The Role of Real Science in Thrillers
If a decade of writing science thrillers has dulled Mark Alpert’s enthusiasm for his craft, you certainly can’t tell it from speaking with him. When he talks about his latest release, THE SILENCE, Alpert doesn’t offer any of the rehearsed answers to which popular novelists sometimes default. Instead, he gives an enthusiastic crash course in brain science, nanotechnology, and gene editing—not to mention the alchemy of splicing those lofty ideas into fast-paced, intensely readable thrillers.
Alpert, a self-described “lifelong science geek,” spent years oscillating between the worlds of science and writing before he settled into a career that combined the two disciplines. He holds a degree in astrophysics from Princeton, and another in poetry from Columbia University. He worked as a reporter for newspapers and magazines before becoming an editor at Scientific American in 1998; ten years later he published his first novel, 2008’s Final Theory.
This month finds Alpert wrapping up his first sojourn into yet another world: young adult literature. Alpert’s third YA thriller, THE SILENCE, hits bookstores on July 4 from Sourcebooks Fire. It’s the final installment in a trilogy that began with The Six in 2015 and continued last year with The Siege. (If you missed those first entries, you’re in luck; the publisher released paperback reissues of both volumes in June.)
A Creative Catharsis
By Alex Segura
When bestselling novelist Peter James started work on what was to become his 13th Roy Grace novel, NEED YOU DEAD, he knew he had to up the ante—for himself, his protagonist, and the reader.
But inspiration came from an unexpected and unpleasant place: frightening audio of a domestic brawl that escalates to murder.
“I always try to raise the bar with every book,” James said. “Three years ago I listened to a 911 call made to the LAPD by a woman whose estranged, violent husband was trying to break into the family home. The call started quietly, the woman clearly afraid, saying she had locked herself in her bedroom and her husband was trying to break into her house. Before the call handler had dispatched a police car to the scene, she began screaming that the man was now in the house. Then we could hear hammering sounds, and the woman now crying, stammering that he was trying to break the door down. Her voice turned to utter stark terror as he succeeded. We then heard five gunshots. He had shot her dead.”
The deadly call lingered with James, and spurred him to craft the story behind what he’d listened to, as a form of creative catharsis.
“The sheer horror of it remained with me for many months afterwards, and still does today,” James said. “I became fascinated by what the backstory might have been.”
The journey lead James to NEED YOU DEAD, and a character named Lorna Belling.
Aloysius Wachter, a clandestine hacker forced by circumstances to turn amateur detective, recounts several of his adventures that begin with spotting a murder on his first night on the job at a city agency that monitors everyone and everything through a 10,000-camera system.
The improbable hero starts sleuthing to save a beautiful young woman falsely suspected of the crime. He battles disbelieving cops, feds and Israeli hit men, and soon he’s being chased by Chinese cyber-spies and Russian hackers in episodes ripped from 21st Century headlines.
Helping him are two pals: Vassily, a Russian hacker on the run from his former gang, and Michelle, Vassily’s girlfriend, a Chinese hacker who used to work for the People’s Liberation Army. By the end of their adventures, Vic, Vassily and Michelle muse that their lives seem like a bizarro tale out of Alexander McCall Smith’s imagination, jokingly calling themselves the No. 1 Hackers Detective Agency.
Patrick Oster recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his novel, THE HACKER CHRONICLES:
Robin can’t leave her house. A complete shut-in, she spends her days spying on her neighbors, subtly meddling in their lives. But she can’t keep her demons out forever.
Sarah will do anything to get her daughter back, but she’s unraveling under the mounting pressure of concealing the dark secrets of her past. And her lies are catching up to her.
The novel takes readers back in time to witness the complex family dynamics that formed Robin and Sarah into the emotionally damaged, estranged young women they’ve become. As the gripping and intricate layers of their shared past are slowly peeled away, the shocks and twists will keep readers breathless long after the final page.
Here, DON’T CLOSE YOUR EYES author Holly Seddon discusses her latest book with The Big Thrill:
A tragic auto accident? No! The accident was staged, and young Doctor Ward murdered. But why? And by whom? The only witness, a DUI motorist, flees the scene. In the aftermath, his widow, Kingsley, impulsively accepts a job in a small-town central Pennsylvania bank, but trouble follows her. She uncovers a loan scam that implicates senior management. Angry and frustrated, she vows to solve both crimes herself, risking her job, her reputation—and even her life.
Author Nancy A. Hughes recently discussed her latest novel, A MATTER OF TRUST, with The Big Thrill:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
I hope readers cannot put it down. That whatever life is throwing at them, they can retreat into my story. That they enjoy the twists, turns, surprises, and ending, and are left hoping there will be a sequel. I hope they enjoy the characters, forgetting that they are not real, but people they’d enjoy knowing and identifying as friends.
On the evening of Monday, February 25, 1867, Mary Ellen Coriell was brutally murdered at her home in Newmarket, New Jersey. The cold-blooded nature of the murder was shocking enough for residents of the town and elsewhere, but even more disturbing was that the culprit turned out to be the victim’s housemaid, an attractive young Irishwoman named Bridget Durgan.
The circumstances surrounding the murder—including jealousy, obsession, and delusion—were as old as time itself. The crime would come at a very steep price for the murderess who would be executed for the heinous act.
The sad tale of Mary Ellen Coriell’s untimely demise at the hands of someone she trusted and was ultimately betrayed by is a must for students of history, true crime, and homicide.
The Big Thrill recently caught up with the prolific R. Barri Flowers to discuss his latest true crime book, MURDER OF THE DOCTOR’S WIFE:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
A sense of true history in reading the compelling tale of Bridget Durgan and the lengths she was willing to go to in ridding the competition for her imagined true love in this 19th century crime of passion.
Readers will also get a bonus historical true crime short, “Murder of the French Lover,” which chronicles the May 21, 1892, scandalous murder of Madame Lassimonne in Paris, France, by romantic rival, Claire Reymond, and its stunning outcome.
When a crooked card game leads to murder, young Abraham Lincoln, and his real-life best friend Joshua Speed, are forced to solve the crime. They soon discover, however, that far more than the identity of the criminal is at stake.
The murder takes place aboard a steamboat owned by Speed’s father, and Speed enlists Lincoln to defend the young artist accused of the crime. As the day of judgment hurtles toward them, Lincoln and Speed must fight to save not only the life of Lincoln’s client but also the merit of Speed’s good name.
PERISH FROM THE EARTH also involves a real-life murder that, while nearly forgotten today, was one of the most infamous crimes of the 19th century, provoking newspaper headlines from coast-to-coast and playing a key role in plunging the nation toward civil war. This murder upends Lincoln’s case and forces him to make a fateful choice—one on which the future of the nation may hang. If his client doesn’t first.
The Big Thrill caught up to PERISH FROM THE EARTH author, Jonathan F. Putnam, to discuss the second Lincoln & Speed Mystery:
They call him Dr. Death. Not a surprise. Lucas Stride’s philosophy lectures promote humanitarian actions since we never know when the Grim Reaper will come for us.
Before the professor’s lecture at the Quebec City morgue, he receives a threat, insisting he assign a cash value to his life. If the note’s author isn’t satisfied with the amount, Lucas dies.
While Lucas struggles to comply with the extortion demand, Toronto cop, Jordan Blair, arrives for a tryst with private investigator, Darcy Piermont.
Her plans are derailed after Darcy is asked to locate a family friend missing since the morgue tour with his class. In their search for the professor, Jordan and Darcy uncover a series of crimes that conclude with the reality of — death.
The Big Thrill had the pleasure to discuss DEATH’S FOOTPRINT with authors Donna Warner & Gloria Ferris:
Marine Corporal Sean Nichols is wounded in a devastating ambush that takes the lives of his three friends and leaves him an amputee. If not for the heroism of his sergeant, Deke Tilman, who pulled him out of the road, Sean would have surely died with his fire team. With the help of Deke, Sean now embarks on his next mission—recuperate from his serious injuries, and visit the families of his fallen comrades as he tries to make peace with such profound loss.
BATTLE SCARS is a thought-provoking drama with compelling characters that illustrates the resiliency and strength of the human spirit, the power of love and friendship, and the ability to overcome even our darkest moments. Gritty realism and original storytelling breathe life into BATTLE SCARS as it inspires us with a surprising tale of heroism and the great sacrifice made by our modern war fighters. A novella you can read in a few hours, but will think about for days.
Author of BATTLE SCARS, David M. Salkin, discussed his latest book with The Big Thrill:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
Unlike my usual thrillers, which are written simply to entertain my readers, BATTLE SCARS is written to tell the important story of the wounded warrior, and the experiences of today’s modern war fighter. A tale of patriotism, heroism and brotherhood, BATTLE SCARS will leave the reader thinking about the story long after they close the last page.
Police Chief Aidan Cruz has instructed Sgt. Grace Gabbiano to find out everything she can about a body farm smack in the middle of one of the town’s largest filbert orchards, and to get it done five minutes ago. Six students, led by a teaching anthropologist from the university, seem to spend as much time making whoopee on the grounds of what they fondly call the B-Farm, as they do collecting and recording research data on the thirteen decomposing cadavers planted there. Grace barely gets her report written before a fresh grave is discovered inside the compound, and it doesn’t contain a body donated for research. With the body count rising, the pressure is on for her to find the common denominator among the victims who share no obvious thread other than being female.
Author Ann Simas recently answered some questions for The Big Thrill about her latest release, BURIED TO DIE:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
Coburg, Oregon, a community of around 1,000 residents, is a real town. In actuality, homicides don’t occur there; in fiction, Grace Gabbiano and her crew face murder with regularity. It’s fun creating small-town characters with a vast range of personalities. I want my readers to get a sense, not only of what it’s like to live in a small town, but also what it’s like to be part of a large Italian family.
A community comes together when threatened by someone with a thirst for revenge in this stunningly intricate, tautly plotted novel of rich psychological suspense from the New York Times bestselling author of the Mary Russell mysteries.
Career Day at Guadalupe Middle School: A day given to innocent hopes and youthful dreams. A day no one in attendance will ever forget.
A year ago, Principal Linda McDonald arrived at Guadalupe determined to overturn the school’s reputation for truancy, gang violence, and neglect. One of her initiatives is Career Day—bringing together children, teachers, and community presenters in a celebration of the future. But there are some in attendance who reject McDonald’s bright vision.
A principal with a secret. A husband with a murky past. A cop with too many questions. A kid under pressure to prove himself. A girl struggling to escape a mother’s history. A young basketball player with an affection for guns.
Even the school janitor has a story he dare not reveal.
But no one at the gathering anticipates the shocking turn of events that will transform a day of possibilities into an explosive confrontation.
Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.
Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.
That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.
Rainbeaux Le Blanc is a woman running from secrets into mystery. A Remote Viewer with the Defense Intelligence Directorate, she discovers they are working with a demon known as the Blasphemer. Rainbeaux leaves the DID and tries to hide. But The Blasphemer finds her and turns those closest to her against her. Rainbeaux must face and defeat something she doesn’t understand, that can swat her like a fly.
Author Richard Rowland Billingsley spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his novel, TRANCE LOGIC:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
This is the beginning of a series. I hope readers will get into the strong characters, and want to follow them through many more adventures. I also hope that readers will be introduced to new ideas and concepts they hadn’t heard of or considered before.
DEAD SPIDER is Victoria Houston’s 17th book featuring Police Chief Lew Ferris, retired dentist Doc Osbourne, and their friend Ray—all fishing fanatics.
In fact, everyone in Loon Lake is a fishing fanatic, but only Ray “lives in a house trailer painted to resemble a predatory muskie: lurid green scales covering the outside of the little place and capped at one end with a row of gleaming razor-sharp teeth.”
Doc Osborne, deputized to help with forensics, and Ray the playboy fisherman, are the police chief’s murder-solving team. The murder in DEAD SPIDER takes place at a youth fishing tournament. While everyone is watching fireworks, someone walks up to Chuck Pfeiffer, the richest man in Wisconsin, and executes him with a bullet behind the ear.
No one really mourns Pfeiffer. Not his first wife. Not his current, sour-faced and sour-voiced trophy wife. Not his children.
But Pfeiffer’s murder isn’t the only crime Ferris has to solve: Osborne’s granddaughter is caught in a drug sting. And the local nursing home was robbed; residents lost their money, medications, and their guns.
By Karen Harper
Brian Klingborg comes to this first novel with screenwriting and publishing credentials. Even reading about KILL DEVIL FALLS, I’m impressed with the fantastic setting for a rural noir, as well as the irresistible title. This premier book is prime for screen treatment.
And as a former teacher of writing, I must say, any writer could learn a lot from Klingborg’s take on dialogue, and the discipline it takes to get a book written.
In this interview with The Big Thrill, Klingborg shares some of that expertise and provides insight into his debut, KILL DEVIL FALLS.
Please tell us what your book is about.
KILL DEVIL FALLS is about a U.S. Marshal, Helen Morrissey, who travels to a remote, and nearly abandoned mining town high in the Sierra Nevada mountains to collect a fugitive. Soon after she arrives, her car is sabotaged and the fugitive is murdered. Now she’s trapped in this godforsaken place, surrounded by a handful of menacing oddballs and outcasts, while she tries to figure out who the killer or killers are, and why the murder was committed.
By Wendy Tyson
THE FIFTH REFLECTION, the new novel by Ellen Kirschman, is the third book in the popular Dot Meyerhoff series featuring police psychologist Dr. Dot Meyerhoff. As a police and public safety psychologist, Kirschman knows her subject. She brings a fresh voice and a chilling sense of realism to her thrillers. Recently, The Big Thrill had the chance to catch up with Kirschman.
Congratulations on your upcoming release. Without giving any spoilers, what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the publisher’s material?
My mysteries are inspired by real officers and real events. What remains hidden are any identifying details. I owe a great deal to my clients. It frustrates me not to be able to thank them publicly.
By J. H. Bográn
Just like the two sides of a coin, each person in a dispute can only tell his or her side of the story—their truth as they perceive it, or as they want to project it. Nobody puts this theory to the test better than Erin Kelly in her new novel HE SAID / SHE SAID, in which her main character Laura accidentally interrupts an encounter between a man and a woman during the total eclipse of the sun.
Laura knows that she saw something terrible. The man denies it. It is her word against his, while the victim seems grateful. Months later, the woman turns up on Laura and her husband Kit’s doorstep like a lonely stray. But as her gratitude takes a twisted turn, Laura begins to wonder? Did she trust the wrong person? The Big Thrill had the opportunity to chat with Erin Kelly about her latest book.
What can you tell us about developing Laura and Kit as characters?
I was so lucky with this couple; they came to me, if not fully formed, then pretty whole. They are my peers, so I had all the references I needed at my fingertips, but it went deeper than that. Sometimes I know what my characters did, but not why they did it. Sometimes, I know who my characters are and what they’re capable of, but not what my story needs them to do. This time, I knew both those things. The fun was in working out the details: what was Kit’s planned career that was so derailed by the events of 1999? What is it about Laura that makes her so determined to stick to her principles even when that means breaking a different moral code? By looking into their childhoods and their family dynamics, I was able to put flesh on their bones.
By George Ebey
Fast-paced thrills await in author Tom Pitts’s latest novel, AMERICAN STATIC.
After being beaten and left for dead, Steven finds himself stranded alongside the 101 freeway in a small Northern California town. When a mysterious stranger named Quinn offers a hand in exchange for help reuniting with his daughter in San Francisco, Steven gets in the car and begins a journey from which there is no return. Quinn has an agenda all his own and he’s unleashing vengeance at each stop along his path. With a coked-up sadist ex-cop chasing Quinn, and two mismatched small town cops chasing the ex-cop, Steven is unaware of the violent tempest brewing.
The Big Thrill recently caught up with Pitts to learn more about this supercharged new tale of crime and suspense.
Tell us a little about your main character, Steven. What’s his journey been like up until now?
In many ways, Steven is like all of us were at his age. He’s naive, but he thinks he knows everything about anything. He grew up in a hip but sheltered household, raised by hippies in the deep woods of Northern California—the kind of parents who thought they were doing their boy a favor by keeping him from the world’s evils.
I believe the scariest thrillers are those rooted in fact. So despite its science-fiction spin, RESURRECTION AMERICA will chill any reader to the bone.
It all starts when helicopters and armored vehicles filled with soldiers in Hazmat suits quarantine the small mountain town of Resurrection, Colorado. The town follows martial law out of fear of an airborne virus, but Sheriff Rick Johnson isn’t buying the official version of events. Johnson is a good man who has managed to retain his sense of decency and morality after seeing the worst atrocities of war and, as the author tells us, he steps up to defend his community: “He clings to his small, failing town, understanding that it has become symbolic of his own ability to survive. He doesn’t view himself as a hero, but he’s a man of action who will do anything to save the people he cares about.”
As Johnson investigates, the cover story unravels and he discovers the military’s presence and the salvation they offer isn’t what it seems. A massive plot is underway, driven by a chilling super-patriot named Colonel Keefer.
“While Rick hopes for a return of community, Keefer plots to forcibly reshape the world to match his vision of America’s greatness, no matter how many people must die to make it a reality,” Gunhus says. “He personifies the danger of patriotism devolving into ultra-nationalism, reflecting, in my opinion, dangers we face today in our current politics.”
By E.M. Powell
There are plenty of serial killer thrillers out there, but probably not so many where the murderer dies as an opener. Yet so it is in J.D. Barker’s THE FOURTH MONKEY, a gripping and pacey read that has the killer, literally, under a bus in the first pages.
The question that forms in the reader’s mind is one that Barker asked himself when the intriguing premise first occurred to him. “I decided that the killer should die at the beginning of the story,” he says. “That created a few complex problems, the least of which was where to go from there.”
As with so many good ideas, it needed that certain moment to make it spring to life, and for Barker, that was in the line at the grocery store back in 2014. “There was a rather rotund woman in line ahead of me in one of those electric carts,” he explains. “A boy of about eight years old was standing behind me with his father. The boy said something about the woman, I didn’t hear what exactly, then his father leaned down and said, ‘Speak no evil, son.’ As soon as I heard that, a number of thoughts flooded my head—Who says that? What exactly is happening back at their house? By that night, I had the basis for my killer’s childhood and the story found its way to paper quickly.”
It’s very (VERY) difficult to talk in any detail about the book as spoilers would inevitably arise. But it’s not going to spoil anyone’s read to say that Detective Sam Porter is no superman, but a diligent, courageous professional, battling terrible events in his own life.
Even as the excitement over Susie Steiner’s first crime novel, Missing, Presumed, is reaching new peaks, the author’s second book in the series featuring Detective Manon Bradshaw, PERSONS UNKNOWN, hits stores this month. Missing, Presumed was recently shortlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, one of the UK’s most prestigious awards for crime fiction.
If anything, however, the new book ramps up the stakes for Steiner’s protagonist, with those she loves among the suspects in a high-profile murder case. Add to that a detective who is five months pregnant while trying to be a good mother to her two children, and the complications multiply.
“The story is based on a real miscarriage of justice, which took place following a stabbing in London in 2011,” Steiner says. “I heard the story—or the remarkable ‘twist’ in the story—from a lawyer friend of mine over dinner. I then contacted the barrister in the case, and interviewed him, then the solicitor, and got a copy of the pathology report. So the spine of my story took place in real life.”
A former journalist for The Guardian, Steiner took time out of her busy schedule to share some additional insights with The Big Thrill into her character and her writing life.
Mary Torjussen’s debut novel, GONE WITHOUT A TRACE is a fascinating exploration of obsession and the narratives we create about our lives. The book is set on the Wirral, near Liverpool, England, a setting with which Torjussen is intimate. But where Torjussen loves to walk by the river with friends and plot her novels, Hannah, her protagonist, seems much more driven. Driven to be named the youngest director in her accounting firm, driven to run every morning before work so as to beat her best friend in a 10k, driven to have—or at least, seem to have—the perfect life. That is, until her boyfriend, Matt, vanishes. Then she’s driven only to find him.
The book is what some would call a domestic thriller and others might call psychological suspense, a story that could most closely be compared with Gone Girl and Girl on a Train. Asked how she would classify it, Torjussen says, “I’d call it domestic noir, where the threat comes from our family and friends, so that our home is no longer a safe haven. It’s such a great genre to write, as it allows me to include subtle threats that mean the character concerned can’t call the police or confide in someone, for fear of being thought crazy.”
Although this is her first book, Torjussen is no stranger to writing. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Liverpool John Moores University and taught in Liverpool for several years. When asked about her writing journey, she says, “I’ve always wanted to write so when my children were in their teens and I suddenly had a lot of free time, I studied an MA in Creative Writing. I wrote two novels, but couldn’t find an agent to represent me. Then the college I was teaching at closed and I decided to use the payout to take a year off work and write a novel that I hoped would sell. Luckily the gamble paid off and GONE WITHOUT A TRACE has now sold in the UK, US and Canada, and in several foreign languages.”
First, the important stuff.
Lee Child calls HELLMOUTH, “A delicious mix of charm and menace — psychological suspense at its finest.” Jeffrey Deaver calls it, “Fast, stylish, and diabolically clever.”
And they’re right!
But don’t just take our word for it. Check out this interview in The Big Thrill, in which I ask Meredith Anthony a few questions about her new thriller, HELLMOUTH.
Your lead character, Helen Goode is not a typical thriller hero. How did you decide what physical, intellectual, and emotional characteristics she should have?
So many thrillers are male dominated and the hero is usually handsome, tall, strong. All that. If it is woman-centered, she’s always young, blonde, blue-eyed, gorgeous, slim—usually has martial arts skills or is a cop or ex-cop. I wanted the least likely protagonist. A slightly dumpy middle-aged woman with a sedentary life and no physical skills. None.
Which comes first in importance for you? Plot? Or Character?
Definitely character. After you build a complicated person, a plot will amble up and climb in their car.
I love unconventional heroines. What I loved about Girl on a Train is that the crime is solved by a disorganized, unhappy, black-out drunk. That kills me. I love the unexpected. Look at Denise Mina’s Paddy Meehan series. Same thing. It’s like Bridget Jones with murders.
Meet Sunday Night, a woman with physical and psychological scars, and a killer instinct…
Sunnie has spent years running from her past, burying secrets and building a life in which she needs no one and feels nothing. But a girl has gone missing, lost in the chaos of a bomb explosion, and the family needs Sunnie’s help. Is the girl dead? Did someone take her? If she is out there, why doesn’t she want to be found?
It’s time for Sunnie to face her own demons—because they just might lead her to the truth about what really happened all those years ago.
International bestselling author Kathy Reichs took time out of her busy schedule to discuss her latest novel, TWO NIGHTS, with The Big Thrill:
But Detective Angie Pallorino hasn’t forgotten the violent rapist who left a distinctive calling card—crosses etched into the flesh of his victims’ foreheads. When a comatose Jane Doe is found in a local cemetery, sexually assaulted, mutilated, and nearly drowned, Angie is struck by the eerie similarities to her earlier unsolved rapes. Could he be back?
Then the body of a drowned young woman, also bearing the marks of the serial rapist, floats up in the Gorge, and the hunt for a predator becomes a hunt for a killer. Assigned to the joint investigative task force, Angie is more than ready to prove that she has what it takes to break into the all-male homicide division. But her private life collides with her professional ambitions when she’s introduced to her temporary partner, James Maddocks—a man she’d met just the night before in an intense, anonymous encounter.
Together, Angie and Maddocks agree to put that night behind them. But as their search for the killer intensifies, so does their mutual desire. And Angie’s forays into the mind of a monster shake loose some unsettling secrets about her own past. How can she fight for the truth when it turns out her whole life is a lie?
THE DROWNED GIRLS author, Loreth Anne White, discussed her latest novel with The Big Thrill:
After twenty years as an enforcer for the Vice family mob, Nicholas Pierce shouldn’t bat an eye at seeing a guy get worked over and tossed in the river. But there’s something about the suspected police mole, Miles, that has Pierce second guessing himself. The kid is just trying to look out for his brother anyway he knows how, and the altruistic motive sparks an uncharacteristic act of mercy that involves Pierce taking Miles under his wing.
When Miles wants to repay Pierce for saving his life, Pierce shouldn’t see him as anything but a convenient hookup…. And he sure as hell shouldn’t get involved in Miles’s doomed quest to get his brother out of a rival street gang, the Cobras. He shouldn’t do a lot of things, but life on the streets isn’t about following the rules. Besides, he’s sick of being abused by the Vice family, especially Mr. Vice and his power-hungry goon of a son that treats his underlings like playthings.
So Pierce does the absolute last thing he should do if he wants to keep breathing—he decides to leave the Vice family in the middle of a turf war.
S. A. Stovall was gracious enough to spend some time with The Big Thrill discussing her novel, VICE CITY:
Early 1980s Vienna. Recovering from a near fatal shooting, Aurelia Mitela, ex-Praetorian and former foreign minister of Roma Nova, chafes at her enforced exile. She barely escaped from her nemesis, the charming and amoral Caius Tellus ,who grabbed power in Roma Nova, the only part of the Roman Empire to survive into the 20th century.
Aurelia’s duty and passion fire her determination to take back her homeland and liberate its people. But Caius’s manipulations have isolated her from her fellow exiles, leaving her ostracized, powerless, and vulnerable. Without their trust and support, Aurelia knows she will never see Roma Nova again.
The Big Thrill recently caught up with Alison Morton, author of the Roma Nova thriller series, to discuss her latest book, RETALIO:
They’re here. In America. Thousands of Islamic terrorists committed to a rabid jihad that ends only when they’ve butchered the last man, woman, and child. Worst of all, they have nukes. The Day of Jihad is at hand. The odds of Western civilization being snuffed out grow stronger each day.
Compounding the threat, the Chinese are solidifying their grasp throughout Asia, while behind the scenes they sponsor the Islamic terrorists. Once an ineffective and weakening America crumbles, the Chinese are ready to extend their dominion over the entire planet. The Russian president is strengthening his grip on Europe and in the Middle East. Cyberwarfare is ramping up from Beijing to Moscow to Pyongyang to Tehran. And AGU—the Alliance for Global Unity—is orchestrating it all.
Only the shadow government known as the Society of Adam Smith, or SAS, may be capable of dealing with this threat. And it desperately needs the skills possessed only by that deadliest of hunter-killer teams, the Sleeping Dogs, including their newest member, an Australian.
With his rogue brother, the monstrous Maksym intent on killing his family, can Brendan Whelan reunite the Dogs in time?
The Big Thrill spent some time with John Wayne Falbey discussing his latest thriller, THE DOGS OF WAR:
And boy is he right: his wife has left him, emptied his safe deposit box, moved their entire house to Key West, and is shacking up with Sweeney’s former partner and Best Man. Worse yet, Buck Wiggins is after him for a sixty-five grand debt. But Sweeney’s broke! So Buck sends Gooch and Gunther Canseco, twin towers of steroidal ape stuff, to tune Sweeney up each week until he pays Buck back.
And he thought life in prison sucked.
When a mysterious Cuban-American approaches Sweeney with an offer, Sweeney is forced to accept. The payoff? A cool half mil. The problem? The money is hidden inside a house in Cuba. Worse yet: on Guantanamo Naval Base, a.k.a. GITMO.
Strap on your seat belt and prepare for the ride of your life, as unlikely hero Dixon Sweeney and his beat-up Chris-Craft challenge the Gulf Stream, waterspouts, man-eating sharks, the crazy Canseco twins, the Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, the entire Cuban military, and one super sexy senorita in this hilarious romp through the Florida Straits.
The Big Thrill caught up with authors Shawn Corridan and Gary Waid to discuss GITMO:
Twenty-five year old Steven Jameson is a junkie who lives on the streets and finances his habit by robbing unsuspecting tourists. One Saturday night he meets a beautiful stranger named Anna Marie Jennsen, who tells him that she’s the leader of the Morphia Clan, a family of vampire addicts. Anna Marie offers Steven membership in the clan, provided he can pass the gruesome test of loyalty she requires. Steven is transformed into a vampire and formally inducted into the clan, where he quickly makes friends with his fellow vampires. Among these are Teresa, a tiny, offbeat vampire who appears to have joined the clan in her late teenage years and Eric, who Steven immediately dislikes and distrusts. Steven’s story climaxes during a raid on a large pharmaceutical manufacturer, during which he discovers that not everything is as it seems, and that there are hidden dangers everywhere.
The Big Thrill caught up with Billy Lyons to discuss his debut, BLOOD AND NEEDLES:
In Iraq, a shipment of $9 billion in cash goes missing. Each effort to find it ends in death. In Southern California, a mercenary’s murder, a severed head, and a bloody hand-written message spark a massive manhunt.
The man connecting these two events is William Butcher, aka: The Butcher. Those who stole the money want him dead. The cops want him for murder. Butcher’s only hope is his former NCIS colleague and closest friend, Linus Schag.
Torn between loyalties, Schag walks the thin line between doing his job or betraying his friend. Working from opposite ends, Schag and Butcher peel back the layers of conspiracy, revealing a criminal enterprise reaching into the highest levels of government.
Torn from today’s headlines, the plot of THE BUTCHER’S BILL ranges from the California mountains to the waters of the Pacific, and will keep readers on edge until its final, explosive climax.
Martin Roy Hill spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his novel, THE BUTCHER’S BILL:
Storey takes the job but soon finds himself involved in more than driving. There’s a murder. And conspiracy. And another murder.
And then the real trouble starts.
ONE PUNCH continues the series begun by Storey, described by one reviewer as a “highly intelligent, witty and well-plotted thriller”, and by others as “very entertaining”, “a great read” and “an unusual thriller.”
If you like thrillers with surprising characters, intricate plots, lots of humor and exciting action, then ONE PUNCH should fit the bill.
Author Keith Dixon sat down with The Big Thrill to discuss his novel, ONE PUNCH:
Fresh out of a mental hospital, schoolteacher Lizanne Demeter is thrilled to get a second chance at her career in the backwater town of Splinter Wood, Pennsylvania. But as idealistic Lizanne settles into her new third-grade classroom, cracks from her recent breakdown start to form.
She initiates a risky romance with a handsome prison inmate. She quits taking her psychiatric medication. And intensifying abuse from an aggressive helicopter mother, Naomi Seabrook, only exacerbates the pressure.
As Lizanne begins to suspect that Naomi is guilty of more than just overindulging her child, she is shocked to learn the extreme distance she must go to ensure that no more children fall through the cracks of the town’s devious plan.
With her entire life teetering on chaos, Lizanne is anxious to prove that she is a more dedicated teacher than anyone dared imagine, including herself.
The Big Thrill was lucky to catch Jennifer Soosar long enough to discuss her debut novel, PARENT TEACHER ASSOCIATION:
It’s been a year since Billie Flanagan—a beautiful, charismatic Berkeley mom with an enviable life—went on a solo hike and vanished from the trail. No body, only a hiking boot, was ever found. Her husband and teenage daughter have been coping with Billie’s death the best they can: Jonathan by drinking, Olive by growing remote.
But then Olive starts having waking dreams—or are they hallucinations?—that her mother is still alive. Jonathan is worried about Olive’s emotional stability, until he starts unearthing secrets from Billie’s past that bring into question everything he ever knew about his wife. Is it possible that Olive is right—that Billie isn’t dead after all?
Bestselling author Janelle Brown recently discussed her latest novel, WATCH ME DISAPPEAR, with The Big Thrill:
When the Oakland coroner’s office uncovers a body buried in a shallow grave in the outskirts of the city, homicide sergeant Matt Sinclair expects to find a drug dealer caught in the crosshairs of a turf war. Instead, the victim is identified as Phil Roberts, the commander of the police department’s intelligence unit and Sinclair’s former partner.
Police brass want to pin the murder on a dead member of an outlaw motorcycle gang, and they want the case closed quickly, but Sinclair and his current partner, Cathy Braddock, aren’t satisfied with that answer. As Sinclair delves into the details of Roberts’s past, secrets from his work and personal life come to the surface—secrets that some people will go to any length to keep buried. But Sinclair won’t stop until he finds the truth, even if it means sacrificing his former partner’s reputation and possibly his own career.
With SHALLOW GRAVE, Brian Thiem brings back his beloved detective for a thrilling third adventure in his acclaimed police procedural series.
Author Brian Thiem spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest novel, SHALLOW GRAVE:
Edward Thurman’s battle begins when he lands his lifelong friend Danny Wilson a job aboard an Alaskan fishing vessel, the Angie Piper. The captain and most of the other crew members find Danny an inspiring, worthwhile addition to their boat as he is incredibly strong and works tirelessly without complaint. Adding to these characteristics is Danny’s amiable personality, enhanced in part by his impossible dream of one day becoming a Navy SEAL (Danny has Down syndrome).
But not all the crew members are interested in having Danny on board, and the pressure quickly rises after the Angie Piper sets sail. In the center of the tension stands Edward, who knows that above all else, he must face the nagging guilt of his own history. And this history, which includes Danny, is the one thing that keeps Edward from his own dream. In a final conflict amid vicious storms and merciless rogue waves, tragedy strikes the crew of the Angie Piper, and every man is thrown into the crudest battle of all—the battle for survival.
THE SINKING OF THE ANGIE PIPER author, Chris Riley, spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his debut:
The Agatha-Award winning Food Lovers Village Mysteries return with Treble at the Jam Fest.
Erin Murphy, manager of Murphy’s Mercantile (aka the Merc), is tuning up for Jewel Bay’s annual Jazz Festival. Between keeping the Merc’s shelves stocked with Montana’s tastiest local fare and hosting the festival’s kick-off concert, Erin has her hands full.
Discord erupts when jazz guitarist Gerry Martin is found dead on the rocks above the Jewel River. The one-time international sensation had fallen out of sync with festival organizers, students, and performers. Was his death an accident—or did someone even the score?
Despite the warning signs to not get involved, Erin investigates. And when the killer attacks, she orchestrates her efforts into one last crescendo, hoping to avoid a deadly finale.
Award-winning author, Leslie Budewitz, spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest Food Lovers Village Mystery, TREBLE AT THE JAM FEST:
As a fixer for America’s one percent, John Smith cleans up the messes of those rich enough to afford him. But he’s no ordinary gun for hire. Smith is a man of rare gifts, including the ability to read minds. Arriving at the wedding of Kira Sadeghi, a reality television celebrity he recently saved from kidnappers, Smith witnesses a group of gunmen open fire, hitting the bride and others. Though he’s unarmed, Smith cripples one of the killers and is able to pry one word from his mind: “Downvote.”
Eager to learn more, Smith hacks into the brain of an FBI agent investigating the attack to discover the Bureau has been investigating a nefarious new threat called “Downvote,” an encrypted site on the “dark net” that lists the names of celebrities and offers a hefty bounty for anyone who can kill them—unleashing an anonymous and deadly flashmob with a keystroke.
Finding a mastermind on the internet is like trying to catch air—unless you’re John Smith. Motivated by money and revenge, he traces a series of electronic signatures to a reclusive billionaire living at sea, accompanied by a scary-smart female bodyguard who becomes Smith’s partner in his quest. The hunt for their prey will lead from Hong Kong to Reykjavik to a luxury gambling resort deep in the Laotian jungle. Yet always this criminal mastermind remains one step ahead.
The only way Downvote’s creator can stop Smith is to kill him . . . because while this diabolical genius can run, there’s no hiding from a man who can read minds.
FLASHMOB author, Christopher Farnsworth, discussed his latest novel with The Big Thrill:
Scarred by war, in pursuit of truth: Army veteran True Brighton left the service when the development of robotic helicopters made her training as a pilot obsolete. Now she works at Requisite Operations, a private military company established by friend and former Special Ops soldier, Lincoln Han. ReqOp has embraced the new technologies. Robotics, big data, and artificial intelligence are all tools used to augment the skills of veteran warfighters-for-hire. But the tragedy of war is still measured in human casualties, and when True makes a chance discovery during a rescue mission, old wounds are ripped open. She’s left questioning what she knows of the past, and resolves to pursue the truth, whatever the cost.
The Big Thrill caught up with author Linda Nagata to discuss her military thriller, THE LAST GOOD MAN:
In 1810, Atlas Catesby, a brilliant adventurer and youngest son of a baron, is anxious to resume his world travels after a carriage accident leaves him injured in London. But his plans are derailed when, passing through a country village, he discovers Lilliana Warwick being auctioned off to the highest bidder—by her husband. When the husband turns up dead several weeks later, Atlas is the only one who can help clear her name of the crime.
Fortunately, Atlas is a master at solving complicated puzzles, both with games and the intricacies of human motivation, and finds himself uniquely suited to the task, despite the personal peril it may put him in. But soon Altas learns the dead man had many secrets—and more than a few enemies willing to kill to keep them quiet—in MURDER IN MAYFAIR, the first in a new historical mystery series by D. M. Quincy.
The Big Thrill had an opportunity to sit down with D. M. Quincy to discuss her novel, MURDER IN MAYFAIR: