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Female Characters Who Kick…Well, You Know

By Alison Bunis

Who doesn’t love a good thriller? A book fill of spine-tingling action, spine-tingling mysteries…and a truly awesome woman to figure out just what’s going on and how to stop it. Sure, there are plenty of action heroes and male tough guys. You could say the thriller genre was built on the backs of James Bond and his pals. And don’t get me wrong, I love a little Bond. But this is the 21st century, people, and women get to kick ass, too. So to satisfy everyone’s craving for smart, tough, resourceful women who could give any male spy a run for his money, here’s a quick list of some great books with truly badass heroines.


The Nemesis Manifesto by Eric Van Lustbader

This is the start of a new series by the bestselling author Eric Van Lustbader, and what an incredible start. First, meet the woman at the helm of this book: Evan Ryder, a lone wolf field agent for a black-ops arm of the DOD, who has survived unspeakable tragedy and dedicated her life to protecting her country. She’s tough, she’s deadly, she’s smart…and her fellow agents are being systematically eliminated by a mysterious cabal known only as Nemesis. Evan sets out to expose the cabal and bring justice for the murdered agents, but she unearths something far larger than she’d imagined: a vast network of conspirators hell-bent on tearing the United States apart. Even Evan may not be able to uproot Nemesis before they eliminate her…and bring democracy to its knees.

The Caitlin Strong novels by Jon Land

If you haven’t been reading Jon Land’s Caitlin Strong novels, what are you waiting for?? Caitlin is about as tough as they come: a fifth-generation Texas Ranger who hands out justice the Ranger way. She’s a guns-blazing heroine who deals with everything from drug lords to serial killers to terrorism. You can start at the beginning with Strong Enough to Die, or jump in anywhere else in the series―there are eleven books of nice, Strong goodness!

Hover by Anne A. Wilson

So this is pretty cool: a story about Navy lieutenant and helicopter pilot Sara Denning, written by former navy pilot Anne A. Wilson. With those kinds of credentials, this navy book is bound to be authentic―and exciting. Sara’s philosophy is simple: be competent, and never do anything to stand out as a woman in a
man’s world. But when she’s requested as the exclusive pilot for a Navy SEAL team, her usually orderly world is plunged into disarray. The endgame of the SEAL’s mission is so secret, even Sara doesn’t know the reason behind her mandated participation. And as the training missions become real, she’ll have to overcome her fears―and her possible feelings for one of her fellow officers―before they plunge her into danger.

Zero Sum Game by S. L. Huang

If you want a little science fiction thrown in with your action, this is definitely the book for you. Meet Cas Russell. She’s good at math. Scary good. The vector calculus blazing through her head lets her smash through armed men twice her size and dodge every bullet in a gunfight, and she’ll take any job for the right price. As far as Cas knows, she’s the only person with a superpower…until she discovers someone who can reach directly into people’s minds and twist their brains into Moebius strips. Someone intent on being the world’s puppet master. Cas should run, like she usually does, but for once she’s involved. The problem is, she doesn’t know which of her thoughts are her own anymore. (If you love Cas, don’t worry, there are two more books in her series: Null Set and Critical Point!)

Stealing from the Dead by A.J. Zerries

This one has a lot going for it: a determined New York City cop, a plot to steal millions of dollars from Holocaust survivors, and a vast terrorist conspiracy. Between 1933 and 1945, thousands of Jewish people deposited their money in Swiss banks, hoping they or their family might survive the Holocaust. But when the survivors returned to claim their money, the banks claimed the accounts never existed. Now, decades later, NYPD detective Greta Strasser, investigating the death of an elderly Jewish woman, uncovers a trail of ruthless murders connected to the list of Holocaust survivors who claimed money from those Swiss banks. And she’ll do just about anything to stop it all.

Restless by William Boyd

What would you do if you learned that everything you ever knew about your mother was a lie? In 1976, on a warm summer afternoon, Sally Gilmartin tells her daughter Ruth just that. Now a respectable widow in a picturesque Cotswold village, Sally was once Eva Delectorskaya: a rigorously trained World War II spy taught to lie, deceive, and never trust anyone. Now, decades after the war, Sally’s secrets still haunt her. Someone is trying to kill her, and she has no choice but to trust Ruth with her past. As Ruth struggles with her own life as a single mother, she and Sally dig deeper into a past that just won’t stay buried.

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