In his new religious thriller, Matthew Peters brings readers international action, heart-gripping suspense, and a secret so terrible it could change the world.
The story kicks off with the gruesome murder of a U.S. presidential aide, which is only the tip of an iceberg. Only ex-Jesuit Nicholas Branson and Jessica Jones have a hope of discovering the awful truth in time to save a persecuted religious group from extinction. But they could be thwarted by a megalomaniacal pope and an ultra-secretive U.S. governmental force.
Branson and Jones are, on the surface, unlikely heroes who might save the world. Nicholas Branson is a renowned historian of Christianity whose intellectual development has outpaced his emotional maturity.
“He had a hard time growing up,” Peters says. “His stepfather was an alcoholic and Branson became one as well. If we met him at a party, it would be difficult to form an opinion of him, as social events make him uncomfortable. Having been sober for several years, he can no longer rely on alcohol as a social lubricant. He’s also an introvert by nature and might come off as aloof. Branson is more of an anti-hero than a hero, though at times he demonstrates extraordinary courage.”
New York City reporter Alessandra Russo is pulled into yet another intrigue; this time her friend Roy inherits a strange religious manuscript, tightly protected in a mysteriously locked tube. Rumors run rampant that these are missing pages from a rotted codex, the heretical Gospel of Judas, which postulated that Judas was not the betrayer, but the beloved of Jesus. Alessandra’s interest in the manuscript is truly piqued when she is faced with tragedy no mother should experience, and must track down the missing pages of the Gospel to set things right.
Do the lost pages reveal a secret that will challenge Christianity’s very belief about the creation of life, or even the power to unleash Armageddon? What if such explosive documents fell into the hands of modern-day terrorists, dictators, or religious fanatics? Can Alessandra crack the code and learn what the Gospel of Judas is truly saying to the faithful?
During her investigation, Alessandra is plunged into a dark world of murder, conspiracy, sexual depravity, and most importantly, a race against the clock to save her own child.
Author Linda Stasi took time out of her busy schedule to discuss her novel, BOOK OF JUDAS, with The Big Thrill:
In ANCHORED BY DEATH, Police Chief Jo Oliver needed a little time to herself. But when her escape to Wisconsin turns deadly, she teams up with FBI agent Nick Vitarello, hoping to catch the Bow Tie Killer. Their romantic past and complicated present leads them into uncharted territory as they match wits with a psychopath bent on destroying everything they hold dear.
The Big Thrill recently caught up with Catherine Finger to discuss her latest novel, ANCHORED BY DEATH:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
Renewal-restoration-redemption. It’s really the message of The Cross—with a few twists thrown in!
In his latest novel, Eric van Lustbader turns away from the secret agent action of the Jason Bourne series to deliver a pulse-pounding thriller featuring even more powerful and deadly villains in THE FALLEN.
In this novel the End of Days is upon us. In a hidden cave in Lebanon, a man discovers a forbidden tome that turns out to be the Testament of Lucifer. Now The Fallen–Lucifer’s advance guard–have arisen and Bravo Shaw, head of the Gnostic Observatine sect, must face the threat. The Gnostic Observatines, a lay religious order founded in the 15th Century, are just part of the long, unique history of the Bravo family. Like his sister Emma, Bravo Shaw is not quite like you and me.
“You’d be fascinated by his encyclopedic knowledge of ancient history, languages, peoples, and the occult arts,” Lustbader says. “And he’s very driven, highly focused on his responsibilities. As the head of the Gnostic Observatines, he has a great deal on his plate, especially with the advent of the final battle to enslave mankind and breach the gates of heaven.”
It started as an ordinary day for Jed Patrick: A quick run into town for gas and a few groceries. But ordinary was not what followed. Returning home he finds his wife in tears and his daughter gone—taken by people who want something from him.
Welcome to the world of Jed Patrick, a man with a complicated past. A past that continues to dog him unexpectedly and in ways not anticipated.
Jed is convinced he is doing all it takes to keep his family safe—new names, new location, new identity. But just when he thinks he finally has his life back, the unthinkable happens. Jed needs to find a way to use the classified information he possesses to dismantle the Centralia Project. But eliminating Centralia may require compromising his own values. As danger escalates Jed isn’t sure whether there’s anyone or anything he can trust—including his own senses.
Jed and his wife, Karen, and daughter Lily are living in the mountains of Idaho, far from the horrors of Centralia. Yes, the same Centralia that has been burning for years in rural Pennsylvania. But besides the untamable fires, Centralia was the secret base for a sinister plot using a form of mind control.
We first meet Jed in last year’s Centralia. Jed is mourning the loss of his wife and child in a car accident he has no memory of. But a constant nagging doubt keeps him believing they still live. A hidden note from his daughter leads him on a chase that ends in the smoldering town of Centralia, whose abandoned streets and homes are a cover for something far more insidious.
“When I began Centralia I wasn’t sure if it would be a series or not,” Mike Dellosso said. “But the further I got into the story, the more it became evident there would be more for Jed to do. He isn’t a once-and-done kind of hero. He’s useful, smart, cunning, and deadly. Someone, somewhere is always going to be wanting to either use him or kill him. When I completed Centralia I already had several story ideas for Jed.”
By J. H. Bográn
I have a soft spot for Houston. Why? Well, the first time I set foot in the United States, it was that city. Its airport was the biggest I’d seen; the people were friendly. One of the security guards even offered to take a picture of my wife and me!
Houston is also the locale for DiAnn Mills’ novels, and that is just one of the reasons I’m attracted to her suspense fiction. Award winner Mills is back with third book of her FBI series hitting stores in October.
What’s the story of DEADLOCK?
Two murders have rocked the city of Houston. Are they the work of a serial killer, or is a copycat trying to get away with murder? That is the question facing Special Agent Bethany Sanchez, who is eager for her new assignment in violent crimes but anxious about meeting her new partner. Special Agent Thatcher Graves once arrested her brother, and he has a reputation for being a maverick. Plus, their investigative styles couldn’t be more opposite: he operates on instinct, while she goes by the book.
How did the story come about?
Stories are birthed in the most unusual ways. What could be the worst scenario for a young woman stepping into the violent crime division of the FBI? She’s a by-the-book rules girl and perfectionist. But she’s facing a new partner whose testimony sent her brother to jail. That could cause a few problems. Then I considered the hero, the special agent who has a reputation as an out-of-the-box problem solver and a womanizer. But he’s trying to shake the latter image – without much luck. Perfectionist meets organic thinker and their first case is a series of murders with no connections.
For our international readers, in a rare departure from our usual format, we shine a spotlight on this well-known German author. A companion piece on Austrian-based author Ines Eberl can also be found in this issue. —The Editors
By Dawn Ius
In the first volume of Kathrin Lange’s popular Faris Iskander series, her protagonist suffers from intense self-hate. After losing almost seventy people in a hostage situation gone very bad, Iskander is crippled by guilt, despite his partner reminding him he wasn’t the one to pull the trigger—the kidnapper was. Still, Iskander lives with the underlying fear that one of his enemies will return.
Of course, this is exactly what happens in GOTTESLUGE.
Iskander is called in to a kidnapping taking place in one of Berlin’s most popular churches. Before a young muslim boy known to Iskander blows himself up with a suicide bomb, he relays two chilling messages: They lie when they say God is great. And, Next time you will be pulling the trigger.
The events propel Iskander into a deep darkness—which for a character that is already badly wounded, makes for a thrilling and emotional ride.
“Faris is Muslim and he is a German special unit police officer,” Lange says. “I always smile when readers tell me something like this: ‘At first I thought I could not love him because he is Muslim, but then I realized that he is absolutely, normally German.’ That is what I wanted him to be!”
Not to mention sexy—an important trait for Lange who admits she likes to include at least one love story in each of her books.
By George Ebey
In the shadow of the Mormon church, a nineteenth-century conspiracy is about to be shattered by a twenty-first–century forensic artist. In 1857, a wagon train in Utah was assaulted by a group of militant Mormons calling themselves the Avenging Angels. One hundred and forty people were murdered, including unarmed men, women, and children.
When renowned forensic artist Gwen Marcey is recruited to reconstruct the faces of recently unearthed victims at Mountain Meadows, she isn’t expecting more than an interesting gig and a break from her own hectic life. But when Gwen stumbles on the ritualized murder of a young college student, her work on the massacre takes on a terrifying new aspect, and her research quickly becomes a race against modern-day fundamentalist terror.
We recently caught up with debut author Carrie Stuart Parks to learn more about A CRY FROM THE DUST and to find out what she has in store for us next.
First, how does it feel to be so close to the release of your debut novel?
I’m excited beyond belief. It’s hard to go through the day-to-day chores and work when all I want to do is hover over the computer.
Your story touches on the field of forensic art. Could you tell us a little about this field as well as your background in it?
I’ve been a forensic artist since 1981, so it was natural to “write what I know.” I’m also married to a forensic artist, Rick, who worked as a Visual Information Specialist for the FBI in Washington, D.C. Together we work on cases and travel across the nation teaching forensic art to law enforcement professionals. The stories I’ll be telling in this series are loosely based on our cases and the work we’ve done in the field.
Germany is moaning under the summer temperatures and Berlin is humming with activity as tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world gather to attend a church congress to which the Pope is expected.
Faris Iskander, a detective in the Special Unit for Religiously Motivated Crimes, is still reeling from a bombing in a city museum that occurred ten months earlier and which left him scarred physically and emotionally. Faris’s girlfriend recently dumped him and is about to start a family with another man and he has just been suspended for getting into a fistfight with a neo-Nazi. Things could be better for Faris.
But his personal problems fade into the background when he gets a mysterious message on his phone that makes his blood freeze—and it isn’t the first time he has received it: “As-samu alaikum, Faris”. May death be with you. The last time he heard these words, a bomb went off shortly afterwards, killing seventy-five people and leaving Faris severely injured. And once more, the message is the beginning of a nightmare. It comes with a video of a man being crucified and a task for Faris: he has forty hours to find the victim shown in the video—or the man will die and several bombs deposited all over Berlin will go off. To make his point, the sender blows up a train in a busy underground station. As Faris feverishly tries to track down the author of the video, he gets help from online journalist Niklas Hesse. When Niklas publishes a photograph of the victim, the man on the cross can be identified as a religious fanatic. The culprit, on the other hand, always seems to be one step ahead of Faris and Niklas in the course of their investigation.
Meet Vicky & Gary, authors of EVIL IN THE BEGINNING (The God Tools: Book 2).
Originally from Syracuse, New York, Vicky Knerly now resides on St. Simons Island, Georgia. She has a bachelor’s degree in English and two masters’ degrees, and she has won awards for her research-based writing. She currently works for a private university based in Melbourne, Florida.
Gary Williams lives with his wife in St. Augustine, Florida. He has a bachelor’s degree in Business Marketing from University of North Florida. Once a corporate manager, he now writes full time.
Here’s a taste of EVIL IN THE BEGINNING.
Dr. Curt Lohan and Scott Marks return in the sequel to DEATH IN THE BEGINNING when they discover a hidden cave near the St. Johns River. The cave contains remnants of an ancient cross-oceanic expedition by one of the most enigmatic civilizations that ever inhabited the Earth. As sinister characters emerge in the small town and people begin to disappear, the terrifying truth becomes evident: the magnificent archaeological site holds a dark secret that has been unleashed on the world.
I had a chance to chat with Vicky and Gary about the book.
With their second battle behind them, Leah Tallent and Gareth Lowery find themselves still knee-deep in hell. What should’ve ended with a celebration of passion wrapped in each other’s arms becomes a nightmare once more, as a mysterious man demands Leah to return home, or else her beloved father will be found at the bottom of the sea.
Scrambling to figure out what’s happened Tallent & Lowery walk in on a family that has literally gone insane: A mother filled with accusations, three sisters who wish them nothing but certain death, and a frightening story of a blood-red eye that leads to a puzzle with immense repercussions. The woman named Anippe who readers questioned in The Sapphire Storm is back, with an item in her possession that will have Tallent & Lowery heading out on an adventure based on pure emotion and ultimate fear – where victory may just depend on their willingness to sacrifice each other.
The time has come for Tallent & Lowery to go head-to-head with the mysterious voice from 13, as a villain is unveiled…and a war begins!
By John Raab
Author Nelson Demille is one of the most successful authors of our generation. When you talk master storytellers in the thriller / suspense genre, his name has to be at or near the top of a very short list. Nelson started his career in 1974 with his first novel THE SNIPER being published with his character Joe Ryker. From that point Nelson has published over a dozen novels, with WORD OF HONOR and THE GENERALS DAUGHTER being made into movies. Nelson was a First Lieutenant in the United States Army and saw action as an infantry platoon leader with the First Cavalry Division in Vietnam. It is experiences in the military that gives Nelson’s book that perfect feel of realism, especially with arguably is best character Paul Brennar, played by John Travolta in THE GENERALS DAUGHTER movie. He was decorated with the Air Medal, Bronze Star and Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. THE QUEST is his latest book to come out, shall we take a peek inside:
From the dusty archives of the Vatican to the overgrown jungles of Ethiopia, an unlikely crew of four begins a deadly search for the Holy Grail.
Two reporters, a mercenary soldier, and a devastatingly beautiful photographer are caught in the upheaval of an Ethiopian civil war. When they encounter a dying priest who has escaped from a bombed-out jungle prison, he reveals to them an incredible secret–the location of Christ’s cup from the Last Supper hidden in a remote monastery. Thus begins their Quest-a deadly adventure that pits them against murderous tribesmen, shadowy assassins, fanatical Coptic monks, and ultimately against the powers of the Grail itself.
It’s not easy catching up with Nelson, but we were lucky enough to do just that, so let’s hear from the author directly.
By Don Helin
In his gripping thriller, THE DIABOLIST, Layton Green unleashes the bizarre murder of a Satanic priest in San Francisco which draws Dominic Grey and Viktor Radek, private investigators of cults, to the scene. Witnesses claim a robed figure, seemingly able to appear and disappear at will, set fire to the priest. When the leader of another Satanic cult in Paris dies under similar circumstances, the case only grows stranger… and more dangerous.
Convinced that a charismatic New Age prophet is behind the murders, the investigators undergo a perilous journey into the world of the occult as they try to penetrate the prophet’s inner circle. From the catacombs of Paris to London’s nefarious East End, from the haunted walls of York to a monastic fortress in the Sicilian wilderness, the case plunges Viktor and Grey into a vortex of black magic, ancient heresies, and the dark corners of their own pasts.
The DIABOLIST is a chilling novel that not only pulsates with action and suspense, but also mines a trove of fascinating historical, philosophical, and paranormal research to probe some of our closest held beliefs. From the opening pages to the astonishing conclusion, this latest installment in one of today’s most original new thriller series is not to be missed.
By Derek Gunn
J. M. LeDuc is a writer of inspirational fiction. This is the first statement I read about this author. The second was that he is a writer of Christian thrillers. I am not sure how everyone else chooses their books but I don’t like pigeon holing. Broad genres are fine, horror, thriller, Science Fiction and Fantasy etc. These help me broadly to place a work. But there are so many sub genres now that it is possible to lose out on good fiction if you tend to ignore, or search for, key words.
I am not entirely sure what a ‘Christian’ Thriller is to be honest. It certainly isn’t what you might think. The fact that it is Christian does not have to take away from a really good read. Neither does it mean it has to be particularly Christian. This book is a case in point. If you are looking for plenty of action, clever puzzles, cool ideas of the origins of humanity then this is certainly the book for you. Does Dan Brown write Christian thrillers then? If you are looking for good characterisation filled with joy, despair, terror and man’s basic core of humanity then this is also the book for you.
If you like the aforementioned Dan Brown, Clive Cussler and many more like that then you will not be disappointed in this book. And this is where I get confused. Why do we need a sub-genre at all? The baddies are bad, the goodies are good, okay it’s more complicated than that, but this is a thriller – and a good one. If the Christian label helps sell the book then – great. I have no issue with that. But if you are someone who may let the Christian label turn you off then you will miss out on a great read.
By Don Helin
In his novel, THE OLDEST ENEMY, Michael J. Webb spins a story so compelling that Robert Whitlow, best-selling author of THE CHOICE says, “Michael Webb has created a novel that grabs the reader in the first paragraph and doesn’t let go until the final page. Webb skillfully weaves the past and present together in a way that is both revelatory and entertaining.”
David Lighthouse was once a hard-hitting investigative reporter for the Denver Post—back before he was accused of the brutal murder of his fiancée and his life unraveled. Now, six years later, he is the assistant pastor of a small church in Florida. Armed with faith, sobriety, and a resurrected sense of purpose, he’s putting together a new life. But when one of his young parishioners is murdered, David’s old instincts reemerge. Once again the prime suspect, he fights to clear his name even as disturbing clues at the crime scene reveal a haunting connection not only to his fiancée’s unsolved murder but to his estranged father’s secret past.
By Nate Kenyon
Marooned in a desolate canyon half a planet from home, a lone survivor struggles to separate reality from illusion.
Dassa’s landing craft crashes 10,000 kilometers from her intended destination. Taking refuge in a canyon from the blizzard that rages atop the rim, she learns more about her native planet than she ever wanted to know. Even if she manages to find her way home, does she have a home to return to?
By J. N. Duncan
I’d like to welcome Don Stansberry to the ITW list of authors with his debut thriller, SECRET BLOOD, a supremely intriguing story about the cloning of Christ and the unfortunate priest caught up in the conspiracy, danger, and intrigue when technology goes beyond the imaginable. Don is the author of two YA novels as well as an award-nominated children’s book. A native West Virginian, Jon has worked in the public school system for three decades. Welcome, Don! Let’s get to the good stuff.
First off, why don’t you give us the Twitter summary, a one sentence blurb of your story, SECRET BLOOD.
Jesus has been cloned and you are the only living person who knows.
His words unlocked something deadly, and now the silence is killing them.
Disfigured with a hideous scar from his stepmother, Zeph Walker lives his life in seclusion, cloistered in a ramshackle bookstore on the outskirts of town. But Zeph is also blessed with a gift—an uncanny ability to foresee the future, to know peoples’ deepest sins and secrets. He calls it the Telling, but he has abandoned this gift to a life of solitude, unbelief, and despair—until two detectives escort him to the county morgue where he finds his own body lying on the gurney.
By Kira Peikoff
THE TENTH SAINT is a debut thriller by DJ Niko, a journalist, author, editor, and self-proclaimed modern nomad who has spent the better part of two decades traveling the world. In the novel, she takes readers to the Ethiopian highlands, where a secret that could save the earth is buried within an ancient mountain kingdom. Ethiopia’s holy men have kept it hidden for centuries, but archaeologist Sarah Weston discovers the obscure inscriptions that could expose it. Caught in a deadly conspiracy, she risks everything–her reputation, her career, her life –to follow her convictions and bring the ancient secret to light and prevent the ultimate destruction.
By C. B. Worth
Award-wining, bestselling author Vicki Hinze likes to delve into the deepest fears that most of us face at one time or another. Her quest is for her characters to face these fears and then seek constructive solutions. When asked what fear inspired her most recent novel, NOT THIS TIME, the third book in her Crossroads Crisis Center series, she sighed and said, “Can a person get to a point beyond redemption? Mess up so bad that he or she can’t get back? That’s what I’m wondering.”
Need a thrill to keep the chill of this winter? David Wood’s novella ICEFALL, the fourth installment in the Dane Maddock Adventure series, is fast-paced thrill ride through a frozen winter landscape. The theft of the bones of the Magi from a German cathedral send Wood’s heroes, Dane Maddock and “Bones” Bonebrake, on a quest to uncover an ancient conspiracy.
By Don Helin
In his latest novel, The Jihad’s Messiah, author Nick Daniels unleashes a plot so fiendish that New York Times Bestselling Author Joel Richardson says, “The Jihad’s Messiah is a thrilling ride into a very probable future. No other apocalyptic novel brings the current events in the Middle East so close to the biblical prophecies about the last days. This book will both entertain and enlighten you, leaving you hungry for more. Nick Daniels is simply a fantastic author. I am already eagerly awaiting his next book.”
The Jihad’s Messiah takes the reader to a future where world power has shifted to the Middle East, and the Arab nations have signed a seven-year peace treaty with Israel.
A radical Iraqi leader—known as Al-Mahdi, “the Awaited One”—rises to power promising to convert the world to Islam.
by Gary Kriss
So there I was, ogling Lady Gaga’s left upper arm and thinking about James Barney.
Yes, that James Barney, the one whose debut novel, The Genesis Key, will be released by Harper on June 28.
And, yes, that Lady Gaga, the one who has already been released.
It was her tattoo that conjured up Barney, the one in German with the following advice for writers: “’In the deepest hour of the night, confess to yourself that you would die if you were forbidden to write. And look deep into your heart where it spreads its roots, the answer, and ask yourself, must I write?‘”
By Diane Holmes
“Yvonne Anderson is an amazing talent. Her stories remind me of what I love best about Madeleine L’Engle’s writing…depth with subtlety. Yvonne has a fan in me for life.” — Gina Holmes, best-selling author of Crossing Oceans
Here’s the cover copy for her forthcoming June release:
Out of the searing heat and sandstorms of Baghdad’s infamous summer of 2003 comes The Witch of Babylon, a gripping tale rooted in ancient Assyrian lore and its little known but profound significance for the world. John Madison, a Turkish-American art dealer, caught between his brother’s obsession to save a priceless relic and a deadly game of revenge staged by his childhood friend, must find the link between a modern day witch and an ancient one.
If ThrillerFest doesn’t have a Dynamic Duo category, it ought to, and Lynn Sholes and Joe Moore should be the winners. This writing team has once again produced a thriller that will excite conspiracy theorists, while the rest of us can sit back, enjoy the many surprises of the well-crafted plot, and be thrilled by the fast-paced action.
By Don Helin
In her latest novel, According to Luke, Rosanne Dingli unleashes a romantic story of secrecy, symbols, faith and forbidden love. It takes the reader on a quest for an ancient truth so powerful it disturbs the Catholic Church: a truth so explosive it attacks violent separatists and demands a ransom of millions. Readers will follow a chase that charges from Venice to Malta, and then to Ravenna; a chase that escalates to disaster in Damascus, until a solution in found in the Victorian countryside of Australia.
Vicki Hinze has published more than two dozen thrillers and suspense novels in various subgenres, including romantic suspense and military romantic intrigue. Lately she has shifted her focus to Christian thrillers. She has won numerous awards and her books have been published in nearly a dozen foreign countries. When her deadlines permit, Vicki lectures and conducts workshops on writing craft. Her latest Crossroads Crisis Center thriller, Deadly Ties, has just been published.
In Davis Bunn’s The Black Madonna, antiques expert Storm Syrrell is in desperate need of cash. When an nameless, faceless client calls her with a request to track down a non-existant antique rumored to bear miraculous healing in its being, Storm should say no. But the man’s pockets are deep. What desperation leads a man to pay millions for a glimpse of hope? Storm hopes the answer won’t be the death of her business…or her.
By Aaron Brown
The first pairing of FBI Agent Sean Reilly and archaeologist Tess Chaykin in Raymond Khoury’s The Last Templar spent 11 weeks on the hardcover New York Times Bestseller list and was a Number 1 bestseller overseas. It has been translated into thirty-eight languages, published in over forty countries, and became the basis for a television mini-series.