Last year, I did two posts like this (here and here), and it seemed to work…so here’s this year’s group of guaranteed books. Here’s the deal:

I’m so confident in these stories, that if you buy one of the books below and don’t like it, I will buy you a replacement book. All I ask is that you give the book in question a fair shot, and if you buy a hard copy, that you donate it to a worthy cause when you get the replacement.

Sound good? I hope so.

Here are the books, in order of release…

IF YOU WERE HERE by Alafair Burke (June 4)

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Alafair Burke’s books. IF YOU WERE HERE, a stand-alone story, is a departure for her (and us readers) in that it’s a psychological mystery rather than police procedural. In it, reporter McKenna Wright unravels a story that has a deeply personal hook, one that puts her actions in the present and past into sharp focus, with troubling results.

McKenna is not a textbook heroine in that she is far from perfect—and she is fascinating for it. As her investigation progresses, we learn that she, like all of us, has made and continues to make mistakes. And as interesting as McKenna is, the characters that surround her give this story a richness and complexity that is all-too rare.

If you’ve never read Alafair Burke, IF YOU WERE HERE is a fine place to start. At several points, I found myself wanting to grab characters off the page and yell at them because I was that wrapped up in the story. IF YOU WERE HERE gives readers plenty to think about, and reminds us why we love great stories.

THE SEVENTH DAY by Scott Shepherd (June 4)

“Scott who?” you ask… Scott Shepherd isn’t new to storytelling. He’s been writing and producing TV shows for as long as I’ve been watching them, and his credits include some favorites, like “Miami Vice,” “The Equalizer,” and “Quantum Leap.” THE SEVENTH DAY is his first novel, and it’s being released as a Kindle Serial. That means that when you buy it, you get the first installment, and then every two weeks you get another.

THE SEVENTH DAY is absolutely not my standard reading fare, but I’ve been loving reading it. It is set in a post-apocalyptic world and concerns Joad—who is trying to get home and back to his wife, whom he hasn’t seen since the world went kaplooey—and his cunning companion Fixer, a dad and his step-daughter, and four brothers who, suffice to say, none of us would want to encounter in a dark alley.

Joad embodies what we love most about white-hatted cowboys, and his adventures and interactions make for a story that will have you lose all track of time and place. If you like stories you can get lost in, this fits the bill.

BAD MONKEY by Carl Hiaasen (June 11)

Hiaasen is back in fine form, with an underdog hero who’s been unfairly fired from the Monroe County sheriff’s department, a smokin’ hot medical examiner, a cast of soul-less baddies, and, yes, a monkey (who, for the record, is not all bad). We love Hiaasen for his humor, yes, but it is his social commentary I adore most. That, and the fact that, yes, these people really do live in Florida.

This one is simply too much fun to miss.


UNSEEN by Karin Slaughter (July 2)

Lena Adams, the character Karin Slaughter’s readers love to hate, takes center stage in Karin Slaughter’s latest. Is Lena an evil bitch, or is she misunderstood? Does she just have an incredible knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Like all of Karin Slaughter’s stories, this one is a doozy, an intricate, grab-you-by-the-throat tale. As Lena, Will Trent, and Sara Linton’s paths collide, they surprise even those of us who think we know them well, and some of their choices and actions are frighteningly shocking.

At its core, this is a “Who Is He” mystery, and for readers new to Karin Slaughter, this aspect of the book will likely stand out more than the character-focused bits. That she so masterfully balances the two is testament to why I never hesitate to recommend her books.

THE LAST WORD by Lisa Lutz (July 9)

This is the latest Spellman tale by Lisa Lutz, again ably narrated by Izzy Spellman, the funny and wise-beyond-her-years private investigator who roams San Francisco cleaning up after people, often herself included.

THE LAST WORD has a different tone than the previous Spellman tales, and I loved it. It’s still funny, but it’s a little less madcap. Izzy is—gasp!—maturing. And she’s doing so gracefully.

I don’t often recommend reading series in order, but with this one, I would recommend reading the previous book before diving in to this one. It’s not absolutely necessary—you won’t be lost if you don’t—but it will help you catch some of the story’s subtleties.

LIGHT OF THE WORLD by James Lee Burke (July 23)

I cannot conceive of a world in which James Lee Burke writes a book I don’t enjoy, although I do adore some more than others. In LIGHT OF THE WORLD, Dave Robicheaux and the gang—Clete, Alafair, Molly, and Gretchen Horowitz—are in Montana, and I’d be lying if I said that taking Dave and Clete out of Louisiana didn’t make me nervous. But I need not have worried.

In LIGHT OF THE WORLD, James Lee Burke creates one of his most memorable villains, Asa Surette, and because he paints Asa is such vivid relief, I suspect that this book will be largely characterized as being about the evil that dwells in men’s’ hearts and souls. To me, though, this is a book about the light that shines through us all when we allow it to do so. It is a story of love and loyalty. About overcoming the crap we all deal with from the day we come screaming into the world.

It is about pain and beauty. And fishing and ham and onion sandwiches. And the safety that comes only with being surrounded by those you love and respect, and what happens when that security is threatened.

The language is, of course, quintessentially JLB; I consider my vocabulary strong, but am happy to admit that I had to look up several words as I read. So in addition to a breathtaking story and copious food for thought and consideration, I gained new words. I can’t say that about many authors. Please, don’t miss this one.

THE DYING HOURS by Mark Billingham (August 6)

Having made a brief cameo in RUSH OF BLOOD, Tom Thorne is back in force in THE DYING HOURS. In it, Thorne has been demoted (sort of) and when he finds a crime that only he can see, he colors outside the proverbial lines to solve it.

If police procedurals are your thing, you need to know Thorne. If you’re already a fan, you’ll enjoy this one for sure.


SANDRINE’S CASE by Thomas H. Cook (August 6)

I can’t remember the last legal thriller I read before SANDRINE’S CASE that really, truly held my attention; I used to read a lot of them, but haven’t in recent years because they kind of all started to run together. This one is unusual because while it is certainly a legal thriller, it is as much the story of a troubled man, his (possibly) equally unstable wife, and their love (and hate) story.



HUMAN REMAINS by Elizabeth Haynes (August 20)

As I write this, I’m not yet finished with HUMAN REMAINS, but I’m including it here because it is clearly Elizabeth Haynes’ best book so far, and her previous ones were fantastic. This one is about one of the most unusual series of murders I’ve ever read about, and is a perfect showcase of the author’s trademark psychological-keep-you-up-all-night suspense. I’ll predict right now that this one will make a lot of noise come awards season!

So there you have it. The money-back-guarantee list. I hope you’ll check out these stories…you won’t be sorry!