Archive for the ‘Thriller’ Category

Critics Wade INTO THE WATER

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

9780735211209_a3de4 It may be the most eagerly awaited title of the upcoming season, so the daily NYT brings their popular-fiction critic Janet Maslin out of semi-retirement to do an early review of Paula Hawkins’s second novel after her breakout best seller The Girl on the Train.

Unfortunately, Maslin is disappointed. Acknowledging that Hawkins “could have published a book of 386 blank pages and hit the best-seller lists,” she dismantles Into the Water (PRH/Riverhead; RH Audio/BOT), writing “If The Girl on the Train seemed overplotted and confusing to some readers, it is a model of clarity next to this latest effort … jam-packed with minor characters and stories that go nowhere … [a] three-ring circus.”

Trade reviews range from a starred Booklist to a middling Publishers Weekly that says it juggles “a few too many story lines for comfort, but the payoff packs a satisfying punch” and a damning Kirkus which concludes, “Let’s call it sophomore slump and hope for better things.”  Maslin, whose rave review for Hawkins’s debut helped solidify the already growing word of mouth that launched it onto best seller lists, is in the Kirkus camp, asking,”What happened to the Paula Hawkins who structured The Girl on the Train so ingeniously?”

The book doesn’t arrive until next week, so there are few other reviews, but one echoes and goes beyond, Maslin’s criticisms. Slate critic Laura Miller, who was no fan of Hawkins’s first, writes “Into the Water isn’t an impressive book. Its tone is uniformly lugubrious and maudlin, and Hawkins’ characters seldom rise to the level of two dimensions, let alone three.”

For her part, Maslin works hard to find redeeming qualities. “Many of us are going to read this novel anyway … So on the bright side for those who insist … while [the novel] chugs off to a slow, perplexing start, [it] develops a head of steam at an unlikely moment. It has exactly one smart, perfectly conceived Hitchcockian page: its last.”

AMERICAN ASSASSIN, Trailer

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

American AssassinThe first trailer for the film adaptation of Vince Flynn’s thriller American Assassin carries some extra interest. It’s the first on-screen appearance of Dylan O’Brien since he suffered injuries while filming another adaptation, The Maze Runner: Death Cure. He plays the lead character, CIA operative Mitch Rapp. Michael Keaton plays the man assigned to train him as a killer.

The film is set for release on Sept. 15.

American Assassin is the eleventh title in the series, chosen because it moves back in time to depict Rapp’s first assignment. A tie-in has yet to be announced. The paperback (S&S/Pocket) experienced a bump on Amazon’s sales rankings as a result of the trailer’s release.

AMERICAN ASSASSIN Gets Release Date

Monday, March 27th, 2017

american-assassin-9781416595199_lgCurrently filming, the adaptation of Vince Flynn’s thriller American Assassin, now has a premiere date of Sept. 15, 2017.

Dylan O’Brien plays the lead, CIA operative Mitch Rapp. The actor also stars in the Maze Runner film trilogy, based on the YA series by James Dashner. He suffered a serious injury on the set of the final movie in the series, Maze Runner: Death Cure. As a result, shooting of that movie was delayed until he recovered. The release date, also delayed, is now set for January 12, 2018. 

Michael Keaton (Birdman) is set for the role of Stan Hurley, Rapp’s CIA trainer. Michael Cuesta (Kill the Messenger, Homeland) directs. USA Today provides a few first look photos.

Although it is the eleventh in the book series, American Assassin moves back in time to depict Rapp’s first assignment, making it a good place to begin a possible movie series. A tie-in has yet to be announced. The paperback is still available (S&S/Pocket).

Next MILLENNIUM Film,
No Mara, No Craig, No Larsson

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

Many names will be missing from the second English-language adaptation of the Millennium series, following 2011’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Sony has announced that the movie will be released on October 5, 2018, but that neither of the two leads, Rooney Mara or Daniel Craig will return.

Also missing from the credits is the originator of the series of novels, Stieg Larsson. This second movie will be based on the fourth book in the series, The Girl in the Spider’s Web, written by David Lagercrantz after Larsson’s death.

1487331620_MILLENNIUM-CROPPEDThe date of the movie release was announced at a launch party for the fifth book in the Millennium series, also by Lagercrantz, titled in Swedish The Man who Chased His Shadow (Mannen som sökte sin skugga;cover at left), but listed in the US as Untitled Millennium Book 5 (PRH/Knopf, 9/12/17). The Swedish publication The Local describes the plot,”[Lisbeth Salander]  will begin the novel serving a short sentence at a women’s prison, where she is attempting to avoid conflicts between prisoners, and the tale will develop into a story of ‘state abuse, honour problems and shadows from a childhood that still haunts Salander’.”

There’s been no explanation about why the movie will skip ahead to the fourth book in the series, but  Sony, whose options on the rights to the Larsson books ran out in 2015, may have decided to avoid dealing with Larsson’s famously contentious estate.

Order Alert: Le Carré Brings
His Spy In From The Cold

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

9780735225114John le Carré’s most famous literary creation, George Smiley, has not had a literary outing in 25 years. That is about to change.

The Cold War spymaster is coming back in A Legacy of Spies (PHR/Viking; Sept. 5; ISBN 9780735225114; cover art not final). On his website le Carré writes, “George Smiley is back… The past has come to claim its due.”

Le Carré’s agent, Jonny Geller, told The Guardian that the new book will “close George Smiley’s story.” That story began with Call for the Dead in 1961, played out in multiple novels including the iconic The Spy Who Came In From the Cold and Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy, and was thought to have ended in 1990 with The Secret Pilgrim.

The new book will also feature another familiar character, Peter Guillam, who, reports The Guardian, has “retired from the world of spooks to a farm in southern Brittany … Summoned back to London, Guillam and his colleagues are subject to scrutiny for past misdemeanours, committed at a time when there were fewer scruples about the methods used to win the ideological war raging between the west and the Soviets.”

The Guardian adds, “It is believed that the author was inspired to revisit his old characters because of the current political situation.” Geller tells the paper that idea was “far too simplistic” although he admits, “As a readers you can see parallels between what we thought was over and what is happening now.”

As we have posted and the LA Times points out, le Carré’s “books are currently hot material for film and television adaptations.”

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was adapted in 2011 and starred Gary Oldman as Smiley and Benedict Cumberbatch as Guillam. Last year, AMC and BBC aired the miniseries The Night Manager based on the 1993 novel. The networks are partnering again on an adaptation of The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, which was earlier made into a famous film, starring Richard Burton as Smiley. 2016 also saw the release of Our Kind of Traitor starring Ewan McGregor, Damian Lewis, and Stellan Skarsgård.

The renewed attention a brand-new audience to both the books and the author and to his memoir, The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life (PRH/Viking; Penguin Audio; BOT; OverDrive Sample), which was covered widely last year.

BEHIND HER EYES Getting Looks

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

9781250111173_74e10Positioned as her breakout title Sarah Pinborough’s Behind Her Eyes (Macmillan/Flatiron Books; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample) has fulfilled expectations by making the author a New York Times best seller for the first time. The book arrives at #15 on this week’s list.

The British author has written over 20 YA and fantasy novels, few of which have been released in the US. Her first foray into the hot genre of domestic thrillers, it was a hot commodity at the 2015 Frankfurt Book Fair. Reviewing it her most recent NYT BR Crime column. Marilyn Stasio calls it “an eerie thriller calculated to creep you out … [a] terrifying mind game.”

The Guardian reports the much hyped plot twists deliver, “When the first of her twists is revealed, it is fantastically creepy, if not entirely unexpected. The second twist turns the creepy factor up to 11 and is a total wrong-footer. #WTFthatending indeed – the sort that makes you go back to the beginning to check if it all pans out. And it does.”

That hashtag was developed by the publisher to promote the book but has been adopted by others. It was even applied to the outcome of the Super Bowl.

Librarians were early adopters. It was a January LibraryReads pick and a GalleyChat title. Holds are strong in most libraries we checked, with some topping 4:1 ratios.

Grisham Double Play

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

9780385543026_11db6Fans of quickly paced novels filled with twisty plots can look forward to two John Grisham titles in 2017 reports Entertainment Weekly.

He will release a heist thriller in June, Camino Island (PRH/ Doubleday; RH Audio), followed by a legal thriller on October 24, 2017 (that title has not yet been announced).

EW says the heist story will circle around a literary topic:

“thieves pilfer five handwritten F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts from the Princeton Library and send them into the rare books black market. As the FBI and a secret underground agency hunt them down, a young writer embarks on her own investigation into a prominent bookseller who is believed to have the precious documents.”

Knopf head Sonny Mehta tells EW that Camino Island “is a caper of the highest form … John has outdone himself.”

Grisham, who collects first editions, says the idea for the book came to him while he and his wife were on a 10-hour drive to Florida.

As his 30th novel,Camino Island is somewhat of a landmark for Grisham. 

The New GIRL?

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

The Girl BeforeCalled the “‘ top girl’ of this season’s suspense novels,” by The Washington Post and picked as the #1 LibraryReads title for January, The Girl Before by JP Delaney (PRH/Ballantine; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample), receives two additional high profile reviews today.

Charles Finch, author of the Charles Lenox mysteries, gives it three stars in USA Today. He opens by listing its “major faults,” but then goes on to say “Delaney has created a genuinely eerie, fascinating setting … The pages fly.”

Putting Delaney in the company of Ruth Ware, B.A. Paris, and Shari Lapena, “the tier of writers a solid two or three notches below Tana French and Gillian Flynn,” he points out that even an imperfect novel can be fun to read and, as his review illustrates, fun to talk about. He concludes that this one is “worth a few hours of idle pleasure.”

Janet Maslin is less generous in her NYT review, headlined, “He Doesn’t Like It When You Leave Your Shampoo Out.”

She acknowledges that the novel works in many ways. It is set in “a high-tech house so sadistic that it practically spanks” the main characters. It features a man who is  “50 shades of pervy but still charms, ” is fast paced, and “milks suspense” from its juxtaposing plots.

Unlike Finch, Maslin, who was an early supporter of the fun to be had from recent successful “girl”  titles, does not find this one a worthy “girl” contender, saying “The author, clearly writing with commercial success in mind, has used as many other familiar genre ploys as the book can hold, to the point at which it has everything but a dead cat. Oh, wait. There’s a dead cat too.” There is also “clumsy trickery” and, at times, “unnerving ghoulishness.”

Based on the strong holds in libraries, Finch’s theory, that an imperfect novel can still be fun to read, has more followers.

UPDATE: the minimal book trailer underscores the meaning of the title.

Holds Alert: HISTORY OF WOLVES

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

9780802125873_cb9d6Demand is continuing to build for Emily Fridlund’s debut novel History of Wolves (Atlantic Monthly Press; Recorded Books; OverDrive Sample), with library holds ratios topping 4:1 in a number of systems.

As we reported earlier, it was released to the kind of buzz that generally signals a hit. Since then, the NYT and LA Times have also weighed in.

The reviewer for the NYT Sunday Book Review says that this “novel of ideas …  reads like smart pulp, a page-turner of craft and calibration.”

The L.A. Times writes “the chilly power of History of Wolves packs a wallop that’s hard to shake off … Fridlund … has constructed an elegant, troubling debut, both immersed in the natural world but equally concerned with issues of power, family, faith and the gap between understanding something and being able to act on the knowledge.”

On the other hand, the critic for the daily NYT Jennifer Senior, objects that the novel’s tension is drawn out too long and as a result “Those thunderheads massing on the horizon let loose only a weak drizzle.”

THE SPY Is Hot

Monday, January 16th, 2017

19494John le Carré’s beloved 1963 thriller, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (PRH/Penguin, reprint 2013; OverDrive Sample), is headed to TV as a limited-series adaptation created by AMC and the BBC.

It follows on the success of The Night Manager adaptation, which just won three Golden Globes (stars Hugh Laurie, Tom Hiddleston and Olivia Colman each took home awards) and racked up a great deal of critical praise during its run.

New York Magazine reports that “Oscar winner Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) will write the entire series.” The Hollywood Reporter quotes le Carré as saying “I’m very excited by the project, and have great confidence in the team.” As well he might, many of the figures behind Night‘s success are back at the helm.

Nearly fifty years after the novel’s original publication, author William Boyd summarized its enduring power, for The Guardian, calling the story,

“a complicated act of deadly triple-bluff perpetrated by the British Secret Service against its enemies in the German Democratic Republic … At its centre is Alec Leamas, sent, he believes, on a clever under-cover mission of revenge but in fact the unwitting tool of even cleverer British brains with other motives”

Boyd goes on to praise its tone and skillful construction, writing “one of the sheer pleasures of the grade one espionage novel is in unravelling its multifarious complexities and le Carré handles the unspooling web of narrative and motive with exemplary poise … there is a clear sense in The Spy of a writer hitting his stride with resolute confidence.”

mv5bmjyxodq0nzy1nv5bml5banbnxkftztcwnze4ntg5mq-_v1_The book was adapted into a movie, the 1965 Oscar nominated film starring Richard Burton and directed by Martin Ritt (Hombre, Norma Rae).

The TV project is just getting underway so there is no word yet on its stars or air date.

SLEEPWALKER Wakes Reviewers

Friday, January 13th, 2017

9780385538916_d5713The many librarian fans of Chris Bohjalian will be happy to learn that critics are raving over his latest and recommend it as a good starting point for readers who are new to his books.

The Seattle Times writes The Sleepwalker (PRH/ Doubleday; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample) is “both literary and compelling, a combination so rare I’m tempted to apply for federal intervention … This is Bohjalian at his very best.”

USA Today says “Great mystery writers, like great magicians, have the ability to hide the truth that’s right before your eyes. Best-selling novelist Chris Bohjalian is at the full power of his literary legerdemain in his newest book.”

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says “Scary, limiting and downright dangerous, sleepwalking inspires a hard-to-put-down story that also mixes sex and a mystery in a polished package … Bohjalian is on top of his already stellar game.

As we noted in Titles to Know, it is an Indie Next pick and The Washington Post, in an early rave, calls it a “spooky thriller … a dark, Hitchcockian novel.

Below is the creepy trailer:

Holds Alert: THE DRY

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

9781250105608_46ab1Jane Harper’s debut thriller, The Dry (Macmillan/Flatiron Books; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample), has already captured the attention of librarians, making the January LibraryReads list and leading our summary of titles that interested GalleyChatters back in October.

That enthusiasm it spreading. Hold ratios well exceed 3:1, as high as 7:1, in libraries.

In a strong review for the NYT, Janet Maslin writes Harper “has jampacked her swift debut thriller with sneaky moves that the reader has to track with care … it’s hard to believe this is her first novel … [it is] a book with a secret on every page [and] threats blooming everywhere, too.”

The thriller is rising on Amazon, moving to #166 from #734.

Prior to publication, Reese Witherspoon optioned the film rights and the book earned stars from Booklist, Kirkus, and Publishers Weekly. It is also an Indie Next selection.

Under the Radar: CONCLAVE

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

9780451493446_b9ef1Robert Harris’s newest novel, Conclave (PRH/Knopf; RH Audio; OverDrive Sample), about the political and personal machinations of electing a pope, is getting rave reviews, so glowing, it just appeared on BookMark‘s list of “Most Talked About Books.”


Many readers’ advisors who consider Harris a favorite will not be surprised. Harris writes bestselling historical fiction such as Pompeii and Fatherland as well as contemporary works, such as The Ghost (which was adapted into the feature film The Ghost Writer starring Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan). Conclave is a contemporary thriller set in the Vatican.

The Guardian opens its review with this gripping lure:

“I am about to use a word I have never knowingly used in any review of any book ever. During my 25-odd years of writing about books I have done my best to avoid cliches, slipshod summaries, oracular pronouncements and indeed anything else that might appear emblazoned on a book jacket. Nonetheless, there is only one possible word to describe Robert Harris’s new novel, and it is this: unputdownable.”

The NYT says that its culminating denouement is “so provocatively scandalous” it “could become a Catholic version of The Satanic Verses.”

The SF Chronicle writes “you eavesdrop on clandestine intrigues and late-night missions that play out in the shadows of the Vatican labyrinth … the author’s strong writing freshens the familiar with color, and his keen sense of character humanizes the baroque proceedings.”

WSJ says “Robert Harris is a master storyteller and accomplished craftsman who, like Graham Greene and Somerset Maugham, marries a searching moral imagination to his rare ability to tell a compelling tale. He understands that people read novels for pleasure, not under compulsion.” (subscription may be required)

Despite the strong reviews and Harris’s auto-buy reputation, holds are light at libraries we checked. That might be due to the timing of the book (it came out just a few weeks after the election) and its subject matter (a contentious, heated battle for power). It has not appeared on best seller lists.

As a result, readers’ advisory librarians may be able to put this book into patron’s hands. Based on the reviews, it’s a good bet to hand-sell.

Running Start: HISTORY OF WOLVES

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

9780802125873_cb9d6Emily Fridlund’s debut novel, History of Wolves (Atlantic Monthly Press; Recorded Books; OverDrive Sample), just got a rave review on NPR’s web site.

Calling it “electrifying,” reviewer Michael Schaub says it “isn’t a typical thriller any more than it’s a typical coming-of-age novel; Fridlund does a remarkable job transcending genres without sacrificing the suspense that builds steadily in the book … History of Wolves is as beautiful and as icy as the Minnesota woods where it’s set, and with her first book, Fridlund has already proven herself to be a singular talent.”

Among other buzz, it is an Amazon best of the month title as well as their featured debut for January. As we pointed out in Titles to Know for the week, People magazines picks it in the new issue, calling it, “a compelling portrait of a troubled adolescent trying to find her way in a new and frightening world.” It is also the #1 Indie Pick this month.

Holds are growing, ranging from 3:1 to 12:1 where ordering is light. One library we checked has a 25:1 ratio, triggering a large second order. 

“Mind-Bending” Spanish-Language Novel Gains Notice

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

9780316354219_9dd5aCalling the book a “sensation,” Deadline Hollywood reports that film rights were just acquired to Kill The Next One, a psychological thriller by Argentinian-born Federico Axat (Hachette/Mulholland Books; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample). Published in Spanish “to acclaim,” rights were also sold for translation into 30 other languages.

Released here earlier this month, it received a good, but not sensational, review in the most recent NYT BR crime column: “mind-bending … Truth, illusion and downright deceit keep crossing invisible lines in this hallucinatory plot.” However, the review continues, “it becomes easy to lose focus on who’s who and what’s what. The shape-shifting characters and fantastic events keep sending [the main character] to his therapist (and us to ours) for clarification … Axat is the kind of hypnotic writer you love to read but can never entirely trust.”

Other coverage to date, while decent, does not indicate a “sensation”:

USA Today includes it on a recent list of new and noteworthy books, quoting the Booklist review that also calls it “mind-bending” as well as “intriguing.”

PW gave it a star, writing “Axat fuses weird fiction with psychological suspense in his stunning U.S. debut.” 

Bustle counts it as one of “The 8 Best Fiction Books Coming Out This December That Are Perfect For Holiday Snuggles,” writing “Like a chilling, murder-y version of Pay It Forward, this thriller unfolds as a man seeking to end his life is given the opportunity to kill two other people and then be killed.”

Canadian librarians picked it as a November Loan Stars title.

Holds are commensurate with cautious ordering in American libraries we checked, but Hollywood’s excitement may foretell growing interest.