Bombings in Paris and Amsterdam are just dress rehearsals for an Islamic State attack on the United States that Israeli intelligence agent Gabriel Allon is trying to stop in Daniel Silva’s The Black Widow (Harper). Gabriel’s secret weapon against the terrorist mastermind known as Saladin is Natalie Mizrahi, a young Jewish doctor living in Israel. Gabriel gives her a crash course in tradecraft and builds her a cover, transforming her into a revenge-seeking Muslim radical he hopes will catch Saladin’s attention on terrorist recruiting websites. Invited to an Islamic State training camp in Syria, Natalie makes herself indispensable to Saladin. She plays along, but does she have what it takes to help Gabriel stop a deadly attack? The novel’s grand finale is heart-stopping, unexpected and deeply unsettling.
Ruth Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10 (Gallery/Scout Press) is an atmospheric thriller as twisty and tension-filled as her 2015 debut, “In a Dark, Dark Wood.” Hitchcock set “The Lady Vanishes” on a European train where a passenger searches for an acquaintance no one else claims to have seen. Ware sets her equally perplexing missing-person story on a luxury cruise ship in the North Sea. Among the passengers is a travel writer named Lo Blacklock who hears a splash and then sees what she believes is the body of a woman sinking beneath the waves. Lo met the woman who was in the cabin next to hers just once, but no one else on board admits to having seen a passenger in Cabin 10. The insistent Lo risks everything to prove she’s right. The novel’s tone is dark and claustrophobic as Lo continues her search for the woman even though someone is trying to stop her — maybe even kill her.
Part crime story, part psychological thriller, Wendy Walker’s All Is Not Forgotten (St. Martin’s) asks the provocative question: If you are a victim of brutality, would you take a drug that would wipe out every memory of what happened? The parents of 15-year-old Jenny Kramer make that decision for their daughter after she’s raped and tortured at a teen party in Fairfield, Conn. But whitewashing Jenny’s memory doesn’t fix things. She’s told she was raped, but she’s unable to recover from something she can’t remember. No memory means Jenny can’t identify her attacker. Told through the voice of the psychiatrist who tries to help Jenny recall what happened, this novel is a nerve-jangling study of the trauma that rape imposes on the survivor and her family, friends and community.
Carol Memmott, who lives in Northern Virginia, also reviews books for the Chicago Tribune.