Some things just go better with arctic winter nights—a crackling fire in the fireplace, a spiced hot toddy, curling up on the couch in your favorite blanket, and, of course, having a good page-turner to lose yourself in. As someone who has lived in Central New York almost his entire life (one of the snowiest areas in the entire country), I know the importance of finding “stay up all night until your eyes burn” kind of reads to get you through those endlessly long winter evenings.
So consider this a public service announcement of sorts: below are four new releases that are guaranteed to keep you up all night. There’s something for everyone here: an extraordinarily powerful legal thriller from John Grisham, a new Jack Ryan blockbuster of a novel from Tom Clancy and Mark Greaney, a masterfully written work of gothic fiction by Michael Rowe, and a (literally) creepy environmental cautionary tale that blends science fiction and horror from John Everson. If you’re looking for a page-turner to give as a gift—or as a gift to yourself—you can’t go wrong with any of these titles!*
*Hot toddy and comfy blanket not included, though highly recommended.
Sycamore Row, by John Grisham
Almost 25 years after the release of A Time to Kill, Grisham has penned a sequel—and it’s nothing short of a masterwork. Set three years after the events in A Time to Kill, the story begins in 1988 Clayton, Mississippi, with small-town lawyer Jake Brigance still struggling to make ends meet. When a wealthy businessman suffering from terminal lung cancer commits suicide, his two adult children—long estranged from their irascible father—assume that they’re in for a substantial windfall. But the handwritten will that he signed just days before his death gives most of his fortune to his housekeeper, a middle-aged black woman. A brutal legal feeding frenzy ensues, during which Brigance realizes that, quoting Jake’s oft-drunk mentor Lucien Wilbanks, “everything is about race in Mississippi.” If you thought A Time to Kill was excellent, Sycamore Row will blow you away—it may be one of the most powerful legal thrillers you ever read.
Command Authority, by Tom Clancy with Mark Greaney
Command Authority was a bittersweet read for me. The latest installment in Clancy’s Jack Ryan sequence (cowritten with Mark Greaney) was a breakneck-paced yet meticulously detailed shelf-bender (752 pages!) of a political thriller, but it was also, sadly, the iconic Clancy’s last release before his death in October. Former CIA analyst Ryan, now in his second term as President, and his financial analyst son Jack, Jr., are pitted against the conspiratorial actions of a treacherous new Russian leader, one who wants to return Mother Russia to her old glory…by any means necessary. This immensely satisfying read has enough action and intrigue to satisfy the most demanding reader.
Wild Fell, by Michael Rowe
I absolutely love Rowe’s writing style—it’s incredibly intelligent, profound and poetic, and insightful, with a decidedly dark undertone. His second novel, Wild Fell, is classic Gothic fiction à la Ann Radcliffe and Edgar Allan Poe. Centering on a crumbling mansion built in the 19th century on a remote island in Georgian Bay and the nightmarish consequences of its gruesome history, this novel was unputdownable—definitely an up-all-night read! Like stories from the aforementioned Radcliffe and Poe, this novel is replete with rich imagery and symbolism and succeeds brilliantly on multiple levels. It’s a work of dark literary fiction that should wow genre fiction and mainstream fiction readers alike.
Violet Eyes, by John Everson
This novel is quite a departure for Everson, whose work thus far has been largely supernatural horror. Harking back to the science-gone-mad disaster movies of the 1970s (Long Weekend, Empire of the Ants, Frogs), Violet Eyes is essentially a science fiction cautionary tale, revolving around a top-secret biological experiment on a remote island in the Florida Keys that goes terribly wrong. Rachel Riordan and her 10-year-old son Eric have finally escaped the clutches of her abusive husband and, now living in a small town on the edge of the Everglades, have an opportunity to live in peace. A chauvinistic dirtbag of a husband is nothing, however, compared to what she and her son soon encounter. Author Jonathan Maberry described this novel perfectly as “Michael Crichton meets Stephen King.”
What’s the last book that kept you up all night?