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The Black-Eyed Blonde: A Philip Marlowe Novel

Benjamin Black (Holt)

In the process of recreating the distinctive narrative voice of Raymond Chandler’s world-weary private eye Philip Marlowe, Black (aka John Banville) elevates this crime novel beyond mere thoughtful homage, injecting emotion into his wounded lead.


Memory of Flames

Armand Cabasson (Gallic; Consortium, dist.)

Lt. Col. Quentin Margont investigates a royalist plot to undermine the defenses of Paris as the allied forces advance on the city in 1814 in Cabasson’s third Napoleonic Murders whodunit. The intricate storytelling and sophisticated character development make this one of the best historical mysteries of recent years.


Sting of the Drone

Richard A. Clarke (St. Martin’s/Dunne)

Insider knowledge of politics paired with amazing state-of-the-art technical details fuels this realistic action thriller. A counterterrorism expert who has served under U.S. presidents from Reagan to George W. Bush, Clarke sets the standard by which the subgenre will be measured.


The Sweetness of Life

Paulus Hochgatterer (Quercus/Maclehose)

Hochgatterer, a child psychiatrist based in Vienna, makes his U.S. debut with this suspenseful and insightful thriller in which a child psychiatrist treats a little girl traumatized by the discovery of her grandfather’s faceless corpse in the snow outside a fairy tale Austrian town.


The Devil in the Marshalsea

Antonia Hodgson (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Mariner)

In her debut, Hodgson, editor-in-chief of Little, Brown U.K., conjures up scenes of Dickensian squalor and marries them to a crackerjack plot. Tom Hawkins, the 25-year-old wastrel son of an Anglican minister, looks into a suspicious hanging death in a hellish London debtors’ prison in 1727.


The Good Girl

Mary Kubica (Harlequin/Mira)

Free-spirited, 24-year-old art teacher Mia Dennett, a member of a well-connected Chicago family, goes missing at the start of Kubica’s debut, reminiscent of Gone Girl, but this Girl has heart—which makes it all the more devastating when the author breaks it.


The Iron Sickle

Martin Limón (Soho Crime)

In Limón’s ninth novel, a blend of well-crafted procedural with a harrowing portrayal of the psychic wounds of war set in 1970s-era South Korea, U.S. Army CID agents George Sueño and Ernie Bascom try to figure out why a Korean man entered the Seoul compound that houses the office responsible for claims against units attached to U.S. Forces in Korea and slit the throat of its civilian head.


The Forgers

Bradford Morrow (Grove/Atlantic/Mysterious)

The macabre mutilation-murder of a rare book dealer at his beachfront Montauk, Long Island, cottage kicks off this sly, artfully limned crime novel. The suspense grows as the shady past of the unreliable narrator, the boyfriend of the victim’s sister and a rare book aficionado who once forged literary artifacts, threatens to catch up with him.



Daniel Palmer (Kensington)

In this steel-trap-plotted suspense novel set in the Boston area, Gage Decker and his wife, who are eager for a child, take in a troubled pregnant woman, Lily, who promises to let them adopt her baby. Lily’s offer is both complex and logical, and Gage Decker’s travails almost too painful to read about.


Soul of the Fire

Eliot Pattison (Minotaur)

Pattison’s eighth mystery featuring Shan Tao Yun takes the former Beijing government investigator to Zhongje, a Tibetan community that the Chinese regard as a “showcase for the motherland,” where he investigates an apparent self-immolation. A thrilling plot blends smoothly with a passionate denunciation of the Chinese oppression of the Tibetan people.


The Farm

Tom Rob Smith (Grand Central)

The narrator of this superior psychological thriller, a Londoner known only as Daniel, doesn’t know whether to believe his father or his mother when his parents, who have retired to Sweden, tell him conflicting stories about his mother’s hospitalization and subsequent escape from the Swedish hospital to England.


The Martian

Andy Weir (Crown)

Engineering geeks will relish this SF thriller in which astronaut Mark Watney gets stranded on Mars with limited supplies and is presumed dead. Debut author Weir avoids the problem of the Robinson Crusoe tale that bogs down in repetitive behaviors by making Watney a good-humored, proactive hero who’s constantly testing new ideas to survive.


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