Christopher Nelson’s first job out of college was as an assistant in the Putnam and Riverhead Marketing Department, and he’s been there ever since, now serving as Associate Director. He lives with his wife on Long Island in a house that is quickly running out of room for all the books they keep acquiring. That’s what happens when someone in publishing marries an English teacher. When he doesn’t have his eyes glued to a book or some electronic device to monitor his fantasy sports teams, he tries to find time for marathon baking sessions that produce pounds and pounds of baked good to share with his co-workers (and occasionally his wife.)
There are a number of great parts of working in publishing, but two of the most exciting are publishing the first book by a brand new author that I feel is destined for great success and the first time an author hits the New York Times bestseller list. I count myself lucky that I’ve been involved with both of those milestones with C.J. Box, and it’s been a pleasure to work on every one of his Joe Pickett books. He delivers a fast-paced, suspense-filled book with a great plot and unique twist every time, and his latest, Stone Cold, is no exception.
I really thought it was going to be impossible for Alex Grecian to top his first book, The Yard, which was one of my favorite debuts, in any genre, of the last ten years. Fortunately, when I read The Devil’s Workshop, I was happily proven wrong. He once again captures the grittiness of Victorian London, and the members of the Scotland Yard Murder Squad and their associates are a fascinating cast of characters, but this time he dials things up a notch with one of the most notorious villains of all time—Jack the Ripper!
I sure as heck wouldn’t want to be part of the Ludlow family, who are at the center of Thoft’s debut mystery Loyalty (as well as the upcoming Identity), but they definitely make for fun reading. PI Fina Ludlow, the black sheep of the group, isn’t above doing whatever she needs in order to solve a case, and that makes her one of the more interesting characters I’ve come across in quite some time. Thoft does an expert job of building suspense throughout the book and delivers a twist at the end that sets this mystery apart from so many others.
Minnesota state investigator Kirk Stevens and FBI Special Agent Carla Windermere may be the protagonists of Owen Laukkanen’s well-crafted thrillers, but the real “stars” of each one are the criminals that the duo finds themselves pursuing. Laukkanen does such an incredible job of crafting intriguing villains that I sometimes find myself rooting for them, even when they’re doing wrong. This is certainly the case in his debut thriller, The Professionals, which features four friends who, faced with seemingly no way to make ends meet, turn kidnapping into a lucrative career—until they kidnap the wrong guy and everything starts going quickly downhill.
I’m a sucker for a cast of quirky characters, so the Monkeewrench crew from mother-daughter writing team P.J. Tracy is right up my alley. A group of eccentric software developers, each with somewhat of a sordid past, finds itself in quite a conundrum when a killer starts mimicking the murders in a game they’ve developed even though it hasn’t been widely released to the public. I find the phrase “page turner” often overused, but that’s exactly what this book is; I found myself racing through it at breakneck speed. Each subsequent book from P.J. Tracy has been great, and it’s always fun to see the Monkeewrench crew in action, but this first book stands out as my favorite of the series.
Maybe it’s because of my job, but I’ve developed an affinity for works of fiction that deal with the powerful draw of writers and books, and it all started with The Muse Asylum. The mystery at the heart of the book is the true identity of a reclusive author and his motives for staying out of the public eye. Watching how the search for the truth affected the lives of the three characters seeking it was a fascinating examination of motivation and consequences, and the book has stuck with me even though it’s been more than a decade since I first read it.
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