Contemporary Thrillers

The Dirty Network by A. M. Halvorssen

By Millie Naylor Hast

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.”
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Cyber Attack by Tim Washburn

By Jaden Terrell

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.”
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Reborn by Dan Mayer

By P. J. Bodnar

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.
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The Kneeling Woman by G. A. Chamberlin

By Charles Salzberg

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.
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The Truth Waits by Susanna Beard

By Millie Naylor Hast

“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.
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Trust But Verify by Karna Small Bodman

By Jaden Terrell

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.
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Brothers of Blood by Tristan Drue Rogers

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:
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VOX by Christina Dalcher

Set in an America where half the population has been silenced, VOX is the harrowing, unforgettable story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter.

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:
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The Second Son by Martin Jay Weiss

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:
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Scathed by Sue Coletta

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:
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The Lonely Witness by William Boyle

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.
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Eyes of Poseidon by Richard Wickliffe

Why would Zach Carson, a successful doctor, husband and father, leap from a cruise ship at 3:00 am?

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:
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The Real Michael Swann by Bryan Reardon

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:
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How Far She’s Come by Holly Brown

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.
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The Forgotten Ones by Steena Holmes

By Heidi Ruby Miller

It’s early morning and New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Steena Holmes is at her kitchen table drinking coffee and talking about her latest novel THE FORGOTTEN ONES, the haunting story of Elle and what she is compelled to do when she receives a deathbed request from her grandfather, a man racked by grief, regrets, and a dark secret.

“I wish I could take you into my office,” Holmes says, “but it’s currently a cluttered disaster zone. I’m in the middle of preparing reader boxes that need to get mailed.” She elaborates on the reader boxes she’s assembling: “I’ve put together a few of my favorite things, like a special reading mug, chocolates, tote bag, etc., along with a signed copy of THE FORGOTTEN ONES, for those in my awesome reader group. Thanks to the crazy mess in my office I’ve been writing up in my bedroom.”

Holmes says her husband surprised her with a cozy lounger that she’s been writing in. “I’ve written my last two books up there. No, wait, I basically wrote THE FORGOTTEN ONES in my car during field hockey practices where my middle daughter plays goalie. Yes, I have three teenage daughters. Someone once told me life gets easier as the kids get older, but they lied!”
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A Blood Thing by James Hankins

By Dawn Ius

Politics has never been a theme in James Hankins’ books before—but it felt right for A BLOOD THING, a frightening new thriller that explores the lengths people will go to protect the ones they love.

“In my own lifetime, I don’t recall a time of greater political unrest,” Hankins says. “It pervades each of our daily lives, it seems, and writing a book with a political component no doubt made me even more acutely aware of it than I might otherwise have been.”

That didn’t stop the words from flowing, though.

A BLOOD THING is the story of a governor who is blackmailed into pardoning a prisoner in order to save his family. And while there are brief mentions now and then of the character’s political agenda—which touches on issues like gun control, racketeering laws, and drug policy—the conflicts don’t mirror what’s going on in today’s political climate, allowing Hankins to “stay in my writer’s bubble and write without feeling the need to reflect or comment on the political issues of the day.”

Hankins took some time away from his upcoming release day planning to answer some questions for The Big Thrill.
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Here and Gone by Ann Simas

Hannah Clarke, a wife and mom one day, is a widow without a child the next. She dwindles to a shell of her former self, grief-stricken and bereft by Jason and Jay’s deaths. Two years later, reclaiming her life and living as H.L. Mason in Fossil, Colorado, her safe new world explodes with a revelation so shocking and horrifying she can hardly grasp it. By chance, she meets Sheriff Noah Ward, and though she’s leery of cops after relentlessly being accused of killing her family, she needs help. Noah agrees, but when Hannah becomes a target, he realizes the case is far more insidious than parental abduction. How is he supposed to keep the woman he loves safe when the immoral trio determined to stop her applies the same solution to every problem—murder.

Prolific author Ann Simas was kind enough to discuss her latest thriller, HERE AND GONE, with The Big Thrill:
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There Once Was A Child by Debra Webb

A sexual predator recently released from prison is missing…there’s blood on the floor—but there are two blood types. Is he a victim of revenge or has another of Nashville’s children gone missing?

Joseph Fanning stole and abused seventeen children. Recently released after serving his time, now he’s gone missing. Detective Olivia Newhouse and her partner, Walt Duncan, have a duty to do all within their power to find him—just as they would for any other citizen. The first step is to make a list of possible suspects and the logical names to start with are Fanning’s victims. Those seventeen children are now adults and more than one would like to see Joseph Fanning dead.

As Olivia and Walt dig deeper into the case their own lives begin to unravel. The fragile threads of discovery start to twist and tangle until nothing is as it seems.

When the one victim who knows the whole truth is revealed, no one will be the same.

The Big Thrill caught up to USA Today bestselling author Debra Webb to discuss her latest thriller, THERE ONCE WAS A CHILD:
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Follow You Down by Michael Bradley

New York attorney Neil Brewster has everything he’s ever wanted: an expensive Manhattan apartment, a gorgeous fiancée, a forthcoming partnership in his law firm, and a reputation for winning even the most hopeless cases. His utter ruthlessness and bullying–both in and out of the courtroom–are legendary, and have been since his childhood.

With a new high profile court case looming, a camping reunion with his old high school cronies becomes just the distraction he needs, especially after he discovers a former lover is staying nearby.

But Neil’s weekend plunges into disarray when he’s confronted with the sins of his past. After learning about the suicide of the boy he bullied relentlessly as a teenager, Neil is tormented by ghostly voices and apparitions. Frantic, Neil descends into a frenzied search for answers, only to discover that things aren’t always what they seem.

Author Michael Bradley took time out of his busy schedule to discuss his latest thriller, FOLLOW YOU DOWN, with The Big Thrill:
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Gone Dark by Kirk Russell

America is under siege as Special Agent Paul Grale exposes a devastating act of domestic terrorism that becomes explosively personal.

When a series of coordinated blasts takes down several Los Angeles power stations, FBI bomb tech Paul Grale is tapped to investigate. That means leaving his vulnerable niece, Julia, behind in Las Vegas. The sole survivor of a homeland bombing that killed her parents, Julia’s still struggling through grief and trauma. An avowed pacifist, she’s being trolled as anti-American. And entangled in an affair with the wrong man, she’s facing the fallout from his crimes: stolen military-grade ammunition found in her car.

But Grale has no choice but to head to L.A. The sabotage is growing more sophisticated, and with assaults on the telecommunication grid itself, the potential for destruction has never been higher. Now, as rolling blackouts sweep across the West, Grale is following clues that point alarmingly close to home. Especially when Julia disappears.

If Grale can’t stop the attacks from escalating, the grid will go down for good, leaving everyone in the dark. But it’s Grale who could be facing the darkest reality of all…

Prolific author Kirk Russell spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest thriller, GONE DARK:
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Vanished by Karen E. Olson

By Terri Nolan

There is a bounty on Tina Alder’s head—and so, she hides within an ordinary life in a small town. She earns cash for watercolor paintings and has no internet footprint, no bank account, no phone, and no permanent address. She doesn’t use computers; not even the anonymous ones at the public library.

So when Tina, a former hacker, needs a fix, she enters the library to peruse books while casting hungry gazes at the bank of computer terminals. To go online would risk exposure and in today’s connected world, safety can’t be taken for granted—even if you live small. Tina’s go-bag is packed and ready.

But when Tina meets an older woman at an art show she is thrown off her game. The woman seems to know more about Tina than she should. The compulsion to know who this woman is leads Tina to a laptop. She knows better. Her safety depends on staying off the grid. But the compulsion is mighty, and Tina does the one thing she shouldn’t do. By the next day she is on the run.


VANISHED is Karen E. Olson’s fourth novel in the Black Hat series. It is extreme in pace with intense, non-stop action—and it may make one pause next time they log online or use an ATM.
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The Kill Wire by Nichole Christoff

Security specialist and PI Jamie Sinclair crosses interstate boundaries—and personal ones too—in this electrifying thriller from an award-winning author who “understands how to keep her readers riveted from beginning to end” (USA Today).

With a long list of high-profile, high-paying clients, Jamie Sinclair has her hands full—and that’s the way she likes it. Still reeling from the brutal investigation that drove a wedge between her and her boyfriend, military police officer Adam Barrett, Jamie is counting on hard work to help her forget her recent history—but then DEA agent Marc Sandoval barges back into her life. The last time they worked together, Jamie almost crossed all kinds of lines. Now Marc doesn’t just want Jamie, he needs her . . . because she’s the only one who can help him—and the little boy he never told her about.

Marc’s ex has vanished, leaving their six-year-old son in his care. Despite a troubled past, Elena never wavered in her duties as a parent, so something must be very wrong now. Teaming with Marc to track Elena through her home state of Colorado and beyond, Jamie finds herself on a cross-country search for the missing mother of Marc’s child, at a crossroads with Adam, and on a collision course with the killers who’ll stop at nothing to find Elena first.

Award-winning author Nichole Christoff sat down with The Big Thrill to discuss the latest installment of her Jamie Sinclair thrillers, THE KILL WIRE:
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Only the Rain by Randall Silvis

When family man and war veteran Russell loses his job as a quarry worker, his life suddenly seems more like a waking nightmare than a chance to finally live the American dream. Facing bills, a new baby, and a bone-dry bank account, he’s got nothing left to lose. Russell comes to the rescue of a naked stranger dancing in the rain, and what was supposed to be a straightforward good deed turns into a spiral of danger. When Russell finds an enticing stash of money in the woman’s house, he knows the cash could be his only hope. Taking just a handful will save his family’s future.

His “victimless crime” seems to be anything but risky—until the criminals he robbed come looking for their dirty money. Russell’s ready to surrender it, but then his daughter gets sick…and he must choose between saving her or giving the devils their due. Someone’s going to pay. The question is, how much?

The Big Thrill caught up with bestselling author Randall Silvis to discuss his latest thriller, ONLY THE RAIN:
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Saving Grace by Simon Wood

By Charles Salzberg

On May 3, 2007, three-year-old Madeleine McCann was on holiday in the Portuguese resort town of Praia da Luz with her parents, her two-year-old twin siblings, and a group of family friends and their children. That evening, the adults dined in a restaurant less than 200 feet away from the ground-floor apartment where Madeleine and the rest of the children slept. But when dinner ended around 10 p.m. and Madeleine’s parents arrived back at the apartment, they found that Madeleine was missing.

Thus began one of the most widely reported missing-child cases since the Lindbergh baby. Even now, almost 11 years later, no one knows what happened to Madeleine.

There was something about this case that caught the attention of novelist Simon Wood—but it wasn’t the unexplained disappearance. Instead, Wood was taken by something that happened to a member of the group of friends accompanying the McCanns.

“It was what we now call a ‘fake news’ story,” Wood says. “Published in Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper News of the World, the article named one of the members of the trip as being involved in the kidnapping. He was referred to as a predator, and when he returned to England the cloud of suspicion still hadn’t lifted and he got the shit kicked out of him. Eventually, the paper admitted they’d made a mistake and compensated him, but the result was that the paper made more than five times the amount of the payment in additional newspaper sales.”
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The Storm King by Brendan Duffy

The discovery of a body near his hometown of Greystone Lake draws Nate McHale home after a fourteen-year absence.

While navigating a tense landscape of secrets and suspicion, resentments and guilt, Nate reconnects with estranged friends and old enemies, and encounters strangers who seem to know impossible things about him. Haunting every moment is the Lake’s sinister history and the memory of wild, beautiful Lucy Bennett, with whom Nate is forever linked by shattering loss and youthful passion.

As a massive hurricane bears down on the Northeast, the air becomes electric, the clouds grow dark, and escalating acts of violence echo events from Nate’s own past. Without a doubt, a reckoning is coming—one that will lay bare the lies that lifelong friends have told themselves and unleash a vengeance that may consume them all.

Author Brendan Duffy spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest novel, THE STORM KING:
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To March Into Hell by Ron Parham

Hard-bitten, hard-drinking private investigator Jake Delgado is finally getting his life in order with his new partner, Amos Stillwater. He cuts down his drinking, contributes to the PI firm, and even falls for a local bartender in a sports bar in the Gas Lamp district of San Diego. But his comfortable life is about to be turned upside down when he receives news that his older brother, Freddie, has been found living in Tijuana and is in trouble. Jake is lured down to Tijuana to find his brother, not knowing that a hitman for the Tijuana drug cartel is waiting for him to avenge the death of his brother, whom Jake killed two years earlier. Jake is drawn into the underbelly of Tijuana and, along with his partner and a few friends, fights for his life against the cartel’s main hitman, Raza, who is known as El Matador (the killer). It takes every last ounce of Jake’s strength and courage to march into the hell of Baja California, knowing that he may never walk back out alive.

The Big Thrill caught up to author Ron Parham to discuss his latest thriller, TO MARCH INTO HELL:
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Pretty Girls Dancing by Kylie Brant

Years ago, in the town of Saxon Falls, young Kelsey Willard disappeared and was presumed dead. The tragedy left her family with a fractured life—a mother out to numb the pain, a father losing a battle with his own private demons, and a sister desperate for closure. But now another teenage girl has gone missing. It’s ripping open old wounds for the Willards, dragging them back into a painful past, and leaving them unprepared for where it will take them next.

Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent Mark Foster has stumbled on uncanny parallels in the lives of the two missing girls that could unlock clues to a serial killer’s identity. That means breaking down the walls of the Willards’ long-guarded secrets and getting to a truth that is darker than he bargained for. Now, to rescue one missing girl, he must first solve the riddles that disappeared with another: Kelsey Willard herself. Dead or alive, she is his last hope.

Award-winning author Kylie Brant recently met with The Big Thrill to discuss her latest novel, PRETTY GIRLS DANCING:
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A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis

By A.J. Colucci

Karen Ellis is the new pseudonym for Katia Leif, the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of crime novels, including the acclaimed book series featuring former detective Karin Schaeffer. In her latest novel, A MAP OF THE DARK, Ellis introduces Elsa Myers, an FBI agent whose unit specializes in child abduction cases.

In A MAP OF THE DARK, Elsa is pulled in two directions. Her father is dying in the hospital, stirring up emotions and a dark secret from her past. At the same time, she lands the case of a missing teenager named Ruby. It becomes a race against time for Elsa and her partner Lex Cole—who sometimes butt heads with each other—in their search for a man who may have been killing for years. As the hunt for Ruby intensifies, Elsa’s world collapses around her. Everything she has buried, from her self-destructive past to her mother’s death, threatens to resurface with devastating consequences.

As Ellis began writing the novel, she realized that A MAP OF THE DARK had three distinct storylines that needed to resonate against each other: the plight of the missing teens, Elsa’s search for the girls with Lex, and Elsa’s personal story in which her father’s terminal illness triggers devastating childhood memories. “It was a tricky balancing act,” Ellis says. So she tried something new—writing each storyline individually and then weaving them together. “I’d never approached a novel that way before and wasn’t sure if it would work, but I found that it allowed me to fully inhabit each distinctive voice before moving on to the next one.”
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Killman Creek by Rachel Caine

Gwen Proctor won the battle to save her kids from her ex-husband, serial killer Melvin Royal, and his league of psychotic accomplices. But the war isn’t over. Not since Melvin broke out of prison. Not since she received a chilling text…

You’re not safe anywhere now.

As trust beyond her small circle of friends begins to vanish, Gwen has only fury and vengeance to believe in as she closes in on her prey. And sure as the night, one of them will die.

Bestselling author Rachel Caine took time out of her busy schedule to discuss her latest, KILLMAN CREEK, with The Big Thrill:
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Her Rocky Mountain Hero by Jennifer D. Bokal

When security expert Cody Samuels finds fugitive Viktoria Mateev in hiding, he can’t believe his luck. Turning her in will be the perfect revenge on the crime family who destroyed Cody’s DEA career. But to his surprise, Cody is just in time to rescue Viktoria from assassins. He soon finds himself tracking her son’s kidnappers.
To keep her son from ruthless in-laws, Viktoria went on the run. Now she’s teaming up with a man she can’t trust. Cody’s courage and bold gambits are a temptation Viktoria can’t resist– even as the risky sacrifice guarantees they might not survive to see another holiday.

Bestselling author Jennifer D. Bokal spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest novel, HER ROCKY MOUNTAIN HERO:
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