One of the fascinations of thrillers is the way they take us out of our normal lives and throw us into the kinds of situations most of us will never face. I know that I personally will never be an FBI agent or a top New York City police officer, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to experience the excitements of those jobs vicariously, through a well-written thriller, and that’s great because both Dean Koontz and Don Winslow (both masters of the genre) have just published new thrillers in which the main characters are, respectively, an FBI agent and a high powered New York City Police officer.
Dean Koontz, a bestselling author, is starting a new series with his book, The Silent Corner, featuring Jane Hawk, an FBI agent who’s nobody’s fool, brave and resourceful and stubborn enough to follow clues no matter where they might lead. At the outset of the book, she’s mourning her brilliant and talented husband who, for no reason anyone could understand, abruptly committed suicide. Whenever someone commits suicide, the survivors spend a lot of time trying to understand the causes, but in this case, Jane’s more confused than most. Her husband showed no signs of depression, no unusual worries, no behavioral changes. There seemed to be no reason for him to kill himself when and as he did. Jane discovers something odd: her husband wasn’t the only bright, successful person to commit suicide more or less out of the blue recently. In fact, the number of suicides has been skyrocketing, and Jane starts digging to find out why. What links these bizarre deaths? Could someone or something be orchestrating them? Jane finds herself on the run, off the grid, trying to find the answers while at the same time dodging the people who want to kill her to keep her from learning the truth, people who will stop at nothing to protect their secret. Their mistake is taking on the wrong person, because Jane is as cold-blooded, as ruthless, and as relentless as they are, and she’s not stopping.
If you read Don Winslow’s previous thriller, The Cartel, then you know he understands the world of police officers and criminals deeply. His newest book, The Force, shows us New York City through the eyes of Denny Malone, an eighteen year veteran of the police, known as the King of Manhattan North, the leader of an elite special unit waging war on gangs, guns and drugs without any restrictions. He’s seen it all, been through everything the city could throw at a cop, and he would do whatever it takes to protect his city, whether by legal means or illegal ones. What most people don’t know about Denny is that he’s dirty himself. After one of the biggest drug busts in the city’s history, Denny and his friends stole millions of dollars in heroin and cash. Now the FBI is squeezing him, and he’s trying to protect himself, the woman he loves, his brothers and sisters in blue, and somehow survive in the maelstrom he’s partially created for himself, as the city itself totters on the verge of a racial conflagration. If you’re a fan of Joseph Wambaugh (or am I dating myself?), or the television series, The Wire, or the books of Ed McBain, then you’re going to love The Force.