A thriller book recommendation: Cruel Mercy by David Mark

A critic review (source Financial Times) can be read at: http://on.ft.com/2s84UOs.
Moving his protagonist out of Humberside was a risky move for Mark, but he pulls it off with aplomb, energised by both the change of locale and the multiple levels of mass malfeasance it offers.
Book description from Google Books:
Two men are taken into the woods. Forced to dig their own graves. But one of them survives the gunshot… The two men travelled from Ireland to America with another man, now missing, presumed guilty. His name is Valentine Teague. Petty criminal, bare-knuckle fighter – and DS Aector McAvoy’s brother in law. Back home, Val’s being held responsible for the blood spilt in the snowy woods of upstate New York. If McAvoy doesn’t find out the truth, all hell will break loose, putting his own family in the crossfire. Investigating proves harder than he could have imagined. New York City is a different world, with different rules. Soon, he finds himself up against squabbling cops, mafias old and new, and the culmination of a crime forty years in the making. All McAvoy can do is the right thing. Even if it kills him…
The book is rated 3.85/5 at goodreads.com, from 151 ratings. See 47 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2tqJvnx.
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A thriller book recommendation: Idaho: A Novel by Emily Ruskovich

A critic review (source AV Club) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2mZbbtx.
Idaho is sad, but not despairingly so. Ruskovich’s prose is lyrical but keen, a poem that never gets lost in its own rhythm.
Book description from Google Books:
A stunning debut novel about love and forgiveness, about the violence of memory and the equal violence of its loss–from O. Henry Prize-winning author Emily Ruskovich Ann and Wade have carved out a life for themselves from a rugged landscape in northern Idaho, where they are bound together by more than love. With her husband’s memory fading, Ann attempts to piece together the truth of what happened to Wade’s first wife, Jenny, and to their daughters. In a story written in exquisite prose and told from multiple perspectives–including Ann, Wade, and Jenny, now in prison–we gradually learn of the mysterious and shocking act that fractured Wade and Jenny’s lives, of the love and compassion that brought Ann and Wade together, and of the memories that reverberate through the lives of every character in Idaho. In a wild emotional and physical landscape, Wade’s past becomes the center of Ann’s imagination, as Ann becomes determined to understand the family she never knew–and to take responsibility for them, reassembling their lives, and her own. Praise for Idaho “You know you’re in masterly hands here. [Emily] Ruskovich’s language is itself a consolation, as she subtly posits the troubling thought that only decency can save us. . . . Ruskovich’s novel will remind many readers of the great Idaho novel, Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping. . . .  [A] wrenching and beautiful book.”–The New York Times Book Review “Sensuous, exquisitely crafted.”–The Wall Street Journal “The first thing you should know about Idaho, the shatteringly original debut by O. Henry Prize winner Emily Ruskovich, is that it upturns everything you think you know about story. . . . You could read Idaho just for the sheer beauty of the prose, the expert way Ruskovich makes everything strange and yet absolutely familiar.”–San Francisco Chronicle “Mesmerizing . . . [an] eerie story about what the heart is capable of fathoming and what the hand is capable of executing.”–Marie Claire “Idaho is a wonderful debut. Ruskovich knows how to build a page-turner from the opening paragraph.”–Ft. Worth Star-Telegram “Ruskovich’s debut is haunting, a portrait of an unusual family and a state that becomes a foreboding figure in her vivid depiction.”–The Huffington Post “Idaho is both a place and an emotional dimension. Haunted, haunting, Ruskovich’s novel winds through time, braiding events and their consequences in the most unexpected and moving ways.”–Andrea Barrett “Ruskovich digs deeply into everyday moments, and shows that it is there, in our quietest thoughts and experiences, where we find and create our true selves.”–Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief “[Idaho] caught and held me absolutely.”–Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams “Ruskovich has written a poem in prose, a beautiful and intricate homage to place, and a celebration of the defeats and triumphs of love. Beautifully crafted, emotionally evocative, and psychologically astute, Idaho is one of the best books I have read in a long time.”–Chinelo Okparanta, author of Under the Udala Trees “Ruskovich has intricately entwined a terrifying human story with an austere and impervious setting. The result–something bigger than either–is beautiful, brutal, and incandescent.”–Deirdre McNamer, author of Red Rover
The book is rated 3.54/5 at goodreads.com, from 4731 ratings. See 965 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2mZ9psg.
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A thriller book recommendation: Stranded: A Novel by Bracken MacLeod

A critic review (source Financial Times) can be read at: http://on.ft.com/2mKiIiR.
Stranded superbly evokes the existential dread of its characters’ plight and makes the empty white Arctic seem chillingly claustrophobic.
Book description from Google Books:
In the spirit of John Carpenter’s The Thing and Jacob’s Ladder comes Stranded — a terrifying, icebound thriller where nothing is quite what it seems by Bracken MacLeod.Badly battered by an apocalyptic storm, the crew of the Arctic Promise find themselves in increasingly dire circumstances as they sail blindly into unfamiliar waters and an ominously thickening fog. Without functioning navigation or communication equipment, they are lost and completely alone. One by one, the men fall prey to a mysterious illness. Deckhand Noah Cabot is the only person unaffected by the strange force plaguing the ship and her crew, which does little to ease their growing distrust of him. Dismissing Noah’s warnings of worsening conditions, the captain of the ship presses on until the sea freezes into ice and they can go no farther. When the men are ordered overboard in an attempt to break the ship free by hand, the fog clears, revealing a faint shape in the distance that may or may not be their destination. Noah leads the last of the able-bodied crew on a journey across the ice and into an uncertain future where they must fight for their lives against the elements, the ghosts of the past and, ultimately, themselves.
The book is rated 3.61/5 at goodreads.com, from 500 ratings. See 132 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2mVBi4G.
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A thriller book recommendation: Mississippi Blood: A Novel (Natchez Burning) by Greg Iles

A critic review (source Financial Times) can be read at: http://on.ft.com/2s3Wafq.
Operatic in its reach, this is still essentially a tough crime procedural, with courtroom drama that is far more blistering than the John Grisham variety. Mississippi Blood is Southern Gothic delivered in the most incarnadine of hues.
Book description from Google Books:
The #1 New York Times BestsellerThe final installment in the epic Natchez Burning trilogy by Greg Iles“Natchez Burning is extraordinarily entertaining and fiendishly suspenseful. I defy you to start it and find a way to put it down; as long as it is, I wished it were longer. . . . This is an amazing work of popular fiction.”   — Stephen King“One of the longest, most successful sustained works of popular fiction in recent memory… Prepare to be surprised. Iles has always been an exceptional storyteller, and he has invested these volumes with an energy and sense of personal urgency that rarely, if ever, falter.”—    Washington PostThe endgame is at hand for Penn Cage, his family, and the enemies bent on destroying them in this revelatory volume in the epic trilogy set in modern-day Natchez, Mississippi—Greg Iles’s epic tale of love and honor, hatred and revenge that explores how the sins of the past continue to haunt the present.Shattered by grief and dreaming of vengeance, Penn Cage sees his family and his world collapsing around him. The woman he loves is gone, his principles have been irrevocably compromised, and his father, once a paragon of the community that Penn leads as mayor, is about to be tried for the murder of a former lover. Most terrifying of all, Dr. Cage seems bent on self-destruction. Despite Penn’s experience as a prosecutor in major murder trials, his father has frozen him out of the trial preparations–preferring to risk dying in prison to revealing the truth of the crime to his son. During forty years practicing medicine, Tom Cage made himself the most respected and beloved physician in Natchez, Mississippi. But this revered Southern figure has secrets known only to himself and a handful of others.  Among them, Tom has a second son, the product of an 1960s affair with his devoted African American nurse, Viola Turner.  It is Viola who has been murdered, and her bitter son–Penn’s half-brother–who sets in motion the murder case against his father.  The resulting investigation exhumes dangerous ghosts from Mississippi’s violent past. In some way that Penn cannot fathom, Viola Turner was a nexus point between his father and the Double Eagles, a savage splinter cell of the KKK. More troubling still, the long-buried secrets shared by Dr. Cage and the former Klansmen may hold the key to the most devastating assassinations of the 1960s. The surviving Double Eagles will stop at nothing to keep their past crimes buried, and with the help of some of the most influential men in the state, they seek to ensure that Dr. Cage either takes the fall for them, or takes his secrets to an early grave.  Unable to trust anyone around him–not even his own mother–Penn joins forces with Serenity Butler, a famous young black author who has come to Natchez to write about his father’s case. Together, Penn and Serenity battle to crack the Double Eagles and discover the secret history of the Cage family and the South itself, a desperate move that risks the only thing they have left to gamble: their lives. Mississippi Blood is the enthralling conclusion to a breathtaking trilogy seven years in the making–one that has kept readers on the edge of their seats. With piercing insight, narrative prowess, and a masterful ability to blend history and imagination, Greg Iles illuminates the brutal history of the American South in a highly atmospheric and suspenseful novel that delivers the shocking resolution his fans have eagerly awaited. 
The book is rated 4.52/5 at goodreads.com, from 6651 ratings. See 881 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2s3t3c6.
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A thriller book recommendation: The Trespasser: A Novel by Tana French

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2euXoWI.
“The Trespasser” is brisk but not breathless. It would be a pity if Ms. French raced through such beautifully conceived and executed material.
Book description from Google Books:
New York Times bestselling author Tana French is “required reading for anyone who appreciates tough, unflinching intelligence and ingenious plotting” (The New York Times). She “inspires cultic devotion in readers . . . (The New Yorker) and is “the most important crime novelist to emerge in the past 10 years” (Washington Post). “Atmospheric and unputdownable.” – People An Amazon Best Book of the Year In bestselling Tana French’s newest “tour de force,”* being on the Murder squad is nothing like Detective Antoinette Conway dreamed it would be. Her partner, Stephen Moran, is the only person who seems glad she’s there. The rest of her working life is a stream of thankless cases, vicious pranks, and harassment. Antoinette is savagely tough, but she’s getting close to the breaking point. Their new case looks like yet another by-the-numbers lovers’ quarrel gone bad. Aislinn Murray is blond, pretty, groomed to a shine, and dead in her catalogue-perfect living room, next to a table set for a romantic dinner. There’s nothing unusual about her–except that Antoinette’s seen her somewhere before. And that her death won’t stay in its neat by-numbers box. Other detectives are trying to push Antoinette and Steve into arresting Aislinn’s boyfriend, fast. There’s a shadowy figure at the end of Antoinette’s road. Aislinn’s friend is hinting that she knew Aislinn was in danger. And everything they find out about Aislinn takes her further from the glossy, passive doll she seemed to be. Antoinette knows the harassment has turned her paranoid, but she can’t tell just how far gone she is. Is this case another step in the campaign to force her off the squad, or are there darker currents flowing beneath its polished surface?
The book is rated 3.98/5 at goodreads.com, from 27505 ratings. See 3535 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2ev33vA.
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A thriller book recommendation: Anything Is Possible: A Novel by Elizabeth Strout

A critic review (source NY Journal of Books) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2svnoZr.
Anything Is Possible is a deeply moving, often disturbing and heartbreaking, beautifully written and composed collection of intertwining portraits of people from small town America. It does Lucy Barton proud.
Book description from Google Books:
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * An unforgettable cast of small-town characters copes with love and loss in this new work of fiction by #1 bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout. Recalling Olive Kitteridge in its richness, structure, and complexity, Anything Is Possible explores the whole range of human emotion through the intimate dramas of people struggling to understand themselves and others. Here are two sisters: One trades self-respect for a wealthy husband while the other finds in the pages of a book a kindred spirit who changes her life. The janitor at the local school has his faith tested in an encounter with an isolated man he has come to help; a grown daughter longs for mother love even as she comes to accept her mother’s happiness in a foreign country; and the adult Lucy Barton (the heroine of My Name Is Lucy Barton, the author’s celebrated New York Times bestseller) returns to visit her siblings after seventeen years of absence. Reverberating with the deep bonds of family, and the hope that comes with reconciliation, Anything Is Possible again underscores Elizabeth Strout’s place as one of America’s most respected and cherished authors. Praise for Anything Is Possible “When Elizabeth Strout is on her game, is there anybody better? . . . This is a generous, wry book about everyday lives, and Strout crawls so far inside her characters you feel you inhabit them. . . . This is a book that earns its title. Try reading it without tears, or wonder.”–USA Today (four stars) “Readers who loved My Name Is Lucy Barton . . . are in for a real treat. . . . Strout is a master of the story cycle form. . . .  She paints cumulative portraits of the heartache and soul of small-town America by giving each of her characters a turn under her sympathetic spotlight.”–NPR “These stories return Strout to the core of what she does more magnanimously than anyone else, which is to render quiet portraits of the indignities and disappointments of normal life, and the moments of grace and kindness we are gifted in response. . . . Strout hits the target yet again.”–The Washington Post “In this wise and accomplished book, pain and healing exist in perpetual dependence, like feuding siblings.”–The Wall Street Journal “Anything Is Possible confirms Strout as one of our most grace-filled, and graceful, writers.”–The Boston Globe “In Elizabeth Strout’s Anything Is Possible, her stunning follow-up to My Name Is Lucy Barton, a famous author returns to the Midwestern hometown of her childhood, touching off a daisy-chain of stories narrated by those who knew her–memories of trauma and goodwill, resentments small and large, and the ever-widening gulf between haves and have-nots. Strout, always good, just keeps getting better.”–Vogue “If you miss the charmingly eccentric and completely relatable characters from Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout’s best-selling My Name Is Lucy Barton, you’ll be happily reunited with them in Strout’s smart and soulful Anything Is Possible.”–Elle “Strout pierces the inner worlds of these characters’ most private behaviors, illuminating the emotional conflicts and pure joy of being human, of finding oneself in the search for the American dream.”–NYLON
The book is rated 3.89/5 at goodreads.com, from 8655 ratings. See 1547 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2tOtZSx.
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A thriller book recommendation: Since We Fell: A Novel by Dennis Lehane

A critic review (source NY Journal of Books) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2swj77Y.
Other than the predictable complications caused by her agoraphobia, her responses to the terrible things suddenly destroying her life seem almost completely reactionary, drawing little on the subtleties of character Lehane spent so much time developing in the first half of the novel…Nonetheless, Since We Fell is a ride you won’t want to miss.
Book description from Google Books:
The new novel from New York Times bestseller Dennis Lehane, author of Mystic River and Shutter Island“Lehane is the master of complex human characters thrust into suspenseful, page-turning situations.” —Gillian FlynnSince We Fell follows Rachel Childs, a former journalist who, after an on-air mental breakdown, now lives as a virtual shut-in. In all other respects, however, she enjoys an ideal life with an ideal husband. Until a chance encounter on a rainy afternoon causes that ideal life to fray. As does Rachel’s marriage. As does Rachel herself. Sucked into a conspiracy thick with deception, violence, and possibly madness, Rachel must find the strength within herself to conquer unimaginable fears and mind-altering truths. By turns heart- breaking, suspenseful, romantic, and sophisticated, Since We Fell is a novel of profound psychological insight and tension. It is Dennis Lehane at his very best.
The book is rated 3.70/5 at goodreads.com, from 7331 ratings. See 1176 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2tOERzD.
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A thriller book recommendation: Night School: A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2lhP3MK.
Unlike most Reacher books, which start at breathless velocity and then wind up having to work through huge, empty action scenes later, this one gets better as it goes along. Its complexity pays off with a better than usual MacGuffin and real teamwork against a global enemy.
Book description from Google Books:
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER – The incomparable hero of Jack Reacher: Never Go Back takes readers to school in his most explosive novel yet. After eleven straight global #1 bestsellers, discover the thrillers that The New York Times calls “utterly addictive.” It’s 1996, and Reacher is still in the army. In the morning they give him a medal, and in the afternoon they send him back to school. That night he’s off the grid. Out of sight, out of mind. Two other men are in the classroom–an FBI agent and a CIA analyst. Each is a first-rate operator, each is fresh off a big win, and each is wondering what the hell they are doing there. Then they find out: A Jihadist sleeper cell in Hamburg, Germany, has received an unexpected visitor–a Saudi courier, seeking safe haven while waiting to rendezvous with persons unknown. A CIA asset, undercover inside the cell, has overheard the courier whisper a chilling message: “The American wants a hundred million dollars.” For what? And who from? Reacher and his two new friends are told to find the American. Reacher recruits the best soldier he has ever worked with: Sergeant Frances Neagley. Their mission heats up in more ways than one, while always keeping their eyes on the prize: If they don’t get their man, the world will suffer an epic act of terrorism. From Langley to Hamburg, Jalalabad to Kiev, Night School moves like a bullet through a treacherous landscape of double crosses, faked identities, and new and terrible enemies, as Reacher maneuvers inside the game and outside the law. Praise for Night School “The prose is crisp and clean, and the fighting is realistic. . . . This latest installment has all the classic ingredients: a great setting (Hamburg), a good villain, and a mystery that draws you in efficiently, escalates unpredictably, and has a satisfying resolution.”–The New Yorker “Another timely tour de force . . . The taut thriller is textbook [Lee] Child: fast-paced and topical with a ‘ripped from the headlines’ feel.”–Minneapolis Star-Tribune “As gripping as ever.”–The Florida Times-Union Praise for #1 bestselling author Lee Child and his Jack Reacher series “Reacher [is] one of this century’s most original, tantalizing pop-fiction heroes.”–The Washington Post
The book is rated 3.96/5 at goodreads.com, from 26455 ratings. See 2340 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2kvawh4.
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A thriller book recommendation: Darktown: A Novel by Thomas Mullen

A critic review (source National Post arts) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2qMJtlj.
Like many debuts in the genre, there are missteps – one late confrontation between Rakestraw and a suspect includes four maybes, one possibly and one I imagine – but they cannot detract from the novel’s power…I’m hoping there’s a series here – a sequel at least – which is the highest compliment I can pay.
Book description from Google Books:
“One incendiary image ignites the next in this highly combustible procedural…written with a ferocious passion that’ll knock the wind out of you.” —The New York Times Book Review “Fine Southern storytelling meets hard-boiled crime in a tale that connects an overlooked chapter of history to our own continuing struggles with race today.” —Charles Frazier, bestselling author of Cold Mountain “This page-turner reads like the best of James Ellroy.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review “In the way the story is told coupled with its heightened racial context, Darktown reminded me of Walter Mosley or a George Pelecanos novel.” —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel “High-quality…crime fiction with a nimble sense of history…quick on its feet and vividly drawn.” —Dallas Morning News “Some books educate, some books entertain, Thomas Mullen’s Darktown is the rare book that does both.” —Huffington Post The award-winning author of The Last Town on Earth delivers a riveting and elegant police procedural set in 1948 Atlanta, exploring a murder, corrupt police, and strained race relations that feels ripped from today’s headlines.Responding to orders from on high, the Atlanta Police Department is forced to hire its first black officers, including war veterans Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith. The newly minted policemen are met with deep hostility by their white peers; they aren’t allowed to arrest white suspects, drive squad cars, or set foot in the police headquarters. When a black woman who was last seen in a car driven by a white man turns up dead, Boggs and Smith suspect white cops are behind it. Their investigation sets them up against a brutal cop, Dunlow, who has long run the neighborhood as his own, and his partner, Rakestraw, a young progressive who may or may not be willing to make allies across color lines. Among shady moonshiners, duplicitous madams, crooked lawmen, and the constant restrictions of Jim Crow, Boggs and Smith will risk their new jobs, and their lives, while navigating a dangerous world—a world on the cusp of great change. Set in the postwar, pre-civil rights South, and evoking the socially resonant and morally complex crime novels of Dennis Lehane and Walter Mosley, Darktown is a vivid, smart, intricately plotted crime saga that explores the timely issues of race, law enforcement, and the uneven scales of justice.
The book is rated 4.09/5 at goodreads.com, from 2490 ratings. See 538 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2s5Y8vK.
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Google Books preview available in full post.

A thriller book recommendation: Reputations by Juan Gabriel Vásquez

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2fmv3pJ.
…like this novel as a whole, marks Juan Gabriel Vásquez as a Colombian writer working fully in the European tradition. Or maybe we can forgo geography altogether and just call him a true international writer.
Book description from Google Books:
A brilliant novel about the power of politics and personal memory from one of South America’s literary stars, the New York Times bestselling author of The Sound of Things Falling. Javier Mallarino is a living legend. He is his country’s most influential political cartoonist, the consciousness of a nation. A man capable of repealing laws, overturning judges’ decisions, destroying politicians’ careers with his art. His weapons are pen and ink. Those in power fear him and pay him homage. After four decades of a brilliant career, he’s at the height of his powers. But this all changes when he’s paid an unexpected visit from a young woman who upends his sense of personal history and forces him to re-evaluate his life and work, questioning his position in the world. In Reputations, Juan Gabriel V�squez examines the weight of the past, how a public persona intersects with private histories, and the burdens and surprises of memory. In this intimate novel that recalls authors like Coetzee and Ian McEwan, V�squez plumbs universal experiences to create a masterful story, one that reverberates long after you turn the final page. Named a Best Book of the Year by the New York Times, Newsweek, the Guardian, and Kirkus
The book is rated 3.71/5 at goodreads.com, from 1089 ratings. See 188 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2dSJYCV.
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