4 of 5
The Chemist
528 pages; Little, Brown and Company
With 2008's The HostTwilight novelist Stephenie Meyer traded in her YA vampires and werewolves for more grown-up stories, but her literary MO has always remained the same: a galloping plot, a woman in trouble and a hint that true love is just beyond all that violence and chaos. Her second hefty adult thriller features Alex, just one alias for a scientist at a covert government spy agency who's fallen afoul of her minders. Her knack for developing drugs that can extract the truth from a terrorist or keep your heart beating just a bit longer—or kill you in an instant without leaving a trace—makes her valuable, but also dangerous. When a supposed peace offering turns out to be a trap, she's soon on the run with twin brothers Daniel and Kevin on a cross-country trip to get back at the corrupt agents who want them dead. The Chemist straps on enough military gear to outfit a small nation: Its pages are thick with guns, Kevlar, armored trucks and Kevin's pack of protection dogs, which can go from cuddly to weaponized in a heartbeat. Meyer also finds a way to tuck in a flirtation between the firefights, though Alex is nobody's idea of a softhearted heroine. If you want a thriller that includes a little bit of everything—espionage, gunplay, whiz-bang technology, romance—Meyer's new title more than obliges.
— Mark Athitakis