Senior Special Agent Sayer Altair studies the minds of psychopaths. But even she didn’t expect to uncover a killer within the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Rooting him out and exposing internal corruption got her a bullet wound and six months of desk duty. Now, she’s finally back in the field, called in when an off-duty FBI agent and his cadaver dog fall into a sinkhole filled with human bones.
Found deep in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, the skeletal remains date back almost two decades, the same time a beloved local teen disappeared. The cold case quickly heats up when Sayer’s team finds two fresh corpses among the bones. When a gruesome clue ties these new bodies to a woman recently kidnapped along with her young daughter, Sayer has to uncover the connection between the old bones and the new bodies before the mother and child become the next victims.
But the killer is one step ahead, attacking her team and sabotaging their efforts. With Sayer’s investigation compromised and unsure of who to trust, she receives unwanted help from Subject 037, one of the anonymous psychopaths she is currently studying. She has the chilling realization that he’s someone powerful in Washington D.C.—and he is not about to let a mundane serial killer jeopardize his own ominous agenda for Sayer…
Critically acclaimed author Ellison Cooper sat down with The Big Thrill to discuss her latest thriller, BURIED:
Finn Carroll is a failed artist living a marginal existence in his dead parents’ home. So why would a team of killers want to murder him and frame it as a suicide? Finn survives the encounter to discover the killers have left behind a “suicide note” detailing a dark incident from Finn’s past no one could possibly know about.
Finn escapes to Musqasset Island, his former home, to seek refuge with an old friend, but soon realizes he has trapped himself on the small island with the very people who want him dead—and with old debts that need to be paid. His only hope for survival, and redemption, is to figure out who’s trying to kill him and why they’ve waited eighteen years to act—no easy task in a raging nor’easter, where communications are shaky and relationships (and Finn’s mental state) are even shakier.
Andrew Wolfendon spent some time with The Big Thrill lending some insight into his debut novel, FISHERMAN’S COURT:
When the biggest legal case of her career brings Eliza Carmody back to Kinsale, the hometown she thought she had left forever, she witnesses an old friend commit a crime that sends her on a dangerous quest to uncover the mysteries of her childhood that the rest of the town seems willing to ignore.
With her friend on the run and the police investigating the bones of an unidentified dead body at a historic homestead near town, Eliza becomes convinced that the truth lies in her memories of the New Year’s Eve years ago when her friend Grace disappeared from Kinsale forever.
While Eliza desperately explores the connections between the crimes of the present and those of the past, she begins to suspect that no one ― even her own family ― is telling the truth.
The Big Thrill caught up to award-winning author Aoife Clifford, and discussed her latest thriller, SECOND SIGHT:
After studying biology at MIT, a career as a thriller writer was not the natural path forward for New York Times bestselling author Megan Miranda.
“Though I loved writing when I was growing up, I also loved science, and I didn’t know anyone who was an author,” she says. “I didn’t know what that career path would look like. So I pursued a degree in biology, worked in biotechnology for a few years, and then taught high school science.”
If Miranda had continued toiling away in the lab, her new novel, THE LAST HOUSE GUEST, might never have been written—but the call to being an author was something she couldn’t ignore. And by the time she reached her late 20s, she knew she had to do something about it.
“I had children, and came to realize I had given up this creative pursuit for too long,” she says. “That’s when my focus shifted—to give it a real shot, to treat this as my job in the hopes that it would one day become my career.”
At first, writing was just something she did on the side, late at night, after she tucked in her kids. “I had set myself the goal of finishing something—which I did—but I didn’t understand the art of revising, or all the story elements needed,” she says. Miranda soon brought the same degree of rigor that she’d used to learn science to her pursuit of writing. And that approach paid off.
After two total rewrites, that late-night project evolved into her first published novel, though “the only things that remain the same from the original version are the title (Fracture), the character names, and the first four sentences. I’d say the process of rewriting that book several times taught me a lot about the writing process and the essential elements of a story.”
When Professor Michael Peterson learns he has a terminal brain tumor and is faced with no other viable options, he promises complete confidentially to undergo an experimental and highly secretive operation in brain cell grafting.
While recuperating, he begins to have flashes of fragmented images that have no connection to his life. He soon realizes he is an unwilling participant in a murder plan initiated by his donor.
Drawn into a maze of deceit and danger, Michael must choose between keeping his word to the person who saved his life or making an attempt to save the life of a complete stranger.
The Big Thrill spent some time with author Lauri Broadbent discussing her debut thriller, IMAGES:
By Basil Sands
Lindy opened her eyes and struggled to make out the dark room around her. She’s bound at the wrists and tied to a chair, unable to move. Footsteps outside the door stifle her screams. He’s coming…
In town, Sheriff Jenna Alton gets a text with a video and a simple message—you’ve got six hours to find her or I kill her.
This is how D. K. Hood’s latest book, WHISPER IN THE NIGHT begins—and I would strongly suggest that you don’t read it if you plan to sleep soon. WHISPER IN THE NIGHT is a tense thriller, not for the light-hearted—but definitely a story thriller fans will find compelling.
Writing about the rugged beauty of Montana and her interest in criminal forensic science goes back many years for Hood. Her debut crime thriller, Don’t Tell a Soul, was a Top 100 Bestseller on Amazon USA, with her follow-up books, Bring Me Flowers and Follow Me Home, enjoying the same success. Her novels The Crying Season and Where Angels Fear hit the USA Today bestseller list.
In this interview, she takes some time out of her busy schedule to talk to The Big Thrill about what inspired her chilling new release.
In Kelsey Rae Dimberg’s debut thriller GIRL IN THE REARVIEW MIRROR, Finn Hunt lucks into the job of a lifetime when she becomes a nanny for a political power couple in Phoenix. The glamorous lifestyle of Philip Martin, the son of a senator, and his wife Marina dazzles Finn, but she loves being part of this accomplished family and caring for her young charge, the Martins’ precocious four-year-old, Amabel.
When a young woman approaches Finn and asks her to carry a message to Philip, Finn becomes enmeshed in a web of deadly lies—including her own. Secrets best left alone are laid bare under the broiling Phoenix sun, as a senate seat hangs in the balance.
Megan Abbot says this story is “an exciting, intoxicating debut, it will hold you until its startling final pages” and Sarah Weinman calls it “thrilling, thoughtful, and suspenseful.” Hallie Ephron says the story reminds her of “the ghost of Mary Jo Kopechne,” as “an appealing young woman is caught up in a power political family’s prestige and privilege.”
Dimberg says inspiration for this story was classic noir—but with a twist. “I wanted to play with the genre’s tropes. Rather than the hard-boiled detective, I was interested in their moral role in the story. I relished the exposure of rot and scandal behind powerful families, but favored domestic disturbances over benders and gambling debts. I liked the idea of an ordinary person drawn into a mystery, but I wanted that person to be a woman, both vulnerable and tough.”
By K. L. Romo
Supernatural suspense author E. V. Lind melds action, art, and otherworldly intervention in her ghostly thriller ONLY WHEN I SCREAM (trilogy book two).
Ivy Anderson had her entire life ahead of her. At eighteen, fueled by her passion for classical paintings and the Grand Masters behind them, she planned to tour the great galleries in Europe before starting college. But everything changed when the serial killer Oliver Symes abducted and tortured her. Although she escaped, that one night would define the rest of her life.
After twelve years of building up both her body and spirit, Ivy now leads a reclusive life. It’s no wonder she recoils from relationships, watching for danger at every turn. But she loves her career as an art conservationist—she is a master at restoring old paintings to their former glory. Working for the preeminent Jasper Boyle is her dream come true.
Ivy’s current project is out of the ordinary. Jasper is counting on her to impress their new client, Drake Colton, a millionaire who could make or break Boyle Studios. But there’s a catch—Drake won’t let the painting leave the premises. Ivy must perform the restoration at his home, a Gothic mansion on a cliff at the edge of the ocean, an hour’s drive from her studio in San Francisco.
Jennifer Lawler takes a deep dive into organized crime in COYOTE’S POISON.
Lily Gilmartin knows human traffickers and drug smugglers have a short life expectancy, but when her fiancé disappears, she goes into hiding and searches for answers. In her quest, she finds herself caught between two warring crime families in the desert Southwest, the Nakos mob and the Humes, led by the man she calls Dad. Staying alive becomes ever more negligible, as she fights to protect the one thing she values even more.
The Big Thrill tracked Lawler down as she prepared for the launch of COYOTE’S POISON this month. The developmental editor and author of more than 40 fiction and nonfiction books—everything from romance to fantasy, essays, articles, and more—first conceived Lily about eight or nine years ago.
“It took me a long time to figure out the best way to tell her story,” she says. “The themes kept me working on the story for so long—how much can we change, what does it cost, and what happens when it doesn’t work? But I didn’t want the story to be ‘about’ those themes. I wanted it to be a story about a character for whom readers would care, and that took a lot of tinkering.”
Lawler doesn’t want to hammer people over the head with the issues, because ultimately the story is about a person who gets into trouble and tries to get out. “As a reader I’m always a little disappointed when the trouble is only personal with no connection to the larger issues in the world. We’re all enmeshed. It’s all connected. These things matter. I can’t solve them, but I can draw attention to them and maybe make a tiny difference.”
COYOTE’S POISON didn’t start out to be a thriller. “I first thought of the story as romantic suspense, given my history as a romance writer, but the story became too complex for that genre.”
In her latest novel, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling author Debra Webb brings back Dr. Rowan Dupont, the forensic psychiatrist introduced in The Undertaker’s Daughter. THE SECRETS WE BURY finds Rowan back in her hometown of Winchester, Tennessee, recovering from the trauma of her shattering encounter with a serial killer and running the family business, a Victorian-style funeral home she inherited after her father’s death.
“I’ve always been curious about funeral homes and death,” Webb says. “One of the stories my grandmother often told me was about the woman who woke up buried in a wooden coffin. An occasional baby sitter of me and my brother told us the story about a man waking up in the funeral home lying on a gurney beneath a sheet. The story went that he ran out and all the way home wrapped in that sheet.” Whether or not either tale was rooted in fact, they were good stories. “I suppose the inspiration for the book and the series is a fascination with death and the multitude of reasons it happens before it should.”
Webb had just signed the contract for the series when she learned she had a life-threatening aneurysm in her ascending aorta. Because of its small size, it was determined that the risk of open heart surgery was greater than the danger posed by the aneurysm. That, however, is a delicate balance. As the aneurysm grows, the risk of a rupture becomes greater than the risk of surgical correction. She was given medication and rules for how high she could allow her heart rate to go. If she wasn’t careful, she was told, the aneurysm could rupture, and if that happened, the chances of survival were very slim.
It was like having a time bomb in her head.
From Emily Carpenter, bestselling author of Every Single Secret, Burying the Honeysuckle Girls, and The Weight of Lies, comes a new psychological thriller, UNTIL THE DAY I DIE.
After her husband dies in an accident, Erin Gaines and her brilliant college-age daughter, Shorie, grieve. For Erin, the responsibility of running the financial app Jax, the company she, her husband, and their partners had founded, plus typical mother-daughter relationship stresses, are overwhelming. Erin’s business partners, extended family, and even Shorie want her to take a break. They schedule her for a few weeks at a luxury spa in the Caribbean. At first Erin resists, but then decides they may be right.
But Hidden Sands is not as the brochure promises. Either Erin is losing her mind, or she wasn’t sent there to recover. She was sent there to disappear. And it will take all of Erin’s and Shorie’s ingenuity to save her.
Jessica Strawser dubbed UNTIL THE DAY I DIE “seductively sinister . . . a fast, frightening read,” and Heather Gudenkauf called it “twisty . . . jaw-dropping.”
“A wild thought—The Lord of the Flies with soccer moms—inspired UNTIL THE DAY I DIE,” Carpenter says, noting that the story eventually evolved into something “less nihilistic and with more soul.”
By P. J. Bodnar
When critically-acclaimed investigative journalist Caitlin Bergman is invited back to her alma mater to accept the degree she wasn’t able to complete, she isn’t sure she can—it’s in a place she’s avoided for 20 years.
Realizing she can’t avoid her demons forever, she agrees to go. But while accepting her diploma, she’s drawn into the investigation of a missing student and is forced to face those demons head on.
Author August Norman grew up in central Indiana, but his adopted home has been Los Angeles for the past 20 years. He’s currently working on the follow-up to COME AND GET ME.
Here, he sits down with The Big Thrill to answer a few questions about his heart-pounding debut.
You have written and appeared in movies, television, and stage. Which of these formats do you enjoy the most, and would you rather perform or write for them?
When in doubt, and this goes for most parts of my life, I’d rather be writing, followed by talking about writing, then reading. An actor’s product is market dependent, meaning you can call yourself an actor all you want, but until someone casts you in a project, you’re waiting by the phone for permission to practice your craft, let alone get paid. As a writer, no one can stop you from creating art. They might not buy it, but it’s yours to refine and/or obsess about until finally thrusting it into the world. As far as formats, I love the constraints of TV and film, since you really need to tell your story quickly. But in my experience, long-form fiction’s depth of character exploration and ability to play with the language allows me a far more personal exchange with the reader.
Seven strangers in a mansion on a luxurious private island. Odd accidents. One by one, they fall. Agatha Christie? Think again.
While THEY ALL FALL DOWN does pay homage to Christie’s most famous work, And Then There Were None, Rachel Howzell Hall’s upcoming release offers a modern take on the locked room mystery.
Miriam Macy, a 45-year-old black woman, accepts an offer to take part in a reality show, only to discover there is something sinister on Mictlan Island, located somewhere in the Sea of Cortez.
With a release date set for April 9, the novel has already earned advance praise from thriller luminaries like Attica Locke, Sara Paretsky, Meg Gardiner, Kristen Lepionka, and James Patterson.
The Big Thrill caught up with Hall—author of the critically acclaimed Lou Norton series— who says with THEY ALL FALL DOWN, she wanted to try something different.
“I remember watching Neil Simon’s Murder by Death. Learning that Simon used And Then There Were None as a foundation for the story made it more interesting, because of my familiarity with the seven deadly sins and Dante’s Inferno,” she says. “ I wanted to have fun with the characters, and I think what was most difficult was finding out ways to murder them according to their sin.
Stag Maguire, a burnt-out journalist hardly able to prop himself up in the wake of tragedy, agrees to help a friend move. They find an urgent message—HELP ME—written on a piece of silk tacked behind a long-forgotten portrait. The message from an address in Berlin is urgent—though it had to have been written pre-World War II.
Curious, Stag and his friend begin to research the address and whoever might have written the message. They trace the address to an apartment, a sealed time capsule that has not been lived in since 1942. And from one phone call to that apartment, the men unleash a nefarious plot and brutal security forces long thought vanquished.
Events begin to cascade without mercy, and Stag—a broken man from the Midwest—finds himself pitted against a vestige of the Third Reich with powerful forces ensuring the propagation of Heydrich’s infamous SD—Nazi’s intelligence agency—in today’s world.
Will ordinary-man Stag Maguire prevail in his lone stand against evil?
Author T R Kenneth discussed her thriller, A ROOM FULL OF NIGHT, with The Big Thrill, and here’s what she had to say:
By Tim O’Mara
Lisa Towles, award-winning author of Choke, ventures into what for many readers will be familiar territory in her latest novel, THE UNSEEN.
Forty years ago, archaeologist Rachel Careski discovered an ancient scroll, which threatened the power of the Church. Descendants of Pope Theophilus, sworn to protect Christianity, believe that Rachel’s brother, Soren Careski, took possession of the deadly scroll after Rachel vanished. But Soren is dead.
Forty years later, Soren’s son, Alex, receives an email from his dead father’s account with an image of the scroll. The same day, Alex’s wife, Simone, is kidnapped, and in London, two antiquarian texts go missing from the British Museum.
The rest, as they say, is fiction.
THE UNSEEN is bound to remind many readers of the works of Dan Brown and other “ancient secret” mystery novels.
“Let me say first that if THE UNSEEN was sharing a bookshelf with one of Dan Brown’s books, it would be an honor,” Towles says. “There are similarities in that THE UNSEEN has two separate story threads that eventually weave together and become inseparably entwined. This is a pattern I see in a lot of thrillers. So, although it’s action-packed, I think the real thrust is the legend of Alex’s past, his family history, his father’s lifelong work, and the hidden artifact that’s influenced centuries of crimes.”
Those separate storylines juggle many characters, and in less deft hands, it might be hard to keep so many balls in the air. Towles makes it look easy.
Nikki Griffin isn’t your typical private investigator. In her office above her bookstore’s shelves and stacks, where she luxuriates in books and the comfort they provide, she also tracks certain men. Dangerous men. Men who have hurt the women they claim to love. And Nikki likes to teach those men a lesson, to teach them what it feels like to be hurt and helpless, so she can be sure that their victims are safe from them forever.
When a regular PI job tailing Karen, a tech company’s disgruntled employee who might be selling secrets, turns ugly and Karen’s life is threatened, Nikki has to break cover and intervene. Karen tells Nikki that there are people after her. Dangerous men. She says she’ll tell Nikki what’s really going on. But then something goes wrong, and suddenly Nikki is no longer just solving a case—she’s trying hard to stay alive.
Part Lisbeth Salander, part Jack Reacher, part Jessica Jones, Nikki Griffin is a kick-ass character who readers will root for as she seeks to right the world’s wrongs. S. A. Lelchuk’s SAVE ME FROM DANGEROUS MEN marks the beginning of a gripping new series and the launch of a fabulous new character.
The Big Thrill caught up to S. A. Lelchuk to discuss his debut novel, SAVE ME FROM DANGEROUS MEN:
A lighthearted morning trip to test a new drone turns deadly for attorney Alexa Williams and two close friends when they find a stranger’s bullet-riddled body in a remote field in rural Pennsylvania. Next to the dead man is a note that declares: Allahu Akbar.
Trying to shake the gruesome discovery, Alexa returns to her busy law practice and personal life. She’s representing a Syrian refugee family whose son has been bullied at school.
Old love Reese Michaels is back from Africa and living in nearby Harpers Ferry. He and Alexa are tiptoeing through a delicate dance as they rekindle the spark between them. Alexa is also taking Krav Maga classes at a local studio for self-protection. The studio owner, the widow of a soldier killed in the Iraq War, is fast becoming a friend. If that’s not enough, Alexa’s parents are pulling her into a flurry of social commitments as they host an International Fellow at the US Army War College, an Iraqi general, and his colleague, a decorated American colonel.
When another man is found executed near Harpers Ferry, Reese becomes a suspect and Alexa wonders just how much he’s changed since working in Africa. After a third murder, an improbable fear of Islamic terrorism spreads like wildfire through Alexa’s small Pennsylvania town. When the police arrest the oldest son of the refugee family for the murders, her Syrian clients become the focus of mounting anti-Muslim rage, and a dangerous militia group targets Alexa.
One dark night in the dead of winter, Alexa discovers how all these threads intersect, and she must race to stop an attack that could kill hundreds. If she fails, she could lose everyone she loves.
The Big Thrill spent some time with award-winning author Sherry Knowlton to discuss the latest installment in the Alexa Williams series, DEAD OF WINTER:
Fifty years after the epic night in 1968 that forever changed his life, Oliver Cross is fresh out of jail, passing his final days in a bitter stew of prescription pills, back pain, and regret. But when he learns his granddaughter has vanished—a wild-child who reminds him of his dead wife, bless her hell-raising heart—Oliver jumps parole and hits the blacktop to find his granddaughter and bring her home. Running from his parole officer and a Russian drug lord, Oliver races across America on a road trip fueled by the diesel fumes of a Ford F-250, the voice of his dead wife, and his own raging disappointments. It is a journey that can only end in redemption or a hail of bullets, and Oliver is hoping for the bullets because the one thing he doesn’t want in this foul piece of world is anything reeking of redemption.
The Big Thrill recently caught up with New York Times bestselling author William Lashner to discuss his latest thriller, FREEDOM ROAD:
If today’s headlines give you goosebumps, you should read Tosca Lee’s newest action thriller, THE LINE BETWEEN, in which a cult cast-out becomes the only hope to save the United States from a deadly virus released from the melting Alaskan permafrost.
Wynter Roth is expelled from the doomsday cult in which she’s been raised. As she struggles to adjust to a world she’s been taught is evil, a mysterious outbreak of early-onset dementia spreads. The power grid and other support systems fail.
To Wynter, the cult leader’s dire predictions seem to be coming true. As people fall ill by the thousands, Wynter’s dying sister turns up at her doorstep in Illinois with a set of medical samples that could hold the key to the disease. Wynter must carry the samples to a Colorado scientist in hopes of stopping the virus, but threats pile on like snowdrifts, and success is far from guaranteed.
Action, conspiracy, romance: THE LINE BETWEEN has it all.
Alex Kava says it’s “everything you want in a thriller,” while Jonathan Maberry calls it “beautifully written and deeply unnerving.” Steven James says it’s “a nonstop thrill ride that will leave you breathless,” and K. J. Howe describes it as “an epic novel of depth and power . . . Brilliant.”
THE BIG THRILL caught up with Lee recently and learned that her road to 11 published novels has had a few twists.
Eight people were in the woods that night: eight splintered lives, eight people hiding a terrible secret. But who can remember the truth?
Now, Ellen’s best friend, Detective Ava Cole, is all grown up back in the village where it all began, and everyone is asking the same question.
What really happened to Ellen?
Filled with shocking discoveries and traumatic memories, this fast paced thriller is perfect for fans of Friend Request and Close to Home.
Author D. E. White spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest novel, the psychological thriller REMEMBER ME:
Eliot Parker is a West Virginian born and bred, so it’s no surprise that his Ronan McCullough novels are set in the capital city of Charleston, a place Parker knows well. And in his latest book, A KNIFE’S EDGE, he writes about his hometown with a native son’s passion, a poet’s careful eye, and a crime writer’s sense of precision.
“Charleston has everything you want as a writer in terms of setting,” he says. “Posh neighborhoods, urban sprawl, seedy areas of town, and a heterogeneous group of people, some of whom are trying to make the city better while others are just existing and trying to survive.”
His lead character, Ronan McCullough, falls squarely into the category of those trying to improve things. In the opening of A KNIFE’S EDGE, a car crashes into Charleston’s iconic Clay Center with a dead man at the wheel. As both a witness and the lead investigator, McCullough digs deep into a mystery that seems to lead to BTech, a company that has promised to transform the city’s economy—and the future of blood testing in both medicine and criminal investigations.
The fictional elements of A KNIFE’S EDGE have a real ripped-from-the-headlines feel. In fact, Parker—a former journalism major—was inspired by an article he read in Time magazine about entrepreneur Elizabeth Homes. A one-time darling of Silicon Valley, Homes vowed that her company, Theranos, would revolutionize blood analysis with a state-of-the-art testing device and a simple drop of blood.
Although Homes’s claims were later discredited, the idea had already sparked Parker’s imagination. “I kept thinking ‘what would happen if that technology fell into the wrong hands?’” he says. “That’s when I decided to make it a central part of the novel’s plot.”
Parker has done just that, producing a thriller that’s both twisty and timely.
Let’s welcome him to The Big Thrill.
Kimber Hannon imagines she has complete control over her life, until she comes home to find that her house key no longer opens her front door. A man is living in her house. A stranger, who presents a lease bearing Kimber’s own signature. When she confronts him, he gets close enough to whisper, “I was there. I saw what you did.”
This trespasser knows her, and isn’t after anything as simple as her money or artwork or charming Craftsman bungalow. He wants to come into her carefully orchestrated life–and destroy it.
Multiple award-nominee Laura Benedict spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest thriller, THE STRANGER INSIDE. Here’s what she had to say:
By Terri Nolan
SINS OF THE SISTER is the sixth novel—and first thriller—from Zari Reede, a writing team consisting of authors Zoe Tasia and Minette Lauren. What started as a shared writing exercise grew into a professional partnership for the Texas-based authors, whose previous releases include the urban fantasy Blinked and the romance Daisy Dukes ’n Cowboy Boots (both released in 2017).
Lana Madison is a college-age woman searching for her twin sister, Dania. They have opposite personalities: one is shy, reserved, and always does the right thing; the other is outgoing, fearless, and pushes boundaries. But their sisterly bond moves past biology and crosses the threshold into the psychological realm. They share emotions and memories. These brief flashes of experience have driven Lana for the last three years as she seeks Dania and the men who abducted her. Lana views these snapshots as proof of life. They also provide clues that fill the gaps of her own remembrances from the fateful night Dania disappeared.
SINS OF THE SISTER is a classic thriller that keeps the reader involved as Lana navigates the dangerous world of human trafficking. It’s full of characters who might not be what they seem—that’s the thrill of a novel that keeps you guessing all the way to the monumental twist.
The authors recently took some time to sit down with The Big Thrill and answer a few questions about their latest collaboration.
A gruesome and personally devastating murder propels Moroccan journalist Zakia Karim into a morass of grief, danger, and deception in THE DIRTY NETWORK, A. M. Halvorssen’s fast-paced debut thriller.
As Zakia struggles against long odds to investigate the untimely death of her friend Elias in a fracking “accident” and expose the campaign of misinformation and shady dealings that whitewash the effects of fossil fuels on Earth’s climate, she will have to surmount obstacles that menace her career, her marriage, her freedom, and her life.
From the Sahara Desert to Iceland to the United States, the bodies pile up, and long-buried secrets threaten to destroy the people she loves most.
A. M. Halvorssen is an internationally-recognized expert on environmental issues, particularly climate change. A native of Norway, she holds a law degree from the University of Oslo and both a master’s and a doctorate from Columbia Law School. She has authored numerous scholarly publications. Her dissertation was nominated for the Harold and Margaret Sprout Award in 2001. She teaches at the University of Colorado, is Director of Global Legal Solutions, LLC, an international think tank and consultancy, and a member of the International Law Association’s Committee on International Law and Sea Level Rise. She also assists in the UN climate change negotiations.
Dan Bloom of the Cli-Fi Report calls this book “a gripping international cli-fi thriller for our challenging times,” and Karen C. Whale, author of the Dinner Club Mystery series, says, “A. M. Halvorssen exposes the greedy practices that cause climate change and the people who cover it up and destroy the world in the process. This suspenseful tale carries more truth than fiction.”
When The Big Thrill caught up with Halvorssen recently to talk about THE DIRTY NETWORK, we asked what inspired her to turn to fiction? In a nutshell, she wants to reach a larger audience.
“Few people read scientific reports, and the newspapers had the stories backwards for a long time,” she says. “I thought, plenty of people still read novels, so I decided to write a novel and put climate change in it.”
The years that author Tim Washburn spent working in the television business are demonstrated in the cinematic scope and feel of his thrillers, which feature the struggle for survival in the face of cataclysmic disasters. Some of these disasters come compliments of Mother Nature, others from human machinations. But all are disturbingly plausible.
Perhaps his penchant for high-octane, high-adrenaline subject matter comes from living in the heart of Oklahoma’s Tornado Alley. Maybe he writes in order to make sense of a world where the combination of political unrest and increasingly sophisticated technology can seem like a giant Damocles’ sword poised over us all. Or maybe, like so many of us, he just likes a good, heart-pounding read.
In CYBER ATTACK, that’s exactly what Washburn delivers. It’s a plot-driven book that involves a lot of complex technology, but the technical information never overshadows or bogs down the story. Achieving that balance is no easy task—especially for an author without a high-tech background.
“I do extensive research for all of my novels,” Washburn says. “I’ve had friends say, ‘You’re writing fiction, make it up.’ Even though we do write fiction I think the readers expect us to get the details right. I want that in the books that I read, and it’s also something I strive for in my own work. There’s a fine line you have to navigate, or the story gets bogged down in the details. I try to be accurate about the technology I do include, yet I try to use it as sparingly as possible. When I started CYBER ATTACK, I knew very little about hacking or computer networks or computer viruses or a zillion other things. Now I wish I didn’t know half of what I now know!”
Asked about his journey as a writer, Washburn says, “I’m a late bloomer. With a journalism degree, I’ve always done some type of writing, but it wasn’t until I was 49 that I began thinking seriously about writing a novel.”
What would you be willing to do for a chance to live your life over again?
That’s the question facing Walter, the down-and-out protagonist of Dan Mayer’s sophomore novel, REBORN. Walt’s life has gone definitively off the rails: he’s reeling from the deaths of his parents and grandmother, and he’s estranged from the love of his life. When the mysterious Joshua offers him the opportunity to go back and fix his mistakes, Walt is willing to risk everything for a second chance—even if it means reliving the tragic death of his parents. But as the saying goes, if something seems too good to be true, it usually is.
Mayer is an Ontario-based author whose debut title, The Suffering, was released in November 2017. He’s currently working on his third novel, Dave’s War, a psychological thriller with supernatural elements. Between promoting his newest release and getting his next novel ready for publication, Mayer took time to answer some questions for The Big Thrill.
THE KNEELING WOMAN, the latest international suspense thriller in the Amanda Wells series written by G. A. Chamberlin, opens with a bang. Literally.
While browsing through a souvenir shop not far from Puerta del Puenta—the Renaissance gate in Cordoba, Andalusia—Amanda Wells is smitten with a beautiful white granite carving of a “saintly figure, its curvature smooth, its head bowed in merciful supplication with hair locks weaved about her head.”
It’s too beautiful and too good a deal to pass up, and so she buys it. But as soon as she and her husband, Trevor MacDonnell, step out onto the street, a vehicle streaks by and gunshots tear into Trevor’s body as he stretches out his arms in an effort to protect his wife from the hail of bullets.
And suddenly, we’re off and running, as THE KNEELING WOMAN seesaws back and forth between present time and the early days of World War II. It seems the provenance of the statue Amanda innocently purchases, and donates to a city museum, has a shady past, and it’s this past that winds up getting her husband’s firm investigated for dealing in stolen assets.
Research for THE KNEELING WOMAN was rooted in findings from Chamberlin’s previous work in the field of records and documents. As she explains, “The novel, framed by World War II, shows the conflicted world that Roosevelt had to face as he shaped the world of his time, and especially illustrates the perils that can arise if we don’t care about what’s important. Evil can lurk anywhere—including in the opioid epidemic of today—if allowed to take root. The novel is less about the treachery of war than about dangers that were averted and the victories sustained for our safeguard today.”
THE KNEELING WOMAN, the ninth in Chamberlin’s suspense series, saw its birth as a direct result of her attending ThrillerFest 2011.
“On a strip of sand by a northern sea, salt water caresses pale skin.”
British businesswoman Anna Dent encounters a young girl’s body on a Lithuanian beach and can’t let the horrific image go. When a volcanic eruption in Iceland grounds all European flights, Anna meets a man, Will, who will change her life. She is soon sucked into a Baltic quagmire of sex trafficking and Russian mobsters. To unravel what happened, she and Will must use all their skills—but not even he can save her from the secrets of her past that the child’s murder resurrects.
THE TRUTH WAITS is Susanna Beard’s second book. Her first, Dare to Remember, was published in 2017.
Beard spent time with The Big Thrill this month to share more about the inspiration for her latest release:
What inspired you to write fiction in general, and psychological thrillers in particular?
Working with PR clients always involves writing this piece of copy about that subject. As a novelist, I discovered the wonder and freedom of using my imagination in my work. The psychological thriller bit was by complete chance—my first novel was simply a story I wanted to tell. Then I realized that this was my niche and carried on.
Like most writers, Karna Small Bodman started her adult life with a day job. Not an ordinary day job, like waiting tables or working in an office, but two day jobs in a row that uniquely prepared her to write a series of award-winning international thrillers.
Her first career was as a TV news reporter and anchor, first in San Francisco and later in Washington, DC, where she hosted a three-hour news/talk radio show and a nationally syndicated program on business and economic issues. The skills she learned there—keenly developed powers of observation and a deep understanding of the current cultural and political landscape—led to a position in President Ronald Reagan’s administration as deputy to Press Secretary Jim Brady. From there, she progressed to senior director and spokesman for the National Security Council.
Over the years, she met with the President almost every day, wrote briefing papers for him, and traveled on Air Force One. She flew to South America and the Far East to give speeches on the President’s economic policies and attended arms control talks with the Soviets. She even traveled with the team that briefed Pope John Paul II and the leaders of Great Britain, France, and Italy. When she finally left the White House for work in the private sector, Karna was the White House staff’s highest-ranking woman.
She had always wanted to write novels, and now was the time. She’d been honing her writing skills with articles, news scripts, and newspaper columns; and her political background made the thriller genre a natural fit. Her first four White House National Security novels—Checkmate, Gambit, Final Finesse, and Castle Bravo—were well received. “Write what you know,” writers are told, and Karna found success by taking that advice to heart.
Bodman took some time this month to talk to The Big Thrill about the newest in the series, TRUST BUT VERIFY, which brings back Samantha Reid as Director of the White House Office of Homeland Security.
Belle Whynecrow and her oldest brother, Beau, attend their father’s funeral, inciting a bloodlust in Beau that trickles down onto his impressionable little sister. Eventually, Beau’s antics lead him to prison, causing their mother to flee the state with Belle, so that they may lead a simple life. All for naught, Belle obsesses over the teachings of her oldest brother, awaiting his arrival, as she creates her own brotherhood, leading each additional brother to victory over a string of terrible crimes.
When Beau finally shows up at her doorstep, he does so as a devout man of God, looking to prove to his family that his time in prison changed him for the better. This doesn’t bode well with Belle, who begins crafting a plan that could lead Beau headfirst into or against the brotherhood that his sister built specifically for him to thrive in.
Tristan Drue Rogers took time out of his busy schedule to discuss his thriller, BROTHERS OF BLOOD: