FBI Special Agent, takes bereavement leave and investigates the sudden rash of unexplained deaths, she and her five-year-old son are threatened by mysterious strangers who know all about her. Jane’s only hope to save her son and herself is to go entirely off the grid — to disappear into the silent corner where no one can track her movements or whereabouts.

Because those hunting Jane and her son don’t play nice, Jane can’t either. She becomes a rogue agent, a cold-blooded killer, and a thief.

Like Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, Jane Hawk has skills that allow her to survive against impossible odds. She goes on the offensive and ruthlessly kills people who deserve killing. We cheer her on each time another bad guy bites the dust.

The Silent Corner is only the first of at least three Jane Hawk novels. The Whispering Room will be out next January.

Exciting, thrilling, suspenseful, and well-written, I recommend The Silent Corner to everyone who enjoys a good read.

Gunmetal Gray by Mark Greaney is lots of fun

gumetal-gray

https://www.amazon.com/Gunmetal-Gray-Man-Mark-Greaney/dp/0425282856/

Gunmetal Gray (a Gray Man Mystery-Thriller by Mark Greaney, Berkley, February 2017) returns Courtland Gentry to the side of the CIA instead of battling the agency to survive. But nothing is ever as it seems in a Gray Man novel, and Court is once again being played even as he plays others. At stake is the Chinese military’s cyberwarfare expert Fan Jiang, whose hacking knowledge the US wants. Unfortunately, so does the People’s Liberation Army, the Russian SVR, and members of the Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai crime syndicates.

Court arrives in Hong Kong, ostensibly to find his old friend Sir Donald Fitzroy. That’s his cover. Fitzroy — held prisoner by Colonel Dai, the PRC officer tracking Fan Jiang — convinces Dai that Court will help Dai find Jiang if Dai will promise to free Fitzroy. Zoya “Koshka” Zakharova — a Russian Zaslon spy and highly-trained assassin, code named “Sirena” and “Banshee”, who is a language expert and good at disguises — may prove herself The Gray Man’s equal. Zoya is one step ahead of Court most of the way. She very early identifies Court as a CIA operative by the questions he asks, but she is unable to remember what his face looks like. She wonders, “Is he that good?”

Yes, he is. Court is called “The Gray Man” because he’s trained to blend into his surroundings so well that no one notices him unless he wants them to notice him.

Besides the Gray Man series, Mark Greaney writes the latest Tom Clancy novels. Rumor has it that Greaney once worked for clandestine US intelligence agencies, and the author’s knowledge of tradecraft is evident in all his novels.

This is an action thriller from the word “go.” The fast-paced action is unrelenting as Court takes on fifty triad strongmen, races through Saigon on a motor bike, slogs through rice paddies and jungles, and escapes from blood-thirsty river pirates. Court is always outnumbered, outgunned, and hip-deep in alligators, but he escapes every in extremis situation by the skin of his teeth. He may be battered and bruised, but he’s never down and out. He leaves behind more dead bodies than an atomic bomb blast.

A Gray Man novel is always lots of fun.

 

 

 

Deviants is now in e-book

 

 

Deviants cover

Many of my readers have waited patiently to read Deviants, a short suspense novel that I expected to appear in print during 2014 or 2015. The publisher who contracted for Deviant’s hardcover, paperback, e-book, and audio rights sold their imprints to another publisher in 2015. During the transition, certain agreements of the original contract became null and void, and I asked the new publisher to return all rights to me. Although that new publishing company offered me a new contract with a tentative publication date in 2016, I declined.

When Crossroad Press, the publisher who has done such an amazing job promoting my Instruments of Death series, asked to let them know if the e-book rights for Deviants ever became available, I agreed to let them know. Although Deviants is a stand-alone novel, it does share certain similarities with the Instruments of Death novels. Crossroad Press’s Gordian Knot imprint is probably the ideal place for Deviants.

I am happy to announce the e-book publication of Deviants. It’s now available for Kindle and Nook. Here’s a sample:

Augie, by default, fit right in. He didn’t belong in normal society. He didn’t want what most people wanted. He had no use for a big house with a monthly mortgage to pay, no job with which to pay a mortgage even if he did want a house, no desire for a wife and children. He didn’t want a fancy new car every couple of years. What Augie wanted, ordinary society refused to provide, rejected as dangerous, and sought to stifle because the very idea was repulsive.

Augie wanted to watch people die as he slowly and systematically dismembered them. He wanted to smell the coppery-rich scent of fresh blood, feel the slimy, slippery parts of the human body grow cold beneath his deliberate touch. In a sense, he wanted to play God, for he had been told that only God could give life or take it away.

Deviants is part psychological horror, part crime-suspense. It’s lots of fun.

Order from http://www.amazon.com/Deviants-Paul-Dale-Anderson-ebook/dp/B01CTTXZNS

 

Review of The God’s Eye View by Barry Eisler

The God’s Eye View by Barry Eisler (Thomas and Mercer, February 2016) is a mile-a-minute thriller, a paranoid’s nightmare, the kind of novel I love to read and write. And Marvin Manus is my kind of contract killer. He’s cold, detached, and efficient. What makes him unique is his deafness. Physically abused as a child by his drunken father, Manus lost his hearing. Manus kills his father after the father kills Marvin’s mother, and the boy is institutionalized where he’s sexually abused by other inmates. Marvin learns to survive by being smarter and quicker and more ruthless than everyone else. Plus, Marvin always gets his revenge.

NSA director General Ted Anders rescues Manus from life behind bars by recruiting Manus for clandestine wet work. Manus trains with the Marines at Quantico and with the CIA at the Farm. When Director Anders needs someone to plug a leak, he assigns the work either to Manus or to Delgado, a sadistic assassin.

Evie Gallagher, an NSA programmer-analyst with a deaf son named Dash and an aging father hospitalized with Alzheimer’s, suspects Director Anders is murdering whistleblowers—–NSA employees who, like Edward Snowden, divulge Anders’ illegal activities to the press. Unfortunately, Anders suspects Evie suspects, and he assigns Manus to shadow Evie and report suspicious activity. Because Evie uses American Sign Language to communicate with her deaf son, Manus feels a kinship with the woman and boy. He allows himself to fall in love with Evie.

When the Director sends Manus and Delgado to kidnap Evie and acquire an encrypted thumb drive in Evie’s possession, Manus won’t allow Delgado to hurt Evie. Despite what Delgado says, Manus refuses to believe the Director can be so cruel and uncaring. Manus hopes, all the way to the end, that if he talks Evie into turning the thumb drive over to the Director, all will be forgiven.

Filled with facts from today’s headlines, The God’s Eye View is a taut tale so well told that it made me buy all of Eisler’s previous books. My cudos to the author and five stars for a wonderful read.