“The Affair” by Lee Child, “Ashes” by Ilsa J. Bick, “The Ares Decision” by Kyle Mills, and “The Saint of Florenville” by Alfred J. Garrotto,

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It’s tough people month at Grit-Lit. Jack Reacher, Court Gentry, Covert One’s Jon Smith, newcomers Alex and Tom—from the gripping new post apocalyptic novel, “Ashes”. There’s even a tough priest, Father Jensen and a tough nun, Mother Marie-Therese.

“The Affair” (Delacorte Press. $20, 416 pages, hard cover.) www.leechild.com

In “Affair” you learn how elite military policeman Jack Reacher, became the walkabout loner we all know and love.

Its 1997, Reacher’s orders are clear. Go undercover, monitor problems at a Carter Crossing, Mississippi military base. Figure out if there’s a cover-up going on.  Keep your distance. Watch the cops, find out what’s going on then disappear.

But this is Reacher. He can’t just show up, figure out something bad is going on and vacate. Can he?

“Affair” is another outstanding example of why Lee Child is constantly on the New York Times bestseller list.

“Ballistic”. (Berkeley $15, 480 pages, trade paper. www.markgreaneybooks.com

I love tough guy books. So sue me. Some folks are addicted to video games. Others to drugs. My poison of choice is tough guy or gal novels. And as your professional reviewer, I view it as my personal responsibility to read ‘em all. Hammer, McGee, Spenser, Doc Ford, Jack Reacher and now, Court Gentry—The Grey Man.

Former CIA assassin Court Gentry was safe, living in the Amazon rain forest. But a vengeful Russian crime lord tracks him down and he’s on the run. Looking for help, Court seeks Eddie Gamboa. Once Eddie saved Court’s life. But Court’s friend has been murdered by a Mexican drug cartel. And Court is himself in a war he never wanted.

“Ashes” by Ilsa J. Bick (Egmont, $17.99, 480 pages, hard cover). www.harpercollins.com.

Not sure “Ashes” is grit-lit. With its zombie liked “Changed” and the futuristic story—an electromagnetic pulse destroys everything electronic and kills billions—it could be sci-fi. More importantly, it is a fascinating story that grabs hold of your limbic system like crack cocaine and pulls you effortlessly through 480 pages.

Alex survives the electromagnetic storm. Desperate to avoid the “Changed,” who kill everything in their path, she finds Tom, a young army vet, and an orphaned child, Ellie. They become a family struggling to survive in a world without stores, cars, or good-gosh-almighty-iPhones, iPads or Google.

“The Ares Decision” by Kyle Mills (Hatchette Book Group $27.99, 432 pages, hard cover).

Tough guys with guns I understand, but a tough guy scientist? Microbiologist Colonel Jon Smith is tough and smart. Backed up by an even tougher guy, Brit Peter Howell, the President sends Smith to investigate an American special forces team that was annihilated by Ugandan farmers.

Video of the attack shows women and children possessing supernatural speed and strength, consumed with a rage that makes them immune to pain, fear, and all but the most devastating injuries.

A plot driven, military thriller with intriguing characters. “Ares” punches all the bases.

“The Saint of Florenville” by Alfred J. Garrotto. (Amazon $14.99.99, 334 pages, hard cover. http://saintofflorenville.wordpress.com/).

Hard to imagine a story about a nun and a priest would make it to grit-lit. Especially as a love story. But “Saint” takes a gristly turn for the worst when a young Catholic nun, Mother Marie-Thérèse and her friend, an American priest, Father Thomas Jensen, are kidnapped, sexually abuses and drugged in adjoining cells. The abuse seemingly goes on forever.

Kidnap, torture, murder. And a love story that springs from the worst situation since Silence Of The Lambs.

“Saint” is a new genre for grit-lit, a Roman Catholic International travel thriller. Garrotto brings an in-depth understanding of the challenges facing priests and nuns from his extensive experience as a lay minister. Garrotto’s tenth book and sixth novel explore the odyssey that is human life in interesting, unique and in “Saint” very gritty ways.

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