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November 11, 2012 / John Sheridan

Books to watch out for

Gun Church (October 2012) by Reed Farrel Coleman
Amazon, Amazon UK
Kip Weiler is a former ’80s literary wunderkind who has fallen on hard times. Due to his foibles and insecurities and twenty years removed from his last novel, he’s teaching creative writing at a third-rate rural community school in a mining town. One day Kip prevents his class from being slaughtered by a gun-toting student. This gets Kip a second fifteen minutes of fame and, more importantly, relights his desire to write. Little does he realize the novel he’s working on may well be the blueprint of his own demise. He gets deeply involved with two of his students and a cult-like group who are obsessed with the intrinsic nature of handguns which rekindles his long-absent creative spark. But as Weiler’s involvement with the cult deepens and the end of his novel is in sight, the lines between art and life blur until they become unrecognizable. In this church, there’s no need for red wine or wafers. In Gun Church, the blood and bodies are for real.

Onion Street (Moe Prager #8) by Reed Farrel Coleman (May 2013)
Amazon, Amazon UK
It’s 1967 and Moe Prager is wandering aimlessly through his college career and his life. All that changes when his girlfriend Mindy is viciously beaten into a coma and left to die on the snow-covered streets of Brooklyn. Suddenly, Moe has purpose. He is determined to find out who’s done this to Mindy and why. But Mindy is not the only person in Moe’s life who’s in danger. Someone is also trying to kill his best and oldest friend, Bobby Friedman.

Things get really strange when Moe enlists the aid of Lids, a half-cracked, genius drug pusher from the old neighborhood. Lids hooks Moe up with his first solid information. Problem is the info seems to take Moe in five directions at once and leads to more questions than answers. How is a bitter old camp survivor connected to the dead man in the apartment above his fixit shop or to the OD-ed junkie found on the boardwalk in Coney Island? What could an underground radical group have to do with the local Mafioso capo? And where do Mindy and Bobby fit into any of this?

Moe will risk everything to find the answers. He will travel from the pot-holed pavement of Brighton Beach to the Pocono Mountains to the runways at Kennedy Airport. But no matter how far he goes or how fast he gets there, all roads lead to Onion Street.

The Innocence Game by Michael Harvey (May 2013)
Amazon, Amazon UK
Best known for the Michael Kelly P.I. series, The Innocence Game, begins in an ordinary classroom at Northwestern’s renowned journalism school but quickly spirals into the grittiest reaches of Chicago crime. Along with only two classmates — beautiful, strong-willed Sarah Gold, and enigmatically brilliant Jake Havens — Ian Joyce is part of the Innocence Seminar, an exclusive class for top-ranking students taught by a woman who goes simply by Z. The seminar investigates wrongful convictions and cold cases; the idealistic J-school students are tasked with trying to exonerate the falsely accused. But on the first day of class, Jake introduces a case of his own, the long-ago murder of a young boy, ten-year-old Skylar Wingate, last seen walking home from his house on Chicago’s west side. Three days later, his body was found by a hiker in a forest preserve a mile away. The man convicted of killing Skylar was murdered decades ago in jail. But two chilling clues delivered to Jake’s house, a piece of blood-stained fabric and a blunt hand-written confession, suggest that the real killer is still very much alive, and, indeed, in their midst, forcing them to confront what they know about themselves and each other. As the evidence mounts, the three classmates find themselves drawn into a web of deceit, corruption, and murder that will leave each of them fighting for their lives. From the archived depths of storage warehouses to the dense woods and moldering caves of the local preserve to the shores of Lake Michigan, The Innocence Game is an irresistible, harrowing mystery from a writer at the top of his form.

Gun Machine by Warren Ellis (January 2013)
Amazon, Amazon UK
After a shootout claims the life of his partner in a condemned tenement building on Pearl Street, Detective John Tallow unwittingly stumbles across an apartment stacked high with guns. When examined, each weapon leads to a different, previously unsolved murder. Someone has been killing people for twenty years or more and storing the weapons together for some inexplicable purpose.

Confronted with the sudden emergence of hundreds of unsolved homicides, Tallow soon discovers that he’s walked into a veritable deal with the devil. An unholy bargain that has made possible the rise of some of Manhattan’s most prominent captains of industry. A hunter who performs his deadly acts as a sacrifice to the old gods of Manhattan, who may, quite simply, be the most prolific murderer in New York City’s history.

Warren Ellis’s body of work has been championed by Wired for its “merciless action” and “incorruptible bravery,” and steadily amassed legions of diehard fans. His newest novel builds on his accomplishments like never before, announcing Ellis as one of today’s most daring thriller writers. This is twenty-first century suspense writ large. This is GUN MACHINE.

Hit Me by Lawrence Block (February 2013)
Amazon, Amazon UK
A man named Nicholas Edwards lives in New Orleans renovating houses, doing honest work and making decent money at it. Between his family and his stamp collection, all his spare time is happily accounted for. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that he used to kill people for a living.

But when the nation’s economy tanks, taking the construction business with it, all it takes is one phone call to drag him back into the game. It may say Nicholas Edwards on his driver’s license and credit cards, but he’s back to being the man he always was: Keller.

Keller’s work takes him to New York, the former home he hasn’t dared revisit, where his target is the abbot of a midtown monastery. Another call puts him on a West Indies cruise, with several interesting fellow passengers—the government witness, the incandescent young woman keeping the witness company, and, sharing Keller’s cabin, his wife, Julia. But the high drama comes in Cheyenne, where a recent widow is looking to sell her husband’s stamp collection…

In HIT ME, legendary Edgar Grandmaster and New York Times bestselling author Lawrence Block returns to one of his most beloved characters. Welcome back, Keller. You’ve been missed.

Skinner by Charlie Huston (July 2013)
Amazon, Amazon UK
Skinner founded his career in “asset protection” on fear. To touch anyone under his protection was to invite destruction. A savagely effective methodology, until Skinner’s CIA handlers began to fear him as much as his enemies did and banished him to the hinterlands of the intelligence community.

Now, an ornate and evolving cyber-terrorist attack is about to end that long exile. His asset is Jae, a roboticist with a gift for seeing the underlying systems violently shaping a new era of global guerrilla warfare.

At the root of it all is a young boy, the innocent seed of a plot grown in the slums of Mumbai. Brought to flower, that plot will tip the balance of world power in a perilous new direction.

A combination of Le Carre spycraft with Stephenson techno-philosophy from the novelist hailed by the Washington Post as “the voice of twenty-first century crime fiction,” SKINNER is Charlie Huston’s masterpiece–a new kind of thriller for a new kind of world.

Point & Shoot by Duane Swierczynski (April 2013)
Amazon, Amazon UK
Charlie Hardie finds himself in a steel box, tubes and wires attached to his body, trapped inside a satellite parked in orbit 500 miles above the Earth. He’s got a year’s supply of food, air, water, and no communication back to Earth, and must complete his 12 months’ duty or his wife and son will have an “accident.”

But when someone all-too-familiar docks on the satellite, informs Hardie he’s sitting in a veritable zero-G vault containing the world’s most dangerous secrets, and forces a crash-landing in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Hardie must decide whether he’s come face-to-face with the partner he needs to save his family–or with his nemesis. After years of exile, Hardie’s arming up….and heading home.

Suspect by Robert Crais (January 2013)
Amazon, Amazon UK
LAPD cop Scott James is not doing so well. Eight months ago, a shocking nighttime assault by unidentified men killed his partner Stephanie, nearly killed him, and left him enraged, ashamed, and ready to explode. He is unfit for duty—until he meets his new partner.

Maggie is not doing so well, either. A German shepherd who survived three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan sniffing explosives before losing her handler to an IED, her PTSD is as bad as Scott’s.

They are each other’s last chance. Shunned and shunted to the side, they set out to investigate the one case that no one wants them to touch: the identity of the men who murdered Stephanie. What they begin to find is nothing like what Scott has been told, and the journey will take them both through the darkest moments of their own personal hells. Whether they will make it out again, no one can say.

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