I don’t often give a book 5 stars. That honor is reserved for the few books that truly have it all; the ones you can’t forget. A 5-star book transports you to another world, another place or time, and always leaves you craving more. Below are the five 5-star conspiracy thrillers I can’t stop thinking about.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In the tradition of The Girl on the Train, The Silent Wife, and Gone Girl comes an enthralling psychological thriller that spins one woman’s seemingly good fortune, and another woman’s mysterious fate, through a kaleidoscope of duplicity, death, and deception.
Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.
The request seems odd, even intrusive—and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.
Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does.
After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space—and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before.
“The Girl Before is deservedly anointed the ‘top girl’ of this season’s suspense novels.”—The Washington Post
The seventh book in the gripping technothriller series, Spies Lie, perfect for fans who love Robert Ludlum, Lee Child, and Barry Eisler.
She is a CypherGhost: An untraceable hacker, someone who can be anywhere and do anything using a computer. Can an aircraft be hacked? Can a human being be hacked? Don’t be so sure…
When Ann Silbey Sashakovich enters Stanford University to study computer forensics, she gets far more than she expected. During the Thanksgiving holiday of her freshman year, Ann finds that the aircraft she is a passenger on has been hacked. Its engines have stopped and everyone aboard is screaming.
When Charlette De Spain’s boyfriend is falsely accused of stealing secrets from the FBI and dies in prison under mysterious circumstance, it changes her life. Once an Art History major, now a budding computer hacker, Charlette gathers the proof that her boyfriend was innocent. When no one pays attention, she decides to become jury and executioner for all those responsible.
However, the aircraft carrying one of Charlette’s primary targets also carries Ann.
In an America whose government is silently at war with its hackers, who prevails and who fails isn’t limited to the two young battling women, but might also involve the fate of the entire nation.
“DS Kane, without a doubt, is a great storyteller… a highly recommended read for the lovers of popular thrillers”. —Mystery Tribune
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER – An addictive new novel of psychological suspense from the author of #1 New York Times bestseller and global phenomenon The Girl on the Train.
A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.
Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.
With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.
Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.
“Hawkins is at the forefront of a group of female authors – think Gillian Flynn and Megan Abbott – who have reinvigorated the literary suspense novel by tapping a rich vein of psychological menace and social unease… there’s a certain solace to a dark escape, in the promise of submerged truths coming to light.” —Vogue
A Masterful Hollywood Mystery that is sure to grip any reader and keep them thoroughly guessing until the end.
Sophia Donovan has it all: a beautiful home in the Hollywood Hills, a successful career at a high-profile celebrity magazine, amazing friends, and she is married to one of the hottest Hollywood Directors of the time. Things between her and her husband Marcus aren’t perfect, but after 11 years what marriage is? But, if the secrets that lay behind the walls of the Donovan home were ever exposed, life would never be the same for anyone.
When an unexpected visitor from Sophia’s past shows up, she is forced to come to terms with her suspicions. As Sophia unravels the truth about the people closest to her, it quickly becomes clear that fighting to save her marriage won’t be nearly as important as fighting to save her life.
“Beyond the Red Carpet is an action-packed, well-written Hollywood mystery, a modern story reminiscent of Harold Robbins’ and Jacqueline Susann’s classics.” —Book Addict
This well paced thriller has a mix of history dating back to the Hitler years in Nuremberg, suspense, and a shocking ending. If you like action, history, and a real sense of place and time, you will love this book!
Sean Ryan discovers a terrifying conspiracy to rid Germany of its refugees. After flying to Nuremberg, he sees blood on its streets, and anger boiling over.
An old friend in the city, Eleni Kibre, tells him about the anti-refugee groups spreading fast across Germany. An hour after he leaves her she is murdered. The police arrive at Sean’s hotel to question him. He was the last person to see her alive. Then Eleni’s partner goes missing.
Can Sean stop a new genocide, or will he too become a victim?
Hatred of foreigners has been buried for decades in Europe, but not deep enough. Long lost letters from Pope Pius XII to Adolf Hitler, which the Vatican is willing to do anything to retrieve, are the final pieces of this truly shocking puzzle, which Sean must solve before a modern genocide is released on the world.
“Another great book by a up and coming superstar — I have read all of the Laurence O’Bryan Puzzle” books…I love the way he weaves factual history into current fictional situations.” —Gloria Antypowich
To receive a free ebook copy of The Nuremberg Puzzle please click here.
1 THE OWNER HAS LEFT THE BUILDING
DR JONATHAN CHASELING – young, bearded and hipsterish-looking – navigated his car around ruts and potholes on a relentlessly straight, orange-red dirt track stretching away to infinity. Up ahead he saw a lone tree, a ghost gum with thin, white branches reaching for the sky like skeletal hands.
A few minutes later, he parked near the tree, which was growing in a hollow beside the track. There was no mobile reception here, so he couldn’t take a GPS fix or use Google Maps, but the tree ghost gum was a landmark that would help him find his way back to the car, a RAV4, normally white but now coated with red dust.
A 26-year-old medical graduate on his way to Alice Springs to start a hospital job, Chaseling had detoured off the main highway to check out this place. It was renowned for marine fossils – a legacy of the time, aeons ago, when this part of Australia was covered by a vast inland sea. He got out of the car and walked into the scrub.
Taking a weaving course round scattered patches of saltbush, he kept his eyes to the ground, which was littered with small pieces of flat, rust-coloured sandstone. Every now and then he stopped to pick up a rock and look at it, turning it over in his hand, hoping to see the form of a trilobite or other long-extinct species.
He’d been walking for about 10 minutes when he saw a flat slab of stone, almost a metre long, distinctive because it was the only large rock he’d seen since leaving the track. Chaseling bent down and gripped the edge of the slab. He gave an experimental tug but it didn’t budge. Then he shifted his right foot forward to give his body some leverage and put his back into the job, hauling upwards with both hands. There was a sucking noise as the slab came away from the damp earth beneath.
Holding the rock on its edge, he looked down at the patch of dirt he’d revealed – and noticed something white and rounded protruding from it. An ancient sea shell, perhaps. He set the slab down off to the side. Then he started scraping away the ochre dirt with a finger-length, sharp-edged piece of flint that had been underneath the rock. He gave a gasp. Staring up at him was the eye socket of a human skull.
His hands shaking, he uncovered the other socket, which like the first was filled with compacted ochre dirt. Next he scratched away the earth over the mouth, revealing a perfect set of teeth. Probably an Aborigine from the times before white settlement, Chaseling thought to himself. The teeth seemed to be grinning at him. He looked down at the piece of flint in his hand. It was a dark tan colour, very different in shade and composition to the other rocks in this area. And the picture became clear. This had been the dead person’s prized knife and it had gone to the grave with him. Or possibly her, although judging by the large size of the skull and teeth, it had most likely been an adult male.
Now he knew what to look for, he could see the shape of a rib cage in the dirt. And his eyes were drawn to something else. A small, disc-shaped object the size of a dried apricot, but thicker. It was caked with earth like chocolate on a Kinder
Surprise egg. He picked it up – it was heavy, some kind of rock – and scratched at the dirt with the piece of flint. There was a flash of phosphorescent colour. Opal! His heart started thumping with excitement.
As he uncovered more of the precious stone, he saw that it had raised, spiral ridges radiating out from its centre. It glittered with a kaleidoscope of hues – now emerald green, now a brilliant magenta morphing into electric blue, each shade burning with a fire from deep within the rock. He uncapped his water bottle and rinsed the stone. He thought how 100 million years ago or even earlier, a marine snail – an ancestor of the modern-day nautilus – had lived and died in a primeval sea bed. Its shell became filled with silica-rich mud and fragments of marine life. And after the sea retreated, the contents of the shell gradually transformed into a gem which shimmered with the green of long extinct seaweeds, the blue of ancient fish scales, the iridescent purple of giant sea urchin spines and the brilliant red and orange of prehistoric jellyfish. It could well be worth of a fortune.
Chaseling put the flint back down where he’d found it. After a few moments’ hesitation, he placed the opal in the pocket of his cargo shorts. It won’t be missed, the voice of his shadowy other self whispered inside his head. The previous owner has left the building. He scooped up some dirt and covered first the grinning mouth, then the eyes and nose socket of the long-buried skull.
February 25, 6:56 a.m. First Basement, Lubyanka Prison, Moscow, Russia
Ann Silbey Sashakovich sat on the ice-cold gray concrete shelf in the prison cell the guards had tossed her into. She had landed as if she were a rag doll, hitting the concrete floor and bouncing against the wall. She rubbed the spot on her left shoulder that had taken the brunt of the landing. The damage was just one big black-and-blue mark, but she was otherwise okay. She was soon shivering, staring into the single bulb’s light, too dim to make it possible to examine the spartan features of the cell.
She could tell that there was no real mattress. She saw only a piece of olive-drab threadbare cloth, draped over what would serve as a cot if she lived long enough to need sleep. The teenager rubbed her shoulder again. She felt a twinge as she remembered how a guard had dragged her body from the lobby down the stone staircase to the first basement. She had bounced off each slab of chipped concrete, and the snorkel parka she had worn was now ripped to shreds where the guard had grabbed her. Ann was five-feet-four inches tall and weighed less than one hundred and twenty pounds.
That wasn’t a fair fight, she thought. And this wasn’t even the worst that had happened to her.
July 20, 2015 – And So It Begins
As she sat and stared out the window of her immaculately kept bedroom, Sophia Donovan studied each raindrop sliding down the glass against a dark sky. The silence around her was overwhelming, but at the same time it was a sound she welcomed more now, more today, than ever in her life. Vivid memories of the last eleven years were etched wildly in every corner of her mind as if a movie projector was going through reels of the story unfolding on a screen. Every flash of desire, happiness, sadness, anger, fear, hope, doubt and realization resurfaced, and she replayed every decision she’d ever made, every motive she’d had for her choices, and she wondered: Am I doing the right thing?
“It’s really quite strange,” she thought silently to herself. “Should I be scared? Or should I feel guilty?” She thought the answers should be obvious, but, oddly, she felt neither of these emotions. What she did feel, looking around the room at the perfectly made bed, the impeccable closet filled with designer shoes, clothes and jewelry, and the beautifully hung art clinging to the walls, was calm. Relieved, even. None of it made sense, but all she could think was: there’s no turning back now. What’s done is done. Sophia wondered suddenly if something was wrong with her. Perhaps she was in shock?
The once-silence that surrounded her suddenly seemed to become loud voices echoing in the darkness, and the giant walls of the luxurious Master seemed to be all of a sudden closing in around her, making it somewhat hard to catch her breath. Sophia stood up quickly from the bench seat overlooking the garden. As she paced back and forth, still gasping for breath, Sophia wondered if she was, in fact, having a nightmare.
She ran to the bathroom and leaned over the sink and started splashing her now-sweaty face with ice-cold water, in hopes that it would somehow wake her. To no avail. She stepped back into the bedroom and frantically circled, like a dog trying to find a comfortable position to sleep. “I’m doing the right thing, I’m doing the right thing,” she repeated over and over. Her pacing brought her to her husband’s side of the bed. As quickly as the panic had come, it was gone again. Calmly, she softly kissed her fingers and placed them on the cold, blood-splattered forehead of the man who, only a half hour earlier, laid peacefully sleeping, unaware that his wife was standing over him, pointing a gun directly at his face.
“I am so sorry, my love, “she whispered softly. “I had no choice.”
Special Agent Gracie Stratis sat up straight in the passenger seat, her hands cold and damp. Her right fingers slowly worked the beads between thumb and pointer. The smooth orbs radiated warmth from the trip in her pocket. She was careful to keep them out of the driver’s line of sight, hidden behind her right leg. Special Agent Charles Davis drove the Ford Crown Vic, and she wanted to keep this little crutch to herself.
“What do you have in your right hand?” Charles said.
Damn, he was observant. “Keepsake.” She held them up for Charles to see. A loop of black woven cotton strung with round beads; one was ornate silver and the rest were glossy olive wood. Dots of red paint still clung to the smooth wood in places.
Charles glanced at her from under his gold-rimmed aviators. “Ah, komboloi. I was in Greece for a while. They love those things there. You Greek?”
Gracie shook her head, watching the road ahead. “No. My dad brought them back with him from Rhodes when I was a girl.”
“Your dad in the foreign service?” Charles said.
Gracie turned her attention to the world outside the passenger window. She watched the strip malls pass by. These had never been things of beauty. After years of use, they were now a refuge for struggling businesses. Peeling paint, signs with missing letters, and a good sprinkling of rust. These were the up-and-comers, wannabes, never-beens, and has-beens. And plenty of parking. The lectric Was land had seen better days. The Pump N Munch got right down to it. Fred’s elf Storage probably couldn’t fulfill on its promise. In big letters, Capital Buffet boasted Always Open, and just below hung a sign that read Closed.
“No, he wasn’t in the service,” Gracie said. She turned back to Charles. “What should we expect when we get to the house?” Gracie’s skin tingled and the dampness on her palms persisted. She flexed her hands. First the left then the right. Grateful for the strength of what was only a fractionally faded youth. Thirty still felt young. She leaned her head back against the headrest, projecting outward calm. A rookie in complete control. Ready to bust some serious trouble right in the mouth.
The day was gonna be piss-awful. As soon as Brandon P Marshall woke up, he could tell. For an eighteen-year-old male with hormones running rampant, that wasn’t exactly new, but this time, the forewarning had seemed a whole order of magnitude different. The headache hadn’t helped either. It had centred on his left temple with the combined tenacity of a thundercloud and a nest of angry bees.
Whichever way he moved, the cloud blackened and the buzzing intensified. An attempted tug on his morning woody had made the bees fucking angry. It was also a Monday, which meant boring classes and jerk teachers who treated him like shit. Even the sunlight hurt. The sound of the Marshall family in the kitchen rattled him, too.
At times like these, he contemplated revenge for being brought into the frigging awful world. He’d devised a wide repertoire to choose from, ranging from the teasingly psychological to the daringly physical. To go downstairs naked with his woody exposed wasn’t something that could be done often, but it was worth it for the look on his mom’s face.
His dad threatened him with a beating but he’d chickened out at the last moment. Such a fucking wimp. And Brandon had a bigger dick than his dad anyway. Another favourite included emptying a box of roaches on the kitchen floor. A plague of locusts was also on his list but that was a tad too biblical.
Higher up the scale, it got seriously messy and terminal. To be brutally honest—as opposed to honestly brutal (hah!)—he still preferred shock and awe rather than shots and gore. After all, with dead people, there was no turning back. Somewhere towards the top was cyanide gas, but getting potassium cyanide out of the chem lab would take a lot of planning. And then there was the hazard of crime labs and toxicology, which would screw his chances once and for all.
But, something about that particular morning made him think a final solution was required. Perhaps it had to do with the noise that came from downstairs; Dwayne, Debra and Rebekah, all aged one, were doing their best to out-screech each other, with the occasional random, futile interjection from his mom. Why the hell had she wanted more kids after so many years? Then, to add insult to injury, out had popped three. And three times loud is FUCKING LOUD. Somehow, his dad just sat through it, as if he’d gone deaf overnight. As usual, he’d be reading the Kansas City Star over his breakfast cereal and pretending it was The New York Times. He was such a fucking jackoff.
Brandon’s cell phone rang with its irritating wake-up call. It wasn’t just your usual cell phone, but a 4G quad core with 2×2 MIMO to ensure maximum coverage. He’d bought that after months as a part-time cook at KFC, during which he’d put on thirty pounds. The phone was said to be ‘state of the art’. Great, he thought, except when he tried saying that out aloud just then, he heard it as ‘fake of the fart’, which wasn’t what he meant at all.
Shit, my brain is getting rambled … no, no, scrambled. What the fuck is going on? Brain humour… tumour… Shit! I’m dying! Nothing to lose, then.