book reviews

Thrillers by Excellent Authors

Here are more great thrillers I got from NetGalley:

  1. Shadows Reel–Joe Pickett is pulled into a WWII mystery and Nate Romanowski must retrieve his stolen raptors.
  2. Racing the Light–Elvis Cole with his partner Joe Pike solve another perplexing mystery
  3. Lethal Game–a coordinated attack on the core of Graves’ Security Solutions isn’t enough to stop Jonathan Graves
  4. Righteous Prey–love this series but this may end my addiction
  5. Hunting Time–raised in a survivalist home, Colter uses his skill to find and keep safe those in need
–received free from NetGalley in return for an honest review
–a note about my reviews: I only review books I enjoyed. I need to be inspired to write. That’s why so many of my reviews are 4/5 or 5/5

Shadows Reel

by C.J. Box

As with all C.J. Box stories, Shadows Reel (GP. Putnam 2022), Book 22 of the Joe Pickett series, Shadows Reel is clever, fast moving, and about human desires like family, loyalty, and love of animals most of us relate to. Joe Pickett is a game warden in Twelve Sleep, Wyoming. That doesn’t sound dangerous, but in the hands of Joe Pickett, who can’t turn his back on injustice and is a dog with a bone when faced with a puzzle, mysteries abound that must be solved. In this case, there are two and neither of Joe’s making. His wife Marybeth is head librarian of the local library and receives an anonymous gift of a photo album including authentic Nazi images. It could be simply a resource for the WWII collection until people start dying associated with it and Joe’s family ends in the crosshairs of a man who wants that photo album to himself.
While that is going on (did I mention this occurs during the Thanksgiving holiday?), Joe’s best friend, Nate Romanowski, is on the trail of the thief who stole his entire collection of ten falcons and killed three more and attacked his wife. Not only did it put Nate out of business, but Nate raised those birds since they were chicks. They were almost family to him, a man who is closer to his birds than to most people. That they are stolen, possibly abused, faced with illegal owners who may not respect their majesty puts Nate in a black mood that is not healthy for anyone associated with this crime. The fact that the thieves may be tied to BLM and Antifa doesn’t even slow Nate down.

Another excellent story that just never slows, never stops, and introduces a few delicious twists that will have to be addressed in future books. Highly recommended.

Racing the Light

by Robert Crais

In Racing the Light, Robert Crais’ nineteenth Elvis Cole and Joe Pike book (GP Putnam’s Sons 2022), Elvis is hired by a distraught mother to find her missing son, Josh Shoe, a podcaster and self-proclaimed investigative journalist. The police won’t take her seriously because he’s an adult and there’s no evidence of foul play. But the mother convinces Elvis that something happened that shouldn’t have (the thick envelope of money she offered might have been somewhat persuasive). Elvis as usual pulls a thread and then follows it, to Josh’s house, to his friends, to a porn-star-turned-artist that leads to a Chinese conglomerate and foreign spies with high tech equipment that exceeds even DARPA’s capabilities (maybe–that’s top secret so we don’t really know). As any aficionado of this series knows, once Elvis is hooked on a case, he doesn’t let go, and to solve this one takes many of his myriad contacts as well as clever intellect.  Mixed in with his sleuthing is his long-distance former girlfriend who has decided to come for a visit and a chat.

As usual, Elvis is witty and quick. Pike is powerful and focused. I have loved every one of the books in this series, including this one. I can’t wait for the next.

One point that bugs me but didn’t detract from the rating: What’s with the covers? They seem… quirky? At best, or weird. But it doesn’t matter. I’ll keep reading.

Lethal Game

by John Gilstrap

Jon Gilstrap’s Lethal Game (Pinnacle Books 2022), #14 in the Jonathan Grave Thrillers, is excellent. Like all the books in this series, it is high powered, fast-moving, clever, and makes you think. It has the Special Forces stuff with Jonathan Graves and his sidekick Boxer, the top two operatives at Graves’ company Security Solutions, specialists in finding and rescuing individuals from difficult to impossible circumstances. It also has the geeky side with Venice, the world’s best hacker and responsible for uncovering the secrets that allow Security Solutions to do what they’re so good at.

This particular story starts with bad-guys (no spoilers about who they are) who unleash coordinated attacks on Graves, his top operatives, and–oddly–Venice’s elderly mother. The intention is to destroy the core of what allows this company to operate by catching them off-guard, killing everyone important before they have a chance to mount a defense or a response. All attacks fail and place Jonathan on high alert. How he deals with this threat–well, if you’ve read any of the other books in this series, you know the answer to that.

I’ve loved every book in this series and can’t wait for the next one.

Righteous Prey

by John Sandford


John Sandford is an excellent writer. In all thirty-two books of the Prey series, he has spun tales like no one else. His iconic characters–Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers–have changed and grown over time–as you’d expect–which has kept this series always at the top of my read list.

In Righteous Prey (G.P. Putnam 2022), a group of six bored wealthy brilliant leaders of industry decide to kill other wealthy people this group deems contrary to the country’s values. They place a number on their forehead to count up to five (to account for one kill from each, not including the organizer) and issue a press release explaining the murder. Virgil Flowers and Lucas Davenport work together on this one, braving the frigid Minnesota winter temperatures to stop the killers before they finish. The story includes the usual blend of clever wit that makes this series a page turner and always on my list to grab as soon as a new book is published.

So why did I give it 4/5 for the first time in the entire series? Two reasons. One, I’m a little worried about the anti-police bent, mostly in Flowers. He is a clever detective I’ve respected because he does his job based on justice and fair play. He eschews guns, will do whatever possible to spare a life, but understands their part in police work. In this book, he seems to be losing his perspective on where the line is between a nation of laws and taking care of people (admittedly a difficult balance).

Possible spoiler:

This comes to a head at one point when he’s trying to gain the cooperation of suspected illegals, trying to assure them he isn’t ICE and won’t depart them, is just looking for information. I understand that, but he crosses a line I don’t think he should at one point. As he’s talking with Lucas, trying to unravel his feelings about this, when he’s talking about ICE and the part they play in handling border issues, he says F*** those a**h****”. That wasn’t necessary to the plot and seemed out of character in a law enforcement official I had to this point admired.

End of spoiler

The second annoyance: The growing anti-Conservative trend that seems to becoming acceptable in otherwise great fiction stories. Why is it that writers can’t say conservative or Republican without appending something derogatory? Half their readers–or more–are bound to be insulted. I just don’t get it.

Hunting Time

by Jeffrey Deaver

In Jeffrey Deaver’s Hunting Time (GP Putnam’s Sons), Book 4 in the Colter Shaw Novel series (and separate from Deaver’s Lincoln Rhymes series), former cop and alleged wife beater Jon Merritt is released from prison as a model prisoner. He now sets his sights on revenge against the wife who caused him to be incarcerated. Allison is a brilliant engineer, loving mother, but her child, Hannah, may be too sympathetic to her dad and the dad’s former police colleagues were never convinced he was guilty. Colter is hired by the wife’s boss to protect her until the father reveals himself as a danger to his wife and can be thrown back into prison. Why is her boss the one interested in her safety? Allison is the brains behind his new product.

As always, Deaver writes compelling descriptions and has a storytellers knack for revealing details. Hunting Time can be read as a stand alone, but I’m glad I read at least one of the prequels (see my review of The Final Twist) Why? Consider this: On Page One, Colter Shaw is already in a situation ordinary detectives might not survive, but because I knew his spot on instincts, his MacGyver-esque survival skills, the brilliance and speed of his brain–I knew I was in for a fun scene.

Two characteristics make this book stand out from other thrillers. One: The author includes rules taught to Cole by his dad on how to survive:

“Never let surprise dull your awareness”

“Never banter”

“Never extend a handgun out in front of you when entering a blind doorway”

“Never engage unless you have to”

“Never let discomfort trick you into taking a risk”

Two. Colter makes decisions based on probabilities–

“Only when he assessed minimal threat–less than ten percent–did he turn fully to the man”

Couple these with Deaver’s clever mind for dropping breadcrumbs and then connecting seemingly disparate clues, I never wanted to put this book down. Having said that, there were two problems not serious enough to rate a star deduction. One, there was lots of backstory, probably how Deaver chose to build drama. Two, there was not enough of Colter Shaw and his amazing survival skills in the early parts.

Overall, an excellent series for Deaver fans, survivalists, and those who love surprises in their thrillers.

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Man vs. Nature saga, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the acclaimed Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Natural Selection, Summer 2022

69 thoughts on “Thrillers by Excellent Authors

  1. Hi Jacqui – 22 in a book series, whereas you mention 110 – some writing! I try and not get hooked, otherwise I read and don’t do much else – sometimes a good idea. Thanks for these recommendations – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hunting Time sounds like it would be right up my alley. How come I’m reading so many books and seemingly not making a dent in my TBR pile?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m disappointed on Sanford’s stance. I’ve read so many Lucas Davenport books and three Virgil Flowers books. I love the idea of them working together, but I steer away from anything that gets political.
    I’ve also read C. J. Box in the past. I do love a good thriller! 🙂
    Great reviews, Jacqui!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I was disappointed, too. As Virgil is exploring his anti-police sentiments, his writing career is taking off so maybe Sandford is setting him up for leaving the series. He was a great detective character–caring but effective. Darn.


  4. You’ve been busy reading. While I haven’t been to C. J. Box’s “Twelve Sheep, WY,” I remember an apple pie I had at a diner in “Ten Sheep” 35 years later, as I prepared to head into the Big Horn Mts.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you for sharing!!.. I will make note of your list and check them out in the future.. my next mystery book scheduled to read is a book written by Poe about a bird, believe it is called “The Raven”… 🙂

    Have a wonderful day today, and every day, and until we meet again…

    May love and laughter light your days,
    and warm your heart and home.
    May good and faithful friends be yours,
    wherever you may roam.
    May peace and plenty bless your world
    with joy that long endures.
    May all life’s passing seasons
    bring the best to you and yours!
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love thrillers. They all sound great but Righteous Prey. I don’t want to read anything anti-police. (I have family who serve and I know only a few–like in any field–are bad. Most are heroes.) I also don’t want to read something that takes a pro-liberal stance. I write to include everyone, not to insult half the population of this country. I expect the authors I read to hold themselves to the same standard. (I would feel the same if the politics were reversed.) If I want to read a partisan political work, there’s plenty to choose from that are honestly marketed that way.

    Rant over. Sorry about that. Thanks for your thoughtful reviews.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I wonder why these famous authors want to mainstream that negative attitude? You and I–we are at the core of their readers. And Flowers was a likable detective. I came away hoping he’d quit. I’m pretty disappointed in Sandford. 4 stars was a bit of a gift but I started the book being sure it would be 5/5.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’m all about bringing people together and respecting differences. It makes me sad to think people jump on a bashing bandwagon because they think it makes them look “woke” (and I can’t tell you how much I hate that term). I don’t care if (and in fact I encourage) people to express their thoughts and feelings. But in the right place. I don’t like it in an entertainment medium. I go there for a break from reality.


      • You’d think a successful author would think twice about alienating half his revenue stream. In “cozy” mysteries, I’m starting get irritated with the imcompetant police trope.


  7. Good morning, dear Jacqui,
    thanks a lot for these reviews. We had not heard of any of these books. It’s great to hear about books that are off the beaten track from our normal reading habits.
    We are just reading Karl Ove Knausgård’s “Inadvertent”, a book about writing worth reading.
    Wishing you a happy weekend
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • You sent me down the rabbit hole, Klausbernd! I found the book, found an amazing quote from it–“”Thoughts are the enemy of the inadvertent, for if one thinks about how something will seem to others, if one thinks about if something is important or good enough, if one begins to calculate or pretend, then it is no longer inadvertent and accessable as itself, but only as what we have made it into.” OK, I would have said it’s not a book I would normally pick up (what’s ‘inadvertent’ anyway?) but now, it is a book worth reading.

      Liked by 1 person

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