Spy thrillers, psychological thrillers, legal thrillers … consider reading some classic and current examples of the genre. These selections often appear on “best of” lists; so if you haven’t read them, now is the time. Summer is, after all, a great opportunity to relax and read those books sitting in our “to be read” pile and other titles of interest.
The Four Just Men by Edgar Wallace (1905) – Four young men of means set out to punish wrong-doers who are beyond the reach of the law. The story behind this book’s publication may be as fascinating at the novel itself!
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (1938) – The second Mrs. De Winter is haunted by the larger-than-life presence of the previous Mrs. de Winter, Rebecca.
The Mask of Dimitrios by Eric Ambler (1939) – A Dutch writer visiting Istanbul becomes fascinated by the history of Dimitrios Makropoulos, whose body has just washed up on the beach.
The Third Man by Grahame Greene (1949) – In this noir styled thriller, Holly Martins, a pulp fiction writer travels to Vienna only to discover his childhood friend, Harry Lime, had been killed in a hit-and-run days earlier. Authorities inform Martins his friend was a criminal, a fact Martins sets out to disprove.
The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith (1955) – This psychological suspense thriller introduced Tom Ripley, who struggles to make a living by whatever means necessary.
From Russia, With Love by Ian Fleming (1957) – Considered to be the best 007 novel, a Soviet counterintelligence agency is out to kill James Bond and discredit him and the British Secret Service.
The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon (1959) – The son of a prominent political family is brainwashed into becoming an assassin.
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John Le Carre (1963) – This international bestseller, considered the best spy novel of all-time, is set in Berlin during the height of the Cold War.
The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth (1971) – A professional assassin is hired by a dissident paramilitary organization to kill the French president, and a deputy commissioner is tasked with stopping him and uncovering his true identity.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carre (1974) – Recalled from retirement, former intelligence officer George Smiley is tasked with uncovering a Soviet mole in the ranks of the “Circus”, the top echelon of the British Secret Service.
The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins (1975) – How did thirteen German paratroopers come to be buried in an English cemetery? The secret may lie in a Nazi plot to kidnap British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
Game, Set & Match by Len Deighton (1984 – 1986) – This spy trilogy introduced jaded British intelligence officer Bernard Samson. In Berlin Game, “Brahms Four”, a highly placed agent in East Germany, is urgently seeking safe passage back to the West; Samson is sent to retrieve him and discovers a traitor. In Mexico Set, the double agent has been unmasked. Samson is now tasked with coaxing a KGB agent’s defection. Finally, in London Match, a traitorous agent attempts to frame Samson’s superior as a mole.
Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow (1987) – A lawyer is wrongfully accused of his colleague’s murder in this bestselling legal thriller.
Eyes of a Child by Richard North Patterson (1995) – When physical evidence contradicts a verdict of suicide, a San Francisco defense attorney becomes the accused, but what is his connection to the victim? And what motives and secrets will surface?
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane (2003) – Two U.S. Marshals investigate a disappearance at an island asylum for the criminally insane, but the truth behind the case is far more twisted in this psychological suspense thriller.
The Likeness by Tana French (2008) – Detective Cassie Maddox steps into the shoes of her murdered doppelganger to uncover not only the killer’s identity but victim’s as well.
I chose these particular works as they frequently appear on “Top 100” or “Best of” lists, and I’ve been keen to read (or re-read) them myself. Be sure to comment on your favorite suspense thrillers.