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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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:
On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than 100 words daily, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial—this can’t happen here. Not in America. Not to her.
This is just the beginning.
Soon women can no longer hold jobs. Girls are no longer taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words a day, but now women only have one hundred to make themselves heard.
But this is not the end.
For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.
The Big Thrill caught up to award-winning author Christina Dalcher and had a chance to discuss her thriller, VOX:
Twin brothers Ethan and Jack Stone have built the ultimate transparency app—Stalker—and it’s going to make them rich. But when Ethan’s girlfriend dumps him and his brother bails for their biggest competitor, Ethan is convinced they ran off together. He uses Stalker to find out, tracking them from Silicon Beach to Silicon Valley, and the secret he reveals is even more twisted than he imagined. Between his faith in people and the technology he designed to expose the truth, Ethan is forced to rethink everything he had believed regarding privacy, freedom, and trust.
A poignant and timely novel, THE SECOND SON deftly asks how far is too far when it comes to business, romance, and the intersection of technology in every aspect of our lives.
The Big Thrill caught up to award-winning filmmaker Martin Jay Weiss to discuss his thriller, THE SECOND SON:
On a picturesque fall morning in Grafton County, New Hampshire, a brutal murder rocks the small town of Alexandria. In the backyard of a weekend getaway cabin a dead woman is posed in red satin with two full-bloomed roses in place of eyes and a mysterious envelope addressed to Sheriff Niko Quintano.
Inside, Paradox vows to kill again if his riddle isn’t solved within 24 hours.
With so little time and not enough manpower, Niko asks his wife for help. But Crime Writer Sage Quintano is dealing with her own private nightmare. Not only did she find massive amounts of blood on the mountain where she and her family reside, but a phone call from the past threatens her future—the creepy mechanical voice of John Doe, the serial killer who murdered her twin sister.
Can Niko and Sage solve the riddle in time to save the next victim? Or will the killer, or killers, win this deadly game of survival?
Award-winning author Sue Coletta spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest thriller, SCATHED:
By Dawn Ius
Authors draw inspiration for characters from a number of places—friends and family, a stranger they caught a glimpse of at the coffee shop, exes and crushes. William Boyle’s muse comes in the form of an actress.
Amy Falconetti—the haunting protagonist of his gritty new release THE LONELY WITNESS—is named after Renee Maria Falconettti from The Passion of Joan of Arc, one of Boyle’s all-time favorite films.
“I just kept thinking how cool it would be to have a character called Falconetti—it could have been the name of a ’70s TV detective,” he says. “So I started there.”
More accurately, though, Falconetti’s story began in Boyle’s debut, Gravesend, in which she is a minor character that never fully left the author’s head and heart. When THE LONELY WITNESS begins, almost seven years have passed since the action in that first book, and Boyle was anxious to get to know her better.
“I learned not to expect anything of her,” he says. “I learned that she was a million things, all at once, all of them valid. I learned that she’s haunted, that she’s searching for contentment she’ll likely never find. I learned that she’s impulsive, and I learned to value her unpredictability.”
The reader learns these things as well—especially about her impulsiveness. For reasons she can’t quite understand, Falconetti is captivated by a crime she witnesses, and the murderer himself. Rather than calling the police—as perhaps most in her situation might—Falconetti collects the murder weapon from the sidewalk and soon finds herself on a dangerous hunt for the killer.
Boyle took some time this month to give The Big Thrill readers a behind-the-scenes look at THE LONELY WITNESS.
His wife Katie, along with an FBI agent who works organized crime, unravel Zach’s fate as a struggling small-town doctor who’d been lured by a new organization in Miami promising wealth. Then came unfathomable success.
But after threats and extortion, Zach Carson knew there was no way out. His family would never be safe. What’s discovered next changes everything.
EYES OF POSEIDON author, Richard Wickliffe, spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest thriller:
On a typical late summer day, Julia Swann is on the phone with her husband, Michael, when the call abruptly goes dead. Then the news rolls in: A bomb has gone off at Penn Station, where Michael was waiting for a train home. New York City is in a state of chaos.
A frantic Julia races to the city to look for Michael, her panic interwoven with memories of meeting and falling in love with the husband she’s now desperate to find. When someone finds a flier she’s posted and tells her they may have seen her husband, her dreams seem to be answered. Yet as she tries to find him, her calls go unanswered.
Weaving between the aftermath of the explosion and Julia’s memories of her life with Michael, new developments raise troubling questions. Did Michael survive the explosion? Why hasn’t he contacted her? What was he doing when their last call was cut off? Was he–or is he still–the man she fell in love with?
Part family drama, part tragic love story, and part disaster narrative that hits terrifyingly close to home, THE REAL MICHAEL SWANN is a deftly plotted suspense novel with an unflinching portrait of a marriage at its heart, challenging us to confront the unthinkable–both in our country and in our own homes.
The Big Thrill caught up with New York Times bestselling author Bryan Reardon to discuss his latest thriller, THE REAL MICHAEL SWANN:
By E.M. Powell
In Holly Brown’s latest release, HOW FAR SHE’S COME, we have the story of 24-year-old Cheyenne Florian, who has just received the type of job offer that dreams are made of and then some. Plucked from relative obscurity as a vlogger, Cheyenne has been headhunted to be the new correspondent on the recently formed Independent News Network.
But that dream quickly turns sour when she realizes that age-old workplace dynamics are in play at the seemingly innovative network, and she’ll have to contend with seething resentments, jealousies, and sexual harassment. Things take an even more sinister turn when Cheyenne discovers a mysterious diary written by a female broadcaster in 1991 featuring startling—and frightening—parallels to her own life. It becomes clear that she’s a pawn in a very twisted game, and she’s going to have to win it for her own survival. It’s a fast-paced and intriguing read that keeps the reader turning the pages.
The book’s pace was partly driven by the real-life news events underpinning it. Brown says she tends to be inspired by contemporary events and phenomena and with this novel, it’s the #MeToo movement as well as recent political events. There were a couple of times when the sheer speed and volume of revelations made it difficult to keep a handle on what was coming to light.