“City Of Fear” by David Hewson, “Black Ghosts” by Victor Ostrovsky, and “Bel-Air Dead” by Stuart Woods

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There’s this guy named David Hewson. Although calling him a “guy” is a major cut as he’s the bestselling author of more than 16 books in twenty languages. Anyway, this “guy” creates the most incredibly complex novels. Hewson’s Nic Costa series is set in modern Rome and I’d bet every detail is accurate.

Last year at ThrillerFest, the publishing event for Grit-Lit authors and fans, Hewson gave a presentation, “Creating A Book Diary.”  Based on the title, I expected something slightly more boring than watching Jell-O melt. But, I went any way. No amount of pain will ever keep me from going all the way for loyal grit-lit readers. Bring on the thumb screws baby, I’m ready to play.

Wow was I wrong. Hewson’s “Book Diary” is an elegant system that lets him efficiently organize vast amounts of information. His painstaking, painful attention to the detail of place, plot, craft and words is the reason the Nic Costa series is a perennial best seller.

“City Of Fear” by David Hewson (Delacort Press, $25.00, 352 pages). www.DavidHewson.com

It’s August and, as is typical throughout Europe, everyone is on vacation. Except Nic Costa and the requisite scheming bad guys. And that’s really everything you need to know.

If you want your Grit-Lit with a side of pasta, you will love “City.”

“Black Ghosts” by Victor Ostrovsky (Berkley Books $9.99, 452 pages, soft cover. www.ostrovskyfineart.com).

What kind of a guy becomes a bestselling author of complex Russian espionage novels? I doubt Ostrovsky’s typical. Born in Canada. Raised in Israel. Once the youngest office in the Israeli Military. Then a Mossad officer. Now living in Scottsdale where he writes, paints and has an art gallery.

Yeah. Just one of those typical guys who never sleeps. Maybe if your mind is as devious as the plot in “Black Ghosts” you’re afraid to sleep.

Relics of the Cold War, Black Ghosts are elite sleeper KGB operatives. Unlike regular sleepers who hide in enemy territory, Black Ghosts are spread throughout Russia and can be called into action to repel invaders from the inside. Their commander Rogov was imprisoned. But he’s back and he’s going to restore Russia to its former glory by hijacking the US President.

“Bel-Air Dead” by Stuart Woods (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, $25.95, 304 pages, www.stuartwoods.com).

After you’ve confounded, confused and generally destroyed your mind with “Ghosts” what you need is a light, entertaining Stone Barrington bestseller. “Bel-Air” is a character driven novel which most closely mirrors Robert Parker’s classic Spenser series. No faint praise there. Parker wrote best seller after best seller and Woods is giving him a run for his money.

Frankly, I’m tired of books that are so multi-leveled and twisted they should come with their own set of Cliff notes. The elegant simplicity of Wood’s books is something I wish other author’s would strive for.

“Bel-Air” has movie stars, murders, intrigue and enough soft-core romance to make things interesting.

Wood’s books always land near the top of the Grit-Lit read this soon pile, pushing aside excellent novels from other bestselling authors.  When it comes to topnotch entertainment very, very few authors deliver as well as Stuart Woods.

And now, two novels that you should begin saving your pennies for. In late June bookstores will be stocking two excellent thrillers by Grit-Lit’s all-time favorite authors. Joseph Finder, New York Times Bestselling author and creator of the Nick Heller series is back with “Buried Secrets” which is one of the two best books I’ve read this year.

Tied with “Buried Secrets” for the best book I’ve read this year is Jon Land’s latest Caitlin Strong novel, “Strong At The Break.” There’s a yellow stickee attached to my personal preview copy of “Strong.” It says “wonderful, engrossing and engaging.” I

More about these mega-monsters next month.

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