Crafting a good thriller takes no small amount of skill on the authors part, you have to leave a tempting trail of breadcrumbs but not drop nuggets of bread large enough to leave the reader feeling bloated and stupid. It’s a trick that the mastery of lies in subtlety and often is almost imperceptible.
The books that manage it well are works of intellectual intrigue that have us feverishly turning the next page for the next exciting twist or clue that will lead us hurtling ever faster towards an inevitable grand finale. Another aspect of what separates a good suspense thriller from a great one is how neatly that finale is executed and how fulfilling it is after the investment the reader has put into the book. Here are our picks of some of the books that do this best.
1. Catching A Miracle – Mark Spinicelli
This is a beautiful novel tracking the importance of the human spirit, true grit, and determination. We follow a young doctor on her righteous and personally driven quest to find a cure for cancer and all the obstacles, organizations, and conspiracies that are working against her. It is set in a deep and well-constructed world that is as believable as it is troublingly broken. The characters evolve not only in the information we learn about them but as they navigate and react to the high-stakes, high-pressure plot that drives the novel. Find out more.
2. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
Our book is about two questionable and untrustworthy people and the unraveling of the truth behind a women’s disappearance. We spend chapter to chapter learning more of their history and personality through first-person narration that leads us to the inevitable conclusion that they are being completely honest with the readership which makes it all the more devilishly difficult to try and get a finger on the pulse of what is actually happening. With a conclusion that no-one saw coming and with the appropriate amount of explosive energy, the book concludes itself as an absolute master-class for the genre.
3. One Of Us Is Lying – Karen McManus
About a jock, a geek, a delinquent, a prom queen, and a gossip. Five students go into the detention but only four of them come out alive. The plot sounds like an r-rated adaptation of The Breakfast Club and the comparison holds true as the book holds a similar sort of charm. It is a deliciously tempting murder mystery set up and the book does not fail to deliver on its promise. We are led very tenderly through its narrative learning more about the suspects, their possible motivations, and personalities as the author cleverly shines spotlight after spotlight on each of them in this ingenious whodunnit.
4. The Talented Mr Ripley – Patricia Highsmith
In Tom Ripley, we were gifted one of the most confusingly sympathetic psychopaths ever committed to the page. In the first of a series of stories following his exploits, we are introduced to and fall in love with this beautifully broken man and the macabre situations and deeds he finds himself the proponent of. It serves up thrills by the bucketload whilst also being an in-depth and insightful character study as we learn more and almost come to care for this conflicted antagonist.