The Best Thrillers of September 2019

Summer’s almost over, but your Year of Reading continues, and we’ve got a fresh batch of nail-biting thrillers to fuel your Autumn, including a new novel featuring Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp, the next in James Patterson’s Instinct series, and a terrifying dive into the violent mind of a insane killer from the writer who gave us The Killing.

Lethal Agent, by Kyle Mills
Kyle Mills continues to keep Vince Flynn’s legacy going with the 18th Mitch Rapp novel, set during a divisive and chaotic election year in the United States. While politicians undercut each other and pay more attention to the polls than national security, ISIS engineers a horrifying threat, kidnapping a scientist and forcing him to begin developing Anthrax for an attack against the U.S. that will carried out by a Mexican drug cartel—with the horrible act’s progress chronicled by taunting Internet videos. Rapp and Irene Kennedy work feverishly to stop the plan while the country descends into panic, but the terrorists have a twist up their sleeves in the form of a deadly new pathogen that could decimate the world’s population.

Killer Instinct, by James Patterson and Howard Roughan
Patterson and Roughan rejoin Dr. Dylan Reinhart and Detective Elizabeth Needham (featured in the hit 2018 TV series Instinct, inspired by Patterson and Roughan’s Murder Games ) in the wake of a deadly terrorist attack that strikes New York City just as the pair are tackling a murder case with disturbing connections to Reinhart’s shrouded past. In the fog of disaster, Needham becomes a hero—and the next target of the dangerous sociopath behind the attack. Dr. Reinhart is an expert on why people kill, but he quickly finds that this enemy is beyond anything he’s experienced in his career—and he’ll have to figure out what he’s dealing with fast, or an entire city will suffer for it.

The Titanic Secret, by Clive Cussler and Jack Du Brul
The eleventh Isaac Bell novel is also a time-traveling Dirk Pitt adventure. In the modern day, Pitt does what he does best: saving lives using an antique submersible under the waters off of New York City. This leads Pitt to a document dating back a century and authored by the famous detective Isaac Bell. Back in 1911, Bell is investigating the deaths of nine men at Little Angel Mine. His investigation leads him to an incredibly rare, powerful, and valuable element called byzanium—and into conflict with sinister forces that will do anything to acquire it. As Bell prepares to stop them, the story spans the globe and time itself. Pitt and Bell, a century apart, race to solve a puzzle that could change the world.

Cold Storage, by David Koepp
Screenwriter David Koepp’s first novel is a tense thriller with a sci-fi edge that begins with Skylab crashing to Earth in 1979. The doomed satellite is carrying a mutated fungal organism previously sent into space for study. After the organism crashes down in Australia, it rapidly evolves into a sentient life form that sees every other living thing as food. In 1987, Defense Nuclear Agency operative USAF Maj. Roberto Diaz encounters the horrifying creature after it destroys a remote Australian community, and just barely manages to contain it, burying its last remnant underneath a military installation in Kansas. But then, in 2019, Diaz is woken up by a call he’s been dreading for more than 20 years, telling him the organism may have escaped. Diaz races to Kansas and into a desperate struggle to save every living thing on Earth from certain doom, even a security guard who goes by the nickname Teacake and a single mother named Naomi—employees of that ill-fated rural storage facility—face the terror on a much more intimate level. Unsurprisingly, considering the pedigree of its author (the screenplays for Jurassic Park and Spider-Man, for starters), this 2019 Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers selection unfolds with the furious fun of a summer blockbuster—and more than a few nods to the science-minded thrillers of the late Michael Crichton.

The Chestnut Man, by Søren Sveistrup
Søren Sveistrup, the man behind the global TV phenomenon The Killing, delivers a debut thriller with just as much grim, violent style. When a serial killer who brutally dismembers his victims—and leaves dolls made from chestnuts and matchsticks behind—strikes Copenhagen, ambitious detective Naia Thulin is paired with run-down, middle-aged Mark Hess. When a fingerprint on one the of the “chestnut men” matches the daughter of a politician who disappeared the year before, the case leaps into overdrive. The two mismatched detectives must navigate their own personal limitations while doing the hard work of sifting clues, red herrings, and horrifying crime scenes that ramp up the terrifying tension. (This one is also a Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers pick for the fall.)

29 Seconds, by T.M. Logan
Logan’s newest asks a simple, terrible question: if, with one 29-second phone call, you could make a person disappear—with zero consequences to yourself—would you do it? That’s the question before Sarah Haywood, a literature professor at Queen Anne’s University in London. Sarah suffers under the sexual harassment of her department head, famed academic and author Alan Hawthorne. Hawthorne’s ability to bring money and publicity to the school means his behavior towards his fellow employees is tolerated or even ignored, and as he grows increasingly aggressive and violent, Sarah sees not just her career but her sanity slipping away. After she rescues a young boy from a terrible situation, by acting on pure instinct, Sarah learns the boy’s father is a man with dark resources and a wicked sense of gratitude; he gives Sarah a burner phone and tells her he owes her a favor. All she has to do is make one short call, give a name, and he’ll ensure person will disappear. Sarah gives in to her most desperate self and gives Hawthorne’s name—but unfortunately, she’ll soon discover there’s no such thing as “zero consequences.”

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