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crime/suspense fiction

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The Fear Index by Robert Harris

Over a span of 24 hours, brilliant, yet eccentric, physicist Alex Hoffman suspects that he is losing his mind. He can’t remember sending ominous emails supposedly sent by him. People die. He is brutally assaulted. And Alex might be the cause of cataclysmic worldwide stock market crash that threatens global financial institutions. He’s invented a computer algorithm that begins to “think” for itself (and the fortunate few investors who have thrown their cash in Alex’s direction), starts to move the markets and doesn’t care what the collateral damage might be. Can it be stopped?

The Protector by David Morrell

A great story, especially one with this much action, requires suspension of the reader's disbelief. I realized how skilled Morrell is in accomplishing that effect, at least in this reader, when I turned to my wife and said, "Have you ever been reading a book that is so exciting that you realize you have been holding your breath?" This is not a new book, but it sure still packs a punch.

The Gingerbread Girl by Stephen King

This is an audiobook release of a novella from King's 2008 collection, Just After Sunset. It is only two CDs but it feels like a longer story because he packs so much suspense in so few words. Narrator Mare Winningham conveys just enough emotion and mood, without overdramatizing a story that is exciting and - at times - lurid enough based just on the words. Like any great melodrama, you wonder how much more your "hero" can take, as challenges and disasters pile up, but you root for her to rise to every one and come out stronger.

The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer

Do you ever think you are paranoid?  If so, try being a tourist.  Milo Weaver used to be a tourist, one of the CIA's special field agents without a home or a name.

The Glass Demon by Helen Grant

Lin Fox and the rest of her family are uprooted from their life in England and dropped into the dark depths of a German forest by her father's obsessive quest for fame as a medieval scholar.  Oliver Fox is searching for the fabled Allerheiligen Glass, astonishingly beautiful stained glass windows, said to be haunted by the demon Bonschariant.  What starts as a conventional mystery with an elderly farmer found dead in his apple orchard rapidly turns into a dark gothic fairy tale of murder and madness. A dark and twisty tale worthy of the Brothers Grimm.

The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection by Alexander McCall Smith

Another keenly insightful yet forgiving character study disguised as a mystery, by Alexander McCall Smith. This series of novels featuring private detective Mma Ramotswe of Botswana are thoroughly charming, in the best sense of the word. Each book manages to incorporate at least one or two pithy life lessons that you can apply to your own ordinary American life.

The Innocent by David Baldacci

Can a cold-blooded killer be a sympathetic character?  If he’s the hero in a David Baldacci novel, the answer is yes.  This is so episodic that it could be called “a chapter book for grownups.”  The dust jacket calls Will Robie a “hit man,” but “government operative” is more accurate.  Robie’s moral dilemmas are just as compelling as his adventures, and I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next.  A fast and rewarding read. 

Archive 17 by Sam Eastland

Our story starts with Russia on the verge of bankruptcy and Stalin looking for a way out of ruin.  In his desperation, Stalin sends Inspector Pekkala in search of Tsar Nicholas’ legendary missing gold.  Pekkala returns to Eastland’s pages for the third time in this adventure taking place in a fledgling Soviet Union.  Eastland is able to portray the friction and intrigue between the various factions playing for power in a young Russia.  Pekkala is a great character and Eastland an excellent storyteller.

The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man by Mark Hodder.

Continuing and expanding on the adventure, steampunkery and general Victorian madness of The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack Hodder’s protagonists Sir Francis Burton and his assistant poet Algernon Swinburne deal with catastrophic threats to "life as we know it". A seemingly routine robbery leads to a dubious claim on an aristocrat’s estate and quickly morphs into wraith-induced rioting in the streets of London.

Headhunters by Jo Nesbo

Roger Brown is a corporate headhunter and he is at the top of his game.  Roger Brown is also an art thief and in this he might not be at the top of his game.  In this standalone novel from the author who has brought us detective Harry Hole, we meet a man living beyond his means and trying to get by with just a little crime.  Our protagonist meets Clas Greve, who just might be the solution to all of Brown’s problems:  the perfect CEO and an art collector.  As we know, things are not always as easy as they appear…

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