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!
This week is a powerhouse of new releases, including Michael Crichton's return to the world of paleontology! See what we're reading this week:
Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton
The year is 1876. Warring Indian tribes still populate America’s western territories even as lawless gold-rush towns begin to mark the landscape. In much of the country it is still illegal to espouse evolution. Against this backdrop two monomaniacal paleontologists pillage the Wild West, hunting for dinosaur fossils, while surveilling, deceiving and sabotaging each other in a rivalry that will come to be known as the Bone Wars.
Into this treacherous territory plunges the arrogant and entitled William Johnson, a Yale student with more privilege than sense. Determined to survive a summer in the west to win a bet against his arch-rival, William has joined world-renowned paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh on his latest expedition. But when the paranoid and secretive Marsh becomes convinced that William is spying for his nemesis, Edwin Drinker Cope, he abandons him in Cheyenne, Wyoming, a locus of crime and vice. William is forced to join forces with Cope and soon stumbles upon a discovery of historic proportions. With this extraordinary treasure, however, comes exceptional danger, and William’s newfound resilience will be tested in his struggle to protect his cache, which pits him against some of the West’s most notorious characters.
Enemy of the Good by Matthew Palmer
Katarina “Kate” Hollister is a second-generation Foreign Service officer, recently assigned to Kyrgyzstan. She’s not there by chance. Kate is a Foreign Service brat who attended high school in the region; her uncle is the U.S. ambassador to the country, and he pulled a few strings to get her assigned to his mission.
U.S.–Kyrgyz relations are at a critical juncture. U.S. authorities have been negotiating with the Kyrgyz president on the lease of a massive airbase that would significantly expand the American footprint in Central Asia and could tip the scale in “the Great Game,” the competition among Russia, China, and the United States for influence in the region. The negotiations are controversial in the United States because of the Kyrgyz regime’s abysmal human-rights record. The fate of the airbase is balanced on a razor’s edge.
Amid these events, Kate’s uncle assigns her to infiltrate an underground democracy movement that has been sabotaging Kyrgyz security services and regime supporters. Washington has taken an interest in the movement, her uncle conveys, and may find it worth supporting if they understand more about the aims and leadership. And Kate has an in—many followers of the movement were high school classmates of hers.
But it soon becomes clear that nothing about Kate’s mission is as it seems . . . and that she might need to lay her life on the line for what she knows is right.
Perish the Day by John Farrow
A co-ed is found murdered on campus, her body scarcely touched. The killer paid meticulous attention to the aesthetics of his crime. Coincidentally (or not), a college custodian is also found dead.
While an epic rainstorm assails the Holyoake, New Hampshire campus, overflowing rivers and taking down power lines, a third crime scene is revealed: a professor, formerly a spy, has been shot dead in his home. A mysterious note is found that warned him to run.
Each victim is connected to the Dowbiggin School of International Relations, yet none seems connected to the other. The dead student was a close friend of Sergeant-Detective Émile Cinq-Mars’s niece, so he puts his nose in; when internecine battles between police departments create a rift, he covertly slips into the crevice so he can be involved in the investigation.
Coming up against campus secrets, Émile Cinq-Mars must uncover the links between disparate groups quickly before the next victim is selected for an elaborate initiation into murder.
Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman
The Danes—the band known as the “Darlings of Detroit”—are washed up and desperate for inspiration, eager to once again have a number one hit. That is, until an agent from the US Army approaches them. Will they travel to an African desert and track down the source of a mysterious and malevolent sound? Under the guidance of their front man, Philip Tonka, the Danes embark on a harrowing journey through the scorching desert—a trip that takes Tonka into the heart of an ominous and twisted conspiracy.
Meanwhile, in a nondescript Midwestern hospital, a nurse named Ellen tends to a patient recovering from a near-fatal accident. The circumstances that led to his injuries are mysterious—and his body heals at a remarkable rate. Ellen will do the impossible for this enigmatic patient, who reveals more about his accident with each passing day.
Shadow Man by Alan Drew
Detective Ben Wade has returned to his hometown of Rancho Santa Elena in search of a quieter life and to try to save his marriage. Suddenly the community, with its peaceful streets and excellent public schools, finds itself at the mercy of a serial killer who slips through windows and screen doors at night, shattering illusions of safety. As Ben and forensic specialist Natasha 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.