Every Wednesday, we here at Criminal Element will put together a list of Staff Picks of the books that published the day before—sharing the ones that we are looking forward to reading the most!
Wow. What a week! J. D. Robb's 46th In Death mystery. Gregg Hurwitz's latest Orphan X thriller. Allison Brennan's 13th Lucy Kincaid novel. But wait, there's more! See what else we're reading:
Dark in Death by J. D. Robb
It was a stab in the dark.
On a chilly February night, during a screening of Psycho in midtown, someone sunk an ice pick into the back of Chanel Rylan’s neck, then disappeared quietly into the crowds of drunks and tourists in Times Square. To Chanel’s best friend, who had just slipped out of the theater for a moment to take a call, it felt as unreal as the ancient black-and-white movie up on the screen. But Chanel’s blood ran red, and her death was anything but fictional.
Then, as Eve Dallas puzzles over a homicide that seems carefully planned and yet oddly personal, she receives a tip from an unexpected source: an author of police thrillers who recognizes the crime―from the pages of her own book. Dallas doesn’t think it’s coincidence, since a recent strangulation of a sex worker resembles a scene from her writing as well. Cops look for patterns of behavior: similar weapons, similar MOs. But this killer seems to find inspiration in someone else’s imagination, and if the theory holds, this may be only the second of a long-running series.
The good news is that Eve and her billionaire husband Roarke have an excuse to curl up in front of the fireplace with their cat, Galahad, reading mystery stories for research. The bad news is that time is running out before the next victim plays an unwitting role in a murderer’s deranged private drama―and only Eve can put a stop to a creative impulse gone horribly, destructively wrong.
Hellbent by Gregg Hurwitz
Taken from a group home at age twelve, Evan Smoak was raised and trained as an off-the-books government assassin: Orphan X. After he broke with the Orphan Program, Evan disappeared and reinvented himself as the Nowhere Man, a man spoken about only in whispers and dedicated to helping the truly desperate.
But this time, the voice on the other end is Jack Johns, the man who raised and trained him, the only father Evan has ever known. Secret government forces are busy trying to scrub the remaining assets and traces of the Orphan Program and they have finally tracked down Jack. With little time remaining, Jack gives Evan his last assignment: find and protect his last protégé and recruit for the program.
But Evan isn’t the only one after this last Orphan―the new head of the Orphan Program, Van Sciver, is mustering all the assets at his disposal to take out both Evan (Orphan X) and the target he is trying to protect.
Leaked! We've got an exclusive transcript of the audio from an interview between Gregg Hurwitz and his government assassin gone rogue, Evan Smoak—check out what transpired & learn how to win a copy of Hellbent!
Breaking Point by Allison Brennan
Bella Caruso survived a nightmare of abuse and betrayal. Today, she has dedicated her life to saving other young women from the hell that almost killed her―first as an officer of the law, then by stepping outside the law and into the darkness where true evil dwells. Now, it appears that the darkness has taken her once again.
JT Caruso often worries about his sister, given her line of work. This time, when he learns that Bella is working undercover to find a missing girl involved in a dangerous prostitution ring, JT asks FBI Special Agent Lucy Kincaid for help.
Even with Lucy’s extensive experience in running down human traffickers, finding Bella will not be easy. Not only because she is in too deep. But because Bella, who will not rest until she saves the girl, doesn’t want to be found…
Into the Black Nowhere by Meg Gardiner
In southern Texas, on Saturday nights, women are disappearing. One vanishes from a movie theater. Another is ripped from her car at a stoplight. Another vanishes from her home while checking on her baby. Rookie FBI agent Caitlin Hendrix, newly assigned to the FBI's elite Behavioral Analysis Unit, fears that a serial killer is roaming the dark roads outside Austin.
Caitlin and the FBI's serial crime unit discover the first victim's body in the woods. She's laid out in a bloodstained, white baby-doll nightgown. A second victim in a white nightie lies deeper in the forest's darkness. Both bodies are surrounded by Polaroid photos, stuck in the earth like headstones. Each photo pictures a woman in a white negligee, wrists slashed, suicide—styleposed like Snow White awaiting her prince's kiss.
To track the UNSUB, Caitlin must get inside his mind. How is he selecting these women? Working with a legendary FBI profiler, Caitlin searches for a homology—that elusive point where character and action come together. She profiles a confident, meticulous killer who convinces his victims to lower their guard until he can overpower and take them in plain sight. He then reduces them to objects in a twisted fantasy—dolls for him to possess, control, and ultimately destroy. Caitlin's profile leads the FBI to focus on one man: a charismatic, successful professional who easily gains people's trust. But with only circumstantial evidence linking him to the murders, the police allow him to escape. As Saturday night approaches, Caitlin and the FBI enter a desperate game of cat and mouse, racing to capture the cunning predator before he claims more victims.
The Pope of Palm Beach by Tim Dorsey
No one worships the Sunshine State as much as Serge A. Storms. Perpetually hunting Floridian arcana and lore, he and his permanently baked sidekick, Coleman, are on the road again. This time they’re on a frenzied literary pilgrimage that leads them back to Riviera Beach, the cozy seaside town where the boys spent their formative years.
Growing up, Serge was enthralled by the Legend of Riviera Beach, aka Darby, a welder at the port who surfed the local waves long before the hot spots were hot. A god on the water, the big-hearted surfer was a friend to everyone—the younger surfers, cops, politicians, wealthy businessmen and ordinary Joes—a generosity of spirit that earned him the admiration of all. Meanwhile, there was a much murkier legend that made the rounds of the schoolyards from Serge’s youth—that of the crazy hermit living in a makeshift jungle compound farther up the mysterious Loxahatchee River than anyone dared to venture.
Then Serge moved away. But never forgot.
Now he’s back, with those legends looming larger than ever in the rearview mirror of his memory. As his literary odyssey moves north from Key West, closer and closer to his old stomping grounds, Serge digs into the past as only Serge can. Along the way, he unintentionally disturbs some long-forgotten ground, attracting the attention of a cast of villains that only Florida can produce.
As the body count grows, so does the list of questions:
Why are the guys in the hard hats worried about the monkeys? When do you hack a motel air-conditioner? How does Coleman get high with cat toys? Who is expecting the dildo? And will book tours ever be the same after Serge decides to check one out?