Barbara’s Picks (Jessica Barry, John Connolly, John Hart, Sandie Jones, & Denise Mina), Plus Big-Stakes Debuts, Big-Name Veterans, Domestic Chills, & More: Thriller Previews, Jun. 2020, Pt. 2 | Prepub Alert

Barry takes us on a wild ride with her second novel, while Connolly explains how his enduring Charlie Parker first got into the game. Hart exhibits his usual moral rigor in a thriller involving a Vietnam vet and his brother, accused of murder. Jones introduces two sisters to their half-sister, while in Mina’s new work, a woman seeks out her biological mother only to find that she was murdered. Plus a James Patterson doubleheader, veterans like Johansen and Woods, three high-print-run debuts, domestic suspense, and more.

Thriller Picks

Barry, Jessica. Don’t Turn Around. Harper. Jun. 2020. 400p. ISBN 9780062874863. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062874887. lrg. prnt. SUSPENSE
Barry follows up her attention-grabbing debut, Freefall, with two women, heretofore strangers, pursued on the bleak New cover of Hart's The UnwillingMexican backroads by a truck whose driver clearly means to deliver death. Both women have secrets, so which one is being targeted? Tough characters, wild ride; with a 100,000-copy first printing. 

Connolly, John. The Dirty South: A Thriller. Emily Bestler: Atria. Jun. 2020. 448p. ISBN 9781982127541. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781982127565. SUSPENSE
How did Connolly’s beloved Charlie Parker get his start? In 1999, the former NYPD detective is sitting in a jail cell in Arkansas, where young women are being brutally dispatched and the news suppressed. He’s mourning his wife and child and vengefully out to find their killer, but then his conscience takes an interesting swerve. With a 75,000-copy first printing.

Hart, John. The Unwilling. St. Martin’s. Jun. 2020. 384p. ISBN 9781250167729. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250167736. CD. THRILLER
Home from Vietnam followed by three years in prison, hardened Jason wants to reconnect with younger brother Gibby, so he invites him on an outing with two women and some whiskey. But when one of the women gets nasty with prisoners on a transfer bus they encounter and is later murdered—and the second woman kidnapped—the brothers becomes suspects, and Gibby must investigate Jason's dark, heroin- and gun-laced past. From the only author to win (deservedly) two best novel Edgars consecutively.

Jones, Sandie. The Half Sister. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Jun. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9781250265517. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250265524. CD. DOMESTICE THRILLER
Following The Other Woman, a New York Times best seller and Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club pick, Jones purveys cover of Jones's Half Sistera plotline that’s rife this year: hug-close sisters Kate and Lauren are enjoying their weekly lunch when a stranger named Jess arrives, claiming to be their half-sister. The difference: they’re not into embracing her (this is a thriller, after all), instead swiftly uncovering secrets and avenging the ruin of their illusions.     

Mina, Denise. The Less Dead. Mulholland: Little, Brown. Jun. 2020. 240p. ISBN 9780316528511. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780316528528. lib. ebk. ISBN 9780316537384. Downloadable. THRILLER
A Creasey/Theakstons/McIlvanney award-winning exemplar of Scottish noir, Mina returns after the juicily well-received Conviction with the travails of 30-plus Margot. She’s exhausted by her public-health job and rid of her cheating boyfriend, and she’s just lost her adoptive mother, which means she feels free to seek out her birth mother. Then she learns that her mother was murdered long ago and starts receiving sinister letters from the killer. 

Big-Stakes Newbies

Allott, Susan. The Silence. Morrow. May 2020. 304p. ISBN 9780062983558. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062983572. DOMESTIC THRILLER

Foley, Lucy. The Guest List. Morrow. May. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9780062868930. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062868954. lrg. prnt. cover of Kay's Seven LiesTHRILLER

Kay, Elizabeth. Seven Lies. Pamela Dorman: Viking. Jun. 2020. 352p. ISBN 9781984879714. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781984879721. lrg. prnt. Downloadable. SUSPENSE

In Allott’s The Silence, with her father suddenly accused of killing next-door-neighbor Mandy, who disappeared decades ago, Isla returns from 1997 England to Australia to investigate her family’s relationship with the neighbors and her home country’s dark colonial past (75,000-copy first printing). In Foley’s sophomore effort, The Guest List (following The Hunting Party) a rising TV-star groom and gung-ho magazine-publisher bride are getting married on an island off Ireland, but tensions are rising among the wedding party and someone ends up dead (100,000-copy first printing). In Kay’s Seven Lies, Jane just doesn’t like best friend Marnie’s stuck-up husband, but she keeps that quiet, which leads to lies, more lies, and trouble (100,000-copy first printing). 

Patterson Doubleheader

Patterson, James with Brendan DuBois. The Summer House. Little, Brown. Jun. 2020. 464p. ISBN 9780316539555. $28; ebk. ISBN cover of Patterson/Fox's Hush9780316539562. lib. ebk. ISBN 9780316539579. CD/downloadable. THRILLER

Patterson, James with Candace Fox. Hush. Grand Central. Jun. 2020. 384p. ISBN 9781538751169. $29; pap. ISBN 9781538751138; ebk. ISBN 9781538751152. lib. ebk. ISBN 9781538752258. lrg, prnt. CD/downloadable. THRILLER

Patterson and DuBois visit The Summer House, whose secrets explain the possibly army base–associated crime that small-town Georgia sheriff Emma Williams and Maj. Jeremiah Cook are investigating (500,000-copy first printing). Meanwhile, Patterson and Fox return in the simultaneous hard-soft Hush with former cop Harriet Blue, now in prison but with the deputy police commissioner willing to make a deal if she can find his missing daughter and grandchild (300,000-copy paperback first printing).

More Big-Name Veterans

del Toro, Guillermo & Chuck Hogan. The Hollow Ones. Grand Central. Jun. 2020. 400p. ISBN 9781538761748. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781538761731. lib. ebk. ISBN 9781538702833. CD/downloadable. SUPERNATURAL THRILLERcover of delToro/Hogan's The Hollow Ones

Griffin, W.E.B. & William E. Butterworth. The Attack. Putnam. Jun. 2020. 368p. ISBN 9780525541752. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780525541776. CD/downloadable. ACTION & ADVENTURE

Johansen, Iris. The Persuasion. Grand Central. Jun. 2020. 464p. ISBN 9781538762967. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781538762950. lib. ebk. ISBN 9781538702680. CD/downloadable. THRILLER

Maden, Mike. Tom Clancy Firing Point. Putnam. Jun. 2020. 480p. ISBN 9780593188064. $29; ebk. ISBN 9780593188088. CD/downloadable. THRILLER/MILITARY FICTION

Thor, Brad. Untitled 2020: A Thriller. Emily Bestler: Atria. Jun. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9781982104061. $28. THRILLER/POLITICAL

Woods, Stuart & Parnell Hall. Bombshell. Putnam. Jun. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9780593083253. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780593083277. CD/downloadable. THRILLER

Academy Award–winning director del Toro and Hammett Award winner Hogan offer the series-starting The Hollow Ones, with FBI agent Odessa Hardwicke devastated by having to kill a suddenly berserk colleague, then following the trail of the mysterious, reputedly centuries-old John Silence, who could save humanity (200,000-copy first printing). With The Attack, Griffin and son offer the next in their New York Times best-selling “Badge of Honor” series, with Philadelphia homicide sergeant Matt Payne sure he knows who killed the suburban high school cheerleader found floating in the Delaware…but maybe not (originally scheduled for August 2019). In The Persuasion, Johansen stalwart Eve Duncan joins with love interest Seth Caleb to counter the crazed killer targeting her daughter (125,000-copy first printing). In Tom Clancy Firing Point, Maden returns with Jack Ryan Jr., who can’t save a friend he’s just reencountered when a suicide bombing demolishes a Barcelona café but takes her last, whispered word as a directive. Thor’s Untitled brings back bright-eyed Navy SEAL–turned–Secret Service agent Scot Harvath (500,000-copy first printing). Finally, Woods and Parnell drop a Bombshell, with CIA operative–turned–movie producer Teddy Fay scrambling to end nasty gossip about a rising Hollywood star while facing someone who bears him a grudge—violently.

No Married Bliss Here

Belle, Kimberly. Stranger in the Lake. Park Row: Harlequin. Jun. 2020. 352p. ISBN 9780778388104. $28.99; pap. ISBN cover of Campbell's The Wife Who Knew Too Much9780778309819. $17.99. THRILLER/PSYCHOLOGICAL

Campbell, Michele. The Wife Who Knew Too Much. St.Martin’s. Jun. 2020. 352p. ISBN 9781250202550. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250202567. CD. SUSPENSE

Hall, Araminta. Three Small Sorrows. MCD: Farrar. Jun. 2020. 304p ISBN 9780374272586. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780374718008. CD. SUSPENSE

Parks, Adele. Lies, Lies, Lies. Mira: Harlequin. Jun. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9780778388142. $28.99; pap.  9780778360889. $17.99. DOMESTIC THRILLER

Rising-star Belle gives us newly married Charlotte, who nervously notices inconsistencies in husband Paul’s account of events surrounding the Stranger in the Lake, a murdered female reporter who was investigating a long-ago missing-persons case (100,000-copy paperback first printing). Best-selling author Campbell’s Tabitha Girard is also getting nervous; did Connor Ford, with whom she’s worshipfully reconnected after a distant summer fling, murder his spouse-of-convenience—The Wife Who Knew Too Much—as a diary she’s found seems to suggest? In Hall’s Three Small Sorrows, from the author of the best-booked Our Kind of Cruelty, comfortably married Nancy Hennessy has been murdered without ever having revealed the name of her secret lover to friends Eleanor and Mary, who task themselves with finding the killer as they unknot their relationship witg Nancy. Following I Invited Her In, Parks’s Lies, Lies, Lies features new mother Daisy, whose heavy-drinking husband has just spun out of control at a party (100,000-copy paperback first printing).

More Domestic Chills

Barnett, S.K. Safe. Dutton. Jun. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9781524746520. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781524746544. Downloadable. SUSPENSEcover of Barnett's Safe

Carter, A.F. All of Us. Mysterious: Grove Atlantic. Jun. 2020. 208p. ISBN 9780802149435. $26. SUSPENSE

Laurin, Nina. A Woman Alone. Grand Central. Jun. 2020. 368p. ISBN 9781538715765. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781538715758. lib. ebk. ISBN 9781538715741. Downloadable. PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER

Vaughan, Sarah. Little Disasters. Emily Bestler: Atria. Jun. 2020. 432p. ISBN 9781501172236. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781501172243. CD. PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER

In a new work from Barnett, a pseudonymous New York Times best-selling author, Jenny Kristal may be home after 12 years, having been kidnapped at age six, but where she’s been, why she’s back, and whether anyone is now Safe are questions beginning to bubble. In Carter’s All of Us, Carolyn Grand is inhabited by six personalities (e.g., well-managed Victoria, promiscuous Eleni) as a result of childhood sexual abuse and is now being stalked by her abuser, just released from prison. No details yet on Laurin’s A Woman Alone, following the best-selling Girl Last Seen, but there’s a 100,000-copy first printing. Finally, in Vaughan’s Little Disasters, even as pediatrician Liz Trenchard suspects a wealthy stay-at-home mom of abusing her ten-month-old, she recalls how her own mother’s neglect led to a tragedy regarding her brother—and wasn’t there once a baby in the family?

More Top Thrillers

Bell, David. The Request. Berkley. Jun. 2020. 416p. ISBN 9780440000891. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780440000914. Downloadable. cover of Scott's Lost RiverSUSPENSE

Hoffman, Patrick. Clean Hands. Atlantic Monthly. Jun. 2020. 288p. ISBN 9780802129536. $26. THRILLER

Pepper, David. The Voter File. Putnam. Jun. 2020. 432p. ISBN 9780593083932. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780593083949. Downloadable. THRILLER

Scott, J. Todd. Lost River. Putnam. Jun. 2020. 448p. ISBN 9780735212947. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780735212954. Downloadable. THRILLER

Young, Heather. The Distant Dead. Morrow. Jun. 2020. 352p. ISBN 9780062690814. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062690838. THRILLER

In the USA Today best-selling Bell's The Request, Blake threatens to reveal a secret friend Ryan guards closely unless he steals evidence of Blake’s affair from a woman Ryan then finds dead, leaving him to wonder why Blake set him up for murder. In Clean Hands, from CWA Steel Dagger finalist Hoffman, secret documents regarding a New York law firm’s critical defense of a bank have been lifted from a lost cell phone, and firm bigwig Elizabeth Carlyle must join forces with former CIA officer Valencia Walker to undo the damage. In Wingman author Pepper’s The Voter File, troublemaking investigative reporter Jack Sharpe is back, fired from his national news job and checking out a graduate student’s claims about voter fraud in a local election. In veteran DEA federal agent Scott’s Kentucky-set Lost River, following This Side of Midnight, a DEA agent, a young medic-in-training, and a former police chief Trey struggle with various aspects of the opioid epidemic. Finally, in The Distant Dead, following Young’s Strand Critics Award–winning debut, The Lost Girls, a small Nevada town deals with fallout from the horrific murder of a local math teacher (50,000-copy first printing). 


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Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Book Review; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president of the National Book Critics Circle, to which she has just been reelected.

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