Your Favourite Thrillers

Reading & Writing

I’m researching for my next novel, which will be a thriller, and it’s a very different discipline to writing mysteries…so here’s a question – what’s the most exciting thriller you’ve ever read? I’d place Ira Levin and Robert Harris in my top ten, along with the early Michael Crichtons. Few people remember that Levin wrote a sequel to Rosemary’s Baby – but it’s the weakest of his books, whereas ‘A Kiss Before Dying’ was brilliant.

What I most admire about Stieg Larsson’s trilogy is the way he opens the narrative to include an immense cast, and we can sense that all of them have their own lives, which only intersect at the crossing-point of Blomkvist and Salander. The writer’s curse is coincidence – one is often driven to coincide characters and situations for the sake of plot, but Larsson avoids this by a system of not-quite-overlapping events. It’s how real life works, of course, and makes the account more believable. When he tells you what a minor character had for breakfast it doesn’t feel like a digression. Instead, it’s a way of rounding out his worldview into a complex, tangled whole. The first film was pretty good, too.

4 comments on “Your Favourite Thrillers”

  1. Pretty much anything Arturo Pérez-Reverte wrote in the 90s – The Dumas Club, The Flanders Panel, The Seville Communion and The Nautical Chart… basically as if Stieg Larsson had gone in for historical/literary thrillers (and years before anyone would mention the D* V**** word). (Somewhere in L-Space, the Lisbeth Salander/’Irene Adler’ showdown is kicking off…)

    Before they’d all come out in English, they inspired me to crack on with my Spanish long enough to go on and read his non-fiction (he spent years as a foreign correspondent in Western Sahara, Lebanon, Romania, Bosnia, etc.), and have the pleasure of piecing together where some of his characters came from…

  2. I.A.M. says:

    I have a soft-spot for anything written by Desmond Bagley. His stuff was enjoyed by my parents, then there was a TV adaptation of one of the novels (based around Iceland, I think) and I watched it with them. A few years later I started working my way through the books and was able to travel to all sorts of locations around the world, learning about Hot-Air Ballooning, serious heavy-haulage transport, landscape physics, and the mysteries of the Tuareg people. Informative details and entertaining stuff, with decent characterizations and believable plot developments.

    Plus, predictably, the James Bond books; purely so that I can sound superior to those who’ve never read them and think James Bonds is merely a pretty-boy cinema character.

  3. Colin Stanton says:

    Neil Cross writes some great thrillers, very well paced

  4. Rick says:

    re IRA LEVIN — Sadly he passed away last year, but his legacy lives on — he had a remarkable range and was brilliant at bringing us dark humour and social commentary within the thriller genre. He was also a great playwright. If one can find it (I scored a used copy from AMAZON) you should check out his play, DR COOK’S GARDEN. It’s about an elderly doctor turning over his small towm practice to a new young doctor. The town is his garden, and he needs someone to take the ‘special’ care requird to keep it flourising under his demanding standards… It was made as a chilling TV movie back in the seventies, starring…. Bing Crosby (!?) The original play starred Burl Ives.

Comments are closed.