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 Top-100 Thrillers

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My favorite books

 

... for action fans

Joseph Finder!

Joseph Finder (2011)
Buried Secrets. St. Martin's Press
Clearly one of the best action thrillers of 2011. Too bad it is so short!
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... for people who like unusual plots and complicated puzzles

J.J. Abrams (Creator) / Doug Dorst (Author)!

J. Abrams (Creator) / Doug Dorst (Author) (2013)
S. Mulholland Books
The craziest, most unusual mystery book of 2013. A brilliant story filled with secrets, fun and intrigues. This is a must-read for literary puzzle fans...(Publishers Weekly). A book in a book.
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Colin Watson!

Colin Watson (1991)
The Naked Nuns. Mandarin
Inspector Purbright receives a strange cable - stating that "TWO NAKED NUNS AVAILABLE PHILADELPHIA". Featuring white slave traffic and international crime, this novel is one of Watson's best. His Inspector Purbright is the most intellectually dazzling detective in fiction and Watson's dry wit is unique among English crime fiction writers.
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... for people who like classical murder mysteries

Agatha Christie!

Agatha Christie (2009)
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: A Hercule Poirot Mystery - BBC Dramatization. (First published in 1927) BBC Audiobooks America
This novel, written in 1927, is considered the best and most successful of the early Hercule Poirot mysteries. A classic of the genre and essential for any fiction collection.
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... for people who like conspiracy theories

Dan Brown!

Dan Brown (2006)
The Da Vinci Code. Anchor
International murder mystery with a collection of fascinating esoteria from 2,000 years of Western civilization. Brown suggests a catholic conspiracy, linking Mona Lisa's smile to the secret of the Holy Grail. While historians have complaints about the accuracy of Brown's facts, no one has any doubts that this is one of the most thrilling and briskly paced page-turners in years.
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... for people who like forensic thrillers

Kathy Reichs!

Kathy Reichs (2012)
Bones Are Forever: A Novel. Scribner, 1st Edition.
Kathy Reichs, like her fictional character, Temperance Brennan, is forensic anthropologist for the province of Quebec, Vice President of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and a professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina. Obviously, she knows what she is writing about. She also keeps you on the edge of your seat.
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... for people who like historical novels

Ken Follett!

Ken Follett (1990)
The Pillars of the Earth. Signet
This story of intrigue, power, revenge and betrayal chronicles the ups and downs in the life of a prior, his master builder, and their community as they struggle to build a Gothic cathedral in 12th century England. It is a time of tumultuous political and social change. Follett weaves human brutality, steamy sex scenes, deep religious faith, agony and glorious success into his epic historical novel.
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... for people who like historical murder mysteries

Josephine Tey!

Josephine Tey (1995)
Daughter of Time. (First published in 1951) Touchstone
While convalescing in a hospital bed, Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant sees the portrait of Richard III. As he contemplates Shakespeare's depiction of the king as a bloodthirsty monster, who has murdered his two nephews, Grant has second thoughts. The detective begins to digs into historical documents - with surprising results. Has acquired cult status among thriller fans.
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... for people who like humor in crime novels

John Burdett!

John Burdett (2011)
The Godfather of Kathmandu. Vintage
Inspector Sonchai Jitpleecheep, half-caste son of a prostitute and an American GI, is a bad-ass cop and gentle follower of Buddha. He hunts down crazy criminals in Bangkok while trying to get promoted by his drug-dealing boss. Hilarious plot - but more complex than it seems.
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... for people who like a cast of hilarious characters

Fred Vargas!

Fred Vargas (2006)
The Three Evangelists. Harvill Secker
In Fred Vargas' novel you won't find tough detectives or blood-dripping crime scenes. The Three Evangelists, and amateur sleuths, are: Marc, known as Saint-Mark (cleaning lady by day, medievalist by night); Lucien, known as Saint-Luke (historian specializing in the Great War), and Matthias, known as Saint-Matthew (historian specializing in prehistory). Hilariously thrilling.
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... for people who like to read about the real Mafia

Joseph D. Pistone!

Joseph D. Pistone (1997)
Donnie Brasco. Signet
A thrilling account of FBI agent Joseph D. Pistone working undercover in the Mafia for six years. Contrary to social fiction, such as "Goodfather", the book reveals that nothing is honorable or glamorous in the mob. Pistone's extremely dangerous undercover work resulted in over 100 convictions. Amazing that he survived his assignment!
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... for people who Mafia novels

Mario Puzo!

Mario Puzo (1969)
The Godfather. Putnam Adult
Puzo's epic novel redefined the public image of the Italian mafia. With Don Vito Corleone's violent struggle to control the underworld of New York we glimpse into an ancient world of honor and vendetta, Italian family tradition, friendship and loyalty were betrayal is punished with merciless vengeance. While this novel has romanticized organized crime, it added a human dimension to those evil and violent thugs. In Puzo's prose Don Vito appears as a genial family man, almost kind and reasonable.
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... for people who like medial crime fiction

Dennis Lehane!

Dennis Lehane (2009)
Shutter Island. (Reprint) Harper
Shutter Island is an army facility turned hospital for the criminally insane. When a patient escapes, U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his partner, Chuck Aule, are called in to investigate. This is one of the best psychological thrillers of all time. One mind-bending plot twist after another!
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... for people who like military thrillers

Tom Clancy!

Tom Clancy (1992)
The Hunt for Red October (Jack Ryan Series). Berkley
Somewhere under the Atlantic, a Soviet submarine commander has made a fateful decision: the Red October is heading west. This trademark military thriller has launched Tom Clancy's phenomenal career.
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W.E.B. Griffin!

W.E.B. Griffin (1994)
The Corps: Semper Fi / Call to Arms / Counterattack (Three Complete Novels) Putnam Pub Group
Griffin has the unique talent of being able to blend true-to-life history with pulse-pounding action. The novels are set in the Pacific theater right before World Ware II. Probably the best set of military action thrillers available.
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... for people who love a "novel noir"

Dashiell Hammett!

Dashiell Hammett (1989)
The Maltese Falcon. (Reprint Ed.) Vintage
Archetypal tough guy, detective Sam Spade, risks his reputation by trying to help a beautiful young lady. As his partner gets killed Spade is suspected for murder. The story is a complex web of betrayal and deception, in which everyone tries to get the gold statuette of a falcon. Sam's masculine strength is refreshing in today's world of male insecurity. Also an excellent movie with Humphrey Bogart - but the book is better.
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... for fans of police procedurals

Jo Nesbř!

Jo Nesbř (2001)
The Redbreast. A Harry Hole Novel. Harper
“An elegant and complex thriller . . . Ingenious design. . . . Harrowingly beautiful scenes.” (New York Times Book Review )
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... people who like political thrillers

Richard North Patterson!

Richard North Patterson (2007)
Exile. St. Martin's Paperbacks
Rare combination of a thrilling story with an intelligent political analysis of the ongoing tragedy between Israelis and Palestinians. A courtroom drama, a love story, and a political thriller on a most complex and controversial subject. There is not one page that is boring!
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... for lovers of surrealistic thrillers

Kobo Abe!

Kobo Abe (1991)
The Woman in the Dunes. (First published in 1962) Vintage
In this strangely terrifying book Niki Jumpei, an amateur entomologist discovers a bizarre village in the dunes, where residents live in deep sand pits. They take him prisoner. While constantly shoveling sand that threatens to bury the community, Niki struggles to escape. With its bizarre plot Abe has created one of the finest Japanese post-war novels.
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... for readers of psychological thrillers

Ruth Rendell!

Ruth Rendell (2001)
The Lake of Darkness. (First published in 1976) Vintage
Martin Urban, a quiet bachelor, wins a large fortune at the football pools. As he decides to share his newfound wealth with those in need the disaster begins to unfold. The seemingly normal benefactors of Martin's altruistic impulses are vicious nut cases. His good intentions become fatally distorted. One of Rendell's best novels.
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... those who love sex, erotic and crime

Marquise de Sade!

Marquise de Sade (1996)
Crimes of Love. Peter Owen Publishers
Defiant, provocative and unconventional. De Sade's best collection of erotic crime. More...

... for those who are fascinated by serial-killers (fiction)

Jim Thompson!

Jim Thompson (1991)
The Killer Inside Me. Vintage
Probably the most chilling and believable first-person story of a criminally warped mind I have ever encountered. (Stanley Kubrick) More...

Thomas Harris!

Thomas Harris (1998)
The Silence of the Lambs. St. Martin's Griffin
Hanibal Lecter, a brilliant psychopath whose nickname is "The Cannibal" because he likes to eat parts of his victims, helps FBI trainee Clarice Starling to get into the mind of a serial killer and hunt him down. Made into a terrifying film - starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins. More...
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... for readers who can stand the shocking reality of serial killings

Douglas Starr!

Douglas Starr (2010)
The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science. Knopf
Carefully researched, articulate, gripping. One of the classics in true crime. A forensic thriller. More...

Erik Larson!

Erik Larson (2004)
The Devil in the White City
During the 1893 Chicago World's Fair H.H. Holmes, a charming doctor, killed somewhere between 27 and 200 people, mostly single young women. The gruesome serial killer actually built a hotel and crematorium to get rid of the corpses. Larson's breathtaking account of these historical events reads like crime fiction. More...
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... for those who are captivated by spy stories

John Le Carré!

John Le Carré (2005)
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. Walker & Company
In Le Carré's first masterpiece Alec Leamas, a British agent in early Cold War Berlin, is responsible for keeping the double agents under his care undercover and alive. When the East Germans start killing them, Leamas is sent deep into Communist territory to find out why. But nothing is quite what it seems. "The finest spy story ever written" (Graham Green). More...
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Graham Greene!

Graham Greene (1991)
Our Man in Havana: An Entertainment. (First published in 1958) Penguin Classics
Mr. Wormold, a vacuum cleaner salesman in a city of power brokers becomes a spy to earn extra income. This crisply written novel will drag you down with unbearable tension, while at the same time make you giggle with its satirical parodies and absurd plot. A masterpiece!
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... for enthusiasts of techno-thrillers

Stephen King!

Stephen King (2006)
Cell. A Novel. Scribner Publishing
In this technophobic horror thriller cell phones are used to turn millions of unsuspecting humans into zombie-like killing machines. The blood is drenching the pages in this goriest, most horrific novel. If you like end-of-civilized-society stories, this is for you. More...

Best true crime book

Ann Rule!

Ann Rule (2001)
The Stranger Beside Me. Signet
Ted Bundy, a most violent sociopath, murderer, and mutilator of women, is the subject of this true-crime book. Ann Rule's chilling account, from the time she unsuspectingly met and worked with the savage slayer to the moment of his death by electrocution in Florida, is one of the greatest books in the true crime genre. More...

Peter Lalor!

Peter Lalor (2005)
Blood Stain. Allen & Unwin
Kathy Knight, grandmother and slaughter house worker in Aberdeen, Australia sliced her partner John Price into pieces and cooked him for a meal. Peter Lalor covered the Knight case for the Daily Telegraph, a top newspaper in Australia. His book is one of the most gruesome true crime stories and not for the faint of heart. More...

Best literary true crime novel

Truman Capote!

Truman Capote (1994)
In Cold Blood. Vintage
A masterpiece. Capote invented a new genre. More...
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... for those who love good-old nasty village mysteries

Val McDermid!

Val McDermid (2001)
A Place of Execution. St. Martin's Paperbacks
Defines the category of village mysteries. Superb thriller with complex characters with a plot in the 1960s. A truly haunting tale from rural England. More...

... vintage crime mystery (classical English detective novel)

Wilkie Collins!

Wilkie Collins (2009)
The Moonstone. (First published in 1868) CreateSpace
Like no other, this classical masterpiece of a mystery novel captures 19th century characters and atmosphere. "The first and greatest of English detective novels." (T. S. Eliot) More...
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... for young readers

Michael Bond!

Michael Bond (2006)
Monsieur Pamplemousse and the Militant Housewives. Allison & Busby
What can you expect from a story that starts with an exploding coffin at a funeral ceremony, where the main heroes are Paris Surete Inspector Monsieur Pamplemousse and his bloodhound Pommes Frittes, and a CIA agent pretending to be a cuisine chef and experimenting with a dog translator? Hilarious entertainment - especially for young adults. More...

... for fans of thrillers from Scandinavia

Henning Mankell!

Henning Mankell (2004)
The Fifth Woman. Vintage
In one of the best thrillers of the Kurt Wallander series the Swedish detective is trying to cope with the death of his father, while he struggles to make sense of a series of seemingly unrelated, brutal killings in southern Sweden. He uncovers the ties that bind these murders to killings in Algeria, many years ago. More...

 

Copyright © 2012 by Claudia Heilig-Staindl. All Rights Reserved.