The Real Book Spy’s November 2021 Reading Guide
It’s beginning to look a lot like . . .
Actually, for thriller fans, the more appropriate holiday song might actually be It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year when you consider just how stacked November is. There aren’t a ton of new releases this month, but almost every book coming out is noteworthy, headlined by some of the biggest names in the industry. Authors like Janet Evanovich, Michael Connelly, James Patterson, David Baldacci, and more.
As always, we’ve highlighted a few standout titles as this month’s Features Selection. See those picks, and everything else hitting bookstores in the coming weeks, below.
Tuesday, November 2nd
Stephanie Plum returns to hunt down a new kind of criminal operating out of Trenton in the 28th book in the wildly popular series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich.
When Stephanie Plum is woken up in the middle of the night by the sound of footsteps in her apartment, she wishes she didn’t keep her gun in the cookie jar in her kitchen. And when she finds out the intruder is fellow apprehension agent Diesel, six feet of hard muscle and bad attitude who she hasn’t seen in more than two years, she still thinks the gun might come in handy.
Turns out Diesel and Stephanie are on the trail of the same fugitive: Oswald Wednesday, an international computer hacker as brilliant as he is ruthless. Stephanie may not be the most technologically savvy sleuth, but she more than makes up for that with her dogged determination, her understanding of human nature, and her willingness to do just about anything to bring a fugitive to justice. Unsure if Diesel is her partner or her competition in this case, she’ll need to watch her back every step of the way as she sets the stage to draw Wednesday out from behind his computer and into the real world.
Tuesday, November 9th
Never by Ken Follett
The new must-read epic from master storyteller Ken Follett: more than a thriller, it’s an action-packed, globe-spanning drama set in the present day.
“A compelling story, and only too realistic.” —Lawrence H. Summers, former U.S. Treasury Secretary
“Every catastrophe begins with a little problem that doesn’t get fixed.” So says Pauline Green, president of the United States, in Follett’s nerve-racking drama of international tension.
A shrinking oasis in the Sahara Desert; a stolen US Army drone; an uninhabited Japanese island; and one country’s secret stash of deadly chemical poisons: all these play roles in a relentlessly escalating crisis.
Struggling to prevent the outbreak of world war are a young woman intelligence officer; a spy working undercover with jihadists; a brilliant Chinese spymaster; and Pauline herself, beleaguered by a populist rival for the next president election.
Never is an extraordinary novel, full of heroines and villains, false prophets and elite warriors, jaded politicians and opportunistic revolutionaries. It brims with cautionary wisdom for our times, and delivers a visceral, heart-pounding read that transports readers to the brink of the unimaginable.
A brazen, methodical killer strikes on New Year’s Eve and LAPD detective Renée Ballard and Harry Bosch must join forces to find justice for the victim in a city scarred by fear and social unrest.
There’s chaos in Hollywood at the end of the New Year’s Eve countdown. Working her graveyard shift, LAPD detective Renée Ballard waits out the traditional rain of lead as hundreds of revelers shoot their guns into the air. Only minutes after midnight, Ballard is called to a scene where a hardworking auto shop owner has been fatally hit by a bullet in the middle of a crowded street party.
Ballard quickly concludes that the deadly bullet could not have fallen from the sky and that it is linked to another unsolved murder—a case at one time worked by Detective Harry Bosch. At the same time, Ballard hunts a fiendish pair of serial rapists, the Midnight Men, who have been terrorizing women and leaving no trace.
Determined to solve both cases, Ballard feels like she is constantly running uphill in a police department indelibly changed by the pandemic and recent social unrest. It is a department so hampered by inertia and low morale that Ballard must go outside to the one detective she can count on: Harry Bosch. But as the two inexorable detectives work together to find out where old and new cases intersect, they must constantly look over their shoulders. The brutal predators they are tracking are ready to kill to keep their secrets hidden.
Unfolding with unstoppable drive and nail-biting intrigue, The Dark Hours shows that “relentless on their own, Ballard’s and Bosch’s combined skills…could be combustible” (Los Angeles Times).
A Christmas Legacy by Anne Perry
Thomas and Charlotte Pitt’s former maid takes a new job as Christmas approaches—but not everyone in the household may survive the holidays in this tension-filled novel from bestselling author Anne Perry.
“Perry’s Victorian-era holiday mysteries [are] an annual treat.”—The Wall Street Journal
After leaving her position with Charlotte and Thomas Pitt to get married, Gracie thought her days as a maid were behind her. But when her good friend’s daughter, Millie, turns up on her doorstep just before the holidays, frantic because things are going missing from the kitchen in the household she serves, Gracie knows she has to find out what is happening. Millie, whose mother died years before, can’t risk being accused of theft and getting thrown out on the street, with no character references for a new position.
So Gracie takes on Millie’s job herself, claiming Millie is sick and needs a few days to recuperate. At first, it seems that all is normal in the household, even if the couple’s elderly granny keeps entirely to her bedroom upstairs. But Gracie begins to realize that Granny is suffering from neglect—and rather than helping her, the husband and wife have decided she isn’t dying fast enough.
Tuesday, November 16th
Mercy by David Baldacci
FBI Agent Atlee Pine’s harrowing search for her long-lost sister Mercy reaches a boiling point in this breakneck thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci.
For her entire life, FBI agent Atlee Pine has been searching for her twin sister, Mercy, who was abducted at the age of six and never seen again. Mercy’s disappearance left behind a damaged family that later shattered beyond repair when Atlee’s parents inexplicably abandoned her.
Now, after a perilous investigation that nearly proved fatal, Atlee has finally discovered not only the reason behind her parents’ abandonment and Mercy’s kidnapping, but also the most promising breakthrough yet: proof that Mercy survived her abduction and then escaped her captors many years ago.
Though Atlee is tantalizingly close to her family at last, the final leg of her long road to Mercy will be the most treacherous yet. Mercy left at least one dead body behind before fleeing her captors years before. Atlee has no idea if her sister is still alive, and if so, how she has been surviving all this time. When the truth is finally revealed, Atlee Pine will face the greatest danger yet, and it may well cost her everything.
Tom Clancy Chain of Command by Marc Cameron
The United States has stared down many threats with President Jack Ryan at the helm, but what if he’s not there when we need him? That’s the question facing a nation in the most shocking entry in Tom Clancy’s #1 New York Times bestselling series.
A shadowy billionaire uses his fortune to further his corrupt ambitions. Along the way, he’s toppled democratically elected governments and exacerbated divisions within stable nations. The competitors he’s destroyed, the people he’s hurt, they’re all just marks on a ledger. Now, he’s ready to implement his most ambitious plan of all. There’s only one force standing in his way—President Jack Ryan.
How do you compel a man like Jack Ryan to bend? He’s personally faced down everything from the Russian navy to cartel killers. It will take more than political headwinds or media disfavor to cause him to turn from his duty to the American people, but every man has an Achilles heel. Jack Ryan’s is his family.
The answer is as simple as it is shocking. The billionaire has assembled an international team of the most ruthless mercenaries alive. Their mission—kidnap the First Lady.
The Devil’s Sea by Dirk Cussler
Fearless adventurer Dirk Pitt must unravel a historical mystery of epic importance in the latest novel in the beloved New York Times bestselling series created by the “grand master of adventure” Clive Cussler.
In 1959 Tibet, a Buddhist artifact of immense importance was seemingly lost to history in the turmoil of the Communist takeover. But when National Underwater and Marine Agency Director Dirk Pitt discovers a forgotten plane crash in the Philippine Sea over 60 years later, new clues emerge to its hidden existence.
But Pitt and his compatriot Al Giordino have larger worries when they are ordered to recover a failed hypersonic missile from Luzon Strait. Only someone else is after it, too…a rogue Chinese military team that makes their own earthshattering discovery, hijacking a ship capable of stirring the waters of the deep into a veritable Devil’s Sea.
From the cold dark depths of the Pacific Ocean to the dizzying heights of the Himalaya Mountains, only Dirk Pitt and his children, Summer and Dirk Jr., can unravel the mysteries that will preserve a religion, save a nation…and save the world from war.
Tuesday, November 23
Fear No Evil by James Patterson
Alex Cross enters the final battle with the all-knowing genius who has stalked him and his family for years.
Dr. Alex Cross and Detective John Sampson venture into the rugged Montana wilderness—where they will be the prey.
They’re not on the job, but on a personal mission.
Until they’re attacked by two rival teams of assassins, controlled by the same mastermind who has stalked Alex and his family for years.
Darkness falls. The river churns into rapids. Shots ring out through the forest.
Tuesday, November 30th
Autopsy by Patricia Cornwell
In this relaunch of the electrifying, landmark #1 bestselling thriller series, chief medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta hunts those responsible for two wildly divergent and chilling murders.
Forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta has come almost full circle, returning to Virginia as the chief medical examiner, the state where she launched her storied career. Finding herself the new girl in town once again after being away for many years, she’s inherited not only an overbearing secretary, but also a legacy of neglect and potential corruption.
She and her husband Benton Wesley, now a forensic psychologist with the U.S. Secret Service, have relocated to Old Town Alexandria where she’s headquartered five miles from the Pentagon in a post-pandemic world that’s been torn by civil and political unrest. Just weeks on the job, she’s called to a scene by railroad tracks where a woman’s body has been shockingly displayed, her throat cut down to the spine, and as Scarpetta begins to follow the trail, it leads unnervingly close to her own historic neighborhood.
At the same time, a catastrophe occurs in a top-secret laboratory in outer space, endangering at least two scientists aboard. Appointed to the highly classified Doomsday Commission that specializes in sensitive national security cases, Scarpetta is summoned to the White House and tasked with finding out exactly what happened. But even as she works the first potential crime scene in space remotely, an apparent serial killer strikes again very close to home.
The Midnight Lock by Jeffrey Deaver
The “master of ticking-bomb suspense” (People) Jeffery Deaver delivers the latest thriller featuring his beloved protagonists Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs as they search for a criminal whose fascination with breaking locks terrorizes New York City.
A woman awakes in the morning to find that someone has picked her apartment’s supposedly impregnable door lock and rearranged personal items, even sitting beside her while she slept. The intrusion, the police learn, is a message to the entire city of carnage to come. Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs are brought in to investigate and soon learn that the sociopathic intruder, who calls himself “the Locksmith,” can break through any lock or security system ever devised. With more victims on the horizon, Rhyme, Sachs and their stable of associates must follow the evidence to the man’s lair… and discover his true mission.
Their hunt is interrupted when an internal investigation in the police force uncovers what seems to be a crucial mistake in one of Rhyme’s previous cases. He’s fired as a consultant for the NYPD and must risk jail if he investigates the Locksmith case in secret.
The Midnight Lock is a roller-coaster read that takes place over just a few days’ time, features surprise after surprise and offers a fascinating look at the esoteric world of lockpicking.
Arctic Sea by David Poyer
Beneath the frigid Arctic waters, a devastating new weapon threatens America.
Arctic Sea is the next thrilling entry in David Poyer’s critically-acclaimed future war series. In the aftermath of a world war with China, Admiral Dan Lenson is assigned to set up a US Navy base on the rugged North Slope of Alaska, in response to Russian seabed claims that reach nearly to the US coast. Yet the current administration seems oddly reluctant to confront Russian aggression. At the same time, the International Criminal Court is accusing Dan of a war crime.
Back in Washington, Blair Titus is running Jim Yangerhans’s campaign for president, while Dan’s daughter Nan battles disease in a radiation-soaked Midwest. But when Moscow plans to test the Apocalyps, a nuclear powered citykiller torpedo, in the Arctic Sea, Dan is sucked into a perilous covert mission. Will a barely victorious America survive dangerous new threats…both from without, and within?