We have a lot of interviews with bestselling authors of thrillers recommending their own favourite books (not by them). Many are thrillers that have been turned into blockbuster movies or Netflix series, but the book is normally (always?) better.
Recommending their top five thrillers we have: Jeffrey Archer, Tess Gerritsen, Sam Bourne, Simon Kernick, Lucy Atkins, and James Twining. Peter James, author of Dead Simple, recommends his best crime fiction and Simon Brett the best whodunnits. Louise Bagshawe chooses the best chase stories.
Scott Turow, author of Presumed Innocent, recommends the best legal novels. Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom recommend the best Swedish crime writing.
On political thrillers, Peter Hitchens recommends an excellent collection of anti-communist thrillers and Jeremy Duns his best forgotten Cold War thrillers. Ben Macintyre and Charles Cummings both recommend spy thrillers.
Our interviewees have chosen a very wide range of books, but some thrillers come up multiple times, including The Silence of The Lambs by Thomas Harris, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan. Also recommended more than once are: The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth, Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett and The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith.
Recurring authors include John Le Carré and John Grisham.
If you prefer to listen to books, we've picked out some of our favourite thrillers as audiobooks.
The Best Thrillers of 2022, recommended by Tosca Lee
Every year, the International Thriller Writers—an honorary organisation of authors—showcases the best new books in the genre at their annual awards. Here, bestselling author and the organisation’s vice-president Tosca Lee talks us through the six-strong shortlist of books, and explains why ‘Southern noir’ writer S.A. Cosby won the title for the best thriller of 2022—only a year on from his last triumph.
Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me
by Javier Marías, translated by Margaret Jull Costa
by Roberto Bolaño, translated by Natasha Wimmer
by Patrick Modiano, translated by Barbara Wright
by Fernanda Melchor, translated by Sophie Hughes
A Perfect Spy
by John le Carré
The Best Literary Thrillers, recommended by Chris Power
The Best Literary Thrillers, recommended by Chris Power
For those with a taste for fine literature, but who also enjoy their fiction with a bit of suspense and momentum, the acclaimed novelist Chris Power—author of A Lonely Man—has put together a recommended reading list of five ‘literary thrillers’, including work by Fernanda Melchor, Roberto Bolaño and the Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano.
The Best Post-Soviet Spy Thrillers, recommended by Charles Cumming
With the end of the Soviet Union, many thought the spy novel was dead. Within a decade, it was back, with old antagonists back in different guises and a new raft of international flashpoints to keep both fictional and real-life spies busy. Here, British spy novelist Charles Cumming, author of more than ten books, recommends five key post-Soviet spy thrillers and explains how the genre has evolved since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The Best Thrillers of 2021, recommended by Tosca Lee
Looking for a fantastic new thriller to read? We asked Tosca Lee, the bestselling author, to talk us through the International Thriller Writers 2021 shortlist. With their amazing characters, palpable tension, unique voices and incredible plot twists these thrillers achieve what every reader is looking for: a book they can’t put down.
The Best Psychological Thrillers, recommended by Tammy Cohen
Psychological thrillers play on our fears that those closest to us can’t be trusted and that even our homes aren’t safe, explains Tammy Cohen, author of Stop at Nothing and They All Fall Down. She recommends five psychological thrillers and explains what it is that makes them so deeply unsettling and utterly gripping.
The Best Thrillers of 2020, recommended by Anthony Franze
Every year, the International Thriller Writers awards highlight the best new thrillers of the previous year. Anthony Franze, administrator of the awards and an acclaimed thriller author in his own right, talks us through their 2020 shortlist for the best new thriller published in hardback.
The Best Thrillers of 2019, recommended by Anthony Franze
Looking for a pacy, suspenseful thriller that keeps you racing through the pages? Look no further. Anthony Franze, author and coordinator of the International Thriller Writers’ annual awards, talks us through some of the books that made the shortlist for the best thrillers of 2019.
The Best Classic Thrillers, recommended by Lucy Atkins
Every week, dozens of new thrillers appear in bookshops. But, often, the classic ones are the best of all. If you haven’t read any of these five yet, you have a treat in store.
The Best Classic Thrillers, recommended by Sam Bourne
The bestselling author tells us how his other job as a political journalist helps with thriller writing, and what makes le Carré, Forsyth and Buchan such masters of their trade
The Best Thrillers, recommended by Simon Kernick
Plot is king, says bestselling thriller writer Simon Kernick of his chosen genre. He lists five of his all-time favourites
Tess Gerritsen recommends her Favourite Thrillers
A good thriller isn’t about the violence or bloodshed, it’s about making the reader feel off-balance and as if something isn’t quite right, says bestselling author Tess Gerritsen. She tells us about her own favourite thrillers.
Great British Thrillers, recommended by Matt Lynn
Author Matt Lynn says that good thrillers need a sense of foreboding and tension – and a brilliant central character. “The thriller has always been a very political genre, a kind of snapshot in time”
The best books on Swedish Crime Writing, recommended by Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström
The celebrated Swedish crime-writing duo take turns to recommend gripping and grisly Scandinavian thrillers, as well as to tell us about visiting prison – and being in it
The Best Crime Fiction, recommended by Peter James
The best crime novels grip you right from the first sentence and don’t let go, says bestselling crime author, Peter James. He picks his own favourite crime novels.
The best books on Spies, recommended by Ben Macintyre
The British public-school system, with its hidden homosexuality and feelings of loneliness, encouraged subterfuge and led to a generation of great spy writers and spies, suggests author and journalist Ben Macintyre. He picks the best books on spies.
The best books on Writing a Great Thriller, recommended by James Twining
Best-selling author says the elements you need to write a perfect thriller are a brilliant central character, some link to reality, and an inanimate object around which the human story revolves.
The best books on Horror Stories, recommended by Ramsey Campbell
From the psychological terror of a haunted house to the spectral dread of an indescribable colour, the British horror writer recommends five disturbing tales to get you in the mood for Halloween
The Best Legal Novels, recommended by Scott Turow
The bestselling author of legal thriller Presumed Innocent tells us about his own favourite legal novels.
Jeffrey Archer on Bestsellers
The best books are the ones that tell great stories, says bestselling author and former British politician Jeffrey Archer. Here, he shares some of his favourites, popular novels that went down well with readers but are sometimes still looked down on by the literary establishment.
The Best Whodunnits, recommended by Simon Brett
When it comes to whodunnits, the latest ones aren’t always the best. Veteran crime writer Simon Brett talks us through some of his all-time favourites.
The Best Anti-Communist Thrillers, recommended by Peter Hitchens
Right-wing journalist and political commentator Peter Hitchens says the Left has been liberated by the fall of the Berlin Wall and that speech is probably freer in modern Russia than it is in Britain. He recommends some great anti-Communist thrillers.
The Best Forgotten Cold War Thrillers, recommended by Jeremy Duns
Author Jeremy Duns says Maksim Isaev was a kind of Soviet James Bond and when they rerun the old black and white TV shows the Russian crime rate drops because everyone is indoors watching them
The Best Chase Stories, recommended by Louise Bagshawe
Everyone’s on the run from something in their life. Bestselling author Louise Bagshawe recommends some of her favourite chase stories, a world of jailbreaks, secret documents, beautiful heroines, honour, revenge, death and glory.
The best books on Espionage, recommended by Charles Cumming
Leading British spy writer Charles Cumming found his vocation at 25 after he was approached by MI6. He says that experience, brief but interesting, was crying out to be dramatised
The best books on Horror, recommended by Kim Newman
Which are the best horror books ever written? Novelist and horror expert Kim Newman, author of Anno Dracula, talks us through his top five and reveals which of the classics is, for him, the greatest of them all.