Best of 2018 “Romantic Suspense” Category

“The Winters” by Lisa Gabriele (Viking; October 16, 2018):

After a whirlwind romance, a young woman returns to the opulent, secluded Long Island mansion of her new fiancé Max Winter—a wealthy politician and recent widower—and a life of luxury she’s never known. But all is not as it appears at the Asherley estate. The house is steeped in the memory of Max’s beautiful first wife Rebekah, who haunts the young woman’s imagination and feeds her uncertainties, while his very alive teenage daughter Dani makes her life a living hell. She soon realizes there is no clear place for her in this twisted little family: Max and Dani circle each other like cats, a dynamic that both repels and fascinates her, and he harbors political ambitions with which he will allow no woman—alive or dead—to interfere.

As the soon-to-be second Mrs. Winter grows more in love with Max, and more afraid of Dani, she is drawn deeper into the family’s dark secrets—the kind of secrets that could kill her, too.

Suspense Magazine (S. MAG.): What is the best book you read in 2018?

Lisa Gabriele (L.G.) I loved Tana French’s “The Witch Elm.” It has everything I love in a suspense novel, breathtaking writing, a questionable narrator (in this case the feckless, privileged Toby), a rambling old house, and a creepy skull found in the hollow of an old tree. Besides being insanely tense, “The Witch Elm” is an excellent case study of a man for whom life has always been easy, and what it reveals about his character when things take a dark turn.

 

MAG.: Hollywood pitches are very brief. How would you pitch “The Winters”to the movies in ten words or less?

L.G.: It’s Rebecca via Mean Girls with a surprisingly twisty ending.

 

MAG.: What does having your book chosen as a “Best of” by Suspense Magazine mean to you?

L.G.: Seeing “The Winters” on a “best of” list in this magazine is deeply gratifying. It means my book—my first stab at this genre—really resonated with people who know a thing or two about suspense novels. It also means I might have to take another stab at this genre with my next book.

 

MAG.: Is there a book, written by another, that you wish you’d written?

L.G.: There’s a book coming out in a few months, by Taylor Jenkins Reid, called “Daisy Jones and The Six.” It’s written in several voices, in the manner of an “as told to” exposé you might find in Rolling Stone magazine. Each band mate is interviewed about the sudden and mysterious dissolution of the insanely popular band they belonged to back in the ‘70s. It’s also a love story, but not between the obvious people. It’s so clever, tense and moving. I couldn’t have written it, but I wish I could steal that format.

 

A Dangerous Game by Heather Graham (MIRA; March 13, 2018):

Trouble always finds her . . .

Wrapping up a normal day at the office, criminal psychologist Kieran Finnegan is accosted by a desperate woman who shoves an infant into her arms and then flees, only to be murdered minutes later on a busy Manhattan street.

Who was the woman? Where did the baby come from? Kieran can’t stop thinking about the child and the victim, so her boyfriend, Craig Frasier, does what any good special agent boyfriend would do—he gets the FBI involved. And asks Kieran to keep out of it.

But the Finnegans have a knack for getting into trouble, and Kieran won’t sit idle when a lead surfaces through her family’s pub. Investigating on her own, she uncovers a dangerous group that plays fast and loose with human lives and will stop at nothing to keep their secrets—and they plan to silence Kieran before she can expose their deadly enterprise.

 

 

 

 

“Keep Her Safe” by K.A. Tucker (Atria Books; January 23, 2018):

Noah Marshall has known a privileged and comfortable life thanks to his mother, the highly decorated chief of the Austin Police Department. But all that changes the night she reveals a skeleton that’s been rattling in her closet for years, and succumbs to the guilt of destroying an innocent family’s life. Reeling with grief, Noah is forced to carry the burden of this shocking secret.

Gracie Richards wasn’t born in a trailer park, but after fourteen years of learning how to survive in The Hollow, it’s all she knows anymore. At least here people don’t care that her dad was a corrupt Austin cop, murdered in a drug deal gone wrong. Here, she and her mother are just another family struggling to survive . . . until a man who clearly doesn’t belong shows up on her doorstep.

Despite their differences, Noah and Gracie are searching for answers to the same questions, and together, they set out to uncover the truth about the Austin Police Department’s dark and messy past. But the scandal that emerges is bigger than they bargained for, and goes far higher up than they ever imagined.

 

Suspense Magazine (S. MAG.): What can fans expect to see from you in 2019?

K.A. Tucker (K.A.T.): I write in multiple genres and right now I am finishing up a contemporary romance/women’s fiction blend called “Say You Still Love Me,” out in June. But, I’ve been sitting on a psychological suspense idea that I hope to have time to begin plotting next year.

 

MAG.: What does having your book chosen as a “Best of” by Suspense Magazine mean to you?

K.A.T.: I cannot begin to express the honor I feel for having my book selected by Suspense Magazine. I am proud of all of my books, but “Keep Her Safe” challenged me as a writer in a way that no other book has, to date. It feels validating to have the end result of that hard work recognized, and by people so in tune with this genre.

 

MAG.: If you could write a message to future aspiring authors and place it in a time capsule to read years later, what would you write?

K.A.T.: My philosophy for strengthening my writing craft has always been and will always be this—read broadly, research curiously, and write voraciously. Do these three things and your writing can’t help but improve. There is always room for improvement, no matter the writer.

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