Archive for the ‘Suspense’ Category

The Mediterranean Caper

July 23, 2012

Author:  Clive Cussler

Title: The Mediterranean Caper: A Dirk Pitt Novel

Genre: Adventure, Thriller, Suspense

Publisher/Publication Date:  Berkley Books, New York.  1973

Number of Pages:  372

Geographical Setting:  The Island of Thasos, Greece.

Time Period:  Modern Day

Series:  Dirk Pitt series

Plot Summary:  One of the first novels of Cussler’s Dirk Pitt series, this is a tale of intrigue, sabotage, and scientific exploration.  Dirk Pitt  is a rough-and-tumble, modern-day adventure-man with a troubled past, charming wit, and the occasional mean streak about him.  A member of the National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA), Dirk and his brainy colleagues embark on a mission to discover a missing creature in the evolutionary chain, only to be thwarted by a WWI bi-plane.  Pitt’s revenge on the nefarious plane leads to a tale laced with suspense, intrigue, picturesque Roman vistas, tricky villains, snarky quips, beautiful babes, and explosions galore.   This action-infused thriller is a page-turner and never lets up till the exciting conclusion.  As far as thrillers go, Cussler certainly knows what he’s doing.

Subject Headings:  Dirk Pitt (character)–Thosos (Greek Islands)–Military Bases–Submarines–Sabotage–Navy–WW I Planes– Bi-Planes–Classic Cars–Boats– Military History–Roman History–Greek Vistas–Aegean Sea–Labyrinths–Mediterranean–Troubled Pasts–NUMA (National Underwater and Marine Agency)–Adventure–War Criminals–Nazis.

Appeal:  Edgy, Informative, Shocking, Smarmy, Un-pretentious, Action-packed, Witty, Fast-paced, Richly detailed, Violent, Smart, Gut-wrenching, Spry, Loud, Serious.

3 Appeal terms that best describe this book:  Smart, Fast-paced, Loud.

3 Similar Fiction works and authors:

Blood of the Reich.  William Dietrich.

Those who enjoyed the German threads (and machines) in Cussler’s The Mediterranean Caper may enjoy this similar tale about a modern-day publicist who must find the truth about a story on the history of Nazi SS officers and an American Zoologist looking for a legendary energy source in Tibet.  Fast-paced and suspenseful, this story provides a female protagonist akin to Dirk Pitt who is thoughtful, playful, witty, and smart.  Told in alternating chapters (both the past and the present), this tale should please anyone looking for an engaging, page-turning thriller.

State of Fear.  Michael Crichton.

This thought-provoking suspense novel by Crichton is an eco-thriller taking place in various exotic locales such as Paris, Iceland, and the Solomon Islands.  Those who find Cussler’s technologically  intense scientific and militaristic facts intriguing will enjoy this tale about a millionaire dealing with a present-day concern: global warming.  This compelling, richly told tale is both intellectually stimulating with the action-packed, fast-paced pace readers love.

Thunderball.  Ian Fleming.

Those who love Dirk Pitt’s brash, some-what dark, womanizing ways will most likely enjoy this James Bond tale by Ian Fleming.  In this tale Bond deals once again with the evil criminal organization SPECTRE, which has just hijacked an NATO airplane containing two atomic bombs , and is demanding ransom.  Will Bond succeed?  And, will there be beautiful women to cavort with whilst examining cool gadgets and sketchy situations.  Most certainly so!

3 Similar Non-Fiction works and authors:

Castles of Steel.  Robert K. Massie.

This historical, non-fiction novel tells the tale of early, 20th-century naval history between the British and Germans during WWI.  The writing style of this work is filled with intriguing details, is thoughtfully described and is very scholarly, but not boring.  It is a military narrative of the finest proportions, and a good place to start for Cussler fan’s who enjoy his intricately described boats and machines of olden times.

Ancient Greece: A history in eleven cities.  Paul Cartledge.

Those who enjoyed the lushly detailed, mysterious vistas of The Mediterranean Caper might enjoy this historical novel about the development of eleven Greek city states and the politics thereof.  The book contains many significant details and contains a time-line, glossary, and list of important figureheads of the time.  Engaging and well-researched, fast-paced and highly accessible reading.

Horrible shipwreck!a full, true and particular account of the melancholy loss of the British convict ship Amphitrite, the 31st August 1833, off Boulogne, when 108 female convicts, 12 children, and 13 seamen met with a watery grave, in sight of thousands, none being saved out of 136 souls but three!   Andrew C.A. Jampoler.

This amusing, startling story tells the tale of the convict transport ship Amphitrite, and how it came to its ultimate demise off the shores of France in 1833, carrying over 100 women prisoners and their children.  Though non-fiction, this book is action-packed, written in the thriller/adventure style, and is full of intrigue and historical comedy and intrigue.  It contains bibliographical details and an index as well.

The Graveyard Book

July 17, 2012

The Graveyard Book


Author: Neil Gaiman   Illustrator: Dave McKean

Title: The Graveyard Book

Genre: Fantasy, Suspense, Thriller

Publication Date: 2008

Number of Pages: 307

Geographical Setting: England

Time Period: Modern

Plot Summary: This is the story of “Nobody” Owens (nicknamed Bod for short) who as a toddler, escapes his home while his family is murdered. He wanders into a graveyard and ends up being raised by the dead. As he gets older he finds out the truth about his family and “the man Jack” who is still out to kill him. This adventurous fantasy starts out a bit relaxed, but becomes more quickly paced towards the end. It is a suspenseful and sometimes creepy story filled with witty and engaging language and characters. Neil Gaiman portrays the atmosphere and characters of this old English graveyard using dialect-rich language.

Subject Headings: Cemeteries, Ghosts, Werewolves, Orphans, Dead, Supernatural, Paranormal

Appeal: scary, suspenseful, quick-paced, witty, heartwarming, dialect-rich, engaging characters, atmospheric, creepy, humorous, clever, descriptive, attention grabbing

3 terms that best describe this book: suspenseful, witty, engaging plot and characters

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1.      Creepy Chicago: A Ghosthunter’s Tales of the City’s Scariest Sites by Ursula Bielski (Illustrated by Amy Noble) – Just like the haunted graveyard in The Graveyard Book, this book tells about local Chicago sites that are said to be haunted.

2.      The Haunted Cotswolds by Bob Meredith (Illustrated by Peter Reardon) – This book would appeal to readers who would like to learn about a true ghost hunter who writes about supernatural happenings throughout Cotswold.

3.    England: An Illustrated History by Henry Weissser – There are many historical references in The Graveyard Book so this nonfiction companion would appeal to those who would be interested in learning more about the history of England.

Ursula Bielski (Author)

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3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1.      The Color of Magic: A Discworld Novel by Terry Pratchett – If you enjoyed the British “feel” and humor in The Graveyard Book, you may also enjoy this.

2.      Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill – You may enjoy this book if you enjoy reading scary fiction books about ghosts.

3.      The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling – The Graveyard Book has a similar theme to Kipling’s book where a child is raised under unusual circumstances.

Name: Patty Prodanich

The Calling of the Grave

April 18, 2012

nullAuthor:  Simon Beckett

Title:  The Calling of the Grave

Genre:  Suspense, Audiobook

Publication Date:  February 2011

Number of Pages:  336, 9 hrs and 54 mins

Geographical Setting:  England

Time Period:  Eight years ago and present

Series (If applicable):  Dr. David Hunter series (book 4)

Plot Summary:

Eight years ago, forensic anthropologist Dr. David Hunter was helping the police attempt to locate the bodies of two teenage girls.  The man who confessed to and was convicted for their murder, Jerome Monk, was brought out of prison in order to help the police locate the burial site.  When Monk’s involvement ends in violence, the search is called off.  In the intervening eight years, David’s life has changed in ways that he couldn’t have imagined, but he’s shocked when the lead investigator in the missing girl’s case shows up on his doorstep to tell him that Jerome Monk has escaped from prison and might be targeting people involved in the previous investigation.  Quickly following that, a call from a woman he briefly met on the investigation eight years prior involves David in a quest to locate the murderer and ensure the safety of himself, Sophie, and anybody else involved in the investigation.  The narrator, Jonathan Keeble, gives the audiobook the appropriate sense of foreboding and helps to drive this suspenseful, fast-paced story to its conclusion.

Subject Headings:

Forensic anthropologists — Fiction.

Murder — Investigation — Fiction.

England — Fiction.

Hunter, David (Fictitious character) — Fiction.

Mystery fiction.

Detective and mystery stories.

Serial murder investigation–Fiction.

Appeal:  fast-paced, chilling, darker, menacing atmosphere, plot-centered, violent, straightforward, evocative setting, investigative, plot twists, suspenseful, foreboding, gritty

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  fast-paced, suspenseful, violent

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange and Fascinating Cases of a Forensic Anthropologist–William R. Maples:  This book gives the reader insight into the real experiences of a man in the same field as David Hunter.

Murder in the First-Class Carriage: The First Victorian Railway Killing–Kate Colquhoun:  This true story is a suspenseful murder story set in England, with the extra bonus of historical accuracy.

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders–Vincent Bugliosi:  This true crime book describes how Charles Manson made his followers commit murder, the investigation, and the ensuing trials.  This is a gritty, faced-paced book with a menacing tone.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Flesh and Bones—Kathy Reichs:  Like David Hunter, Temperance Brennan is a forensic anthropologist investigating murders in this series of suspenseful, fast-paced novels.

Private—James Patterson:  This is another fast-paced suspense novel, but the investigator in this book is dealing with cold cases, like David Hunter does in this book.

Dead End—Leigh Russell:  Another novel that is a part of a series, this suspense story also takes place in small-town England, features violence against women, and serial killers.

Name:  Amanda


February 22, 2012  David Morrell

Title:  Creepers

Genre:  Suspense, Horror, Adventure

Publication Date:  2005

Number of Pages:  365

Geographical Setting:  Asbury Park, New Jersey

Time Period:  Present

Series (If applicable):  Frank Balenger

Plot Summary:
Frank Balenger, a journalist, joins history professor Robert Conklin and three of his former students on an illegal exploration of an abandoned hotel in Asbury Park, New Jersey.  The team calls themselves Infiltrators, people who break into abandoned historical buildings and leave without making a mark.  Balenger prefers to call them Creepers.  He is with the team to cover a story on urban exploration for the New York Times.  Their target, the Paragon Hotel, was once owned by wealthy heir Morgan Carlisle.  It is now set to be destroyed by the city in just a few days.  The team is able to break into the hotel, but what they uncover will call into question the team’s commitment to leaving without a trace.  And they may not be the only group of creepers in Asbury Park.

Subject Headings:
Hotels — New Jersey — Asbury Park — Fiction.
Abandoned buildings — Fiction.
Architecture — New Jersey — Fiction.
Serial murders – New Jersey — Fiction.
Suspense Fiction.

Appeal:  Hectic, confined, plot twists, exploration, heists, abandoned hotels, voyeurism, strong antagonist, plot-driven, action-focused, agoraphobia, violent, Jersey Shore, kidnapping, strong sense of place, infiltration

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  suspenseful, fast-paced, spine-chilling

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
Access All Areas: A User’s Guide to the Art of Urban Exploration by Ninjalicious.
Ninjalicious is the founder of, the source of one of the epigraphs in Creepers.  This book is a real world guide to the infiltrating activity depicted in Creepers.  It also contains non-fiction accounts of infiltration stories.

4th of July, Asbury Park: A History of the Promised Land by Daniel J. Wolff.
This book will interest readers who found the depiction of a declining Asbury Park compelling and would like to learn more.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson.
The novel depicts the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.  The book follows one of the lead architects of the fair, as well as a serial killer who stalks the fair for victims.  Similar to Creepers, this book is a suspense story with a strong place setting.  Dr. H.H. Holmes is a serial killer who targets women, as does the antagonist in Creepers.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:
Liberty Falling by Nevada Barr.
Anna Pigeon is a park ranger who moves to New York City.  She finds herself connected to a series of strange events and murders that she must piece together.  This book is a plot-driven suspense novel with a strong sense of place.  The protagonist is also depicted exploring abandoned buildings.

Wicked Prey by John Sandford.
Officer Lucas Davenport is investigating the murder of another police officer by a group of thieves.  An array of villains gets back at Davenport by attacking his family. This novel is a fast-paced and violent suspense novel.

The Lake by Richard Laymon.
Leigh West and her daughter Deana are the targets of serial killer Candyman.  The Lake is a fast-paced suspense and horror story involving a serial murderer.

Name:  Noel M.

Kiss the Girls

February 22, 2012

Author: James Patterson

Title: Kiss the Girls

Genre: Thriller/Suspense

Publication Date: 1995

Number of pages: 458

Geographical Setting: Chapel Hill, NC/Los Angeles, CA

Time Period: Present

Series: Alex Cross mysteries #2

Plot Summary:

Fans of serial killer villains get two for the price of one in Patterson’s second Alex Cross thriller. Forensic psychologist turned detective Alex Cross has found himself at odds with a brutal serial killer once again, and this time it’s personal.  When his niece goes missing, he quickly realizes that she has been taken by a vicious killer going by the name of Casanova. His most fervent hope is to find her alive. Assisted by one of Casanova’s escaped victims, Cross scours Chapel Hill, NC for clues. As he searches, a reporter across the country is killed while researching another string of murders. The killers are connected in some way. Are they competing with each other? And will Cross find his niece alive?

Kiss the Girls is by turns suspenseful and thrilling, and is a compelling, plot-driven mystery. As Detective Cross plays cat and mouse with the killers, we are given a glimpse into each of their heads. These alternating viewpoints contribute to the intrigue. In addition, Cross’ close relationship with one of the victims adds extra tension to the story. The storytelling shifts between taut anticipation and heart-pounding action, and while the novel ends with a clean resolution, fans of the main character can rejoice knowing that another Alex Cross title is just around the bend.

Subject Headings: African-American detectives, African-American psychologists, Missing teenage girls, Police, Police Psychologists, Serial Murderers.

Appeal: African-American protagonist, suspenseful, thrilling, fast-paced, action-filled, multiple points of view, multiple plotlines, disturbing, spare writing.

Three appeal terms that best describe the book: suspenseful, disturbing, fast-paced

Relevant nonfiction works and authors:

Serial Killers: the Method and Madness of Monsters by Peter Vronsky.  Vronsky recounts a varied history of serial murders from ancient Rome to modern times. Readers wanting to know more about serial killers will find this book to be comprehensive and riveting.

The Measure of Madness by Cheryl Paradis. Those attracted to forensic psychology will be interested in this title, in which the author  gives a background on the subject as well as looks back on the varied and fascinating cases she has handled.

The Sociopath Next Door: the ruthless versus the rest of us by Martha Stout.  Readers interested in the inner workings of sociopaths, how to recognize them, and how to forearm themselves against them may find this book interesting.

Relevant fiction works and authors:

Eyes of Prey by John Sanford. Readers may also enjoy this thriller, as it is also about a serial killer who mutilates his victims, and utilizes psychological suspense. Fans of series books will appreciate that it is one in a long series of titles.

Smash Cut by Sandra Brown. Smash Cut is a suspenseful thriller involving  a serial killer as well, but it also adds elements of romance and a “film buff” frame.

Amnesia by G.H. Ephron. Forensic psychology enthusiasts will enjoy this novel which follows a doctor assisting his patient in remembering a vicious crime that has been committed against her.

The Midnight Club

February 22, 2012

Author: James Patterson

Title: The Midnight Club

Genre: Suspense

Publication Date: 1989

Number of Pages: 349

Geographical Setting: New York City; New York State – various cities; Atlantic City, NJ

Time Period: Present day

Series (If applicable): N/A.

Plot Summary: John Stefanovitch, a New York detective, has been stalking a ruthless murderer and crime lord, nicknamed Grave Dancer, for the past two years. When a sudden violent catastrophe changes Stefanovitch’s life forever, he vows to never give up on the search for the Grave Dancer, no matter the personal consequences. Full of twists and turns and told from multiple points of view, this fast-paced novel portrays Stefanovitch’s (and others) search for a new serial killer, one who has been murdering major crime head’s simultaneously throughout the world. Desperately trying to find out who the mysterious new criminal mastermind is, as well as put his own life back together, John ultimately must also save an innocent journalist and her son from persecution as well.

Subject Headings: New York City, police officers, serial killers, violence – physical and sexual, psychopaths, drug lords, detectives, prostitution

Appeal: fast-paced, intriguing secondary (characters), multiple points of view, action-oriented, complex, explicit violence, plot twists, strong language, bittersweet, darker (tone), hard-edged, menacing, dramatic

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: fast-paced, multiple points of view, menacing

Similar Authors and Works (Why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

City Lights: Stories About New York by Dan Barry – Barry takes readers on a poetic and bittersweet journey through the city of New York, but instead of gathering stories from mainstream New Yorkers he instead writes about those whose lives often get overlooked in everyday activities therein.

Drug lords: the rise and fall of the Cali Cartel, the richest, most powerful crime syndicate in history by Ron Chepesiuk – This work of non-fiction chronicles the history and ultimate demise of the Cali Cartel, an international drug “business.” Fast-paced and full of gritty details, this book also demonstrates the power and wit of collaborative law enforcement around the globe.

Serial Killers and Mass Murderers: Profiles of the World’s Most Barbaric Criminals by Nigel Cawthorne – Cawthorne takes us into the lives and crimes of many of the world’s most known serial killers. Discussed therein are the murderers’ childhoods and suspected motivations.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Hardcase by Dan Simmons – After a New York detective Joe Kurtz is released from jail for the injury of a villain, he takes on many other criminals – national and international, and also those involved in organized crime. Partially motivated by revenge because of the murder of his girlfriend, Kurtz is a well-trained and skillful killer. The pace is breakneck and will keep readers guessing.

Cause of Death by Patricia Cornwell – Medical examiner Kay Scarpetta investigates several unusual murders (one of them was someone relatively close to her) and finds a highly-dangerous extremist religious group that may be to blame. With the help of the FBI, Scarpetta, a familiar character for many readers (series character), takes us on a detailed and graphic investigation into this religious cult in order to halt them before they ruthlessly devour more victims.

Love you more: a detective D.D. Warren novel by Lisa Gardner (Release Date: 2/28/12) – When a state trooper’s husband is found dead and daughter goes missing, D.D. Warren and Bobby Dodge have quite a mystery on their hands. Told from multiple points of view, Garner’s book will have readers questioning whom they can truly trust.

Name: Melissa

The School for Dangerous Girls

February 22, 2012

Author: Eliot Schrefer

Title: The School for Dangerous Girls

Genre: Suspense, Young Adult

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 247

Geographical Setting:  Colorado

Time Period: Present day

Series (If applicable): n/a

Plot Summary: Angela has always been a troublemaker, but a serious incident causes her parents to put her into a school for girls considered to be a danger to themselves and others. A private school in the mountains of Colorado, Hidden Oak has a mysterious past and keeps most of its methods secret. Girls are divided into “gold thread” (good girls that show promise of being rehabilitated) and “purple thread” (lost causes). Angela walks the line, but is eventually put into the gold thread. Being with the good girls doesn’t make life easier, and Angela is severely punished for just asking about her friends in the purple thread. Eventually after a lot of digging she finds out exactly what happens to the girls in the purple thread, and it isn’t pretty. They are locked in an abandoned gymnasium and left to fend for themselves. If they get too out of hand or try to call attention to themselves, they are dealt with brutally. To get them out and reveal the school for what it is, Angela has to become the dangerous girl they’ve all been terrified of.

Subject Headings: Juvenile delinquents — Rehabilitation. Child abuse. Boarding schools. Good vs. Evil.

Appeal: builds in intensity, emotionally-charged, explicitly violent, flashbacks, contemporary, colorful, .

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: emotionally-charged, explicitly violent, colorful.

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

Problem Girls: Understanding and Supporting Troubled and Troublesome Girls and Young Women, Gwennyd Lloyd. This book explores the issues surrounding girls and young women who are seen as troubled or troublesome.

Help at Any Cost: How the Troubled-Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids, Maia Szalavitz. An in depth look at programs designed to “help” troubled teens through harsh discipline that involves physical and verbal abuse.

Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, Mary Pipher. Written by a psychologist, this book examines why young girls lose much of their self-confidence beginning around age 11, and blames society for creating a hostile environment for them.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Shock Point, April Henry—Action-packed young adult book that pits good against evil.

Down a Dark Hall, Lois Duncan—Set in a strange boarding school with a mysterious past.

Black Mirror, Nancy Werlin—Fast-paced murder mystery set at a boarding school.

Name: Jessica


February 22, 2012

Author: Lisa Jackson

Title: Malice

Genre: Suspense

Publication Date: March 2009

Number of Pages: 480/ Number of Compact Discs: 13 unabridged

Geographical Setting: Southern California

Time Period: Present

Series: Bentz/Montoya, New Orleans Series

Plot Summary:

Malice is a suspenseful, fast-paced story that takes a straight-shooting police officer and places him in an impossible situation. Upon awakening from a coma, Rick Bentz is haunted by sightings of his ex-wife Jennifer. The same woman whose body he identified in a fatal car crash 12 years earlier. When he receives a package with fresh pictures of Jennifer and a copy of her birth certificate with a question mark written on it, Bentz journeys back to California and a sorrowful past he left behind there. His presence sets off a string of murders, menacing phone calls, and more sightings of his dead ex-wife.

Malice is an action-oriented story that pulls the reader along thanks to Jackson’s concise writing and knack for creating intrigue. The reader is implicitly invited to try and put the pieces of the puzzle together, gaining access to other perspectives besides the main protagonist. Jackson combines multiple plot threads and threats in short, sparse chapters that keep the material from being confusing or complex. This is the sixth book in a series, and offers a more in-depth look at a popular character’s past, which in turn makes it a touch more psychological than other bestseller of the week suspense tales. It is moody and serious. The plot is sprinkled with romance as it explores both Rick’s marriage to his current wife Olivia, but the book is focused on suspense and intrigue as Rick races to solve the mystery of why he was led to southern California.

Readers who enjoy clear-cut characters and closed-endings will be happy to know characters are generally familiar and recognizable as good or bad. The ending is definitively closed and ties up all the plot threads neatly.

Subject Headings: Detectives, Serial murders, Husband and wife, Widowers, Secrets, Murder suspects, Serial murderers

Appeal: suspenseful, plot oriented, concise, familiar characters, closed ending, menacing, mysterious, puzzling, thrilling, action filled, multiple plot threads, different POVs (including serial killer), haunting, psychological

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: fast-paced, menacing, thrilling

Relevant Nonfiction Works and Authors:

Dangerous Women: why mothers, daughters, and sisters become stalkers, molesters, and murderers, by Larry A. Morris – Jennifer is a compulsive cheater who propels Rick Bentz to return to Southern California and find out if she is still alive and plotting revenge against him for her death 12 years earlier. Readers may enjoy this exploration of what causes women to behave psychotically.

Mistaken identity: two families, one survivor, unwavering hope, by Don Van Ryn – Rick spends nearly the entire book second-guessing his identification of Jennifer’s body at the scene of her car accident. Ryn’s book follows a true case of mistaken identity thanks to a car accident.

In the Still of the Night, by Ann Rule – It is revealed in the prologue that Jennifer did not kill herself but was instead being stalked by someone who may have murdered her. Rule’s true crime story follows the investigation of a death ruled as a suicide but may have been a murder.

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The Drop, by Michael Connelly – Los Angeles detective Harry Bosch investigates a serial killer and deals with office politics and corruption in this fast-paced but more character-driven mystery story also set in California and focusing on a long-unsolved mystery.

Cold Vengeance, by Doug Preston and Lincoln Child – FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast tries to figure out the details of his wife’s bizarre death 12 years ago and begins to believe it may have been a part of a greater conspiracy in this plot-driven, suspenseful tale that delves into ideas of the occult. (Note: this is a part of a sequence in a larger series; readers may want to at least start with the preceding book, Fever Dream).

Stealing Shadows, by Kay Hooper – Readers who enjoy the psychic yet realistic character of Olivia Bentz may also like Hooper’s protagonist Cassie Neill. Neill is a member of the LAPD who has used her telepathic powers to try and stop serial killers in this fast-paced romantic suspense tale.

The Andromeda Strain

February 22, 2012

Author:  Michael Crichton

Title:  The Andromeda Strain

Genre:  techno thriller, medical suspense, science fiction

Publication Date:  1969

Number of Pages:  285

Geographical Setting:  Arizona

Time Period:  Late 1960s

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary:  When a government satellite lands in a small Arizona town killing all but two people, a team of four scientists are called upon to investigate the extraterrestrial virus that entered the earth’s atmosphere with the satellite.  From a top-secret military base in Nevada, they work to identify the virus, discover similarities between the two survivors, and find a cure before the virus causes millions to perish.   Maps, computer data, and details of microbiology sprinkled throughout the novel, add a feel of authenticity to this techno thriller that will both frighten and inform the reader.

Subject Headings:  Viruses, Microbiology, Extraterrestrial Life, Satellites, Medical Suspense, Medical Technology

Appeal:  fast-paced, suspenseful, foreboding, dramatic, cinematic, investigative, plot-centered, informative, jargon-filled, well-researched, accurate, details of microbiology

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  suspenseful, investigative, plot-centered

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Coming Plague:  Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance by Laurie Garrett- The Coming Plague examines the outbreak of recent diseases and what can be done to preclude new plagues.  Both The Andromeda Strain and The Coming Plague have viruses as a main topic

First Contact:  Scientific Breakthroughs in the Hunt for Life Beyond Earth by Marc Kaufman- Using recent scientific research, Kaufman provides evidence for the probable existence of extraterrestrial life. First Contact will appeal to readers interested in the extraterrestrial microorganisms in The Andromeda Strain.

Virus Hunter:  Thirty Years of Battling Hot Viruses Around the World by C.J. Peters- A top official at the CDC recounts his career battling viruses.  Virus Hunter will appeal to those readers who enjoyed the individual experiences of the doctors in The Andromeda Strain.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors (why they are similar):

The Cobra Event by Richard Preston- Government officials attempt to stop a scientist who uses a new virus to depopulate the human race.  Both The Andromeda Strain and The Cobra Event are fast-paced, jargon-filled, medical suspense novels about viruses.

The Hades Factor by Robert Ludlum- An army virologist works to identify and cure an unknown virus before millions perish.  Like The Andromeda Strain, The Hades Factor is a fast-paced, medical suspense novel that deals with viruses.

Invasive Procedures by Orson Scott Card- A virologist works to stop a geneticist who is altering human DNA for evil purposes.  Like The Andromeda Strain, Invasive Procedures is a fast-paced, medical suspense novel dealing with a virus and a top-secret agency.


Live to Tell by Lisa Gardner

October 5, 2011

Author: Gardner, Lisa

Title: Live to Tell

Genre: Suspense

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 385

Geographical Setting: Boston, Massachusetts

Time Period: present day

Series: Fourth

Plot Summary:  Live to Tell is a gripping psychological thriller featuring Boston Police Detective DD Warren in the fourth book in a series.  DD is called to the aftermath of a grisly murder at a middle class home on a humid August night in Boston.  A mother and three young children are found dead in their home, apparently murdered by their father in a fit of rage, who then turned the gun on himself.  DD, a tough talking, attractive head of a homicide unit, just begins investigating when the following evening brings another horrific crime:  a second family is found dead in their home.  The two events lead DD and Alex, an ex-detective who has a romantic interest in DD, to believe that there is more to these cases than a simple case of murder/suicide.  Are these two crimes connected and is there still a murderer at large who will target more families?  Clues lead the detectives to investigate at an intensive care psych ward for children, where they meet the dedicated nurse Danielle, who has is still haunted by her own lurid past.  Multiple story lines begin to converge as Detective Warren gets closer to the murderer, but the case is not solved before more deaths occur.  Many twists and turns will keep readers guessing before they get to the harrowing conclusion in this dark and disturbing page turner.

 Subject Headings: Police Massachusetts Boston, Fiction.

Family Death, Fiction.

Murder Investigation, Fiction.

Mystery fiction.

Appeal Terms: engrossing, fast-paced, compelling, dangerous, dark, suspenseful, violent, multiple plot lines, plot-twists, thought-provoking, psychological, well-researched, vivid, disturbing, harrowing

Three best appeal terms: fast-paced, psychological, thrilling

Relevant Works and Authors (Fiction):

Lisa Jackson, Born to Die. Like Live to Tell, This romantic suspense novel also features serial murders, a smart female detective, and is a fast paced page turner.

Tess Garritson, Boday Double. This dark and twisted psychological suspense novel also features a strong female detective, a homicide investigation, and takes place on the streets of Boston.

Sandra Brown, Smash Cut.  This thriller is packed with surprises and features well researched psychological plot twists that will keep the reader guessing.

Relevant Works and Authors (Nonfiction):

Sebastian Junger,  A Death in Belmont.  This nonfiction true crime page turner tells of a murder investigation that takes place in Boston in 1963.    Readers who enjoy homicide investigbations that take place in Boston should like this true account. Like Live to Tell, this features multiple story lines as three lives begin to converge over this harrowing and disturbing case.

Michael Newton, Savage girls and wild boys : a history of feral children. Live to Tell features the character of Lucy, a child who is so severly abused that she has become feral, and possesses traits of animals.  This book will help readers gain a better understanding of this disturbing psychosis.

Anna Alvarez, Live Company: Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy with Autistic, Borderline, Deprived and Abused Children.  Live to Tell features an intensive psych hospital for children and violent and abused children characters.  Readers who want to know more about the mental diseases that can occur in children who have been violently abused, and their treatment options, should read this book.