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Mystery/thriller roundup

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Updated: November 15, 2012 6:11AM

R.L. Stine offers some adult ‘Goosebumps’

“Hey, look, the ‘Goosebumps’ guy is out with a new book! Perhaps the kids would like it for Christmas...”

Umm, no. Red Rain (Touchstone, $24.99) may have some tropes in common with R.L. Stine’s best-selling series of scary books for children, but the audience here is clearly readers who enjoy the likes of Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Villainous lawn gnomes and ventriloquist dummies are replaced by real people who cause real pain.

The horror is grisly. Stine likes food metaphors to convey the gore: Windpipes ripped out of throats like “some kind of long pasta noodle.” A young woman holding her intestines as “a gusher of pink and yellow sausage” oozes through her fingers.

When twin 12-year-old boys Samuel and Daniel are adopted by a travel writer after a deadly hurricane off the South Carolina coast, there are ominous signs that all is not well with the “bruvvers.” Readers understand something’s amiss immediately, even if it takes the book’s characters awhile.

Rob Merrill / AP

Mark Sullivan delivers action-packed thriller

He grew up in a gang of thieves on the streets of Buenos Aires and became a top agent in the CIA. Now Robin Monarch has become a fugitive in Mark Sullivan’s action-packed thriller, Rogue (Minotaur, $24.99).

The CIA director and his assistant believe Monarch abandoned a mission and his team. His team believes he’s dead. Monarch decides to starts a new life as a security consultant. He even has a wealthy girlfriend he adores. They stumble on an assassination attempt after dinner one evening. Monarch ends up saving the life of a Russian mobster. Now, the grateful criminal has a job for Monarch that will require him to get his team back together.

Monarch’s attitude and gruffness make him neither all good nor all evil, just human. The other characters are a bit thin, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing considering the cinematic scope of the action.

Comparisons to Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne series are justified.

Jeff Ayers / AP

Wong returns in ‘This Book Is Full of Spiders’

David Wong wakes up with a horrific spiderlike creature biting his leg that only he can see. In This Book Is Full of Spiders: Seriously Dude, Don’t Touch It (Thomas Dunne, $25.99), the nightmare is just beginning for Wong. The story is told primarily from his point of view, and it’s not clear right away if what he’s seeing is real or if it’s in his twisted imagination.

Wong is also listed as the author of the book, and that adds an extra level of madness. The author is Jason Pargin, senior editor and columnist for The comedic and crackling dialogue also brings a whimsical flair to the story, making it seem like an episode of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” written by Douglas Adams of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” Seriously, dude, touch it and read it.

Jeff Ayers / AP

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