These 10 April thrillers offer up twisty plots, backstabbing old friends, and enough gasp-out-loud moments to keep your heart rate up, even when you’re stuck inside on a rainy day.
The Fix, by David Baldacci
Amos Decker returns for a third go-round, his latest case beginning when he witnesses a murder/suicide right outside FBI headquarters. The murder is a true mystery in every way: the killer had no discernible connection to the victim, and apparently no motive. He also left no indication as to why he committed the crime. Even more frustrating, Decker is quickly ordered off the case by the Defense Intelligence Agency, which informs him the killing is connected to a case so top secret, he can’t have anything to do with it. When it becomes clear solving the bizarre case is vital to national security, Decker and DIA agent Harper Brown form an uneasy partnership combining Decker’s flawless memory with her high-level access. They soon realize they are in a race against time to prevent a national disaster.
Golden Prey, by John Sandford
Sandford complicates things nicely in the 27th Lucas Davenport novel. Now a U.S. Marshal with the authority to investigate any case he sees fit, Davenport chooses to look into a drug robbery that went sideways. A man named Garvin Poole hit a counting house in Mississippi and wound up shooting four drug dealers—and a six-year-old girl, granddaughter to one of the criminals. Davenport discovers he’s working against a parallel “investigation” funded by the drug dealers, and led by extreme bad man Luis Soto and his torture specialist Charlene Kort, who leave a bloody trail behind them as they seek to enact their own version of justice. As Davenport and Soto close in on Poole, the action ramps up, and complex questions of justice are explored in bloody detail.
All by Myself, Alone, by Mary Higgins Clark
Lottery-winning lucky couple Alvirah and Willy Meehan decide to celebrate their 45th anniversary on the maiden voyage of the cruise ship Queen Charlotte. Limited to just 100 guests, the cruise boasts the very best of everything—and the tony passenger list includes the elderly Lady Emily Haywood, who brings her priceless emerald amulet along for the journey. Having set up a closed-ship scenario with plenty of colorful characters, all we need is a murder to set the tension soaring. Once the body drops, Alvirah turns amateur sleuth, risking her and Willy’s safety in a claustrophobic milieu that’s equal parts luxurious and dangerous.
The Lost Order, by Steve Berry
Cotton Malone’s adventure is another expert melding of nail-biting political intrigue and fascinating historical mystery. There’s a conspiracy at the highest levels of government to remake the United States government’s power structure, which requires immense resources—including a legendary cache of stolen treasure of the Knights of the Golden Circle, once one of the most powerful, dangerous secret societies in America. The Knights’ treasure was divided and hidden 150 years ago, and finding the loot requires cracking an unbreakable code. The Smithsonian tasks Malone with solving the mystery and recovering the gold, which brings him into direct conflict with powerful men seeking to fund a coup.
Fast and Loose, by Stuart Woods
In Woods’ 41st Stone Barrington novel, everyone’s favorite millionaire lawyer makes friends and enemies in equal measure. First, he befriends the Carlssons, a family of doctors who run famous clinics around the country, after they accidentally hit his yacht with their larger boat. As is Barrington’s wont, he soon becomes involved in a legal tangle over a takeover bid for the clinics, and after helping the Carlssons stave off the attack, he makes a new enemy in Erik Macher. Infuriated at Barrington, Macher plots murder, and the two engage in a tense dance of attack and counterattack that builds to an exciting faceoff. Barrington is as suave and capable as ever, with plenty of surprises along the way.
The Burial Hour, by Jeffery Deaver
In his 13th novel, Lincoln Rhyme squares off against a disturbing criminal known as The Composer, who kidnaps and hangs people in order to record their death sounds for his own twisted purposes, leaving small nooses behind as a calling card. Rhyme and Detective Amelia Sachs follow the clues to Naples, where they must work with the local authorities, including a serious prosecutor who isn’t particularly impressed with Rhyme’s resume. Rhyme bring his brilliant forensic mind to bear, following the clues and slowly closing in on the Composer, racing to save the lives of his next victims before they become part of the twisted killer’s dark masterwork.
War Cry, by Wilbur Smith
Combining global-scale adventure with the privileges of old-world aristocracy, the newest installment in the sprawling history of the Courtney family begins in Kenya in the wake of World War I, as big game hunter Leon and his beautiful daughter, Saffron, exult in their power as British colonizers. Saffron is a force of nature, a girl of terrible passions who bristles against the chauvinism all around her, and is as capable of manning a machine gun as falling wildly in love. The Courtneys witness the events that will soon pull the world inexorably toward World War II, encountering historical figures ranging from Hitler to the man who founded the Muslim Brotherhood. In between, Saffron travels abroad for school, prompting readers to keep turning pages just to find out what she’s going to say next. She’s a character who more than lives up to the reputation of one of literature’s most interesting families.
No Easy Target, by Iris Johansen
Johansen elevates Margaret Douglas from background player in her Eve Duncan books to protagonist in her newest book, which opens with Douglas using her rare ability to communicate psychically with animals in her volunteer work at the San Diego Zoo. One evening, while working with a willful tiger, Douglas is kidnapped by a former CIA agent named John Lassiter, who wants to use her as bait to rescue his mentor, who has been captured by sadistic über-criminal Stan Nicos. Douglas knows Nicos well—he once held her captive, and murdered her friend—and also knows he would use her psychic abilities for his own ends. Lassiter insists he will protect her, but Margaret isn’t one to let herself be used as a pawn in someone else’s game. She’ll make her own plans, and decide on her own terms if she will work with Lassiter in order to save a man’s life.
A Single Spy, by William Christie
The true pleasures of an espionage story lie in the methodical work of infiltration and information gathering. Christie understands this, and offers up the story of Alexsi Smirnov, who grew up in the 1930s in Azerbaijan under the rule of the Soviets. A talented thief, Alexsi is adopted by the German Shultz family, which has high-level connections they believe will allow them to move to Russia to live in a socialist paradise. Their reward turns out to be death in a purge, making Alexsi an orphan again in 1936—but his linguistic talents and sharp mind spare him, and he’s recruited to act as a Soviet spy, pretending to be a surviving Shultz son so he can embed himself in Nazi intelligence circles. This puts him in Tehran in 1943, where Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill will gather. Christie tightens the plot until the tension sings, as Alexsi must rely on the only advantage he has ever had—his brains.
Prussian Blue, by Phillip Kerr
The 12th Bernie Gunther novel weaves together two dangerous moments in Bernie’s routinely dangerous life. In 1939, he’s assigned to investigate a murder at Berghof, Hitler’s private retreat at Berchtesgaden, a case that must be solved before the Führer arrives to celebrate his 50th birthday. In 1956, Bernie has a change of heart regarding an assassination he’s been assigned to carry out by Stasi Chief Erich Mielke; he kills a Stasi agent as he makes his escape, heading for West Germany. One man unites both timelines: Friedrich Korsch, who Bernie once worked with, and who is now a Stasi agent. Kerr skillfully weaves all three stories together, building toward a surprising, satisfyingly explosive ending that demonstrates how little can change in 17 years, despite a world war.