Adrenaline Arc: Suspense–Lone Wolves

Meeting at the Lucius Beebe Memorial Library, 345 Main Street, Wakefield (781-246-6334)

Assignment for January 26, 2016:

Adrenaline Suspense: Lone Wolves Benchmark:                                             

Everyone reads Lee Child’s 61 Hours. 

Appeal to be read for January 2016 meeting: Focus on all the appeal factors, but really think about pace, character, and tone.

Please post  second title choices on this RA RT Blog. Under Submit 2nd Title Info.  Suggestions are below.

Handouts: Gannon, Michael B. Blood, Bedlam, Bullets, and Bad Guys: A Reader’s Guide to Genre Fiction. ” Introduction.” LU. 2004. pp. x-xiii.

 Saricks, Joyce, G.. The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction. “Suspense.” 2nd ed. ALA. 2009. pp.50-70.

NOTES ON MEETING–Thank you, Jerusha.


1.)  PACE– page-turning pace is necessary for the success of any titles in this genre.
2.)  TONE – Suspenseful, in some cases, menacing atmosphere
3.)  STORY LINE is character-driven for the Lone Wolf; Both character-driven or plot-driven for the spy and character-driven for Psychological Suspense.
4.) PLACE or FRAME often plays a role and is a pivotal appeal for some reading spy fiction especially.

Thank you to Jan, Diane, and Michelle for contributing to this summary.  Leane

ADRENALINE: SUSPENSE: LONE WOLVES SUGGESTIONS                                                       Titles are First in series unless otherwise noted.

 Abbott, Jeff. Adrenaline. Sam Capra series.

 Coes, Ben. Power Down. Dewey Andreas series.

 Coughlin, Jack. Kill Zone. Kyle Swanson Sniper series.

 Crais, Robert. Sunset Express., bk.6 Elvis Cole & Joe Pike series.                                                       …The Sentry; bk.14. Mostly Joe Pike.

 Flynn, Vince. American Assassin. Mitch Rapp series.

 Fury, Dalton. Black Site. Delta Force series.

 Gross, Andrew. Dark Tide. Ty Hauck series.

 Hagberg, David. Without Honor. Kirk McGarvey series.

 Haynes, Dana. Ice Cold Kill. Dana Gibron series.

 Higgins, Jack. Eye of the Storm. Sean Dillon series.

 Hilton, Matt. Dead Men’s Dust. Joe Hunter series.

 Lee, Patrick. Runner. Sam Dryden series.

 Taylor, Brad. One Rough Man. Pike Logan series.

 Thor, Brad. The Lions of Lucerne. Scott Harvath series.

 Wolf, Dick. The Intercept. Jeremy Fiske series.

Second Titles

Jan Resnick

The Watchman – Robert Crais
Appeal Factors: Fast-paced; courageous, flawed, solitary characters; intricately-plotted story line; compelling style; dark & suspenseful tone; contemporary LA

An obligation owed can have unforeseen consequences.  Joe Pike’s commits him to bodyguard a spoiled little rich girl who has survived two murder attempts so far, and two almost immediately after Joe becomes involved.

In an early morning, Larkin was involved in a traffic accident.  When she goes to help, the car pulls away and the man in the backseat disappears down an alley. The Feds determine that she can place drug dealer Alex Meesh with money launderers, the Kings, and want her as a witness.  Almost immediately killers go after her.   Where is the leak on her location:  family?  LAPD?  Bud Flynn’s security company?  The Feds?  Who is telling the truth:  family?  LAPD?  Bud Flynn’s security company?  The Feds?

To save her, Pike takes Larkin completely off the grid.  His military survival skills help keep her safe.  His experience with the violence meted out by his father helps this normally remote man empathize with his client.

Larkin is skeptical of everyone.  She hopes she can trust her father, but he has never had her interests first.  Pike is such a strange loner, she is uneasy and belligerent with him.  She also doesn’t take her situation seriously leading to dangerous moves and encounters.

The bodies pile up.  The stories don’t jive. There is betrayal and corruption.  Pike determines that the only way to find out who is after Larkin is to find Alex Meesh.  The only person Pike trusts is Elvis Cole who finds out that Meesh has been dead for years.

This is a dark, suspenseful tale with a lot of Pike’s backstory adding depth and dimension to the comic Elvis Cole’s mysterious partner.

Readers who appreciate Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, Rick Riordan’s Tres Navarre, Don Winslow’s Neal Carey series, and Andrew Klavan’s Weiss & Bishop series, should like The Watchman.

The Watchman is first in the Joe Pike stories and 11th in the Elvis Cole series.

Leane Ellis

The Killing Kind – Chris Holm

I sorta have a thing for assassins. I realize that is not healthy but I am highly intrigued by someone who is doing something terrible for the “right” reasons. For instance, Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon–we first meet him as an assassin spy and he is avenging a tremendous tragedy. Silva gets us into his head and we experience his dilemmas and choices.  Chris Holm’s novel The Killing Kind falls into the “Lone Wolf” subgenre of Suspense. Often, like Lee Child’s Reacher, this type of anti-hero is the errant “White Knight” with a code who protects and defends others, usually innocents, who do not have his skill set. Michael Hendricks is a former covert operative for the US Army who becomes a hitman who only kills other hitmen. The ride Holm provides is action-packed with a well-developed and sometimes witty story line, and a very compelling conflicted protagonist who makes a profit on his hits but has his own set of ethics.  The villains are numerous and varied and his main adversaries are very well drawn.  Miami, Portland, ME, and a mid-western casino feel real, as does the gruesome and bloody violence that punctuate the pages.  I would have liked more substance from the character of the FBI agent on Michael’s trail but that may come in sequels. Not for cozy readers–the descriptions are real and painful to read. Even when you know what’s coming, you will remain riveted to the page because Holm builds suspense brilliantly. This is an excellent foundation for a series or a trilogy and presents us with an anti-hero you want to root for even as you flinch at his choices.

Jessica Atherton

Ice Cold Kill – Dana Haynes
Appeal Factors: Fast Paced, Accessible, Action Oriented

Daria Gabron, a former Israeli assassin, finds herself framed for a plot against the president. This might disturb anyone else’s day, but Daria takes it all in stride as she cleverly escapes from capture by the CIA and French police. After discovering the presidential attack is a red herring, Daria uses her brains, brawn, and beauty to prevent another Jewish genocide.

A large cast of characters chase each other across continents and countries. Character development takes a back seat to the suspense. The continual travel keeps the plot moving towards new discoveries and an ever increasing sense of danger and risk. Recommended for anyone interested in a female driven James Bond tale.

Jim Riordan

The Wolf – Lorenzo Carcaterra
Appeal Factors: fast paced, action packed, strong main character, a wide variety of well-developed secondary characters, complex plot

Vincent “The Wolf” Marelli is the head of an international crime syndicate. He has it all but in a flash loses the most important thing in his life. This is a tragedy for him but it is also a tragedy for the people who did it since he is now coming for them. The death of The Wolf’s wife and daughters sets off a worldwide war between his crime syndicate and the Russian and Mexican mobs and international terrorists. Under laying this is a battle over the larger philosophy of organized crime: which is better for crime? Calm stability where criminals fly under the radar or chaos and all the opportunities that brings? This war will interweave personal vendettas with the hard-nosed exigencies of the crime world and its unclear who will win.

The main character, Marelli is a Don Corleone like character. He is a crime lord isolated in his own world pulling everyone else’s strings. Not surprisingly he is a morally ambiguous hero not afraid to kill thousands to get what he wants. But in spite of that he is a hero that is very approachable for his very isolation and sense of loss. His intelligence and thoughtfulness come through strong and suck the reader in. The book is filled with his musings on life and humanity. You cannot help rooting for him even as he sends people to their deaths.

Marelli’s story is backed up by a plethora of well-developed and complex characters that are slowly introduced into the story. There are the various heads of the different international crime families.  There are all the members of the opposition: the Russians, the Mexican’s and the terrorists. Plus all the different law enforcement groups trying to hunt them all down.  These characters are presented with enough detail to make them real but not so much that the reader gets weighed down trying to remember them.

There are so many characters in fact that the book could become quite unwieldy but Carcaterra’s organization takes care of that. Chapters in the book alternate. There is a Wolf chapter narrated by Marelli himself. Then there is a chapter looking one of the other groups of characters which are done in a third person limited point of view. And if you cannot remember everyone, there is a clever persona vita at the front of the book in the form of a criminal file.

Michelle Deschene

The Gray Man – Mark Greaney
Appeal Factors: Story/Tone/Pace

Formerly employed by the CIA as a member of a covert tactical unit dubbed the Goon Squad, Court Gentry disappeared after the blame for a screwed up op was pinned to his back. Now he’s known to a rare few, and then only as the Gray Man, an elite assassin specializing in impossible kills. Contracted to take out the Nigerian minister of energy, Court succeeds in his mission, only to be betrayed by his handler during extraction. Determined to know why he was targeted for execution, the Gray Man goes on the hunt.

Fans of meticulously researched fiction may find a lot to appreciate in this first book of Greaney’s Gray Man series. The author traveled throughout several countries relevant to the plot, and trained with military and law enforcement personnel; that firsthand experience shows in the details. However, the downside of aiming for such a high level of technical accuracy comes into play when the research overwhelms other aspects of the novel—for instance, character development. In this book, rather than imbue supporting players with individual personalities or unique traits, Greaney describes the weapon in the character’s hands as if to suggest that the gun of choice is insight enough into the man holding it. I can allow that that might be true, even a neat narrative trick, but it has to be handled well, and in this case it wasn’t. I grew weary of the repetitive make-and-model-name-dropping and detailing of guns, grenades, and other murder-minded equipment, and never developed sympathy or disdain for any of the characters, including Court.

Slow to start, the pacing picks up as the story unfolds, but the wait begs for an investment that might not be there for the reader.



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