Book Corner: Take a Wild Ride with Action-Packed Thrillers

Books take you on new adventures, introducing you to places you haven’t been, people you haven’t met, and scenarios that you will never experience except vicariously. Some of these adventures are the slow, easygoing type, akin to the lazy river at an amusement park or a leisurely bike ride through the countryside. Other book adventures are the literary equivalent of adrenaline-spiking bungee jumps and skydiving. If you like to get your dopamine hits while your feet are planted firmly on the ground, as I do, try these high-octane thrillers.

Razorblade Tears, opens a new window by S.A. Cosby
Virginia native Cosby provides a thought-provoking yet fast-paced quest for vengeance in his latest thriller of a Black father and a white father set on discovering who murdered their married sons. Ike and Buddy Lee share little in common, except a criminal past and a love for their dead sons, even if they never fully accepted that their sons were gay. Ike still has contacts in the criminal underworld, and the two band together to seek out and exact revenge on their sons’ killers, confronting their prejudices about each other and about their sons.

Old Bones, opens a new window by Douglas J. Preston and Lincoln Child
Preston and Child fans will recognize Nora Kelly from their Agent Pendergast novels, and now Nora is featured front and center at the start of this exciting new series. Nora, curator at the Santa Fe Archaeological Institute, is approached by historian Clive Benton to lead an expedition to determine the true fate of the Donner Party. Benton has discovered a long-lost diary that points to new truths about what happened in the Sierra Nevadas in 1847, and soon the two are leading a team in search of the camp. Quickly, though, Kelly and Benton are surprised to discover that what happened in the past may have present-day repercussions, placing the expedition on the radar of junior FBI agent Corrie Swanson.

These Toxic Things, opens a new window by Rachel Howzell Hall
Mickie Lambert is a digital archaeologist and owner of Memory Bank, a company specializing in curating memories in digital format. Shop owner Nadia Denham, in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, has commissioned Memory Bank to create the ultimate digital scrapbook of her souvenirs and other treasured possessions. When Mickie arrives at the shop to begin the project, she learns that Nadia is dead of apparent suicide. Having cashed Nadia’s payment to Memory Bank, Mickie decides to proceed with the project anyway, ignoring the shop manager’s objections. When Mickie starts getting threats to leave Nadia’s past alone, Mickie is more determined than ever to uncover the story of Nadia’s possessions, even if it means an encounter with a serial killer.

The Kaiju Preservation Society, opens a new window by by John Scalzi
As COVID-19 descends on New York City, Jamie Gray survives in a dead-end job as a food delivery driver. Things change when Jamie delivers to an old pal, Tom, who is part of a so-called animal rights organization. Tom needs a last-minute pair of hands to help at the organization’s next field visit, and Jamie eagerly jumps on the opportunity. Except…the animals in question are not on Earth. They are giant, dino-esque pandas called Kaiju that inhabit a pleasant, human-free world in an alternate dimension. And they are in trouble, because it isn’t just the Kaiju Preservation Society that has made their way to this alternate world. Others have too, and they could unwittingly cause millions back on our Earth to die.

The Violin Conspiracy, opens a new window by Brendan Slocumb
Violinist Ray McMillian will stop at nothing to become a professional musician. Not his skeptical mother, his inability to afford a high-caliber violin, or the racism that pervades the classical music world. When Ray discovers his great-grandfather’s fiddle is a priceless Stradivarius, his dream is closer to becoming reality, and he looks to playing in the famed international Tchaikovsky Competition. As the event approaches, his family’s heirloom is stolen, and Ray will do anything to get it back in time. But suddenly his family and the descendants of the man who once enslaved Ray’s great-grandfather are each claiming the violin is theirs. In this race against time, Ray’s future hinges on regaining possession of the violin so he can play in the competition.

Project Hail Mary, opens a new window by Andy Weir
Many are familiar with Weir’s The Martian, and his craft continues to improve in another exciting space thriller. Ryland Grace awakens alone, on a spaceship, with no memory of who he is and how he got there. Flashbacks between Ryland’s present and past gradually help the reader piece together his life from before. After his theory that water might not be required to sustain alien life is rejected by the science community, microbiologist Grace ends up leaving research to teach middle school science. That is, until astronomers discover the sun is losing heat, apparently caused by a microscopic life-form that feeds on the sun’s energy, which will devastate life on Earth. Grace is called onto a team of international scientists to interrupt the looming catastrophe. Weaving in humor and a few surprise twists, Weir’s latest is a crowd-pleaser.

Share your book adventures with new friends! Central Rappahannock Regional Library has virtual and in-person book groups for everyone, including the new Mystery and Thrillers group. Visit, opens a new window for details.

Tracy McPeck is the adult services coordinator at Central Rappahannock Regional Library. This column first appeared in the Free Lance-Star newspaper.