Time—and publishing schedules—wait for no one, so if you slacked off on your TBR pile in October, watch out, because November is bringing a bumper crop of new thrillers. This month’s picks of the litter are heavy on the returning faves as James Patterson, Lee Child, and Clive Cussler bring back some of their most popular characters, while Anthony Horowitz delivers a brand-new adventure for one of the most famous classic thriller characters of all time—and David Baldacci goes the other way, hitting the ground running with a brand-new character.
Long Road to Mercy, by David Baldacci
Baldacci takes a break from Amos Decker to introduce FBI Agent Atlee Pine, whose skill set makes her one of the FBI’s top criminal profilers, but who chooses to work in solitude as the lone agent assigned to the Shattered Rock, Arizona, resident agency. Pine is haunted by the kidnapping of her twin sister, Mercy, when they were six years old; the kidnapper sang out an old nursery rhyme as they chose which twin to abduct. Mercy was chosen, and Atlee never saw her sister again, and dedicated her life to saving others. When a mule is found dead in the Grand Canyon and its rider missing, Atlee is plunged into an investigation that would be beyond most agents—but not her. At least not until she’s abruptly ordered to close the case just as she’s figuring out the terrifying scope of what’s she’s chasing after…
Target: Alex Cross, by James Patterson
Patterson’s twenty-sixth Alex Cross book opens on a somber scene of mourning as hundreds of thousands of people gather in Washington, D.C., to mourn the president—among them Alex Cross, whose wife, Bree, has just become D.C.’s chief of detectives. When a sniper takes out a member of the president’s cabinet, it falls to Bree to solve the crime—and it’s clear her job is on the line. Cross begins to suspect the sniper is only getting started, and as usual he’s right—and the country is plunged into a violent crisis like nothing it’s ever seen before. Patterson raises the stakes beyond anything Cross has ever dealt with before—and that’s saying something.
Past Tense, by Lee Child
Jack Reacher returns in his twenty-third outing in fine form, as Child continues to get tremendous mileage from an older Reacher’s slow-burn journey into his own past. Faced with yet another fork in the road, Reacher chooses to walk into Laconia, New Hampshire, where his late father, Stan, was born. Meanwhile, a young couple driving from Canada stop at a mysteriously empty motel near Laconia when they have car trouble. Reacher, as usual, steps in to help the helpless and gets nothing but trouble for his efforts, while his efforts to learn about his father turn up a disturbing lack of information. As the two stories slowly work toward each other, Reacher discovers he might be more like his father than he suspected—and another batch of small-time goons discovers they’re no match whatsoever for Jack Reacher.
Tom Clancy: Oath of Office, by Marc Cameron
Cameron returns to the Jack Ryan universe for the second time with a complex story of betrayal and realpolitik that begins in Iran, where a Russian spy mourns his lover, Maryam, cut down by the Revolutionary Guard. This spurs Erik Dovzhenko to defect, traveling to Afghanistan to contact Maryam’s friend Ysabel Kashani. Ysabel brings in Jack Ryan, Jr., son of the President of the United States and member of antiterrorism unit the Campus. Ryan is in the area as part of a mission to track down two stolen nuclear weapons, and meets with Erik and Ysabel even as his father deals with an attack on an American embassy in Cameroon. The twisting story builds to an explosive conclusion in true Clancy style.
You Don’t Own Me, by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke
Clark and Burke deliver the fifth book in the Under Suspicion series, featuring television producer Laurie Morgan, whose penchant for getting into trouble is just as strong as ever. Laurie is busy planning her wedding to former host Alex Buckley (who is about to be confirmed as a federal judge) when she’s contacted by the parents of a physician famously gunned down in his own driveway five years before; they’re in a bitter custody battle with his wife, and believe she was the killer. As Laurie takes on the story she finds, as usual, more layers to it than meet the eye—but as she works she’s being followed by a mysterious man who admires her from afar and thinks she might not be missed when she’s gone, pushing the tension to the breaking point.
Sea of Greed, by Clive Cussler and Graham Brown
The sixteenth NUMA Files novel depicts a world on the verge of chaos as oil supplies dry up and stock markets drop. When a massive explosion in the Gulf of Mexico destroys three crucial oil rigs, the President of the United States is concerned enough to ask Kurt Austin and the NUMA Special Projects Team to investigate. Their attention is drawn to a maverick billionaire who sees her alternative energy company as the future—and who might be willing to take drastic measures to get to that future sooner rather than later. The crew of the NUMA finds evidence that an oil-eating bacteria thought lost fifty years before has been deployed in the Gulf, and now threatens to plunge the world into chaos if Austin and his team can’t get to the bottom of the mystery in time.
Forever and a Day, by Anthony Horowitz
Crafting an origin story for no less of a pop culture icon than James Bond is a daunting task, but Horowitz is in familiar waters after 2015’s Trigger Mortis, and does an expert job. The story kicks off with the death of the prior 007, found floating in the water off of Marseilles. M calls up Bond, newly attached to the Double-O section, and assigns him to investigate the agent’s death. Bond goes toe-to-toe with the Corsican mob and a classic Bond villain in the immensely obese and incredibly dangerous crime boss Jean-Paul Scipio. Horowitz seeds the story with plenty of Bond Easter eggs for longtime fans while crafting a tense, action-heavy story that satisfies simply as a modern-day spy thriller that’s gritty, violent, and morally complex.