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Cover of "Never Go Back," by Lee Child. Random House.

Three of Grit-Lit's favorite authors have outstanding new books waiting for your e-reader or nightstand.

"A Criminal Defense: A Detective Harlan Donnally Thriller," by Steven Gore (HarperCollins, $9.99, 340 pages, paperback). I like Steven Gore's writing so much I've read all his books at least twice.

Just three sentences demonstrate why his books have been on best-seller lists around the world.

"I know who killed Mark Hamlin."

"A recorded voice overrode the next words spoken by the man. 'This is a call from a California state prison.''"

That's all it took for me to get hooked.

And just to prove those aren't the only great sentences in the book, here's more:

"But it was only now, gazing at the criminal defense attorney hanging by his neck from the Fort Point lighthouse, that Donnally realized these thoughts were reverberations from the last case he'd cleared as a homicide detective a decade earlier. They'd echoed not only in his unease about the uncertainties and entanglements awaiting him in the shadow of the south anchorage of the Golden Gate Bridge, but in his musing about the mechanics of life and death...."

A detective who's investigated sex and drug trafficking, political corruption and organized crime around the world, Gore is trained in forensic science. He's been featured on "60 Minutes." If you want to know what it is really like to be a private investigator, you need to read "A Criminal Defense" and his first Donnally book, "Act of Deceit." Then pick up all three of his equally outstanding Graham Gage novels: "Final Target," "Absolute Risk" and "Power Blind."

Invest 50 bucks or so in these five paperbacks. Read 'em front to back a couple of times. By the end, you'll know almost everything there is to know about being a private eye.

Except how to shoot. And how to avoid being shot at.

"Strong Rain Falling: A Caitlin Strong Novel," by Jon Land (Forge, $25.99, 364 pages). The thriller-world needs more women. And Land's Caitlin Strong is simply the best.

"Strong Rain" offers an outstanding example of bigger-than-life heroines and heroes; defiled, demented bad guys; twisted plots and entertainment that's more addictive than Godiva chocolates.

"The boy walked out of the desert, the late-afternoon sun in his face, his skin burned red, parched lips marred by jagged cracks. His tattered clothes carried the thick, smoky scent of mesquite mixed with the acrid stench of burned wood, as if his journey had taken him through a brush fire burning to the southwest.

"But it was the flecks of blood staining his face, shirt, and sweat soaked hair, tangled with wisps of tumbleweed, that caught John Rob Salise's eye...."

Texas Ranger Caitlin and her lover, former outlaw Cort Wesley Masters, take on the Mexican drug cartels in this novel. A bloody, real-world kind of battle -- like the ones reported on the front page of your favorite daily newspaper -- is fought in "Strong Rain Falling."

"Never Go Back: A Jack Reacher Novel," by Lee Child (Random House, $28, 397 pages). Seventeen mega-best-sellers. A "major motion picture." Published in almost 100 countries with 70 million copies sold worldwide. And readers so loyal that my review copy always "disappears" somewhere between my mailbox and my desk.

Child can nail you with just one sentence. Don't believe it? I'll show you. This is the opening of "Never...":

"Eventually they put Reacher in a car and drove him to a motel a mile away, where the night clerk gave him a room, which had all the features Reacher expected, because he had seen such rooms a thousand times before."

This single sentence creates tension, excitement and mystery. And it grabs you -- accomplishments that could take a lesser novelist three pages.

You can't read that sentence without screaming, "EVENTUALLY? What do you mean eventually? What happened before they put Reacher in a car?"

I gotta know. and I bet you do, too.

Myles Knapp's column is published monthly. Contact him via www.grit-lit.com.