December 2015 Must Reads in Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction

Here are the  books that I’m especially looking forward to in Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction for December.  Enjoy (all synopsis are from B&N or Amazon)!



MemoRandom by Anders de la Motte (Atria-Dec. 1st)

Synopsis-In the first of two new action-packed thrillers by the internationally bestselling author of the Game trilogy, MemoRandom takes you deep inside the world of police intelligence—where secrecy, betrayal, and deadly competition reign supreme.

David Sarac is a handler at the Intelligence Unit of the Stockholm Police Force, identifying, recruiting, and wrangling anyone who can support the police in their battle against organized crime. And David is very good at what he does: manipulation, bribes, and threats—anything goes, so long as he delivers. Other agents can do nothing but watch jealously as his top-secret, high-level informant, Janus, rockets David to success.

But after David suffers a stroke during a high-speed car chase, crashing violently into the wall of a tunnel, he wakes up in a hospital with no memory at all of Janus or the past two years of his life. David only knows that he has to reconnect with Janus to protect himself and his informants before outside forces bring the whole network crashing down. Fortunately, he has his supportive friends and colleagues to help him rebuild his life…or does he?

From the award-winning Swedish author who has worked as a police officer and IT security consultant, MemoRandom is a stunning thriller and look inside the secret intelligence community, where you never know who’s on your side.



The Short Drop by Matthew Fitzsimmons (Thomas & Mercer-Dec. 1st)

Synopsis-A decade ago, fourteen-year-old Suzanne Lombard, the daughter of Benjamin Lombard—then a senator, now a powerful vice president running for the presidency—disappeared in the most sensational missing-person case in the nation’s history. Still unsolved, the mystery remains a national obsession.

For legendary hacker and marine Gibson Vaughn, the case is personal—Suzanne Lombard had been like a sister to him. On the tenth anniversary of her disappearance, the former head of Benjamin Lombard’s security asks for Gibson’s help in a covert investigation of the case, with new evidence in hand.

Haunted by tragic memories, he jumps at the chance to uncover what happened all those years ago. Using his military and technical prowess, he soon discovers multiple conspiracies surrounding the Lombard family—and he encounters powerful, ruthless political players who will do anything to silence him and his team. With new information surfacing that could threaten Lombard’s bid for the presidency, Gibson must stay one step ahead as he navigates a dangerous web to get to the truth.



House of the Rising Sun by James Lee Burke (Simon & Schuster-Dec. 1st)

Synopsis-New York Times bestseller James Lee Burke returns with his latest masterpiece, the story of a father and son separated by war and circumstance—and whose encounter with the legendary Holy Grail will change their lives forever.

From its opening scene in revolutionary Mexico to the Battle of the Marne in 1918, and on to the bordellos and saloons of San Antonio during the reign of the Hole in the Wall Gang, House of the Rising Sun is an epic tale of love, loss, betrayal, vengeance, and retribution that follows Texas Ranger Hackberry Holland on his journey to reunite with his estranged son, Ishmael, a captain in the United States Army.

After a violent encounter that leaves four Mexican soldiers dead, Hackberry escapes the country in possession of a stolen artifact, earning the ire of a bloodthirsty Austrian arms dealer who then places Hack’s son Ishmael squarely in the cross hairs of a plot to recapture his prize, believed to be the mythic cup of Christ.

Along the way, we meet three extraordinary women: Ruby Dansen, the Danish immigrant who is Ishmael’s mother and Hackberry’s one true love; Beatrice DeMolay, a brothel madam descended from the crusader knight who brought the shroud of Turin back from the Holy Land; and Maggie Bassett, one-time lover of the Sundance Kid, whose wiles rival those of Lady Macbeth. In her own way, each woman will aid Hackberry in his quest to reconcile with Ishmael, to vanquish their enemies, and to return the Grail to its rightful place.


An Evil Mind by Chris Carter (Atria-Dec. 1st)

Synopsis-From a Top 10 Sunday Times (UK) bestselling author comes an action-packed thriller featuring Robert Hunter, a criminal behavior psychologist turned LAPD detective, who must race to identify the most brutal, clever, and elusive serial killer yet…

A freak accident in rural Wyoming leads the sheriff’s department to arrest a man for a possible double homicide, but further investigations suggest a much more horrifying discovery—a serial killer who has been kidnapping, torturing, and mutilating victims all over the United States for at least twenty-five years.

The suspect claims he is a pawn in a huge labyrinth of lies and deception—but can he be believed?

The case is immediately handed over to the FBI, but this time they’re forced to ask for outside help. Ex-criminal behavior psychologist and lead detective with the Ultra Violent Crime Unit of the LAPD Robert Hunter is asked to run a series of interviews with the apprehended man.

These interviews begin to reveal terrifying secrets that no one could have foreseen, including the real identity of a killer so elusive that no one, not even the FBI, had any idea he existed—until now…


Every Crooked Path by Steven James (Signet-Dec. 1st)

Synopsis-Who is the Piper? . . .

Special Agent Patrick Bowers returns in an electrifying prequel to the Bowers Chess series from critically acclaimed, national bestselling novelist Steven James.

A mysterious suicide and a series of abductions draw Patrick into a web of intrigue involving an international conspiracy where no one is who they appear to be and the stakes have never been higher.

Soon, Patrick discovers that the secret to stopping the Piper’s current crime spree lies in unlocking answers from an eight-year-old cold case—and the only way to do that is by entering the terrifying world of the conspirators himself.

Dark, probing, and chilling, Every Crooked Path takes an unflinching look at the world of today’s cybercrimes and delves into a parent’s worst nightmare as it launches a new chapter of Patrick Bowers thrillers.


The Age of Reinvention by Karine Tuil (Atria-Dec. 1st)

Synopsis-An international bestseller and finalist for the Prix Goncourt, France’s most prestigious literary award, The Age of Reinvention is a suspenseful Gatsbian tale of a famous New York lawyer whose charmed and glamorous life is a sham.

“With a lie you can go very far, but you can never go back.” –Anonymous Proverb

Elite Manhattan criminal defense attorney Sam Tahar seems to have it all: fame, fortune, good looks, an enviable marriage to a prominent socialite, and two wonderful children. But his life is a house of cards; everything that he has achieved stems from a single lie he told in a moment of weakness.

Because Sam Tahar isn’t who he pretends to be.

He grew up Samir Tahar, born into a poor Muslim family crammed inside a grimy Paris apartment tower, destined for a life on the margins, until one day he decided destiny would not have its way with him. “He was going to cut through the bars of his social jail cell, even if he had to do it with his teeth.”

Samir clawed his way to law school, where he became fast friends with Jewish student Samuel Baron. The two were inseparable until the alluring Nina, torn between the men, ultimately chose Samuel, the weaker of the two. Determined as ever to make something of himself, Samir left for America, chopped off the last two letters of his name and adopted Samuel’s life story and origins for his own. His former friend remained stuck in a French suburb, a failed, neurotic writer seething at Samir’s triumphs, still bound to an increasingly resentful Nina.

Twenty years later, the three meet again. Now, all their fates hang in the balance as their tangled love triangle collides headlong with the complex realities of life at the start of the twenty-first century. Called “a masterful novel…unquestionably one of the season’s best” (Paris Match) and “a work of great magnitude” (Le Figaro),The Age of Reinvention is an intriguing, vital, darkly humorous tale about the wonderful possibilities and terrible costs of becoming someone else.


Dig Two Graves by Kim Powers (Tyrus-Dec. 4th)

Synopsis-“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”
–Confucius
In his twenties, Ethan Holt won the decathlon at the Olympics and was jokingly nicknamed “Hercules”; now, in his late thirties, he’s returned to his ivy-covered alma mater to teach, and to raise his young daughter Skip as a single father. After a hushed-up scandal over his Olympics win and the death of his wife in a car accident five years ago, Ethan wants nothing more than to forget his past. Skip is not only the light of Ethan’s life–she is his life. Then, Skip is kidnapped.

A series of bizarre ransom demands start coming in that stretch Ethan’s athletic prowess to its limits, and he realizes with growing horror that they are modern versions of the Twelve Labors of Hercules, demanded in tricky, rhyming clues by someone who seems to have followed every step of Ethan’s career. As images from Ethan’s childhood become an onslaught in his mind, he finally comes face to face, literally, with the secrets of his past and understands who the kidnapper is. Drawn to the arena of their final showdown, the Twelfth Labor–a cemetery where the dog Cerberus guards the gates of Hell–“Hercules” must do final battle with his nemesis one last time, to free his daughter, and solve the mystery of the childhood that has haunted him all his life.


The Relic Master by Christopher Buckley (Simon & Schuster-Dec. 8th)

Synopsis-From New York Times bestselling author Christopher Buckley, “one of the funniest writers in the English language” (Tom Wolfe), a compelling and hilarious adventure featuring a sixteenth-century relic hunter and his best friend, Albrecht Dürer, who conspire to forge the Shroud of Turin.

The year is 1517. Dismas is a relic hunter: one who procures “authentic” religious relics for wealthy and influential clients. His two most important patrons are Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony and soon-to-be Cardinal Albrecht of Mainz. While Frederick is drawn to the recent writing of Martin Luther, Albrecht pursues the financial and political benefits of religion and seeks to buy a cardinalship through the selling of indulgences. When Albrecht’s ambitions increase his demands for grander and more marketable relics, Dismas and his artist friend Dürer conspire to manufacture a shroud to sell to the unsuspecting noble. Unfortunately Dürer’s reckless pride exposes Albrecht’s newly acquired shroud as a fake, so Albrecht puts Dismas and Dürer in the custody of four loutish mercenaries and sends them all to steal Christ’s burial cloth (the Shroud of Chambéry), Europe’s most celebrated relic.

On their journey to Savoy where the Shroud will be displayed, they battle a lustful count and are joined by a beautiful female apothecary. It is only when they reach their destination that they realize they are not alone in their intentions to acquire a relic of dubious legitimacy. Filled with fascinating details about art, religion, politics and science; Vatican intrigue; and Buckley’s signature wit, The Relic Master is a delightfully rich and intelligent comic adventure.


The Night Charter by Sam Hawken (Mulholland-Dec. 8th)
Synopsis-Exactly one year ago, Camaro Espinoza killed five bad men in New York City and fled town. Now she’s keeping a low profile in Miami, running night charter catch-and-release fishing trips off the coast. It’s a simple life for a former combat medic. But it wasn’t easy to come by. Camaro plans to do everything she can to hold onto it.

Trouble comes knocking in the form of Parker Story, a man in over his head with all the wrong people. Parker wants to book Camaro’s boat to run a small errand off the coast of Cuba. Camaro knows she shouldn’t get involved. But Parker’s got a teenaged daughter named Lauren, and Parker’s associates have threatened to harm her if the mission doesn’t go off without a hitch. Camaro has never met the girl. Barely seen her picture. But that doesn’t mean she can ignore her plight.

Camaro’s used to being wanted–by men good and bad, by soldiers wounded on the field of battle, by the long arm of the law. But she’s never been needed before. Not the way Lauren needs her. Joining forces with Parker, Camaro soon finds herself in the midst of double crosses, international intrigue, broken promises and scattered bullets. Even a skilled warrior like herself may not be able to escape unscathed.


The Verdict by Nick Stone (Pegasus-Dec. th)

SynopsisWhen Terry Flynt gets the chance to defend a millionaire accused of murder he knows that the case could make his career, but the accused man is Flynt’s greatest enemy―can he defend a man who ruined his life?

Terry Flynt is a struggling legal clerk, desperately trying to get promoted. And then he is given the biggest opportunity of his career: to help defend a millionaire accused of murdering a woman in his hotel suite.

The only problem is that the accused man, Vernon James, turns out to be not only someone he knows, but someone he loathes. This case could potentially make Terry’s career, but how can he defend a former friend who betrayed him so badly?

With the trial date looming, Terry delves deeper into Vernon’s life and is forced to confront secrets from their shared past that could have devastating consequences for them both. For years he has wanted to witness Vernon’s downfall, but with so much at stake, how can Terry be sure that he is guilty? And what choices must he make to ensure that justice is done?


License to Quill (St. Martin’s Griffin-Dec. 15th)

Synopsis-License to Quill is a page-turning James Bond-esque spy thriller starring William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe during history’s real life Gunpowder Plot. The story follows the fascinating golden age of English espionage, the tumultuous cold war gripping post-Reformation Europe, the cloak-and-dagger politics of Shakespeare’s England, and lastly, the mysterious origins of the Bard’s most haunting play: Macbeth. You won’t want to miss this fast-paced historical retelling!


Forty Thieves by Thomas Perry (Mysterious Press-Dec. 15th)

Synopsis-From Thomas Perry, the New York Times bestselling author of the Jane Whitefield series, comes a whip-smart and lethally paced standalone novel, Forty Thieves.

Sid and Ronnie Abel are a first-rate husband-and-wife detective team, both retirees of the LAPD. Ed and Nicole Hoyt are married assassins-for-hire living in the San Fernando Valley. Except for deadly aim with a handgun, the two couples have little in common—until they are both hired to do damage control on the same murder case. The previous spring, after days of torrential rain, a body was recovered from one of the city’s overwhelmed storm sewers. The victim was identified as James Ballantine, a middle-aged African-American who worked as a research scientist for a prestigious company and was well liked by his colleagues. But two bullets to the back of the head looked like nothing if not foul play. Now, with the case turning cold, Ballantine’s former employers bring in the Abels to succeed where the police have failed, while the Hoyts’ mysterious contractors want to make sure that the facts about Ballantine’s death stay hidden. As the book races toward a high-octane climax, the Abels must fend for their own lives as they circle ever closer to the truth.


Bryant and May and the Burning Man by Christopher Fowler (Bantam-Dec. 15th)

Synopsis-No case is too curious for Arthur Bryant and John May, London’s most ingenious detectives. But with their beloved city engulfed in turmoil, they’ll have to work fast to hold a sinister killer’s feet to the fire.

In the week before Guy Fawkes Night, London’s peaceful streets break out in sudden unrest. Enraged by a scandal involving a corrupt financier accused of insider trading, demonstrators are rioting outside the Findersbury Private Bank, chanting, marching, and growing violent. But when someone hurls a Molotov cocktail at the bank’s front door, killing a homeless man on its steps, Bryant, May, and the rest of the Peculiar Crimes Unit is called in. Is this an act of protest gone terribly wrong? Or a devious, premeditated murder?

Their investigation heats up when a second victim is reported dead in similar fiery circumstances. May discovers the latest victim has ties to the troubled bank, and Bryant refuses to believe this is mere coincidence. As the riots grow more intense and the body count climbs, Bryant and May hunt for a killer who’s adopting incendiary methods of execution, on a snaking trail of clues with roots in London’s history of rebellion, anarchy, and harsh justice. Now, they’ll have to throw themselves in the line of fire before the entire investigation goes up in smoke.

Suspenseful, smart, and wickedly funny, Bryant & May and the Burning Man is a brilliantly crafted mystery from the beloved Christopher Fowler.


The Bone Labyrinth by James Rollins (William Morrow-Dec. 15th)

Synopsis-A war is coming, a battle that will stretch from the prehistoric forests of the ancient past to the cutting-edge research labs of today, all to reveal a true mystery buried deep within our DNA, a mystery that will leave readers changed forever . . .

In this groundbreaking masterpiece of ingenuity and intrigue that spans 50,000 years in human history, New York Times bestselling author James Rollins takes us to mankind’s next great leap.

But will it mark a new chapter in our development . . . or our extinction?

In the remote mountains of Croatia, an archaeologist makes a strange discovery: a subterranean Catholic chapel, hidden for centuries, holds the bones of a Neanderthal woman. In the same cavern system, elaborate primitive paintings tell the story of an immense battle between tribes of Neanderthals and monstrous shadowy figures. Who is this mysterious enemy depicted in these ancient drawings and what do the paintings mean?

Before any answers could be made, the investigative team is attacked, while at the same time, a bloody assault is made upon a primate research center outside of Atlanta. How are these events connected? Who is behind these attacks? The search for the truth will take Commander Gray Pierce of Sigma Force 50,000 years into the past. As he and Sigma trace the evolution of human intelligence to its true source, they will be plunged into a cataclysmic battle for the future of humanity that stretches across the globe . . . and beyond.

With the fate of our future at stake, Sigma embarks on its most harrowing odyssey ever—a breathtaking quest that will take them from ancient tunnels in Ecuador that span the breadth of South America to a millennia-old necropolis holding the bones of our ancestors. Along the way, revelations involving the lost continent of Atlantis will reveal true mysteries tied to mankind’s first steps on the moon. In the end, Gray Pierce and his team will face to their greatest threat: an ancient evil, resurrected by modern genetic science, strong enough to bring about the end of man’s dominance on this planet.

Only this time, Sigma will falter—and the world we know will change forever.


The Undoing by Averil Dean (Mira-Dec. 29th)

Synopsis-On a bitter January evening, three people are found murdered in the isolated Blackbird hotel.

Best friends since childhood, Eric, Rory and Celia have always been inseparable. Together they’ve coped with broken homes and damaged families, clinging to each other as they’ve navigated their tenuous lives. Their bond is potent and passionate—and its intensity can be volatile.

When the trio decides to follow Celia’s dream of buying and renovating the Blackbird, a dilapidated hotel that sits on the perilous cliffs of Jawbone Ridge, new jealousies arise and long-held suspicions start to unravel their relationship. Soon they find themselves pushed to the breaking point, where trust becomes doubt, longing becomes obsession, and someone will commit the ultimate betrayal.

An unflinching story of ambition, desire and envy, The Undoing traces the events leading to that fateful night, revealing the intimate connections, dark secrets and terrible lies that wove them together—and tore them apart.

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