Cop and Robber by Tristan Bancks

Tristan Bancks is my go-to author for young readers who come into the bookshop desperate for something pacy and addictive. I can’t rave highly enough about “Two Wolves,” “Detention” and (my favourite) “The Fall.” Bancks knows how to create a killer hook, a scintillating premise that demands exploration; and his characters are always fully-fledged concoctions, accoutred with authentic foibles and imperfections. He writes thrillers with heart and personality; page-turners that pose moral dilemmas for their young protagonists. 

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The Heron’s Cry by Ann Cleeves

“The Heron’s Cry” is my first Ann Cleeves, and it most assuredly will not be my last. There’s no reason why it’s taken me so long to get around to reading the prolific creator of the Vera Stanhope mysteries and the Shetland series (among others…) — my only excuse is that I only have so much time to read so many crime writers, and Cleeves slipped through the cracks. Well, no longer.

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Shadows Reel by C.J. Box

“Shadows Reel” is not the place to start the Joe Pickett series. Never mind that it’s the twenty-second instalment — really, the expanse of a series should never prohibit new readers from jumping into the fray — but C.J. Box’s latest picks up directly from last year’s stellar “Dark Sky,” with Joe’s old pal, master-falconer Nate Romanowski teaming up with Black Lives Matter activist Geronimo Jones to hunt down Axel Soledad, who we last saw beating Nate’s wife, threatening his baby, and stealing his birds. 

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The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan

In Jessamine Chan’s “The School for Good Mothers,” Frida Liu — a recently divorced Chinese American mother of 18-month old Harriett — makes the imprudent, sleep-deprived decision to leave her daughter at home alone for a few hours to head into the office and catch up on work. When the authorities discover Harriett unattended, Frida’s parental rights are rescinded pending the outcome of her stay at a live-in rehabilitation program for bad mothers. If she can prove herself a better mother, she’ll be reunited with Harriett. If not, her parental rights will be severed entirely, and she won’t be able to see her daughter again — ever.

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The Match by Harlan Coben

I believe Harlan Coben is at his best when he writes about everyday people — like you and me — thrust into crazy situations. Take “No Second Chance,” for example, which is about Marc Seidman’s desperate measures to recover his kidnapped daughter. Or “Run Away,” when Simon Greene spots his runaway daughter in Central Park, reigniting his quest to reunite his family. 

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French Braid by Anne Tyler

My relationship with Anne Tyler seems to me like a fine wine — it improves with age. I marvel at her ability to recycle familiar themes and reconstitute them. It is incredible to think that she has been examining middle-and-working-class Baltimorean families for almost 60 years and is still able to glean the tiniest, subtlest observations that bring her characters to life, and contribute to their authentic veneer. There is no such thing as a bad Anne Tyler novel: they exist on a sliding scale that wavers between good and great. This one is somewhere in the middle, which means it’s definitely worth your time. 

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The Island by Adrian McKinty

Adrian McKinty’s The Island is an audacious, breathless, pulse-pounding survival thriller that’ll have readers biting their nails to the quick as they race through its pages to see who makes it out alive.

An idyllic working vacation to Australia turns holiday from hell when a family from Seattle ventures onto Dutch Island in Victoria, where trespassers aren’t so much prosecuted as they are, well, executed by the close-knit and sadistic clan who calls it home.

The family in question consists of father Tom, his new wife Heather, and his adolescent children, Owen and Olivia. Although Tom’s in Melbourne for a medical conference, he agrees to play tourist for a day to gratify his kids and possibly ease some of the tension between them and their step-mum. 

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To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway

This is my first Hemingway in more than 20 years, when I read The Old Man and the Sea as a teenager and was rendered aghast by how much tedium could be squeezed into fewer than 100 pages. I’ll revisit it one day, maybe; old and wiser, and all that  — but first, a sojourn through the vast swathes of Hemingway’s I haven’t read.

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Sirerra Six by Mark Greaney and Dark Horse by Gregg Hurwitz

Fifteen years ago my reading consisted exclusively of action thrillers from the likes of Robert Ludlum, Jack Higgins and Tom Clancy ― basically the stuff on my dad’s shelves. Over time, my reading tastes have broadened (I’m reticent to use the word “matured,” as I once might’ve, in an effort to appeal to the “literati,” because I think that does an injustice to the authors who pen them) and I’ve become a little more conscientious about selecting which thriller writers make the cut. 

Guys like Mark Greaney and Gregg Hurwitz write major cinematic blockbusters; other authors are a little more direct-to-video ― you know, cookie-cutter heroes, conventional plots; not necessarily bad, but certainly not as enterprising. 

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