The F.B.I. runs the show in two new science-themed thrillers, one focused on neuroscience and Egyptology, the other on the destruction of the environment. But it’s a pair of maverick agents who get top billing, while their bosses are portrayed as vainglorious fools at best.

Cut to the Bone by Ellison Cooper

In this fast-paced but character-rich novel, F.B.I. senior special agent Sayer Altair, a neuroscientist who studies the brains of criminals, is summoned to investigate the death of a teenage girl whose body is found at the Einstein Memorial, in Washington, D.C. The setup—the girl’s body is found among a ritualistic arrangement of objects—seems to point to a serial killer, Altair’s specialty, but facial-recognition analysis of the victim reveals something even more startling: the girl was one of 24 high-school seniors on a bus that disappeared on its way to a technology competition in Georgia. In short order, 11 of the boys from the bus are found shot to death near a road in Virginia, along with the two adults accompanying them. One boy managed to escape, and now the hunt is on for the girls.