suspense

“The Code” and “The Black Ace” by G.B. Joyce

 

“The Code” and “The Black Ace” written by award-winning Canadian sportswriter G. B. Joyce, are set in the world of professional hockey. Former pro hockey player, Brad Shade, worked as an investigator for four years post-hockey, but is now an assessor scout for a hockey team based in the States. He interviews junior league prospects and their families, watches them play, and analyzes why they would or would not fit into the franchise. Millions of dollars are at stake and kids that do well in junior hockey might not have what it takes mentally or physically to make a career of it.
 

 

During a scouting trip, Shade has trouble arranging a meet with one of the prospects. In the course of tracking him down, Shade uncovers some disturbing information, a major coverup seems likely, the prospect’s teammate goes missing, and people wind up dead. And Shade gets a chance to apply his P.I. investigative skills to his present scouting gig.

 

“The Code” shows the underbelly of the junior hockey leagues, highlighting the greed and money to be made. Sadly, in any big money sport with youth being fed into the majors, there are parents that chase the dream without regard for what the kids want. And as G.B. Joyce points out, unless there is a real hunger/enthusiasm for the game (not for the fame or money alone), it’s unlikely that even a talented player will have much staying power.

 

A Canadian TV show, “Private Eyes,” is currently being broadcast in the USA. The show is fun and when I discovered that it was based on Joyce’s books, I picked up “The Code,” and soon after, “The Black Ace.” The similarity between the books and the TV show end with the game of hockey and Shade’s stint as a P.I.  Even our hero’s name has been changed to Matt in the TV show. Both versions are good; Shade’s investigations are dogged in both, but on TV he's a full time P.I. and in “The Code” any investigation is tied to the game and his job as a scout.

 

I love the game of hockey in its purest form, so while there is a mystery to be solved in “The Code,” reading this as a sports book was a distinct pleasure. I saw several episodes of the show before picking up the books, and each brings something new to my understanding of both P.I. work and the game of hockey.
 

 

“The Black Ace” is the second book in this hockey/detective series.

Shade is now the official scouting director for the L.A. team, but still spends a lot of time on the road checking out prospects in the junior leagues. 
 

He learns that former teammate and roommate, Martin Mars, has died and that his death has been classified as a suicide. Shade and "Whisper" played together in a history making, five overtime game. On behalf of the franchise, he and a colleague, Chief, attend the funeral. When Shade and Chief pay their respects, the widow shares her doubts that her husband could have committed suicide and asks Shade to look into it. 
 

Shade can’t say no, but Chief has a bad feeling about the situation. Before long, they are beaten up, jailed, threatened, and no closer to the truth. The mystery is why anybody would care enough about their presence to harass them. Shade is not intimidated, won’t leave town because of his promise to the widow, and the threats blow back on the bad guys. He and Chief do some digging, uncover Mars’ shocking past, as well as a mega bucks deal that may be the reason Mars is dead.
 

Shade had attitude on the ice and his off-ice personality hasn't changed. His view of the world is a tad snarky, but he’s entitled. Shade’s manager blew his millions on a shady real estate deal and Shade’s ACL was shredded by an opponent he never liked. But that snarky veneer shows cracks when faced with a good person who needs help and when guilt for his own actions in the past come skating into the present.
 

As Joyce walks us through the process of choosing the next Wayne Gretzky or Martin Brodeur, we learn what kinds of deals need to be made to protect the players and/or the front office. Both books contain lots of tidbits about the life of a hockey player. Did you know that the players fly first class because the seats are bigger/wider? Most of the players have well developed thighs and shoulders and they simply can’t fit into the seats in economy. And here I thought they were just after the special drinks and snacks only available up front.
 

Shade is a complex character, nicely layered with references to the impact life on the road has on his personal relationships. He’s upfront about the career ending injuries he and other players have sustained and knows full well that he was not a gifted player, just a very smart one with a genuine love of the game.

 

According to the online booksellers, “The Code” and “The Black Ace” are followed by “The Third Man In,” rounding out the Brad Shade series. It’s on my ’to buy’ list.

 

Please visit    https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/authors/14875/gare-joyce   to learn more about G.B. Joyce (Gare Joyce for non-fiction) and his books.

 

 

 

 

 

K9 Fiction: Mysteries, Suspense, and Thrillers

 

Drug sniffing Belgian Malinois, Police Officer Joy

 

Are you a dog owner or a dog lover who loves to read mysteries and thrillers? Then this list was created for you. These are military and law enforcement novels featuring dogs in a primary role. Several of the books were recommended by fans of the Nightstand Book Reviews website, and others were suggested by NBR subscribers themselves.

 

Click on the author names. Those links will take you to their websites and more information about the novels. Let us know in the comments below if you have enjoyed the books.  🙂

 

Robert Crais  “Suspect” & “The Promise,” feature Maggie, the police dog and her handler Scott James, both war veterans. “Suspect” has been optioned for a movie.

 

Susan Furlong  “Splintered Silence,” Book #1 in the Bone Gap Travellers series. A war veteran and her injured military dog return to Appalachia and solve a crime. Rave reviews. More books on the way.

 

Alex Kava   “Breaking Creed” is Book #1 in the Ryder Creed series. Ex-Marine, Ryder Creed, and his K-9 Search and Rescue dogs, team with FBI profiler Maggie O’Dell.

 

Diane Kelly  “Paw Enforcement” is the first book of nine in the Paw Enforcement Mystery series. Police officer Megan Luz and her loyal K-9 partner Brigit, are the heart of the series.

 

Ronie Kendig  A Breed Apart faith based, action oriented series about military war dogs and their handlers.

 

Margaret Mizushima “Killing Trail” is the first of the award-winning Timber Creek K9 Mysteries featuring Deputy Mattie Cobb, her police dog partner Robo, and veterinarian Cole Walker. Set in Colorado.

 

Paula Munier  “Borrowing of Bones” features a retired soldier and her bomb-sniffing dog who work with U.S. Game Warden Troy Warner and his Search and Rescue canine, in a mystery set in rural Vermont.

 

Barbara Nickless  “Blood on the Tracks” Railroad police Special Agent Sydney Parnell and her K9 partner Clyde, solve crimes in this gritty new thriller series.

 

Spencer Quinn   Chet and Bernie Mysteries with Chet, the canine narrator, who works alongside Bernie, a down-on-his-luck private investigator.

 

Nora Roberts “The Search” Search and Rescue dog trainer/romantic suspense set in the Pacific Northwest.

 

James Rollins and Grant Blackwood, The Tucker Wayne series. Part of the Sigma Force world, featuring former Army Ranger Tucker Wayne and Kane, his military working dog companion.

 

David Rosenfelt  Andy Carpenter series. Carpenter is a New Jersey lawyer, a dog lover whose cases always revolve around dogs.

Bloodhound, Police Officer Bocephus

 

Happy Reading!   🙂

 

 

 

 

The Scot Harvath series by Brad Thor

 

 

The Scot Harvath series by Brad Thor, delivers action that never stops. The highly successful seventeen novels feature counterterrorism as the central theme, more topical with each new title.

 

Back in 2013, when I reviewed "Takedown," Thor arranged for an entire year of “Thrills, Threats, and Thor.” He invited his fans to read each of the books (one a month) in order, starting in January, 2013, with the first, “The Lions of Lucerne.” Thor’s website has videos and extras about each of the books and of course, an opportunity to buy them.


Scot Harvath is well written, with depth and a sense of humanity despite the gravity of his tasks. We experience moments of his deep commitment and never question his patriotism as the books unfold. “Takedown,” first published in 2006, dealt with post September 11th terrorism action in New York City. See my review here.

 

If you’d like to catch up with the Thor 2013 reading plan, here are the books in order. Click on the titles:

January’s Book: The Lions Of Lucerne
February’s Book: Path Of The Assassin
March’s Book: State Of The Union
April’s Book: Blowback
May’s Book: Takedown
June’s Book: The First Commandment
July’s Book: The Last Patriot
August’s Book: The Apostle
September’s Book: Foreign Influence
October’s Book: The Athena Project
November’s Book: Full Black
December’s Book: Black List

Additional books published since then are (in order):

Hidden Order

Act of War

Code of Conduct

Foreign Agent

Use of Force
 

Please visit www.bradthor.com to read about the current books in the Scot Harvath series, as well as Thor's new release coming in July,  “Spymaster,” the highly anticipated #18.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018 ITW Thrillerfest Awards

 

 

Thriller writers bring us thrills and chills, keep us awake long into the wee hours of the morning and leave us begging for more. You’re also likely to see many of them on top mystery writer lists all over the world. The 2018 ITW Thrillerfest Awards nominees included terrific titles once again – truly 'stay awake' reads. Take a look at this year’s finalists. The winners are indicated in red:
 

BEST HARDCOVER NOVEL

Dan Chaon — “Ill Will”
Denise Mina — “The Long Drop”
B.A. Paris — “The Breakdown”
Gin Phillips — “Fierce Kingdom”
Riley Sager — “Final Girls”

 

BEST FIRST NOVEL

Steph Broadribb — “Deep Down Dead”
Daniel Cole — “Ragdoll”
Walt Gragg — “The Red Line”
K.J. Howe — “The Freedom Broker”
Sheena Kamal — “The Lost Ones”

 

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL NOVEL

Christine Bell — “Grievance”          
Rachel Caine — “Stillhouse Lake”
Layton Green — “The Resurrector”
Adrian McKinty — “Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly”
Lori Rader-Day — “The Day I Died”

 

BEST SHORT STORY

Lee Child — “Too Much Time”
Mat Coward — “What Could Possibly Go Boing?”
Zoë  Z. Dean — “Charcoal and Cherry”  
Willy Vlautin — “The Kill Switch”                                  
Ben H. Winters — “Test Drive”

 

BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL

Gregg Hurwitz — “The Rains”
Gregg Olsen — “The Boy She Left Behind”
Sheryl Scarborough — “To Catch a Killer”
Rysa Walker — “The Delphi Effect”
Diana Rodriguez Wallach — “Proof of Lies”

 

BEST E-BOOK ORIGINAL NOVEL

Sean Black — “Second Chance”
Jeff Gunhus — “Resurrection America”
Alan McDermott — “Trojan” 
Caroline Mitchell — “Witness”
Kevin Wignall — “A Fragile Thing”

 

Congratulations to all the finalists and winners!

The 2018 ITW Thrillerfest Award Winners were announced at ThrillerFest XIII, July 14, 2018, in  New York City.  🙂

How many have you read?

 

Please visit www.thrillerwriters.org for more information about the International Thriller Writers and the amazing programs they have for writers.

 

 

 

 

 

“Defending Jacob” by William Landay

 

 

“Defending Jacob,” features Andrew Barber as an Assistant DA, with a 22 year stint as part of the District Attorney’s office. A few days after his son’s classmate is stabbed to death, Barber is barred from the case and given a leave of absence from work.
 

His son is accused of the terrible crime, but Barber knows in his bones that Jacob could not have done it. When a devastating secret is uncovered during the investigation into the boy’s death, we realize that Barber may be alone in that belief. Despite incredible pressure from everyone he knows, as well as additional evidence to the contrary, he never stops declaring his son’s innocence.
 

“Defending Jacob” explores family relationships as they evolve in the aftermath of horrific events. This absorbing psychological courtroom drama deftly captures the doubts and the pointing fingers as members of the community seek to find answers for this senseless stabbing/killing. What parenting lack created this apparently crazed teenager living amongst them? Or was it a flaw in the child himself? If ‘x’ can kill, how certain can we be that someone else might not be capable of the same act? “Defending Jacob” was published in 2012, but the story could be ripped from the headlines today.
 

Landay, a former DA himself, posits a few theories to explain the multi-faceted plot lines and has several characters explore the possibility of a murder gene – that murder can be committed because of a hereditary predisposition. Modern psychological profiling indicates that the level of violence in our backgrounds most likely informs our future actions, but is there an actual gene? And, in my opinion, most disturbing of all: Does law enforcement really pick a suspect and then go after evidence to support that theory, no matter how far a stretch from the truth?
 

The ending left me stunned, contemplating which character was, in the end, most damaged. I may never resolve that in my mind. This was a riveting read from start to finish and beyond.
 

“Defending Jacob” won the Strand Critics Award, and a movie based on the book may be released this year.  Please visit www.williamlanday.com for information about Landay’s other books.

 

*Note: contains sporadic swearing/coarse language.

 

2018 Hammett Prize

 

HammettSign

 

The Hammett Prize is bestowed each year by The International Association of Crime Writers (North American Branch). This year the award was given for a 2017 work of literary excellence in the field of crime writing by a North American author, in July. The winner received the famous ‘Thin Man’ bronze trophy, and bragging rights.  🙂
 

Please click on the nominated book titles to find out more about the novel.

The winner is indicated in red.

The nominees were as follows: 

The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne (G. P. Putnam’s Sons)
The Tragedy of Brady Sims by Ernest J. Gaines (Vintage)
August Snow, by Stephen Mack Jones (Soho Crime)
Two Days Gone, by Randall Silvis (Sourcebooks Landmark)

Congratulations to all!
 

Past winners for books published in the year indicated include:

2016:  The White Devil by Domenic Stansberry

2015: The Do-Right by Lisa Sandlin

2014: Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

2013: Angel Baby by Richard Lange

2012: Oregon Hill by Howard Owen

2011: The Killer is Dying by James Sallis

2010: The Nearest Exit by Olen Steinhauer

2009: The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry

2008: The Turnaround by George Pelecanos

 

Have you read any of the 2017 nominated books or this year's winner? Or the Hammett Prize winners from previous years? Now’s your chance.  🙂

 

 

 

 

“Louise’s War” and “Louise’s Dilemma” by Sarah R. Shaber

 

Book Cover - Louise's War

 

“Louise’s War,” by Sarah Shaber, introduces us to widowed Louise Pearlie, a file clerk in World War II Washington, DC. Louise is not just any file clerk. She has college training, is smart and resourceful, and is a bit of a risk taker. She works in the Office of Strategic Services (aka spy agency) where all the work is classified and government regulations dictate that she can’t even reveal where she works. Louise’s job is to look for information that will help the Allies win the war, perfect for this woman who has escaped her dead-end life on the Carolina coast.  

 

France is increasingly coming under German control at this stage of the war and it’s been a while since Louise has heard from a close college friend who lives there. Her husband is important to the war effort, and Louise searches for a way to get this Jewish family out of France before they are taken to internment camps.

 

When papers that would save her friend go missing and a murder is committed, Louise realizes that she can’t trust anyone. She must make alliances she would not have made in less desperate circumstances, and time is not her friend. Shaber creates a tension filled atmosphere of subterfuge and betrayal that keeps us guessing and swept up in the story.

 

In “Louise’s War,” Shaber demonstrates the gravity of the events of the war through her well-researched picture of life in WWII America, with its details of domestic sacrifices, and the effects of gas and food rationing. Louise’s time at a D.C. boarding house shows the reality of the jammed housing situation in wartime Washington. Massive amounts of food were needed by the troops, so the backyard gardens and chicken coops that Louise tended at the boarding house were true to the period, necessary supplements to rationed civilian food supplies.

 

Book Cover - Louise's Dilemma

 

 

In “Louise’s Dilemma,” Louise’s job focus has shifted to acquiring and cataloguing intelligence about Nazi U-boats in the North Atlantic. Louise and an FBI agent travel to nearby Maryland after a suspicious postcard is forwarded to the OSS. Their investigation takes alarming twists and turns and puts Louise in danger from a surprising villain. Her clever mind and dogged determination uncover something incredible, yet completely believable, given the real-world terrain in that area. “Louise’s Dilemma,” the third book in the series, delivers an engaging historical mystery and a compelling read. I had read it first, then picked up “Louise’s War,” to see how Louise Pearlie’s journey began. I’m glad I did.

 

Please click here for more information about award-winning Mrs. Shaber and her other books.