book reviews

3 Thrillers You Can’t Miss

My writing PLN (Professional Learning Network) pretty much revolves around blogs and the authors who share their insights and advice through the online blogs. When I have a question, I often go there first, before digging through my shelves of self-help writing books. Along the way, I’ve read many of their books. Here, I want to share those that I’ve particularly enjoy and think you might too.

  • Trap the Devil — the latest Dewey Andreas and he’s still my favorite flawed hero
  • Serenity Avenged — the latest Shelby Alexander thriller about an older ex-fighter who’s looking for peace and quiet but keeps finding trouble
  • Davidia’s Seed — Michael Smart’s first sci-fi (that I’m aware of) set in a multi-layered world with complicated characters and a well-woven plot

Trap the Devil (Dewey Andreas, #7)Trap the Devil

by Ben Coes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In Ben Coes’ latest in the Dewey Andreas series, Trap the Devil (St. Martin’s Press June 2017), Dewey is in trouble. Again. His boss sends him on an easy job, designed to let him recover from the stress of his last few escapades (in the last few books). Dewey resists but doesn’t have a choice, and the government-appointed psychiatrist believes that a mundane job might help Dewey come to terms with the murder of his fiancée many books ago. Or the death of his wife before the series even started.

His task: Provide an additional layer of protective detail to the Secretary of State on a routine trip to Paris. It sounds simple. It ends up anything but, with the government official murdered and Dewey forced to flee when he becomes the prime suspect. With little support from Washington DC, Dewey relies on his own resources and the help of the last woman to see the Secretary alive (except the killer). It quickly becomes obvious this is a lot more involved than one man’s death with a lot more at stake than his replacement.

Ben Coes is the master of weaving together the pieces of a complicated challenging plot, keeping it simple enough readers can follow but clever enough we can’t put the book down. In the Dewey Andreas character, he’s created the guy we all want on the front line when everything falls apart.

–received a free book from the publisher in return for an honest review


Serenity Avenged (The Shelby Alexander Thriller Series Book 3)Serenity Avenged 

by Craig A. Hart

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In Serenity Avenged (Unlimited, April 2017), Craig Hart has done it again. Shelby Alexander is called to the hospital when his unmarried daughter goes into early labor. The doctor insists the daughter can do no physical work so Shelby and his ex-wife agree to jointly care for her. Unknown to Shelby, he ex-wife has a massive gambling debt she can’t pay, the cost of which has finally come home to roost. When the violent collectors involve Shelby’s ex and his daughter, Shelby and his buddy decide to fix the problem, as only the Shelby Alexander we know from earlier books can do.

Shelby Alexander is an interesting lead character unlike any other series I’ve read. For one thing, he’s over 60. Don’t get me wrong.  He’s still tough from his days as a pro boxer and his brain is sharp, and his girlfriend (who doesn’t show up in this book) is about the same age as his daughter. But with age brings baggage and he’s no exception.

One more thing I like about this series is the author’s voice. He always writes with passion, clarity, and a light sense of humor. Here are some examples:

“My parents hail from the Deep South. Gravy is a beverage down there.”

“I will pop your head off your body like a dandelion from its stem.”

“That place looked like the walls were held up by the termites linking arms.”

“His face looked like it had been wadded up and shoved down a garbage disposal. Bruises, cuts, abrasions…he had them all. He slowly, mechanically wriggled out of his t-shirt and found his torso in little better shape.”

Overall, this is a delightful fast-paced, believable story and a great addition to the series.

–received a free book from the author in return for an honest review


Davidia's SeedDavidia’s Seed

by Michael W. Smart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Michael Smart’s Davidia’s Seed (Amazon Digital Services 2015) opens as a creature named Ezekiel (we don’t know anything about him at this point, not even his species) has one chance to live after a space battle destroyed his ship. He launches a tiny one-person space pod from the imploding ship, but quickly finds it is damaged and losing power. By the time he’s rescued by a salvage ship owned by Seraphina, he is almost dead. Despite being different species with no common language, they develop a friendship and he becomes part of her two-man crew.
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In another part of the universe, bat-like intelligent creatures struggle to unravel the mystery of who they are as a lifeform and whether they are part of a larger heritage with an inferior race. When these two plots intersect, everything explodes.
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The story is well-constructed, enough detail to be completely believable with themes about racial struggles and survival that will resonate with lots of readers. I selected this book because I so enjoyed Smart’s Bequia Mysteries series. While a completely different genre, Smart does the same great job of storytelling with fascinating characters and complex worlds that leave me wanting more when the last page is turned. Reading this book reminds me why I used to be such a huge science fiction fan.

View all my reviews


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and  Twenty-four DaysShe is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

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45 thoughts on “3 Thrillers You Can’t Miss

  1. Yikes! 😀So many great suggestions, Jacqui. These are excellent reviews and all interesting. Smart’s science fiction book really captured my attention, not a genre often featured these days. The thrillers sound intense. Arrggg…I feel there should be a separate me dedicated to just reading! Hope you’re having a brilliant and special long weekend of celebrations! 🎉

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I don’t get much chance to read fiction these days, but I did finally open 24 Days and you do have a hook, the story grabs you right away. I don’t know how long it’ll be before I finish it [research and life keep getting in my way], but you are the thriller writer!!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Hi Jacqui – thanks for these reviews … one day I’ll get to read thrillers again … and will refer to you for some guidance – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 2 people

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