Are you ready for a great thrill ride of a book? Then check out July’s new thrillers which run the gamut from creepy nightmare stuff to post apocalyptic survival to convicts and dogs working together.
In The Last One by Alexandra Oliva, the name of the game is survival. Zoo, the protagonist, is a contestant in a survival style television reality show. The premise of the show is that twelve people are selected and sent to the woods to face various challenges to test their endurance and their abilities. The contestants are kept from any real knowledge of what the challenges are, and cut off from all contact with the outside world, to make the show seem more real. However, in the middle of the competition, Zoo encounters what seem like real corpses and real destruction. Is this part of the show, or has there been some real disaster in the outside world that she’s not aware of? At first Zoo treats it as another of the artificial challenges set up by the show’s producers, holding herself together with her confidence that this is just a show and the producers of the show wouldn’t really let her or the other contestants die. Except that it’s not an artificial challenge. Something terrible has happened in the real world and Zoo has to navigate what she believes is a fake survival challenge that may turn out to be the real thing. This book has been compared to Station Eleven (a wonderful book, by the way) and The Passage, and if you’re doing the 2016 Reading Challenge, this could count as a post-apocalyptic novel.
For a different kind of thriller, tending toward the occult/horror, you could try Wolf Lake by John Verdon. How’s this for an intriguing premise: four people, with practically nothing in common otherwise, in four different locations, have the same nightmare on the same night, involving a dagger with a carved wolf’s head on the hilt. All four are subsequently found dead, apparent suicides, their wrists cut, the cuts made by a dagger with a carved wolf’s head on its hilt. What ties these deaths together? It turns out all of the dead people were “treated” by a Richard Hammond, a controversial psychologist who engaged in strange hypnotherapy sessions with each of them at his spooky house in the middle of the Adirondacks at Wolf Lake. The police investigation seems to avoid certain things, and Dave Gurney, the protagonist of this series, digs deeper to find out what’s really going on, putting himself in danger not only from the murderer but also from sinister corners of the Federal Government. Trapped by a blizzard himself on sinister Wolf Lake, Gurney matches wits with one of the most dangerous men he’s ever faced, with his wife’s sanity, as well as his own, on the line.
These books a little dark for you? Looking for something exciting and intriguing with (to quote from Shakespeare in Love) a bit with a dog? Try Outfoxed by David Rosenfelt. As you could guess from the cute terrier pictured on the cover, this book turns on dogs, or rather on a specific dog. Andy Carpenter, a defense lawyer by profession, is dedicated to the charity he works for on the side, the Tara Foundation, which rescues dogs and helps them get adopted. His most recent project has been to bring rescued dogs together with selected convicts to help the dogs become more adoptable and give the convicts a focus for their time behind bars. He’s especially happy about the combination of Brian Atkins, who’s got only 18 months left on a five year sentence, and his interaction with Boomer, a wire terrier rescued from a neglectful owner. The bond between man and dog is such that Andy hopes Brian will adopt Boomer after he gets released, but all Andy’s optimistic hopes are dashed when he arrives at the prison one day and discovers that both Brian and Boomer have escaped. Things get worse when the main witness against Brian at his original trial is murdered. Brian is arrested, though he protests his innocence. Andy ends up with a new client and a new dog, and as he digs into the facts of the murder, he begins to discover that things are darker than they seem, and that he may be putting them all in great danger.