Richard Clement became Luz’s resettlement officer when she was evacuated to the US. He now works for the CIA, which has its own reasons for eliminating Benavides. Richard’s team persuades Luz to pursue a job as nanny to Benavides’ grandson, Cesar, a lonely child with an absentee playboy father.
The Guatemala contact for her mission is Evan McManus, an expat painter who pursues Luz, hoping to persuade her to model for him—and more. Luz initially spurns his advances, but her first terrifying encounter with Martin Benavides propels her into his arms.
Complicating matters, Luz conceals from all sides her clandestine contact with her surviving cousin, Antonio Torres, a guerrilla leader fighting the government propped up by the Benavides and their drug money.
The Big Thrill caught up to debut novelist Bonnar Spring for a quick chat about her upcoming thriller, TOWARD THE LIGHT:
Until Kendra Elliot immersed herself in Diana Gabaldon’s work, she really didn’t see herself as a writer. But after reading Gabaldon’s books over and over she noticed how satisfied she felt. “I’d loved the entire experience and had become lost in the world she had built. At that moment I wondered if I could do that for a reader and decided to give it a try. I wasn’t interested in writing a historical novel and decided to try writing a contemporary romance, but my characters kept tripping over dead bodies. I realized I needed to focus on suspense.”
From that beginning Kendra, now working on her seventeenth novel, has authored three series (Bone Secrets, Callahan & McLane, Mercy Kilpatrick), co-authored another (Rogue River with Melinda Leigh), and has started her fourth series, Columbia River, with the appearance of THE LAST SISTER.
When starting a series, Kendra doesn’t know the stopping point but she does know when she is getting burned out on the characters. Then she and her editor decide when to start a new series. For the Columbia River series, each book will have different main characters, but readers will recognize them from previous books.
“The concept for THE LAST SISTER was developed in a day-long brainstorming with my editor and public relations manager. They wanted a domestic thriller. We came up with several dozen elements we liked including the three sisters, the KKK, big family secrets, and the Oregon coastal setting…They helped me build the skeleton of the story and I fleshed it out.
Two men: a former tunnel rat and CIA assassin in the Vietnam War now in his 60s and living a quiet life in Ypsilanti, Michigan and a mysterious mastermind behind a number of major al Qaeda terror attacks since the 1990s. Two sons: a US assistant district attorney in Detroit and a suspected terrorist awaiting trial for attempting to smuggle explosives across the Canadian border. One grandson: kidnapped and used as leverage…
Zane Keator thought he left war behind when he came home from Southeast Asia as the Vietnam War drew to a close. He’s even avoiding the phone calls from his doctor at the VA hospital, knowing that a diagnosis means he’ll soon be fighting a war of a different sort. But when an FBI counterterrorist fly team raids his house in the middle of the night, the threat of war becomes personal. His old instincts kick in, and he barely escapes.
Soon the subject of a massive manhunt, Keator realizes as he flees the city that the team came in silent and hot, intending to kill, not capture him. To figure out who stole his identity and why he’s suddenly a wanted man, he turns to the only people who can help him, a fellow “rat,” and his former CIA handler in Cambodia.
As the FBI closes in and time runs down on a plot to wreak the most heinous terrorist attack ever on American soil, Keator’s showdown with the man who stole his name all comes down to two things: Keator’s fierce love for his autistic grandson and an antique weapon he used against the Viet Cong in the Cù Chi tunnels outside Saigon.
STOLEN IDENTITY author, Michael W. Sherer, took some time out to chat a bit with The Big Thrill about his influences and his latest release:
You can take the girl out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the girl, according to actress Janine Turner. She might have been talking about award-winning author LynDee Walker, whose second book in her Faith McClellan Texas Ranger series, LEAVE NO STONE, launched in November.
Although she now lives in the Richmond area in Virginia, Walker grew up in North Central Texas and worked as an award-winning journalist there for almost 10 years. To her, “writing about the broad skies, the roadside waves of spring bluebonnets, or the parched brown summer fields, is writing about home.”
As a journalist, she covered Texas Rangers cases, but Walker says, “I think the legends and lore surrounding the organization have fascinated me since I was a little girl watching old westerns on Sunday afternoons with my grandmother. Faith has been a really fun character to get to know.”
In LEAVE NO STONE, Ranger Faith McClellan sets out to find a missing woman, but soon finds herself enmeshed in a hunt for a clever and sadistic serial killer. It’ll take all of the skill Faith and her partner Archie Baxter can muster to find the missing woman before the killer strikes again.
LEAVE NO STONE follows Walker’s highly successful series debut, Fear No Truth. “My worst personal fear inspired it,” Walker says. “That idea was one of those lightning-bolt-out-of-a-clear-sky moments.”
Walker also writes the seven-and-counting series about journalist Nichelle Clarke.
In a literary space where the business of agenting and publishing is increasingly siloed, New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd has strayed from the regular mold of genre fiction with a protean body of work ranging from suspense and thriller novels to romance, paranormal, and historical fiction.
Dodd’s new novel, STRANGERS SHE KNOWS, revolves around Kellen Adams, an army veteran who stands up for strength, leadership, and justice, after a spell of abuse at the hands of her husband.
The character grew out of a meeting Dodd had three decades ago with two lawyers who defended women victims of domestic abuse.
“These women talked about the physical and psychological abuse they suffered and described how difficult it was to get out of that situation,” Dodd says. “I thought there was a story there. The story brewed for decades, and Kellen Adams was the right person for that story.”
STRANGERS SHE KNOWS, published by HQN Books in September 2019 and selected as an Amazon Best Book of the Month, is the third of Dodd’s Cape Charade full-length thriller series.
Dodd attributes the provenance of the series’ name, Cape Charade, to a desire for a title that would carry a West Coast essence, as well as her fascination with the 1963 romantic comedy mystery film Charade starring Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant.
Hard to Kill and Dead Girl Running, which are the first and second novels in the series, show army captain Kellen as evolving from a naïve young woman who weds her sweetheart at 18. Little did Kellen know that she’d be a battered wife. When she came to grips with that reality, she would escape from the clutches of her marriage and land a gig as an assistant manager at a large Washington state resort, where murders would pile up. It isn’t long before Kellen is shot in the head. When she comes to after a year-long coma, she must break through the haze of her amnesia and find the killer.
The remote town of Oriska, New York, hasn’t been home for Sydney Lucerno for 13 years. She’s escaped the creeping addictions and long-simmering anger that are as much a part of the landscape as the bitter cold. But when she gets the call that her mother is dying, every secret and fear she left behind is waiting to welcome her back.
Two days later, her mother’s lover is dead too. And Sydney’s sworn to protect a half-sister she never knew she had, a prickly teenager named Maude with an opiate habit and a bad-news family. But more lies and feuds are poised to spring from every once-familiar corner. The predators Sydney thought she’d escaped are threatening both her and Maude. To get free, Sydney will have to discover the truth about what happened when she left—and decide what should stay buried, deep in the unforgiving snow…
Author Susan Alice Bickford took some time out of her busy schedule to speak with The Big Thrill about her latest thriller, DREAD OF WINTER:
Intent on saving humanity from itself, Darnell Price is presented with an outrageous and daring offer by a brilliant scientist. Believing history will view him as a courageous savior, Price accepts the offer and sets in motion a ghastly plot.
When young men on the Warm Springs Reservation in Central Oregon are stricken with an unidentified disease that leaves them sterile, Peter Savage is called to aid in the investigation. As the inquiry starts to gain momentum, Peter is kidnapped by hardened mercenaries aided by crooked cops. Following a daring escape and a shootout at an illicit drug lab in the remote high desert of Oregon, Peter finds himself face to face with a demon from his past: an adversary who has seemingly risen from the grave.
As the minutes count down to a biological holocaust, Peter presents the only chance to save an unwitting civilian population. With his trusted canine companion Diesel by his side, along with a former-assassin-turned-ally, Peter must gamble far more than his own life… and the odds have never been so long.
The Big Thrill spent some time with USA Today bestselling author Dave Edlund discussing the origins of his latest Peter Savage thriller, LETHAL SAVAGE:
Detective Émile Cinq-Mars is transferring from the Night Patrol—the notoriously tough department of officers in charge of watching over the city as it sleeps—to the day shift. His old superior has seen to it that he’s assigned to partner Yves Giroux, another ex-Night Patrol detective some say isn’t on the “up and up.”
Getting in a house is easy for thief Quinn Tanner. The stress comes in getting out clean. On finding her getaway driver dead after her latest heist, she goes underground.
For his first case on the day shift, Émile is sent to the property that Quinn has just visited, and their paths are set to cross. But has she stolen something more valuable than she realizes . . . and who is hunting for her now?
The Big Thrill caught up to prolific author John Farrow to gain some insight into his latest thriller, BALL PARK:
D. K. Hood’s seventh book in the Kane and Alton Thriller series, BREAK THE SILENCE, is hard to put down. The story propelled me forward—and even kept me up till after midnight on a couple of occasions.
The story begins when a female college student is found dead and Sheriff Jenna Alton, along with deputy David Kane, are called in to investigate. With many potential suspects and few actual leads, Jenna and her cadre of deputies and staff must methodically work their way through the information and assimilate the data.
Once you’re caught in the web of Black Rock Falls, you won’t want to extricate yourself until the perpetrator is revealed. Thanks to Hood’s storytelling ability and the hard work of Jenna Alton and her police force, a satisfying conclusion is the ultimate reward when you do turn that last page.
Like the people portrayed in her novel, Hood is somewhat mysterious. Her online bio predominantly focuses on her success since her debut crime thriller, Don’t Tell a Soul, hit number 32 in the Top 100 Bestseller list on Amazon USA in 2017, followed by Bring Me Flowers and Follow Me Home, enjoying the same success. Whisper in the Night went onto the USA Today and The Wall Street Journal bestseller lists in the same week and was the #1 bestseller in Australia on Friday the 13th.
In this exclusive interview for The Big Thrill, Hood provides a bit of insight into her writing process and the inspiration for BREAK THE SILENCE.
Marietta Miles likes her genres dark. The darker the better. Her roots as a writer are in horror, and when asked what attracts her to crime fiction in general and noir in particular, she says, “To me, noir is a realistic representative of horror. It’s as close as you can get to horror without actually stepping into the paranormal or the fantastic.”
It should come as no surprise, then, that her dream novel, the one she’d most like to write, would plunge the reader deep into that darkness. “One day,” she says, “I want to let go of my self-consciousness and write an absolutely terrifying novel with a mind-blowing evil. Something to make you check under your bed before you go to sleep.”
It took her a while to find a publisher for her writing, but she’s now on her second novel. AFTER THE STORM is about a flawed, deeply conflicted, yet oddly engaging character whose desire to do the right thing is constantly at war with her hunger for love and her instinct for self-preservation.
In this The Big Thrill interview, Miles shares a bit about her writing process, provides insight into the decisions that went into writing AFTER THE STORM, and reveals what she feels is her greatest writing challenge.
By Azam Gill
In bestselling novelist Robert Ellis’s third Detective Matt Jones crime thriller, THE GIRL BURIED IN THE WOODS, sinister forces hatch an elaborate plot to frame the detective for multiple murders.
Jones is on medical leave in LA. After hunting down the mass murderer in The Love Killings, he’s asked to investigate reports that a body has been found buried in the woods. Driven by a rising body count, Jones and his partner, Denny Cabrera, soon find themselves in the middle of a turf war between an infamous mobster and the power of Wall Street, also involving big shots in city government.
Everybody wants to pin the murders on Detective Jones—and watch him run for his life.
Ellis’s books have been translated into 10 languages and included in top reads by the New York Times, the Guardian (UK), Booklist, Publishers Weekly, National Public Radio, the Chicago Tribune, the Toronto Sun, People Magazine, and USA Today.
Ellis’s work has also garnered praise from authors as diverse as Janet Evanovich and Michael Connelly.
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Ellis moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as a writer, producer, and director in film, television, and advertising. He studied writing with Walter Tevis, author of The Hustler, The Man Who Fell to Earth, and The Color of Money, with his friend John Truby, screenwriter and author of The Anatomy of Story.
Ellis’s writing upholds Henry James’s symbiosis of incident and character, enhanced by his choice of settings, especially in THE GIRL BURIED IN THE WOODS.
In this The Big Thrill interview, he explains how a tragic, real-life incident triggered his interest in crime and crime fiction.
Whether as caution or lament, the adage meant nothing to Addie Decker because when Addie left the rural Southwest for college in Los Angeles, she vowed never to return. But when her grandmother’s death calls Addie back, she confronts a landscape both familiar and foreign as a sudden boom in gas development threatens her family’s ranching heritage even as it promises vital prosperity to her old hometown.
With her lover in tow, her high school sweetheart in waiting, and a sagebrush militia lurking in the wings, Addie will learn difficult lessons about loyalty and family while navigating a minefield of greed and obstinacy, love and violence.
The Big Thrill caught up to award-winning author C. Joseph Greaves to learn more about his latest novel, CHURCH OF THE GRAVEYARD SAINTS:
By Azam Gill
Award-winning and bestselling crime writer R. Barri Flowers has been acclaimed as “one of the best voices in modern mystery writing” by Statesman Journal, and “masterful” by Douglas Preston, bestselling author.
In his latest novel, NIGHT KILLERS, the stories of two main characters intersect and collide in an intense climax.
In the town of Night, Oregon, homicide detective Trudy Clawson and FBI special agent Daryl Hatcher investigate two apparently dissimilar, yet inexorably connected, serial killings. The duo race against the clock to catch the unknown subjects involved in the crime.
Dawn Whelan is a beautiful psychologist who is stunned when a patient confesses to being part of the gang rape and murder of a teenager 20 years ago. The revelation sends Dawn on a deadly path of vengeance—in turn setting off a series of interrelations and heart-pounding events.
They lead to a dramatic conclusion that will forever turn the quaint Pacific Northwest town upside down.
By J. H. Bográn
In her new novel, RACKED, author Sue Coletta returns to Grafton County, the setting of three previous thrillers featuring crime writer Sage Quintano and her husband, Niko. This time around, the plot revolves around five missing boys and an adult corpse found in a small town’s water shed. After a hooded stranger gives Sage and Niko’s son, Noah, a stuffed animal—the exact Christmas moose given to all the missing boys days before their abductions—their lives spiral into uncertainty.
The origins of this story date back to when Coletta toured an abandoned house in Bristol, New Hampshire, with the idea that it’d become a murder scene in one of her books. While there, the owner and the author crept up a rickety staircase. “A palpable feeling of sadness and pain overwhelmed me,” Coletta recalls. “When the owner swung open the upstairs bedroom door, two white orbs zoomed straight at us. In that moment the message was clear: Leave now! Something awful had happened in the house, which set the crime writer brain ablaze with two main questions: What happened there? Why are these souls so tortured that they can’t move on? Needless to say, I walked into the ‘haunted’ house with one story and walked out with another. Yet, oddly enough, it’s more psychological thriller than paranormal.”
A confessed researchaholic, Coletta enjoyed that stage of the writing process. “For this book, I learned about adipocere, also known as corpse wax, which is a saponification process that occurs during putrefaction when bodies are submerged in cold water during the winter,” she says. “I reached out to my consultant at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Grafton County (the chief forensic investigator, who’s also a reader of mine). As a reader who enjoys realism in fiction, my consultant involved the state’s forensic anthropologist. These two savvy women gave me homework: find the water temperatures for the specific months the body would remain trapped inside the water shed. Which doesn’t sound like a major deal, until you take into consideration that this story is set in 2008. So I straightened my detective hat and dug through umpteen records. Turns out, 2008 was the perfect year for cold water temps and adipocere in Bristol, New Hampshire.”
Senior Special Agent Sayer Altair studies the minds of psychopaths. But even she didn’t expect to uncover a killer within the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Rooting him out and exposing internal corruption got her a bullet wound and six months of desk duty. Now, she’s finally back in the field, called in when an off-duty FBI agent and his cadaver dog fall into a sinkhole filled with human bones.
Found deep in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, the skeletal remains date back almost two decades, the same time a beloved local teen disappeared. The cold case quickly heats up when Sayer’s team finds two fresh corpses among the bones. When a gruesome clue ties these new bodies to a woman recently kidnapped along with her young daughter, Sayer has to uncover the connection between the old bones and the new bodies before the mother and child become the next victims.
But the killer is one step ahead, attacking her team and sabotaging their efforts. With Sayer’s investigation compromised and unsure of who to trust, she receives unwanted help from Subject 037, one of the anonymous psychopaths she is currently studying. She has the chilling realization that he’s someone powerful in Washington D.C.—and he is not about to let a mundane serial killer jeopardize his own ominous agenda for Sayer…
Critically acclaimed author Ellison Cooper sat down with The Big Thrill to discuss her latest thriller, BURIED:
Finn Carroll is a failed artist living a marginal existence in his dead parents’ home. So why would a team of killers want to murder him and frame it as a suicide? Finn survives the encounter to discover the killers have left behind a “suicide note” detailing a dark incident from Finn’s past no one could possibly know about.
Finn escapes to Musqasset Island, his former home, to seek refuge with an old friend, but soon realizes he has trapped himself on the small island with the very people who want him dead—and with old debts that need to be paid. His only hope for survival, and redemption, is to figure out who’s trying to kill him and why they’ve waited eighteen years to act—no easy task in a raging nor’easter, where communications are shaky and relationships (and Finn’s mental state) are even shakier.
Andrew Wolfendon spent some time with The Big Thrill lending some insight into his debut novel, FISHERMAN’S COURT:
When the biggest legal case of her career brings Eliza Carmody back to Kinsale, the hometown she thought she had left forever, she witnesses an old friend commit a crime that sends her on a dangerous quest to uncover the mysteries of her childhood that the rest of the town seems willing to ignore.
With her friend on the run and the police investigating the bones of an unidentified dead body at a historic homestead near town, Eliza becomes convinced that the truth lies in her memories of the New Year’s Eve years ago when her friend Grace disappeared from Kinsale forever.
While Eliza desperately explores the connections between the crimes of the present and those of the past, she begins to suspect that no one ― even her own family ― is telling the truth.
The Big Thrill caught up to award-winning author Aoife Clifford, and discussed her latest thriller, SECOND SIGHT:
After studying biology at MIT, a career as a thriller writer was not the natural path forward for New York Times bestselling author Megan Miranda.
“Though I loved writing when I was growing up, I also loved science, and I didn’t know anyone who was an author,” she says. “I didn’t know what that career path would look like. So I pursued a degree in biology, worked in biotechnology for a few years, and then taught high school science.”
If Miranda had continued toiling away in the lab, her new novel, THE LAST HOUSE GUEST, might never have been written—but the call to being an author was something she couldn’t ignore. And by the time she reached her late 20s, she knew she had to do something about it.
“I had children, and came to realize I had given up this creative pursuit for too long,” she says. “That’s when my focus shifted—to give it a real shot, to treat this as my job in the hopes that it would one day become my career.”
At first, writing was just something she did on the side, late at night, after she tucked in her kids. “I had set myself the goal of finishing something—which I did—but I didn’t understand the art of revising, or all the story elements needed,” she says. Miranda soon brought the same degree of rigor that she’d used to learn science to her pursuit of writing. And that approach paid off.
After two total rewrites, that late-night project evolved into her first published novel, though “the only things that remain the same from the original version are the title (Fracture), the character names, and the first four sentences. I’d say the process of rewriting that book several times taught me a lot about the writing process and the essential elements of a story.”
When Professor Michael Peterson learns he has a terminal brain tumor and is faced with no other viable options, he promises complete confidentially to undergo an experimental and highly secretive operation in brain cell grafting.
While recuperating, he begins to have flashes of fragmented images that have no connection to his life. He soon realizes he is an unwilling participant in a murder plan initiated by his donor.
Drawn into a maze of deceit and danger, Michael must choose between keeping his word to the person who saved his life or making an attempt to save the life of a complete stranger.
The Big Thrill spent some time with author Lauri Broadbent discussing her debut thriller, IMAGES:
By Basil Sands
Lindy opened her eyes and struggled to make out the dark room around her. She’s bound at the wrists and tied to a chair, unable to move. Footsteps outside the door stifle her screams. He’s coming…
In town, Sheriff Jenna Alton gets a text with a video and a simple message—you’ve got six hours to find her or I kill her.
This is how D. K. Hood’s latest book, WHISPER IN THE NIGHT begins—and I would strongly suggest that you don’t read it if you plan to sleep soon. WHISPER IN THE NIGHT is a tense thriller, not for the light-hearted—but definitely a story thriller fans will find compelling.
Writing about the rugged beauty of Montana and her interest in criminal forensic science goes back many years for Hood. Her debut crime thriller, Don’t Tell a Soul, was a Top 100 Bestseller on Amazon USA, with her follow-up books, Bring Me Flowers and Follow Me Home, enjoying the same success. Her novels The Crying Season and Where Angels Fear hit the USA Today bestseller list.
In this interview, she takes some time out of her busy schedule to talk to The Big Thrill about what inspired her chilling new release.
In Kelsey Rae Dimberg’s debut thriller GIRL IN THE REARVIEW MIRROR, Finn Hunt lucks into the job of a lifetime when she becomes a nanny for a political power couple in Phoenix. The glamorous lifestyle of Philip Martin, the son of a senator, and his wife Marina dazzles Finn, but she loves being part of this accomplished family and caring for her young charge, the Martins’ precocious four-year-old, Amabel.
When a young woman approaches Finn and asks her to carry a message to Philip, Finn becomes enmeshed in a web of deadly lies—including her own. Secrets best left alone are laid bare under the broiling Phoenix sun, as a senate seat hangs in the balance.
Megan Abbot says this story is “an exciting, intoxicating debut, it will hold you until its startling final pages” and Sarah Weinman calls it “thrilling, thoughtful, and suspenseful.” Hallie Ephron says the story reminds her of “the ghost of Mary Jo Kopechne,” as “an appealing young woman is caught up in a power political family’s prestige and privilege.”
Dimberg says inspiration for this story was classic noir—but with a twist. “I wanted to play with the genre’s tropes. Rather than the hard-boiled detective, I was interested in their moral role in the story. I relished the exposure of rot and scandal behind powerful families, but favored domestic disturbances over benders and gambling debts. I liked the idea of an ordinary person drawn into a mystery, but I wanted that person to be a woman, both vulnerable and tough.”
By K. L. Romo
Supernatural suspense author E. V. Lind melds action, art, and otherworldly intervention in her ghostly thriller ONLY WHEN I SCREAM (trilogy book two).
Ivy Anderson had her entire life ahead of her. At eighteen, fueled by her passion for classical paintings and the Grand Masters behind them, she planned to tour the great galleries in Europe before starting college. But everything changed when the serial killer Oliver Symes abducted and tortured her. Although she escaped, that one night would define the rest of her life.
After twelve years of building up both her body and spirit, Ivy now leads a reclusive life. It’s no wonder she recoils from relationships, watching for danger at every turn. But she loves her career as an art conservationist—she is a master at restoring old paintings to their former glory. Working for the preeminent Jasper Boyle is her dream come true.
Ivy’s current project is out of the ordinary. Jasper is counting on her to impress their new client, Drake Colton, a millionaire who could make or break Boyle Studios. But there’s a catch—Drake won’t let the painting leave the premises. Ivy must perform the restoration at his home, a Gothic mansion on a cliff at the edge of the ocean, an hour’s drive from her studio in San Francisco.
Jennifer Lawler takes a deep dive into organized crime in COYOTE’S POISON.
Lily Gilmartin knows human traffickers and drug smugglers have a short life expectancy, but when her fiancé disappears, she goes into hiding and searches for answers. In her quest, she finds herself caught between two warring crime families in the desert Southwest, the Nakos mob and the Humes, led by the man she calls Dad. Staying alive becomes ever more negligible, as she fights to protect the one thing she values even more.
The Big Thrill tracked Lawler down as she prepared for the launch of COYOTE’S POISON this month. The developmental editor and author of more than 40 fiction and nonfiction books—everything from romance to fantasy, essays, articles, and more—first conceived Lily about eight or nine years ago.
“It took me a long time to figure out the best way to tell her story,” she says. “The themes kept me working on the story for so long—how much can we change, what does it cost, and what happens when it doesn’t work? But I didn’t want the story to be ‘about’ those themes. I wanted it to be a story about a character for whom readers would care, and that took a lot of tinkering.”
Lawler doesn’t want to hammer people over the head with the issues, because ultimately the story is about a person who gets into trouble and tries to get out. “As a reader I’m always a little disappointed when the trouble is only personal with no connection to the larger issues in the world. We’re all enmeshed. It’s all connected. These things matter. I can’t solve them, but I can draw attention to them and maybe make a tiny difference.”
COYOTE’S POISON didn’t start out to be a thriller. “I first thought of the story as romantic suspense, given my history as a romance writer, but the story became too complex for that genre.”
In her latest novel, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling author Debra Webb brings back Dr. Rowan Dupont, the forensic psychiatrist introduced in The Undertaker’s Daughter. THE SECRETS WE BURY finds Rowan back in her hometown of Winchester, Tennessee, recovering from the trauma of her shattering encounter with a serial killer and running the family business, a Victorian-style funeral home she inherited after her father’s death.
“I’ve always been curious about funeral homes and death,” Webb says. “One of the stories my grandmother often told me was about the woman who woke up buried in a wooden coffin. An occasional baby sitter of me and my brother told us the story about a man waking up in the funeral home lying on a gurney beneath a sheet. The story went that he ran out and all the way home wrapped in that sheet.” Whether or not either tale was rooted in fact, they were good stories. “I suppose the inspiration for the book and the series is a fascination with death and the multitude of reasons it happens before it should.”
Webb had just signed the contract for the series when she learned she had a life-threatening aneurysm in her ascending aorta. Because of its small size, it was determined that the risk of open heart surgery was greater than the danger posed by the aneurysm. That, however, is a delicate balance. As the aneurysm grows, the risk of a rupture becomes greater than the risk of surgical correction. She was given medication and rules for how high she could allow her heart rate to go. If she wasn’t careful, she was told, the aneurysm could rupture, and if that happened, the chances of survival were very slim.
It was like having a time bomb in her head.
From Emily Carpenter, bestselling author of Every Single Secret, Burying the Honeysuckle Girls, and The Weight of Lies, comes a new psychological thriller, UNTIL THE DAY I DIE.
After her husband dies in an accident, Erin Gaines and her brilliant college-age daughter, Shorie, grieve. For Erin, the responsibility of running the financial app Jax, the company she, her husband, and their partners had founded, plus typical mother-daughter relationship stresses, are overwhelming. Erin’s business partners, extended family, and even Shorie want her to take a break. They schedule her for a few weeks at a luxury spa in the Caribbean. At first Erin resists, but then decides they may be right.
But Hidden Sands is not as the brochure promises. Either Erin is losing her mind, or she wasn’t sent there to recover. She was sent there to disappear. And it will take all of Erin’s and Shorie’s ingenuity to save her.
Jessica Strawser dubbed UNTIL THE DAY I DIE “seductively sinister . . . a fast, frightening read,” and Heather Gudenkauf called it “twisty . . . jaw-dropping.”
“A wild thought—The Lord of the Flies with soccer moms—inspired UNTIL THE DAY I DIE,” Carpenter says, noting that the story eventually evolved into something “less nihilistic and with more soul.”
By P. J. Bodnar
When critically-acclaimed investigative journalist Caitlin Bergman is invited back to her alma mater to accept the degree she wasn’t able to complete, she isn’t sure she can—it’s in a place she’s avoided for 20 years.
Realizing she can’t avoid her demons forever, she agrees to go. But while accepting her diploma, she’s drawn into the investigation of a missing student and is forced to face those demons head on.
Author August Norman grew up in central Indiana, but his adopted home has been Los Angeles for the past 20 years. He’s currently working on the follow-up to COME AND GET ME.
Here, he sits down with The Big Thrill to answer a few questions about his heart-pounding debut.
You have written and appeared in movies, television, and stage. Which of these formats do you enjoy the most, and would you rather perform or write for them?
When in doubt, and this goes for most parts of my life, I’d rather be writing, followed by talking about writing, then reading. An actor’s product is market dependent, meaning you can call yourself an actor all you want, but until someone casts you in a project, you’re waiting by the phone for permission to practice your craft, let alone get paid. As a writer, no one can stop you from creating art. They might not buy it, but it’s yours to refine and/or obsess about until finally thrusting it into the world. As far as formats, I love the constraints of TV and film, since you really need to tell your story quickly. But in my experience, long-form fiction’s depth of character exploration and ability to play with the language allows me a far more personal exchange with the reader.
Seven strangers in a mansion on a luxurious private island. Odd accidents. One by one, they fall. Agatha Christie? Think again.
While THEY ALL FALL DOWN does pay homage to Christie’s most famous work, And Then There Were None, Rachel Howzell Hall’s upcoming release offers a modern take on the locked room mystery.
Miriam Macy, a 45-year-old black woman, accepts an offer to take part in a reality show, only to discover there is something sinister on Mictlan Island, located somewhere in the Sea of Cortez.
With a release date set for April 9, the novel has already earned advance praise from thriller luminaries like Attica Locke, Sara Paretsky, Meg Gardiner, Kristen Lepionka, and James Patterson.
The Big Thrill caught up with Hall—author of the critically acclaimed Lou Norton series— who says with THEY ALL FALL DOWN, she wanted to try something different.
“I remember watching Neil Simon’s Murder by Death. Learning that Simon used And Then There Were None as a foundation for the story made it more interesting, because of my familiarity with the seven deadly sins and Dante’s Inferno,” she says. “ I wanted to have fun with the characters, and I think what was most difficult was finding out ways to murder them according to their sin.
Stag Maguire, a burnt-out journalist hardly able to prop himself up in the wake of tragedy, agrees to help a friend move. They find an urgent message—HELP ME—written on a piece of silk tacked behind a long-forgotten portrait. The message from an address in Berlin is urgent—though it had to have been written pre-World War II.
Curious, Stag and his friend begin to research the address and whoever might have written the message. They trace the address to an apartment, a sealed time capsule that has not been lived in since 1942. And from one phone call to that apartment, the men unleash a nefarious plot and brutal security forces long thought vanquished.
Events begin to cascade without mercy, and Stag—a broken man from the Midwest—finds himself pitted against a vestige of the Third Reich with powerful forces ensuring the propagation of Heydrich’s infamous SD—Nazi’s intelligence agency—in today’s world.
Will ordinary-man Stag Maguire prevail in his lone stand against evil?
Author T R Kenneth discussed her thriller, A ROOM FULL OF NIGHT, with The Big Thrill, and here’s what she had to say:
By Tim O’Mara
Lisa Towles, award-winning author of Choke, ventures into what for many readers will be familiar territory in her latest novel, THE UNSEEN.
Forty years ago, archaeologist Rachel Careski discovered an ancient scroll, which threatened the power of the Church. Descendants of Pope Theophilus, sworn to protect Christianity, believe that Rachel’s brother, Soren Careski, took possession of the deadly scroll after Rachel vanished. But Soren is dead.
Forty years later, Soren’s son, Alex, receives an email from his dead father’s account with an image of the scroll. The same day, Alex’s wife, Simone, is kidnapped, and in London, two antiquarian texts go missing from the British Museum.
The rest, as they say, is fiction.
THE UNSEEN is bound to remind many readers of the works of Dan Brown and other “ancient secret” mystery novels.
“Let me say first that if THE UNSEEN was sharing a bookshelf with one of Dan Brown’s books, it would be an honor,” Towles says. “There are similarities in that THE UNSEEN has two separate story threads that eventually weave together and become inseparably entwined. This is a pattern I see in a lot of thrillers. So, although it’s action-packed, I think the real thrust is the legend of Alex’s past, his family history, his father’s lifelong work, and the hidden artifact that’s influenced centuries of crimes.”
Those separate storylines juggle many characters, and in less deft hands, it might be hard to keep so many balls in the air. Towles makes it look easy.
Nikki Griffin isn’t your typical private investigator. In her office above her bookstore’s shelves and stacks, where she luxuriates in books and the comfort they provide, she also tracks certain men. Dangerous men. Men who have hurt the women they claim to love. And Nikki likes to teach those men a lesson, to teach them what it feels like to be hurt and helpless, so she can be sure that their victims are safe from them forever.
When a regular PI job tailing Karen, a tech company’s disgruntled employee who might be selling secrets, turns ugly and Karen’s life is threatened, Nikki has to break cover and intervene. Karen tells Nikki that there are people after her. Dangerous men. She says she’ll tell Nikki what’s really going on. But then something goes wrong, and suddenly Nikki is no longer just solving a case—she’s trying hard to stay alive.
Part Lisbeth Salander, part Jack Reacher, part Jessica Jones, Nikki Griffin is a kick-ass character who readers will root for as she seeks to right the world’s wrongs. S. A. Lelchuk’s SAVE ME FROM DANGEROUS MEN marks the beginning of a gripping new series and the launch of a fabulous new character.
The Big Thrill caught up to S. A. Lelchuk to discuss his debut novel, SAVE ME FROM DANGEROUS MEN: