Today, Hartford Books Examiner reviews new and recent offerings from three maestros of suspense.
Out tomorrow (9/15/15), Chris Holm’s “The Killing Kind” (Mulholland Books) is thriller with a premise as intriguing as it is original: a hitman who only kills other hitmen but ultimately finds himself a target. Presumed dead following a failed mission in Afghanistan, Michael Hendricks has returned to domestic soil and embarked upon on a new career path in which he’ll save your skin for 10x the amount of the contract that’s been put out on you. The only problem is that he has been made—and now somebody, or somebodies, unknown has got him firmly in their crosshairs.
Holm—critically acclaimed for his short stories and a trilogy of novels that meld fantasy and crime pulp—brilliantly unleashes a cross-country game of cat-and-mouse in which the predator becomes the prey. When the one life that Hendricks values above all others is threatened, the intensity is ratcheted to dizzying effect—and all bets are off. “The Killing Kind” is an intelligent and droll shot of adrenaline that aims high and more than makes the mark.
Published last month, Michael Koryta’s “Last Words” (Little, Brown, and Company) is yet another stellar entry in the author’s arsenal. Eleven novels in, Koryta introduces readers to Mark Novak—an investigator for Innocence Inc. whose life was derailed following the unsolved murder of his wife. Two years later, he is deployed to Garrison, Indiana, having been tasked with assessing a cold case—the killing of a young woman, Sarah Martin, whose body was recovered from an elaborate cave system—while his boss tries to salvage his career on the Florida home front.
Oddly enough, it was the victim’s alleged killer, Ridley Barnes, who contacted the defense firm. He claims to have no memory of what occurred below ground, but wants answers—regardless of whether or not they prove him guilty. What ensues is a breathtaking, and often claustrophobic, tale that will leave you questioning everything and everyone. Koryta’s keen investigative eye and journalistic instincts coupled with his depiction of nature’s ability to both tantalize and terrify sets this one firmly apart. He has more than earned his place among the likes of Baldacci, Connelly, and Pelecanos—and “Last Words” speaks for itself.
Also available is James Patterson’s “14th Deadly Sin” (Little, Brown, and Company)—the latest entry in his bestselling Women’s Murder Club series, co-authored with Maxine Paetro. Once again, Detective Lindsey Boxer finds herself embroiled in a case that has San Francisco under siege—but this time suspicion has fallen upon her SFPD co-workers. A string of homicides perpetrated by mask-clad Unsubs in broad daylight have inspired fear and outrage throughout the community, and surveillance footage of the crimes leads to more questions than answers. So much for her quiet evenings at home with the husband and the baby.
But we all know that half the fun of these books is in catching up with Lindsey and her gal pals, and there’s plenty to indulge in here: Claire’s birthday (which may or may not be linked to a series of brazen murders), the publication of Cindy’s first true crime book, and a surprising career move for Yuki. Their camaraderie and unyielding support of one another continues to provide a counterpoint to the atrocities that permeate their professional lives—a poignant reminder that there’s still good in a world that is too often characterized by evil. Of course it wouldn’t be a Patterson book without the requisite pulse-pounding, page-turning action—and you can rest assured that he delivers.