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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.

Red Swan by P.T. Deutermann

Red Swan by P. T. Deutermann (standalone)

One of the most talent yet unheralded authors in the Mystery-Thriller-Suspense genre is P.T. Deutermann. He’s written a great 4-book series featuring Cam Richter, a Sheriff in North Carolina with his two German shepherds you wouldn’t mind having alongside. He’s also written a superbly realistic and engrossing series focused on naval operations during WWII.

I’ve now read all of his 21 novels, and on many occasions, I’ve read the book jacket, and thought, “Umm, I’m not so sure about this one” … and then it turns out to be just as great as its predecessors.

I’ve stopped thinking about it now because every book he writes is superbly interesting, intricate, suspenseful and the words flow smoothly from his pen.

Do yourself a favor. Don’t overlook this fabulous author. He seems to be one of the least known in this genre, but undeservedly so, He’s a terrific author at the top of his game.

You could start with Cat Dancers in the Cam Richter series or Pacific Glory, the first book in his thrilling naval series … or start with Red Swan if you want his latest novel.

“Set in contemporary Washington D.C., Red Swan begins with an ominous phone call from Carson McGill, the Deputy Director of Operations in the CIA, to retired CIA officer Preston Allender. Henry Wallace is dead. A behind-the-scenes operator at the CIA, Wallace was integral to the Agency’s secret war against China’s national intelligence service, which infiltrates government and military offices, major businesses, and systems crucial to our security. Wallace had severely damaged China’s Washington spy ring with a devastating ruse, a so-called ”black swan,” in which a deep-undercover female agent targeted and destroyed a key Chinese official. Now, Wallace’s mysterious death suggests that the CIA itself has been compromised and that China has someone inside the Agency. [Amazon]

“But as Allender quietly investigates, he makes a shocking discovery that will upend the entire American intelligence apparatus. For Wallace’s black swan operation may have been turned against the CIA; a red swan is flying and the question is: who is she, what is her target, and where will she land?”


K-Street by M.A. Lawson

K-Street by M.A. Lawson (Kay Hamilton #3)

M.A. Lawson is the pen name of Mike Lawson, an established author of the Joe DeMarco series, an excellent series about the unsung aide to the Speaker of the House, who’s always cleaning up the Speaker’s messes … and one of the only protagonists I know who doesn’t carry a gun.

Kay Hamilton is his first female heroine and DOES carry a gun. K-Street is the 3rd book in the series. She’s tough-talking, takes no prisoners and is not easily dissuaded from whatever course she pursues.

“It’s been almost a year since Kay Hamilton was fired from the DEA for going rogue. Since then, she’s been employed by the Callahan Group, a covert intelligence agency based in Washington, D.C. Her job description is as dubious as the people she works for, and the undercover mission that nearly killed her in Viking Bay has Hamilton questioning the legitimacy of her employers.”

“When Hamilton arrives at the Callahan Group’s K Street office to tender her resignation, she unwittingly interrupts a deadly heist during which the robbers have stolen the company safe and left her boss gravely injured. She knows that Thomas Callahan doesn’t keep much cash in the safe—the men must have been after something other than money. But before Callahan slips into a coma, he whispers a name that will lead Kay to an organization even more secretive than the Callahan Group: the NSA.” [Amazon]

As I always suggest, start with the first book in the series, Rosarito Beach.


The Late Show by Michael Connelly

The Late Show by Michael Connelly (Rene Ballard #1)

For the first time following 20 books in the Harry Bosch series, Michael Connelly has developed a new character … introducing Renee Ballard, a fierce young detective fighting to prove herself on the LAPD’s toughest beat.

Here’s a quick description of The Late Show:

“Renee Ballard works the night shift in Hollywood–also known as the Late Show–beginning many investigations but finishing none, as each morning she turns everything over to the day shift. A once up-and-coming detective, she’s been given this beat as punishment after filing a sexual harassment complaint against a supervisor.

But one night she catches two assignments she doesn’t want to part with: the brutal beating of a prostitute left for dead in a parking lot and the killing of a young woman in a nightclub shooting. Ballard is determined not to give up at dawn. Against orders and her partner’s wishes, she works both cases by day while maintaining her shift by night. As the investigations entwine, they pull her closer to her own demons and the reason she won’t give up her job, no matter what the department throws at her.” [Amazon]

It took me a while to warm up to Renee, but she is an interesting character with a markedly different background. I’m sure Connelly will continue to flush out her features as this series continues.


Dead Drop by Marc Cameron

Dead Drop by Marc Cameron (Jericho Quinn #7.5)

The bad-ass SpecOps characters continue to pile up. Here’s the most current list:

  • the Jonathan Graves series from John Gilstrap,
  • the John Rain series from Barry Eisler,
  • the Dewey Andreas series from Ben Coes, and
  • the Scot Harvath series from Brad Thor

Now in Dead Drop, #7.5, comes another of my favorites in Jericho Quinn, another former Navy seal with his giant companion, Jaques Thibodaux in short story set in a water park.

“Every summer, thousands of families head to the nation’s largest water park, famous for its 21-story waterslide the ”Dead Drop.“ This year, one visitor didn’t pack his bathing suit. He packed explosives. When the bomb goes off, dozens of people are instantly killed. The rest are herded into the park’s massive pool by the bomber’s accomplices. An organized team of fanatical but well-trained terrorists, they seal off the entrances, turn the waterslide into a watchtower, and train their sights on the families below. But one hostage isn’t playing along. He’s special agent Jericho Quinn. He’s on vacation with his daughter. And he’s about to turn this terrorist pool party into one righteous blood bath …” (Amazon)


Use of Force by Brad Thor

Use of Force by Brad Thor (Scot Harvath #17)

It’s quite the season for the bad-ass SpecOps characters that are filling up my bookshelf. Over the last few weeks, I’ve read and shared with you the latest novel from:

  • the Jonathan Graves series from John Gilstrap,
  • the John Rain series from Barry Eisler, and
  • the Dewey Andreas series from Ben Coes.

This is not a group of guys you want to mess with.

Now in Use of Force, #17 in his series, comes another of my favorites in Scot Harvath, a former Navy seal who has become a covert counterterrorism operative, black cover all the way.

“As a storm rages across the Mediterranean Sea, a terrifying distress call is made to the Italian Coast Guard. Days later, a body washes ashore. Identified as a high value terrorism suspect (who had disappeared three years prior), his name sends panic through the Central Intelligence Agency. Where was he headed? What was he planning? And could he be connected to the ”spectacular attack“ they have been fearing all summer? In a race against time, the CIA taps an unorthodox source to get answers: Navy SEAL turned covert counterterrorism operative, Scot Harvath.” [Amazon]

As always, I suggest starting with The Lions of Lucerne, the first book in the series.


Final Target by John Gilstrap

Final Target by John Gilstrap (Jonathan Grave #8)

I also love it when old friends like Scorpion, Boxers and Mother Hen return to the page.

I’ve written about this series before when Friendly Fire came out last year. Grave is a hostage rescue specialist who only gets the impossible assignments, always behind the curtain with no rules and ultimate deniability.

In Final Target, Scorpion’s mission this time:

“Drop into the Mexican jungle, infiltrate a drug cartel’s compound, and extract a kidnapped DEA agent. But when Jonathan Grave and his partner, Boxers, retrieve the hostage and return to the exfil point, all hell breaks loose. Ambushed, abandoned, and attacked on all sides, their only hope of survival lies inside a remote orphanage where innocent children have been targeted for death. ”

If you love the Mystery-Thriller-Suspense genre, you’ll love Jonathan Grave and Final Target.


Zero Sum by Barry Eisler

Zero Sum by Barry Eisler (John Rain #9)

I love John Rain and I’m glad to see Barry Eisler is keeping him on the page. He is a skilled assassin, but one with a heart and soul … and values that rarely accompany his profession … although you may be understandably dubious about what values John Rain embodies.

In any case, you definitely don’t want to mess with him.

– “In Zero Sum, Rain returns to Tokyo in 1982 after a decade of mercenary work in the Philippines. A young John Rain learns that the killing business is now controlled by Victor, a half-Russian, half-Japanese sociopath who has ruthlessly eliminated all potential challengers. Victor gives Rain a choice: kill a government minister or die a grisly death. But the best route to the minister is through his gorgeous Italian wife, Maria, a route that puts Rain on a collision course not only with Victor but with the shadowy forces behind the Russian’s rise to dominance—and the longings of Rain’s own conflicted heart.” [Amazon]

I highly recommend the 8 novels in Barry Eisler’s John Rain series, starting with the first one, A Clean Kill in Tokyo.

I also love his new series that started with Livia Lone … who is one tough cookie!

If you’re looking for a little action … and for someone who doesn’t wait for the system to deliver justice deserved … John Rain is your man.


Herman Wouk

Herman Wouk is Still Writing at the Age of 102

You may not remember Herman Wouk, but if you’re a fan of this genre, you’ve probably read one or both of The Caine Mutiny or The Winds of War, that great story of World War II that debuted in 1971 and became a huge TV series in 1983.

Herman Wouk is still writing at the age of 102, and when I watched him in this video update, he remains as articulate in speech and writing as you can imagine for anyone, let alone anyone near his age. Remarkable!


The Switch by Joseph Finder

The Switch by Joseph Finder

I’ve always enjoyed Joseph Finder’s books and I don’t think I’ve missed any.

Like most writers in this genre, he’s created a recurring hero, Nick Heller, a Special Forces intelligence investigator (who does not appear here), but the majority of his novels are standalones.

In The Switch, a simple mix up throws one innocent man into the crosshairs of sinister government secrets and ruthless political ambitions.

“Michael Tanner is on his way home from a business trip when he accidentally picks up the wrong MacBook in the TSA security line at LAX. He doesn’t notice the mix-up until he arrives home in Boston, but by then it’s too late. Tanner’s curiosity gets the better of him when he discovers that the owner is a US senator and that the laptop contains top secret files.” (JosephFinder.com)


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”.