Five Thrillers for the Summer

By Jeff AyersJune 27, 2012

Five Thrillers for the Summer

Strong at the Break
Murder One
Inmate 1557
You're Next
Buried Secrets

The Law One:
Robert Dugoni, Murder One


One of the best legal thriller writers in the business today is Robert Dugoni. His main character is an attorney named David Sloane who fights for the Davids against the Goliaths of the world. Sloane can’t let injustice win. Murder One has Sloane in despair over the murder of his wife. He’s back at work, hoping diving back into the paperwork and legal battles will get him feeling normal again. He doesn’t expect to find love again, especially from a woman who had been his adversary in the past. Barclay Reid soon provides the comfort he had been so desperately seeking. The situation turns when Reid is accused of murdering a drug dealer responsible for her daughter’s death. Sloane has never handled a murder case before, and the stakes are higher because he cares for his client. Dugoni knows the legal world well and produces a complicated puzzle that will resonate with fans of Grisham, and provide a jolt of adrenaline.

High Tech:
Joseph Finder, Buried Secrets


A parent’s worst nightmare is the disappearance of their child. What makes it worse for the father, Marshall Marcus, in Buried Secrets by Joseph Finder is the knowledge she’s been kidnapped and buried alive in a coffin with a video camera so he can watch her suffer until he pays the ransom. He asks his friend former intelligence operative Nick Heller to rescue her. Heller can’t refuse. When the ransom demand arrives, it’s not for money, but information. Surprisingly, Marcus refuses to comply. Heller is forced to investigate his friend as well while running against the clock and a madman to rescue the girl. Finder has created a wonderful investigator in Heller along with a baffling mystery that readers will devour seeking answers. In the world of corporate and high tech thrillers, Finder has no equal.

Read It and Weep:
Gregg Hurwitz, You’re Next


When Mike Wingate was four years old, he was dropped off at a playground by his parents. He watched his dad drive away after promising to pick him up in a bit. He never returned. Wingate grew up in foster care, always wondering why he was abandoned. Happily married with an eight-year-old daughter, Wingate finally feels like he can put the past behind him and forget. But when he starts receiving threats, he realizes the intimidation lies in his past, and something he doesn’t remember. In Gregg Hurwitz’s You’re Next, the police don’t believe Wingate’s story, so he is forced to seek help from a friend he knew from childhood to uncover answers. Hurwitz forces the reader to question the true meaning of family and get emotionally involved with Wingate and his plight. Hurwitz was a consulting producer and writer for the ABC television series, V. While that was a fun show, his best writing exposes suburbia in the vein of Harlan Coben. Try finishing You’re Next without crying.

Alan Jacobson, Inmate 1557


Serial killer novels seem to be all the rage since James Patterson sold his millionth book. The best writer in the genre currently is Alan Jacobson, and his novels starring FBI profiler Karen Vail are stellar in every way. Inmate 1577 begins in 1955 with the shocking murder of a mother, witnessed by her young son. The police immediately zero in on the father, Walton MacNally, and he goes on trial. Exonerated, MacNally tries to raise his son while dealing with a community that believes in his guilt. Unable to find a job, he takes his son and heads to another town. In the present, Karen Vail is investigating the murders of elderly people who have ties to Alcatraz when it was a federal penitentiary. Vail must utilize all of her training and superior intellect to stop a killer from striking again. When the past and present collide, things will never be the same. Jacobson has a talent for three-dimensional characters, and the ability to manipulate the reader with jaw-dropping plot twists. Inmate 1577 is the fourth appearance of Karen Vail, and the best.

Western Flavored:
Jon Land, Strong At The Break


Thrillers share many elements with westerns and Jon Land has mixed them to great effect with his novels starring female Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong. Strong at the Break forces her to deal with cases that have personal ramifications. When she was a little girl, she watched her Ranger father gun down the leader of a separatist church. The son watched his father die and now grown, has a bold plan to start a second civil war. The only person in his way is Caitlin. In addition, the son of Caitlin’s boyfriend, Cort Wesley Masters, has been kidnapped across the Mexican border. With high stakes both personally and professionally, Caitlin is forced to ask assistance from one of the most wanted men in both Mexico and the United States. The action is relentless, and the story is riveting. Land is one of the best all-out action writers in the business, and his amalgam of modern day thriller and western is flat out terrific. Caitlin Strong is one of the best female protagonists out there and would transfer perfectly to film or television.

Recommended Reads:

LARB Contributor

Jeff Ayers is the author of Voyages Of Imagination: The Star Trek Fiction Companion. He regulary reviews for the Associated Press, Library Journal, and Booklist and interviews authors for LJ, Writer Magazine, and Author Magazine.


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