"The Expats" by Chrive Pavone, (Crown, $26) features a female protagonist, Kate Moore, who has retired from working for the CIA.
She's married now, with two young boys and a husband who's working as a banking industry computer security expert. He gets a dream job in Luxembourg; they pack up and move, facing a wide variety of challenges.
But her husband works long hours and becomes aloof. Moore investigates, discovering disconcerting information. When another couple from the states becomes overly friendly, she uses some of her old contacts to try to unravel the mind-boggling truth.
This contemporary, cerebral spy novel is a carefully crafted debut by an author who shows great potential.
"Spycatcher" by Matthew Dunn (Harper, $9.99) is now out in paperback; it's a first novel by a former British MI6 field officer.
It showcases superspy Will Cochrane, who works for the CIA and MI6 and is out to stop an Iranian terrorist mastermind. The hero has a variety of reasons to go after the clever terrorist; the complicated plot bounces around to many worldwide locations.
The villain has a deadly plan that will kill thousands; quick-thinking Cochrane is the only hope to stop it. There's significant violence and adrenaline-charged action; the dedicated spy gets shot, stabbed, tortured and nearly blown up.
The second book in the series is due out in August - let's hope that's enough time for Cochrane to recover from his wounds.
"Kill Shot" by Vince Flynn (Atria/Emily Bestler Books, $27.99) offers a look at the early career of Mitch Rapp, the CIA superspy star of many of Flynn's later best-selling novels.
This time, he's in Paris, completing an assignment to kill Libya's oil minister. But he's been set up, things don't quite go as planned. He's wounded in an exchange of gunfire and initially is wrongly blamed for the death of nine victims.
As Rapp tries to figure out who's behind the double cross, he gets help from a variety of sources but faces increasing amounts of danger.
If you like page-turning, non-stop action, you're in with Flynn; this is top-notch entertainment by a masterful storyteller.
Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop,
has reviewed crime novels and noir thrillers regularly since 1987.
This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on April 29, 2012.