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!
A lost James Bond-inspired novel from Donald Westlake and a new James Bourne thriller by Eric Van Lustbader highlight a great week of books! See what else we're reading:
The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka
Nobody knows what happened to Sarah Cook. The beautiful blonde teenager disappeared fifteen years ago, the same night her parents were brutally murdered in their suburban Ohio home. Her boyfriend Brad Stockton—black and from the wrong side of the tracks—was convicted of the murders and is now on death row. Though he’s maintained his innocence all along, the clock is running out. His execution is only weeks away when his devoted sister insists she spied Sarah at an area gas station. Willing to try anything, she hires PI Roxane Weary to look at the case and see if she can locate Sarah.
Brad might be in a bad way, but private investigator Roxane Weary isn’t doing so hot herself. Still reeling from the recent death of her cop father in the line of duty, her main way of dealing with her grief has been working as little and drinking as much as possible. But Roxane finds herself drawn into the story of Sarah's vanishing act, especially when she links the disappearance to one of her father’s unsolved murder cases involving another teen girl.
The stakes get higher as Roxane discovers that the two girls may not be the only beautiful blonde teenagers who’ve turned up missing or dead. As her investigation gets darker and darker, Roxane will have to risk everything to find the truth. Lives depend on her cracking this case—hers included.
The Bourne Initiative by Eric Van Lustbader
General Boris Karpov, head of the feared Russian FSB, is dead. But Karpov has reached out from the grave with an unstoppable cyber operation he conceived before his murder, aimed at the heart of the United States—a way to steal the president's nuclear launch codes.
Who has taken over the operation? Karpov trusted only one man: Jason Bourne. But can Bourne be working against his own country?
The U.S. Government is convinced of his treason and is doing everything in its power to kill him. Flushed from cover and gravely wounded, Bourne's only hope is to join forces with his bitterest enemies: a powerful Somali terrorist named Keyre and his protégée, the Angelmaker. If he hopes to survive, Bourne has no choice but to unravel the mystery of Karpov's last legacy—a weaponized code that may bring about the unthinkable: a violent end to America.
The Forgotten Girl by Rio Youers
Harvey Anderson is a twenty-six-year-old street performer from New Jersey. He enjoys his peaceful life, but everything turns upside down when he is abducted and beaten by a group of nondescript thugs. Working for a sinister man known as “the spider,” these goons have spent nine years searching for Harvey’s girlfriend, Sally Starling. Now they think they know where she lives. And whom she loves.
There’s only one problem: Sally is gone and Harvey has no memory of her. Which makes no sense to him, until the spider explains that Sally has the unique ability to selectively erase a person’s memories—an ability she has used to delete herself from Harvey’s mind.
But emotion runs deeper than memory, and Harvey realizes he still feels something for Sally. And so—with the spider threatening—he goes looking for a girl he loves but can’t remember … and encounters a danger that reaches beyond anything he could ever imagine.
Political corruption and manipulation. A serial killer’s dark secrets. An appetite for absolute, terrible power. For Harvey Anderson, finding the forgotten girl comes at quite a cost.
Matchup by Lee Child
MatchUp takes the never-before-seen bestseller pairings of FaceOff and adds a delicious new twist: gender. Eleven of the world’s best female thriller writers from Diana Gabaldon to Charlaine Harris are paired with eleven of the world’s best male thriller writers, including John Sandford, C.J. Box, and Nelson DeMille. The stories are edited by #1 New York Times-bestselling author Lee Child and feature:
- Lee Coburn and Joe Pickett in “Honor & …” by Sandra Brown and C.J. Box
- Tony Hill and Roy Grace in “Footloose” by Val McDermid and Peter James
- Temperance Brennan and Jack Reacher in “Faking a Murderer” by Kathy Reichs and Lee Child
- Jamie Fraser and Cotton Malone in “Past Prologue” by Diana Gabaldon and Steve Berry
- Liz Sansborough and Rambo in “Rambo on Their Minds” by Gayle Lynds and David Morrell
- Jeffrey Tolliver and Joe Pritchard in “Short Story” by Karin Slaughter and Michael Koryta
- Harper Connelly and Ty Hauck in “Dig Here” by Charlaine Harris and Andrew Gross
- Regan Pescoli and Lucas Davenport in “Deserves to be Dead” by Lisa Jackson and John Sandford
- Lucan Thorne and Lilliane in “Midnight Flame” by Lara Adrian and Christopher Rice
- Bennie Rosato and John Corey in “Getaway” by Lisa Scottoline and Nelson DeMille
- Ali Reynolds and Bravo Shaw in “Taking the Veil” by J.A. Jance and Eric Van Lustbader
Forever and a Death by Donald Westlake
The Bond That Never Was
Two decades ago, the producers of the James Bond movies hired legendary crime novelist Donald E. Westlake to come up with a story for the next Bond film. The plot Westlake dreamed up – about a Western businessman seeking revenge after being kicked out of Hong Kong when the island was returned to Chinese rule – had all the elements of a classic Bond adventure, but political concerns kept it from being made. Never one to let a good story go to waste, Westlake wrote an original novel based on the premise instead – a novel he never published while he was alive.
Now, nearly a decade after Westlake’s death, Hard Case Crime is proud to give that novel its first publication ever, together with a brand new afterword by one of the movie producers describing the project’s genesis, and to give fans their first taste of the Westlake-scripted Bond that might have been. Betencourt struggle to stay one step ahead of the killer—and deal with painful episodes in the past—Ben’s own world is rocked again by violence. He must decide how far he is willing to go, and Natasha how much she is willing to risk, to protect their friendship and themselves to rescue the town from a psychotic murderer and a long-buried secret.
Read Charles Ardai's, editor and founder of Hard Case Crime, account of discovering his friend Donald Westlake's lost Bond-inspired novel, then check out David Cranmer's review of Forever and a Death!