Domestic Thrillers

Scorched Grounds by Debbie Herbert

In the 18 years since her father went to prison for killing her mother and brother, Della Stallings has battled a crippling phobia. Her fear only grows when her father’s released. She still believes he killed her family, but the police don’t have enough evidence to arrest him again.

When new grisly murders occur—each bearing the telltale signs that seem to implicate her father—Della begins to wonder if the real murderer is still out there. Could her father have been framed?

To find the truth, Della must face her greatest fears and doubts—not only to find justice for her family but to ensure her own survival.

The Big Thrill caught up to USA Today bestselling author Debbie Herbert to find out more about the second installment in her Normal, Alabama, series, SCORCHED GROUNDS:
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Collision of Lies by Tom Threadgill

By Austin S. Camacho

Tom Threadgill is a fresh voice in suspense, and his new novel, COLLISION OF LIES, will keep you guessing and zipping through its pages until the end.

The novel follows San Antonio police detective Amara Alvarez as she investigates an accident involving a school bus full of kids. Despite all official reports, she learns that one of the children may still be alive. If she’s right, it would mean that everything the police believe about the accident is wrong.

Alvarez is a fascinating character, perhaps the last person you’d meet at a cocktail party, and if you did, she would be standing off to the side alone. She would rather be home, sipping a cold drink and bouncing her latest case off Larry, her pet iguana.

“She doesn’t have a lot of friends outside of work and likes it that way,” Threadgill says. “It’s not that she’s an introvert. She’s got no problem hanging out with others now and then, but her job takes precedence.”

Alvarez does not see herself as a heroine. She tends to focus too much on the things that she could’ve done better. Her creator doesn’t see her as a heroine either.
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Behind Every Lie by Christina McDonald

If you can’t remember it, how do you prove you didn’t do it?

Eva Hansen wakes in the hospital after being struck by lightning and discovers her mother, Kat, has been murdered. Eva was found unconscious down the street. She can’t remember what happened but the police are highly suspicious of her.

Determined to clear her name, Eva heads from Seattle to London—Kat’s former home—for answers. But as she unravels her mother’s carefully held secrets, Eva soon realizes that someone doesn’t want her to know the truth. And with violent memories beginning to emerge, Eva doesn’t know who to trust. Least of all herself.

Told in alternating perspectives from Eva’s search for answers and Kat’s mysterious past, Christina McDonald has crafted another “complex, emotionally intense” (Publishers Weekly) domestic thriller. Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell’s I Found You and Karin Slaughter’s Pieces of Her, Behind Every Lie explores the complicated nature of mother-daughter relationships, family trauma, and the danger behind long-held secrets.

This month The Big Thrill welcomes USA TODAY bestselling author Christina McDonald to discuss her thrilling new suspense novel, BEHIND EVERY LIE:
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Purgatory Bay by Bryan Gruley

By Millie Naylor Hast

Journalist Bryan Gruley shared in The Wall Street Journal’s Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, but since he was a boy, he has wanted to write novels. The acclaimed author of the Starvation Lake trilogy and a standalone, Bleak Harbor, will launch PURGATORY BAY, another standalone, and his fifth foray into the world of fiction, in January.

“I wrote this book from the heart,” Gruley says.

PURGATORY BAY is set on an inlet of Lake Michigan, near the town of Bleak Harbor. Jubilee Rathman had life licked at 17—an A-student headed to Princeton and an all-state soccer goalie—when her family was murdered in a mafia hit. Twelve years later, she plots revenge from a fortress on Purgatory Bay. One of the people she holds responsible is Michaela “Mikey” Deming, a former journalist who may have endangered Jubilee’s family. Between them is Bleak Harbor Police Chief Katya Malone. Three women who don’t know each other must join in a fight for their lives and their souls.

Jubilee Rathman is one of the most engrossing characters in recent memory. Gruley says, “Jubilee is a hollowed-out woman. Although she survived mass murder, she continues to feel threatened by the responsible people and barricades herself in her fortress on Purgatory Bay. Her greatest asset is focusing on her mission. That distracts her from sentimentality that could weaken her resolve, keep her from her objectives, and put her at risk of suffering the same fate. Fear is no longer relevant to Jubilee. If she fears anything, it’s failure.”

Among Jubilee’s targets is Mikey, first and foremost a loving mom to her hockey star daughter.

“Mikey began her career as a journalist at the Detroit Times,” Gruley says. “There she encountered Jubilee Rathman’s family and the murders that followed, an experience that compelled her to leave the profession. In PURGATORY BAY, she has to confront her past. How she responds is crucial to the conclusion.”
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Deep Green Cover by Joel W. Barrows

When ATF Special Agent David Ward infiltrates the world of radical environmentalists, his mission is to stop an eco-terrorist group determined to eradicate pollution—and the polluters who get in their way. It’s a case of Green Gone Extreme!

The Earth Martyrs Brigade will stop at nothing to destroy those corporations and individuals that they deem a threat to Mother, their worshipful name for Mother Earth. Ward joins the group, befriending its cultish followers, only to learn that their plans for destruction and anarchy far exceed anything he could have imagined.

Loosely based on the joint FBI/ATF Operation Backfire that decimated the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), this story imagines what would happen if like-minded groups adopted the more extreme tactics of today’s terrorists and what it might take to stop them. It is a scenario that is all too real, and a threat not widely known to the American public.

Author Joel Barrows spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing DEEP GREEN COVER, the second book in the Deep Cover series, following Ward’s debut adventure in Deep White Cover.
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Down the Darkest Road by Kylie Brant

By Dani Brown

At the outset, the first book in Kylie Brant’s new series—DOWN THE DARKEST ROAD—may seem an easy read, but it soon becomes apparent that it is a complex thriller with multifaceted characters.

The story begins in a small town with Deputy US Marshal Cady Maddix running an operation to apprehend a suspect in connection with a kidnapping—but the novel is about so much more. While trying to do her job serving others, Cady also begins to question her view of the world when she discovers secrets from her own past—loyalty and individual freedom compete with her need to keep her loved ones safe.

Brant skillfully intertwines the main plot and sub stories—not surprising, given that she’s penned 40 novels to date.

Brant’s interest in writing began in 1990 for a variety of reasons. She’d just made the decision not to pursue a doctorate degree, had five young children, taught full time, and her favorite authors couldn’t write fast enough to satisfy her need for reading material.

In 1992 the second novel she’d written—McLain’s Law—was picked up, and within a few months, the publisher also chose to acquire her first manuscript. Brant has won the Daphne du Maurier award for excellence in mystery and suspense writing twice—in 2004 and 2009—and during her long career, there have been five Romantic Times nominations and three RITA nominations.
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Don’t Be Home for Christmas by Richard Wickliffe

You think your holidays are stressful? Kyle Colbert just wants to go home for Christmas. So why does everyone suddenly want to kill him? Kyle savors his train commutes from a hectic Manhattan job to his idyllic small town. But as he arrives on Christmas Eve, his family tries to kill him. His neighbors and entire community suddenly want him dead. He can’t flee to authorities because even the FBI is in a deadly pursuit. With a $1,000,000 reward for his “Death or Whereabouts,” can he stay alive long enough to solve the mystery and stop an even greater tragedy?

Award-winning author Richard Wickliffe met up with The Big Thrill for a quick Q&A about his latest thriller, DON’T BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS:
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Cryptobyte by Cat Connor   

By George Ebey

Cat Connor brings us CRYPTOBYTE, the next installment in her “Byte” series of crime thrillers. This time, as she juggles twin toddlers and a new position in the FBI as Special Agent in Charge of Delta, Ellie Iverson gets a request to help the Missouri Police Department. The case explodes with truck hijackings, missing families, and cryptic text messages.

The Big Thrill recently caught up with Connor to discuss the series and learn more about what CRYPTOBYTE has in store for readers.

For the uninitiated, can you tell us a little about the series?

The Byte Series follows SSA Ellie Iverson—née Conway—on her journey as a member of an elite FBI team that functions on dark humor, close relationships, strong coffee, and sometimes tequila straight from the bottle.

The journey began with a chat room death threat in real life and a question, “What’s the worst case scenario?” That incident evolved into Killerbyte, the first of the Byte Series novels. By the end of Killerbyte I really enjoyed the characters and their world. I never intended to write a series when I started Killerbyte. And even when I’d written the first three books, I didn’t think I was writing a series. Turns out I am! I’m currently writing the 12th book, so I guess we can say it is a series.

Theme always seems a bit “literary” for a crime writer like me and it’s not something I’m conscious of when I write. In saying that though, each book has its own theme and that becomes apparent as I near the end of the writing process. The overall theme for the Byte Series is: Hope. That might sound strange for a crime thriller series but without hope we have nothing.

For CRYPTOBYTE the main theme is “loss and the inability to move on” with a secondary theme of “Obsession.”
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The Scandal by Nicola Marsh

By Millie Naylor Hast

With more than eight million copies of 68 books in print, acclaimed USA Today bestselling women’s fiction and romance author Nicola Marsh could rest easy. Instead, this prolific author now conquers new thriller territory with a domestic suspense nail-biter, THE SCANDAL.

Marisa Thurston has it all—wealth, a successful husband, a mansion in the Hamptons, twin girls in college, a fulfilling career in social work, and enough volunteering to make her a pillar of the community. But empty nest syndrome hits hard. A garden club that consists, not of gardening, but of monthly wine and cheese gatherings with her friends, Claire and Elly, takes the edge off, but all three women harbor secrets. When a young pregnant woman, Jodi, turns up on Marisa’s doorstep, Marisa’s instinct is to help her. What none of the women anticipate is how Jodi’s search for her baby’s father will impact them all, and how their secrets will turn their world upside down.

THE SCANDAL will have you wide-eyed at two a.m. with twists and turns on an emotional roller coaster. The coolest part? You won’t see those twists coming. Really.

The Big Thrill recently delved into this engrossing story with author Nicola Marsh.
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One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski

By Terry DiDomenico

A family Thanksgiving at the beach led to the setting for Tara Laskowski’s debut thriller, ONE NIGHT GONE.

“There was something about being in a beach town in the off-season that made me think it would be fun to set a book there,” she says.

Though Opal Beach, the oceanside town that is the setting for the novel, is her own creation. “I actually looked at the Jersey shoreline on Google Maps and I picked a spot that looked about right, then sort of made it my own. It has all my favorite things—a pier, a carnival, shopping, and a private beach where terrible things can happen! Haha.”

Another element Laskowski wanted to include in her novel was the idea that houses have energies that grow and change based on the people and events within their walls—plus, her love for cold cases.

Characters came last, but the first to appear was Allison Simpson, the recently divorced, unemployed meteorologist who agrees to housesit during the off-season at Opal Beach. Laskowski liked the idea of “writing about someone whose life was torn apart having to start anew, but instead getting herself into more trouble.”

More trouble comes as she gets involved with the 30-year-old disappearance of Maureen Haddaway, a teenager who arrives at Opal Beach full of dreams, determined to change her life and destiny.
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What She Never Said by Catharine Riggs

By George Ebey

This summer, Catharine Riggs brings us WHAT SHE NEVER SAID, the second novel in her Santa Barbara suspense series.

People are dying at a luxury retirement community—and not from natural causes. Welcome to Serenity Acres, where the super-rich go to die. This elite Santa Barbara enclave may appear bright and immaculate, but behind the iron gates, and beneath the manicured landscapes, lie dark secrets buried by golden shovels. The uber-wealthy can afford designer clothes, expensive cars, and an extravagant retirement, but even the richest among them can’t keep their secrets buried.

The Big Thrill recently checked in with Riggs to learn more about this new domestic thriller.

What attracts you to this book’s genre?

I like writing characters who are at a crossroads in their lives. Characters who have spent years hiding their personas behind a cloak of invincibility only to find themselves vulnerable. Characters who are facing a crisis and are forced to question their life choices. The psychological suspense genre allows me to apply an outside threat in order to expose a hidden wrong or uncover a buried secret and see how my characters react. It’s like shoving a stick into an ant hole; which way will the vermin run?
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The Favorite Daughter by Kaira Rouda 

By Millie Naylor Hast

The perfect home. The perfect family. What if it’s all a lie?

Jane Harris lives a beautiful, upscale life in Orange County, but exactly one year earlier, her elder daughter, Mary, died in a tragic accident. Re-emerging from a haze of anti-depressants, the still-grieving Jane is determined to reclaim her life and family.

However, her husband, David, who has planned a memorial service for Mary, spends long days and nights at the office. Their younger daughter, Betsy, poised to graduate high school, seems distant and secretive. Jane’s family has changed without her. And Mary’s death may not have been as accidental as it seems.

How far will someone go to keep a family together?

And what would motivate an author to take a deep dive into this perfect world?

Kaira Rouda says she is “a product of the American suburbs. The setting I’m most familiar with is a gated community within a small, suburban town where people are fixated on keeping up with the Joneses and making sure everything seems perfect. I’m fascinated by what’s below the surface of seemingly perfect lives. That’s where my stories begin.”
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The String by Caleb Breakey 

By Charles Salzberg

Maybe it was in the stars that Caleb Breakey, who started out as a budding sports journalist, would wind up writing a crime thriller. After all, how many people do you know who, soon after returning from his honeymoon, wind up as a suspect in a bank robbery?

“My wife Brittney and I, just back from our honeymoon, were in a bank I’d been going to since I was a kid, to deposit our wedding checks. It just so happened that someone was robbing it while we were there. We made the deposit and drove away in a yellow Mustang, with a ‘Just Married’ sign on the back of it. Someone described our car to the police and they chased us down as we were headed out to Brittney’s family for a surprise dinner. We were pulled over on an overpass during rush hour traffic. They had me get out of the car, put my hands on my head, and drop to my knees. We were cuffed and read our rights. And the really weird thing was that one of the police officer’s daughters was the flower girl at our wedding—not that that did us much good.”

In the end, after concluding that the Breakeys had nothing to do with the robbery—just a classic case of wrong place at the wrong time—the police apologized. “They said, ‘Hey, these things happen and is there anything we can do for you?’ I said, ‘Well, this is still our honeymoon, so do you mind if we take a picture with you?’”

For a writer, nothing goes to waste and Breakey wound up writing about the incident for the “Here Comes the Bride” edition of Chicken Soup for the Soul.
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One Small Sacrifice by Hilary Davidson

By Guy Bergstrom

It can be impossible to ever know the full truth about a crime. Eyewitnesses don’t have perfect recall, and fingerprints and DNA evidence aren’t the magical solutions that shows like CSI would have you believe.

But how far would you go, and how much would you risk, to seek out justice and prevent future victims from being murdered—without locking up the wrong person?

That tension is at the heart of the new novel by Hilary Davidson, ONE SMALL SACRIFICE, told from alternating points of view: the detective and the suspect.

ONE SMALL SACRIFICE debuts a new hero, NYPD detective Sheryn Sterling, coming after Davidson wrote the acclaimed Lily Moore series.

Davidson has won the Derringer, Crimespree and Spinetingler awards along with two Anthony’s. Impressive—though she didn’t start out writing fiction.

She began her writing career as a journalist, publishing 18 travel books. That background gave her a bit in common with the other point-of-view character in her latest thriller: Alex Traynor, a wartime photojournalist suffering from PTSD.

The Big Thrill caught up with her in the middle of her book tour for her new publisher, Thomas and Mercer, to ask her about the debut of her latest character.
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Her Daughter’s Mother by Daniela Petrova

By Nish Amarnath

Approximately 6.7 million women face struggles with fertility in the US alone, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. That makes up about 11 percent of the country’s reproductive population. The global in vitro fertilization business is valued at roughly $16.7 billion and is projected to reach a cumulative annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.2 percent by 2026.

Despite this billowing market and a proliferation of fertility clinics and agencies that ensure anonymity for egg donors, legal systems are often ill-equipped to deal with personal, emotional, and spiritual conflicts that can arise in various permutations and combinations through the process.

In her debut novel, HER DAUGHTER’S MOTHER, accomplished New York City-based writer Daniela Petrova deftly weaves the sensitivities of psychological conflicts embedded in this reality into an intriguing web of domestic suspense.

Lana Stone has everything going for her—Bulgarian beauty, smarts, a coveted gig as an associate curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a loving, long-term relationship with Columbia University professor Tyler, and an apartment at the verdant Morningside Heights neighborhood near the Columbia campus. At least, that’s what one would assume if meeting Lana for the first time.

But things are not as they seem. To begin with, Lana can’t get pregnant. After years of struggling to conceive, Lana and Tyler resign themselves to the last resort, a choice that eats into a sizable chunk of their savings: using an egg donor.
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Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle

By Austin S. Camacho

If you’re looking for a powerful psychological thriller and an emotionally complex story with more twists and turns than a corkscrew, look no further than Kimberly Belle’s DEAR WIFE.

The central plot line of this novel follows a woman creating a new identity for herself while escaping an abusive marriage. However, as the author explains, she’s really telling three stories here. The central heroine is Beth Murphy on the run from her controlling and abusive husband.

“For months she’s been planning her escape,” Belle says. “Saving grocery money, thinking through the various strategies, coming up with a plan. One day when her husband is at work, she finds her chance. She steers her car westward to leave a trail of clues, then doubles back and disappears into Atlanta. It’s essential she make no mistakes, because Beth knows as soon as her husband finds her, she’s dead. She’s an abused woman in the midst of reclaiming her strength, so while she probably wouldn’t be the best conversation partner at a cocktail party, she makes a kick-ass heroine. Brave. Determined. Stronger than she realizes. Willing to risk everything for her freedom and the chance to rebuild her life.”

Beth does make some interesting decisions and friends, folks like her who are running from their own secret past. Despite everything she’s been through, she never forgets to be kind.
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New York Minute by Bob Mayer

By Dan Levy

Considering that his latest book, NEW YORK MINUTE, is Bob Mayer’s 77th published novel, it might be hard to believe that he can still find new avenues of character development to explore.

In fact, the protagonist in Mayer’s latest novel mirrors much of his own life—both lived in the Bronx in the 1970s, both went to West Point, both are Special Forces veterans. However, a health discovery in Mayer’s personal life helped give rise to Will Kane, a hero with an unusual inner battle to fight, in addition to the conflicts that surround him.

In this The Big Thrill interview, Mayer shares more about his prolific writing journey, and gives us insight into his new thriller, NEW YORK MINUTE.

You seem to have a wide variety of interests relative to your fiction writing. Why does that appeal to you as opposed to taking a single character and exploring him across 20 to 30 novels?

My career would be an example of bad advice to aspiring authors. I’ve written whatever has interested me, including nonfiction. Don’t do that! Or do. Rules are made to be broken. I’ve written a lot of science fiction, including the almost 3-million copy selling Area 51 series. I started in the thriller genre with the Green Beret series, and now I’m back there, so I’ve completed an interesting circle.
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Her Secret Son by Hannah Mary McKinnon

When Josh’s longtime partner, Grace, dies in a tragic accident, he is left with a mess of grief—and full custody of her seven-year-old son, Logan. While not his biological father, Josh has been a dad to Logan in every way that counts, and with Grace gone, Logan needs him more than ever.

Wanting to do right by Logan, Josh begins the process of becoming his legal guardian—something that seems suddenly urgent, though Grace always brushed it off as an unnecessary formality. But now, as Josh struggles to find the paperwork associated with Logan’s birth, he begins to wonder whether there were more troubling reasons for Grace’s reluctance to make their family official.

As he digs deeper into the past of the woman he loved, Josh soon finds that there are many dark secrets to uncover, and that the truth about where Logan came from is much more sinister than he could have imagined…

Author Hannah Mary McKinnon spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest thriller, HER SECRET SON:
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The Art of Deception by Louise Mangos

Art college dropout Lucie arrives in a Swiss ski resort looking for work – but instead finds Mathieu.

Handsome, charismatic and from a good family, Matt seems like the perfect man. But as Lucie soon discovers, he has a dark side – one that will drive their relationship to a dramatic conclusion, and tear the life she has built for herself and their son apart.

Left fighting for her freedom in a foreign prison, and starting to lose her grip on reality, Lucie must summon all of her strength to uncover the truth and be reunited with her son before it’s too late.

The clock is ticking…but who can she trust?

The Big Thrill caught up to author Louise Mangos for a quick discussion about her latest thriller, THE ART OF DECEPTION:
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Before She Was Found by Heather Gudenkauf

For twelve-year-old Cora Landry and her friends Violet and Jordyn, it was supposed to be an ordinary sleepover—movies and Ouija and talking about boys. But when they decide to sneak out to go to the abandoned rail yard on the outskirts of town, little do they know that their innocent games will have dangerous consequences.

Later that night, Cora is discovered on the tracks, bloody and clinging to life, her friends nowhere to be found. Soon their small rural town is thrust into a maelstrom. Who would want to hurt a young girl like Cora—and why? In an investigation that leaves no stone unturned, everyone is a suspect and no one can be trusted—not even those closest to Cora.

BEFORE SHE WAS FOUND is a timely and gripping thriller about friendship and betrayal, about the power of social pressure and the price of needing to fit in. It is about the great lengths a parent will go to protect their child and keep them safe—even if that means burying the truth, no matter the cost.

New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf recently took some time to discuss her latest thriller, BEFORE SHE WAS FOUND, with The Big Thrill:
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Widows’ Revenge by Lynda La Plante

Against all the odds, Dolly Rawlins and her gangland widows managed the impossible: a heist their husbands had failed to pull off – at the cost of their lives.

But though they may be in the money, they’re far from easy street.

Shocked by her husband’s betrayal, Dolly discovers Harry Rawlins isn’t dead. He knows where the four women are and he wants them to pay. And he doesn’t just mean getting his hands on the money.

The women can’t keep running. They have to get Harry out of their lives for good. But can they outwit a criminal mastermind who won’t hesitate to kill?

Especially when one of them has a plan of her own…to kill or be killed.
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The Wrong Boy by Cathy Ace  

By Basil Sands

Born and raised in Swansea, South Wales, award-winning mystery writer Cathy Ace is now proudly Canadian, though she keeps her homeland in her heart. Her novels and short stories, often featuring Welsh sleuths rooting out murderers at home and abroad, have been produced for BBC Radio 4, honored with the Bony Blithe Award for Best Canadian Light Mystery, and shortlisted for Canada’s prestigious Arthur Ellis Awards.

Though Ace is best known for her Cait Morgan traditional mysteries and her WISE Enquiries Agency cozies, her latest release is a sharp stylistic departure.

Ace took some time to chat with The Big Thrill about THE WRONG BOY, a gritty, atmospheric psychological thriller about a murder investigation that exposes the dark underside of a picturesque Welsh village.

Cathy, tell us about THE WRONG BOY.

Thanks for allowing me the chance to focus on my 13th novel—I’m hoping it’s a number that’ll turn out to be lucky for me. It’s easier to tell you that I didn’t want to write a police procedural. One of the lead characters is a Detective Inspector days from retirement. The DI is married to a psychotherapist, who is most definitely not retiring. At the heart of the story is a trio of women—three generations of the Jones family—who live and run a pub in a remote Welsh clifftop village. The book is about how the discovery of human remains close to the village impacts their lives in unexpected ways…with deadly results.
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Missing Daughter by Rick Mofina

Life can change in an instant. For Ryan and Karen Lane, it happens on the morning they discover their 12-year-old daughter’s window open, their beloved Maddie missing from her bed.

Police investigate. Suspicions swirl. A teenage boy admits he was outside her bedroom window the night she disappeared. A halfway house for convicts recently opened in the neighborhood. The Lane family is thrown into turmoil, then detectives turn their sights on them.

No one is ruled out. Not Karen, with her tragic past, who argued with her daughter. Not Ryan, with his violent streak. Not Maddie’s 13-year-old brother, Tyler, who heard voices in her room the night she vanished.

Days, weeks, months, then agonizing years go by without answers, the Lanes fearing that Maddie is gone forever…until a stunning twist shocks everyone, plunging the family deeper into a world of buried secrets whose revelations threaten the very foundation of their lives.

The Big Thrill caught up with award-winning author Rick Mofina to discuss his latest thriller, MISSING DAUGHTER:
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House on Fire by Bonnie Kistler

Divorce lawyer Leigh Huyett knows all too well that most second marriages are doomed to fail. But five years in, she and Pete Conley have a perfectly blended family. To celebrate their anniversary, they grab some precious moments of alone time and leave Pete’s son Kip, a high school senior, in charge of Leigh’s 14-year-old daughter Chrissy at their home.

Driving back on a rainy Friday night, their cell phones start ringing. After a raucous party celebrating his college acceptance to Duke and his upcoming birthday, Kip was arrested for drunk driving after his truck crashed into a tree. And he wasn’t alone—Chrissy was with him.

Twelve hours later, Chrissy is dead and Kip is charged with manslaughter.

Kip has always been a notorious troublemaker, but he’s also a star student with a dazzling future ahead of him. At first, Leigh does her best to rally behind Pete and help Kip through his ordeal. Until he changes his story, and claims that he wasn’t driving after all—Chrissy was, and he swears there is a witness.

Leigh is stunned that he would lie about such a thing, while Pete clutches onto the story as the last, best hope to save his son, throwing his energy and money into finding this elusive witness. As they hurtle toward Kip’s trial date, husband and wife are torn between loyalty to their children and to each other, while the mystery of what really happened that night intensifies.

Former trial lawyer-turned-author Bonnie Kistler took a break from writing to speak with The Big Thrill about her latest book, HOUSE ON FIRE:
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Only When I Sleep by E. V. Lind

By George Ebey

This month, E. V. Lind brings us her new domestic thriller, ONLY WHEN I SLEEP. It’s the first of a planned trilogy from the pseudonymous author, who has penned more than 40 titles—including several USA Today bestsellers—under another name.

Discovering she’s pregnant gives Beth Campbell the impetus to break free of Detective Dan Henderson’s narcissistic and brutal control, but Dan won’t let go easily. Terrified, she runs for her life, but is her refuge even more dangerous? When Beth finds the diaries of a woman who’s been missing since 1942, the ghosts of the past are unleashed on her present with menacing fury.

Meanwhile, forced to assimilate back into “normal” life in Riverbend, Oregon, war-weary veteran Ryan Jones is laden with survivor’s guilt. Which is why he’s pissed when he ends up with a secretive, vulnerable housesitter he’d be a fool to trust. His plans for a quiet life are shattered by Beth, the undead, and her homicidal ex, and Ryan is thrust back into a protector role to save them both. Hunted in the present, haunted by the past—they must learn to trust each other to survive.

The Big Thrill recently checked in with Lind to learn more about her new thriller.

Tell us about your main character, Beth Campbell. What has her journey been like up until now?

Beth Campbell’s life had few complications until the death of her parents in a road accident. Grief-stricken, she gave up finishing her studies and returned home, and since that time she has cleared her parents’ debts and continued to live simply in the family home while working in a local diner. Broken in spirit and directionless, she was ripe pickings for narcissistic detective Dan Henderson, who carefully groomed her before beginning to control everything she did, said, wore, or thought. Only when she discovered she was pregnant did she find the courage to break free of Dan’s growing violent control of her.
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Sophie Last Seen by Marlene Adelstein

By Millie Naylor Hast

Can you imagine how a mother would feel if her only daughter went missing? How she would feel, six years later, if the child still hadn’t been found? Author Marlene Adelstein took on these questions in her debut thriller, SOPHIE LAST SEEN.

Jesse Albright is a grief-stricken, self-destructive mess. Her daughter, Sophie would be 16 now, and Jesse haunts the mall where Sophie disappeared—where for only a minute or two—she took her eyes off her daughter. The guilt is unbearable. Every scrap of discarded paper or bit of rock seems to carry a clue as to where Sophie is, to the point that she hoards trash by the boxful. Her marriage has fallen apart, but she won’t give up on her daughter.

Sophie’s best friend, Star Silverman, begins work at her father’s bookstore, where Jesse also works, and an uncomfortable alliance begins. Sophie’s disappearance haunts Star as well, and she hides her own secrets that may hold the key to Sophie’s whereabouts. Tension builds to a boiling point as these two wounded souls come together to discover the truth.

New York Times bestselling author Beth Hoffman says SOPHIE LAST SEEN is “a gripping tale of heartbreak and eternal hope.” USA Today bestselling author Alison Gaylin calls it “unique, mysterious, and thoroughly absorbing.”

The Big Thrill caught up with Adelstein to learn more about her engrossing story.
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Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

By K. L. Romo

One problem with having bipolar disorder is that sometimes people think you’re crazy. Even your own husband. And especially when you suspect you’re living next to a murderer.

In Peter Swanson’s new psychological thriller, BEFORE SHE KNEW HIM, Hen Mazur and Lloyd Harding have just moved to their new house in West Dartford, 45 minutes from Boston. Hen will use the converted warehouse down the street as her art studio—she’s a printmaker and illustrates children’s books. This new house and neighborhood will give her a fresh start.

Hen hasn’t had an “episode” for two years, since she started the medication cocktail that mended her broken brain, stabilized her moods, and tempered her paranoia and crippling depression.

At a neighborhood barbeque, Hen and Lloyd meet their next-door neighbors, Mira and Matthew Dolamore—another couple who doesn’t have kids and weren’t planning on any. The neighbors are pleasant enough, Matthew even charming. Until Hen notices a Junior Olympics fencing trophy on Matthew’s office mantel. It looks just like the trophy stolen from Dustin Miller, a young guy murdered in his apartment. Is it a coincidence that Dustin graduated from Sussex Hall where Matthew is a teacher? No way. But if Hen goes to the police, will anyone take her seriously?

Spying on Matthew is the only way she can prove he’s a murderer, and what she discovers terrifies her. To get the proof she needs, she must get to know him better. Is he a vigilante protecting women from abuse, or a psychotic killer?

How ironic that the only one who believes Hen’s accusations about Matthew being a killer is Matthew.
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One Fatal Mistake by Tom Hunt

Her son accidentally kills a man.

They cover it up.

Then everything goes wrong.

When eighteen-year-old Joshua Mayo takes a man’s life in a horrible accident, he leaves the scene without reporting the crime to the police. He hopes to put the awful night behind him and move on with his life. But, of course, he ends up telling his mother, Karen, what happened.

Karen has raised Joshua on her own in Cedar Rapids, Iowa–and she’d thought they’d finally made it. He was doing well in school and was only months from starting college. After hearing his dark confession, she is forced to make a choice no parent should have to make, one that draws them both into a web of deceit that will change their lives forever–if they make it out alive….
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The Sidewinder by Simon Maltman

By K. L. Romo

In his new mystery/thriller The Sidewinder, Simon Maltman inserts the murders of two former band members into the lives of the fictitious former nineties rock group, Sidewinder. Although the members have split and now lead separate lives—a politician, a policeman, a journalist, and a session musician—they reunite to investigate who murdered two of them, and why.

Maltman let The Big Thrill pick his brain about his love of music and how THE SIDEWINDER came to be.

You’re a member of the band The Hung Jury. What compelled you to write a mystery about former members of a band? Did you pull any of the story from real life?

I’ve always been in various bands since I was a teenager. Yes, I still play with a few groups now. There are definitely a couple of real-life stories I’ve popped into this book, and I have done that in the past too. I am a big fan of lots of different types of music; music tends to play a big part in my writing. Writing THE SIDEWINDER gave me the chance to have music as a central part.

I had the initial idea for the book in the shower one day—a nineties band where former members are suspiciously dying. The main arc of the story came quickly, actually mostly before I got dried. I then roughly planned-out the story before I started writing.
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Who I Am by Sarah Simpson

Andi met Camilla at university. Instantly best friends, they shared everything together. Until their long-planned graduation celebration ends in tragedy…

Years later, Andi is living a seemingly perfect life on the rugged Cornish Coast with her loving husband, happy children and dream home. Yet Andi is haunted by a secret she thought only she knew.

Someone out there is bringing Andi’s deepest fears to life. And she knows there’s no escaping the past that has come back to haunt her…

You trusted me with your secrets, you told me everything, you thought I was your best friend… but you have no idea WHO I AM.

Gripping, unputdownable and packed with twists and turns from the first page to the very last, this stunning psychological thriller will make you question whether we can ever really trust the ones we love.

Author Sarah Simpson met with The Big Thrill to discuss her latest psychological thriller, WHO I AM:
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