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Welcome to my Fiction Library. Here, you’ll find all of the novels that I’ve included in Sword Tips, the weekly Exkalibur Newsletter. These novels are invariably in the Mystery-Thriller-Suspense genre and usually are part of a regular series with a recurring protagonist. You can always come back here as a reminder of a book or author I’ve mentioned, to find a great escape from the demands of the business day or as a handy reference for books you want to read.


Camino Island by John Grisham

Camino Island by John Grisham

If you read anything in the Mystery-Thriller-Suspense genre, you must have read something from John Grisham, so if you’re waiting, here’s his summer Beach Read.

Since first publishing A Time to Kill in 1988, Grisham has written one novel a year and now has over 300 million books in print worldwide.

In Camino Island, A gang of thieves stage a daring heist from a secure vault deep below Princeton University’s Firestone Library. Their loot is priceless, but Princeton has insured it for twenty-five million dollars.

  • “Bruce Cable owns a popular bookstore in the sleepy resort town of Santa Rosa on Camino Island in Florida. He makes his real money, though, as a prominent dealer in rare books. Very few people know that he occasionally dabbles in the black market of stolen books and manuscripts.
  • Mercer Mann is a young novelist with a severe case of writer’s block who has recently been laid off from her teaching position. She is approached by an elegant, mysterious woman working for an even more mysterious company. A generous offer of money convinces Mercer to go undercover and infiltrate Bruce Cable’s circle of literary friends, ideally getting close enough to him to learn his secrets.
  • But eventually Mercer learns far too much, and there’s trouble in paradise as only John Grisham can deliver it.” Amazon

You can see a short video of Grisham’s conversation about his book at Book Expo, or see more here about what he calls his “beach read”.

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J.K. Rowling & the Harry Potter Empire

J.K. Rowling & the Harry Potter Empire

I’m diverging a bit today from my usual recommendation to celebrate the incredible saga of J.K. Rowling’s fiction career … justified even more because, as you’ll see, she is already 3 books into a crime series of her own.

Monday was the 20th Anniversary of publication in Great Britain of first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, published in September in the U.S. under the name, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It’s the 5th best-selling book of all time, selling an astounding 107 million copies.

The Harry Potter series is the best-selling book series of all time, and the other 6 books in the Harry Potter series have each sold between 50–100 million copies.

“The last four books consecutively set records as the fastest-selling books in history, with the final installment selling roughly 11 Million copies in the United States within 24 hours of its release.” Wikipedia

Incredibly …

“The original seven books were adapted into an eight-part film series by Warner Bros. Pictures, which has become the second highest-grossing film series of all time as of August 2015.

“In 2016, the total value of the Harry Potter franchise was estimated at $25 billion, making Harry Potter one of the highest-grossing media franchises of all time.” Wikipedia

Like many of you, I’ve been intrigued by her story and how she tediously and laboriously plotted the entire series:

“Jo conceived the idea of Harry Potter in 1990 while sitting on a delayed train from Manchester to London King’s Cross. Over the next five years, she began to map out all seven books of the series. She wrote mostly in longhand and gradually built up a mass of notes, many of which were scribbled on odd scraps of paper.” JKR Website

Her output is prodigious as she has followed the Harry Potter series with not only the film adaptation of the books, but …

  • 2 books based on the titles of Harry’s school books within the novels,
  • a novel for adults being adapted for TV by the BBC, and a 3-book (so far) crime series featuring private detective Cormoran Strike (with another BBC series underway),
  • an original new story for the stage. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two is now running at The Palace Theatre in London’s West End,
  • her screenwriting debut with the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a further extension of the Wizarding World, marking the start of a five-film series to be written by the author.

Whew.

By any measure, an incredible story of achievement that few authors can even image.

Way to go, Jo!

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G-Man by Stephen Hunter

G-Man by Stephen Hunter

Finally, my ol’ buddy, Bob Lee “the Nailer” Swagger is back in the 10th novel in this series from Stephen Hunter, a Pulitzer Prize winning author and journalist. In this the latest episode in the Bob Lee Swagger saga, Bob Lee is uncovering his family’s secret tommy gun war with 1930s gangsters like John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson.

In G-Man, Swagger is a retired Marine Gunnery Sergeant and the most heralded sniper in Marine Corp history. Interestingly, his fictional character is loosely based on USMC Scout Sniper Carlos Hathcock.

Hathcock’s record and the extraordinary details of the missions he undertook made him a legend in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was honored by having a rifle named after him: a variant of the M21 dubbed the Springfield Armory M25 White Feather, for the nickname “White Feather” given to Hathcock by the North Vietnamese Army. Wikipedia.

Bob Lee is the main character in the movie, Shooter, starring Mark Wahlberg. The stories of Bob Lee have also become a an excellent TV series by the same name starring Ryan Phillippe, which I’m happy to say is returning in July for a 2nd season on USA Network.

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Testimony by Scott Turow

Testimony by Scott Turow

It takes a talented writer like Scott Turow to tackle the theme of the Bosnian War.

In Testimony, his character, Bill ten Boom, … yes, that name is correct … investigates the murder of 400 members of a Gypsy refugee camp that has been brought before the International Criminal Court at the Hague in the Netherlands.

“Bill ten Boom has walked out on everything he thought was important to him: his career, his wife, Kindle County, even his country. Still, when he is tapped to examine the disappearance of an entire Gypsy refugee camp—unsolved for ten years—he feels drawn to what will become the most elusive case of his career.

While it’s obviously a fictional account, the story also educates us about a war that most people know very little about. Good stuff from Turow … as always!

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True Evil by Greg Iles

True Evil by Greg Iles

Just over one month ago, I said that if you’re hankering for something to read … maybe to carry you into summer and beyond … you should tackle the Penn Cage series from Greg Iles starting with the first book,, The Quiet Game. I had just finished the 6th novel in the Penn Cage series, Mississippi Blood, and the final book in the Natchez Trilogy (which comprises Book #s 4–6) arrived and it is absolutely fabulous.

Now, Iles has published his latest thriller, True Evil. It takes place in the same area of Natchez, Mississippi, with only a passing reference to some of the characters Iles identified in his Penn Cage series … except for Dr. Chris Sheppard who is the partner of Dr. Cage, Penn Cage’s father.

You’ll thank me for introducing you to Greg Iles if you haven’t already found him, and this book is no exception. An outstanding series and author … and I don’t say that about too many of the hundreds of writers I’ve read in this genre.

“Dr. Chris Shepard has never seen his new patient before. But the attractive young woman with the scarred face knows him all too well. An FBI agent working undercover, Alex Morse has come to Dr. Shepard’s office in Natchez, Mississippi, to unmask a killer. A local divorce attorney has a cluster of clients whose spouses have all died under mysterious circumstances. Agent Morse’s own brother-in-law was one of those clients, and now her beloved sister is dead. Then comes Morse’s bombshell: Dr. Shepard’s own beautiful wife consulted this lawyer one week ago, a visit Shepard knew nothing about. Will he help Alex Morse catch a killer? Or is he the next one to fall victim to a deadly trap of sex, lies, and murder?”

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Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane

Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane

Dennis Lehane, famous for his books like Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone and Shutter Island which were made into movies, has now published his 10th novel, Since We Fell.

Since We Fell follows Rachel Childs, a former journalist who, after an on-air mental breakdown, now lives as a virtual shut-in. In all other respects, however, she enjoys an ideal life with an ideal husband. Until a chance encounter on a rainy afternoon causes that ideal life to fray. As does Rachel’s marriage. As does Rachel herself. Sucked into a conspiracy thick with deception, violence, and possibly madness, Rachel must find the strength within herself to conquer unimaginable fears and mind-altering truths.” Amazon

It takes a little time to get into it but it picks up speed when Rachel discovers what she’s really dealing with. It’s not my favorite Lehane novel, but if you like more psychological tension in your novels, this is for you.

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The Lost Order by Steve Berry

The Lost Order by Steve Berry

Steve Berry is back and has written a fascinating book in the Cotton Malone series that fictionalizes (but nowhere near as much as you think) about the Knights of the Golden Circle, the largest and most dangerous clandestine organization in American history.

In The Lost Order, the battle lines are drawn:

“The Knights amassed billions in stolen gold and silver, all buried in hidden caches across the United States. Since 1865 treasure hunters have searched, but little of that immense wealth has ever been found. Now, one hundred and sixty years later, two factions of what remains of the Knights want that lost treasure—one to spend it for their own ends, the other to preserve it. Thrust into this battle is former Justice Department agent Cotton Malone, whose connection to the knights is far deeper than he ever imagined.”

BTW … one faction also intends to upend the Constitution with a lawful twist that will have you wondering whether that might really be possible.

History lies at the heart of every Steve Berry novel. It’s his passion, one he shares with his wife, Elizabeth, which led them to create History Matters, a foundation dedicated to historic preservation. Since 2009 Steve and Elizabeth have crossed the country to save endangered historic treasures, raising money via lectures, receptions, galas, luncheons, dinners and their popular writers’ workshops.

Here is the trailer and TV commercial for The Lost Order.

As always for a character-driven series, I recommend starting with Book #1, The Templar Legacy.

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Golden Prey by John Sandford

Golden Prey by John Sandford

I just finished another great story from the pen of John Sandford, the pseudonym of John Roswell Camp, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist whose 27th Lucas Davenport novel, Golden Prey, was just released.

Lucas is now a U.S. Marshall for the first time, no longer working for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and has been given a wide berth to pick his own cases.

In Biloxi, Mississippi, a drug-cartel counting house gets robbed, and suitcases full of cash disappear, leaving behind five bodies, including that of a six-year-old girl. Davenport takes the case, which quickly spirals out of control, as cartel assassins, including a torturer known as the “Queen of home-improvement tools” compete with him to find the Dixie Hicks shooters who knocked over the counting house.”

If you want to follow the 25+ year career of Lucas Davenport and discover great mystery series, start with the first “Prey” novel, Rules of Prey.

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The Fix by David Baldacci

The Fix by David Baldacci

Amos Decker is an interesting character. He’s a former professional football player who was violently hit on his first play resulting in severe injuries and changes to his brain. Using his newly acquired mental abilities (Synesthesia and Hyperthymesia, which gives him total memory recall), he becomes first a police officer and later an extraordinary detective who – because of his life-changing injury – remembers everything, including painful things he would give anything to forget.

In this 3rd book in the series, Amos Decker witnesses a murder just outside FBI headquarters. A man shoots a woman execution-style on a crowded sidewalk, then turns the gun on himself. Decker and his team can find absolutely no connection between the shooter–a family man with a successful consulting business–and his victim, a schoolteacher. Nor is there a hint of any possible motive for the attack.

A very unique character indeed. As I always, I suggest you start with the first book in the series, Memory Man.

David Baldacci published his first novel, Absolute Power, in 1996. A feature film followed, with Clint Eastwood as its director and star. In total, David has published 33 novels for adults; all have been national and international bestsellers, and several have been adapted for film and television. His novels have been translated into more than 45 languages and sold in more than 80 countries; over 110 million copies are in print worldwide.

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Mississippi Blood by Greg Iles

Mississippi Blood by Greg Iles

If you’re hankering for something to read … maybe to carry you into summer and beyond … you’ll want to include me in your will for recommending this book and the entire Penn Cage series. Here’s my address ….

Finally, the 6th novel in the Penn Cage series, Mississippi Blood, and the final book in the Natchez Trilogy (which comprises Book #s 4-6) arrived and it is absolutely fabulous,

Last summer, I described the terrific series from Greg Iles starring Penn Cage, a lawyer turned novelist turned Mayor, who has to deal with a murder charge leveled against his father, a beloved local doctor for over 40 years, who is accused of killing the African American nurse with whom he worked in the 1960s.

But his father invokes doctor-patient privilege and refuses to speak in his own defense. The quest for the truth unravels sexually-charged secrets, vestiges of the KKK and some of the most powerful men in Mississippi.

At around 700pp, it’s shorter than its two predecessors, but brings the Natchez Trilogy to over 2,300pp. But it’s worth every moment you’ll spend.

Like all of the Penn Cage books, it’s a captivating story, rich with Southern traditions and chock-full with menace, suspense and close calls. The Natchez Burning Trilogy is being turned into an Amazon TV series starring Toby McGuire.

This is one of the best series I’ve read in a long time, remarkably different than the equally long Clifton Chronicles which is terrific for so many different reasons.

As I’ve said, when I discover a new series, I follow my own recommendation to start from the beginning. So, start with first book in this series, The Quiet Game.

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