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Thriller

  • Anonymous Sources

    Anonymous Sourcesby Mary Louise Kelly. When this book was on the list in 2013, two contributors had mentioned it, and it hadn't even been published yet! It was a great read, and is of particular interest to this blog’s readers. “An intriguing thriller from a former NPR correspondent about a young reporter who must match wits with spies, assassins and a terrorist sleeper cell targeting the very heart of American power… Thom Carlyle had it all: the rowing trophies, the Oxbridge education, the glamorous girlfriend. But on a glorious summer evening in Harvard Square, Thom is murdered—pushed from the top of a Harvard bell tower. The New England Chronicle sends a beautiful, feisty, but troubled reporter named Alexandra James to investigate. It is the story of a lifetime. But it is not what it seems. Alex’s reporting takes her abroad, from the cobbled courtyards of Cambridge, England...to the inside of a network of nuclear terrorists...to the corridors of the CIA...and finally, to the terrorists’ target itself.”

  • Apple Tree Yard

    Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty.  “Excellent mystery, thriller beach read.  Once you start, you can't put down.  I felt on the edge of my seat while reading - very taut and psychologically twisted.  Lots of unexpected turns and don't want to say too much, but it delivers...”

  • Asylum

    The Asylum by John Harwood.  "recently out in paperback. It's a Victorian gothic psychological thriller. I couldn't put it down!"

  • Belle Canto

    Belle Canto by Anne Patchett. I think everyone's book club read this in 2005, but for those of you who didn't have the pleasure…

  • Bittersweet

    Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore.  Gothic suspense.  From Amazon:  Plain scholarship student Mabel Dagmar is surprised when her glamorous blue-blooded roommate at their prestigious east coast university befriends her, even more when Genevra "Ev" Winslow invites her to spend the summer at Bittersweet, her cottage on the sprawling Vermont estate owned for generations by her family.  Mabel falls in love with the place, finds a love interest and begins to feel like one of the Winslows.  But she soon discovers a dark side to this family - will she keep the secrets?  Lots of twists will keep you turning the pages.

  • Black List

    Black List: A Thrillerby Brad Thor. “This is the eleventh book in Thor’s series about ex-Navy Seal Scot Harvath. It opens with an attempt to kill Harvath and his entire company in what turns out to be part of an attempt to overthrow the U.S. government. The pseudonymous black list is buried in some government basement somewhere, seen only by the president and a handful of advisors. Once your name is on the list, it never comes off, until you are dead. Great thriller.”

  • Blindness

    Blindness by Jose Saramago. A description from Amazon: "In an unnamed city in an unnamed country, a man sitting in his car waiting for a traffic light to change is suddenly struck blind….Within a day the man's wife, the taxi driver, the doctor and his patients, and the car thief have all succumbed to blindness…So begins Portuguese author José Saramago's gripping story of humanity under siege…"

  • Body of Lies

    Body of Liesby David Ignatius. "No, not another book bashing the Bush Administration, but a post-9/11 spy thriller novel by the Washington Post columnist that many of us know and read." Roger Ferris is one of the CIA's soldiers in the war on terrorism. He has come out of Iraq with a shattered leg and an intense mission—to penetrate the network of a master terrorist known only as "Suleiman." Ferris's plan for getting inside Suleiman's tent is inspired by a masterpiece of British intelligence during World War II: He prepares a body of lies, literally the corpse of an imaginary CIA officer who appears to have accomplished the impossible by recruiting an agent within the enemy's ranks.

  • Charm School

    The Charm School by Nelson Demille. Okay, I cheated and added this NOT NEW book after the list was published. Until this Russian spy story emerged, this book might have seemed a little dated. But hey! Cold War intrigue is BACK, baby, and suddenly this novel is not only timely, but seems weirdly prescient. If you haven't had the pleasure of reading this great old (v beachy) book, I highly recommend it. I remember when I got to the end of this book, I absolutely HAD to be somewhere, but I absolutely COULD NOT put it down. DeMille's best, I think. Maybe now that fear of Russian spies is once again in vogue, they'll finally make a movie of it.

  • Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

    Crooked Letter, Crooked Letterby Tom Franklin. Murder mystery/thriller. Black Silas Jones and white Larry Ott were childhood friends, though they kept their friendship quiet in 1970s Mississippi. A girl disappears after a date with Larry, who is universally suspected (though not convicted) of the crime. Flash forward to present times. Silas is now the constable and another girl disappears. Larry, an outcast all these years, is again a suspect. The story of their old friendship and mysteries – old and new – unfold. Contributor comments: “Compelling with great southern Mississippi atmospherics. Larry Ott is a truly pathetic character (in the real meaning of the word) -- heartbreakingly so. I read the book in a couple of days.” … “A reasonably simple story of murder and friendship set in Mississippi, beautifully told, with real character development even for the supporting roles, and a few twists - no huge surprises, but nicely woven together.”

  • Day I Died

    The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day.  "A propulsive psychological thriller about Anna Winger, a handwriting analyst who occasionally does work for the FBI.  Her ordinary professional detachment falters when she is is brought in to help analyze a ransom note left at a murder scene in her town. This particular case cuts very close, forcing single mother Anna to confont ghosts from her own past, and threatening the life she's tried to build with her 13-year-old son."

  • Defending Jacob

    Defending Jacob by William Landay. “Very readable and fast paced.   A district attorney's son is accused of killing a classmate and his father is thrown into the case. The author's description of life and the people in the upper middle class town ring true and so do the feelings and conflicts of the accused's and victim's parents.” Another contributor writes, “This is a legal thriller in which a 14 year old boy is suspected of murdering a fellow student. As the case wears on the parents’ belief systems are sorely tested. The fictional father is an established assistant D.A. and supportive of his son. The book has been likened to Anna Quindlen’s ‘Every Last One’ in its connection with that tiny bit of uncertainty that parents may have about their children.  There are many twists in “Defending Jacob” which keep one reading right to the end.”

  • Eight

    The Eight by Katherine Neville. Written in 1997, “an intense thriller that is steeped in history. The story revolves around a chess set with magical powers that is sought after across the ages. Highly complex and quick-pace at the same time.”

  • Expats

    The Expats by Chris Pavone. “Great spy drama. Exciting – it unfolds like a flower. TOTAL page turner.” And: “I really liked the flashback structure. Pavone has a unique way of using flashback that keeps you guessing about the characters and whether you can or cannot trust them.” And: “Very gripping and hard to put down. A spy story starring a wife and mother who in between intrigues goes shopping at European Costco and takes clandestine meetings while the kids are at school. Loved it!”

  • Girl with a Dragon Tattoo

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson "I devoured them. Inhaled them. They are page-turners for sure, but with a social conscience. Mind you, a few of the scenes are very troubling and difficult to read. But there is nothing gratuitous about them. The characters are some of the best I’ve read in a long time, I think of them often." and "Hands down MUST read is the girl with the dragon tattoo trilogy. Just finished all and now will spend the rest of the summer with end of book blues. I dare you to find something better...amazing character development. Makes you want to go get some piercings and kick some a**." The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. “The first in the trilogy, this Sweden-set thriller warms up after the first third with great characters and a fascinating plot. Warning: a subplot is violence against women and some of the descriptions are quite graphic.” “It took a few chapters to get into the story, but then I was hooked! A total page turner.” “scary, but a page turner. Don't read if you're home alone!” The Girl Who Played with Fire. "The second book in the trilogy - more exciting and polished than the first. Larsson, who died shortly before publication, was a master." "Double wow! I liked this one even better than the first." "It's as intense as the first book with a cliff-hanger ending." The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. "I haven’t read it yet, but only because I’m saving it for a trip to BVI later this month. Hear it’s fantastic!"

  • Gone Girl

    Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. This book made the list as a unprecedented "midsummer top pick addition" in 2012.  "I'm sure most of you have at least heard of it, if not read it. A gripping psychological thriller.  Very hard to put down."  One contributor commented, “A lot of HATE in that one!"

  • Good Girl

    The Good Girl by Mary Kubica. From Booklist: "In this tale of a kidnapping gone wrong, Mia, the black-sheep daughter of prominent Chicago judge James Dennett, impulsively decides to go home with Colin, a young man she meets in a bar. The one-night stand quickly turns into a nightmare when Colin forces her into his car in the middle of the night, and Mia learns he’s been sent to abduct her for ransom. But just before the drop-off point, Colin, for reasons unknown, decides not to hand her over to the man who has hired him and instead takes her to a remote cabin in Minnesota. Back at home, Mia’s mother, Eve, cannot understand why James doesn’t seem to take the news of his daughter’s disappearance as seriously as she does. Gabe, the detective assigned to the case, wonders the same thing. The narrative unfolds in four different perspectives—from Mia, Eve, Gabe, and Colin, in alternating chapters—which are also structured as “before” and “after.” The organization can prove puzzling, but Kubica’s debut thriller builds suspense steadily and will have readers guessing what’s really going on until the final pages". --Rebecca Vnuk

  • Life We Bury

    The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens.  From Amazon: College student Joe Talbert has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl Iverson, and soon nothing in Joe's life is ever the same. Carl is a dying Vietnam veteran--and a convicted murderer. With only a few months to live, he has been medically paroled to a nursing home, after spending thirty years in prison for the crimes of rape and murder.  As Joe writes about Carl's life, especially Carl's valor in Vietnam, he cannot reconcile the heroism of the soldier with the despicable acts of the convict. Joe, along with his skeptical female neighbor, throws himself into uncovering the truth, but he is hamstrung in his efforts by having to deal with his dangerously dysfunctional mother, the guilt of leaving his autistic brother vulnerable, and a haunting childhood memory.  Thread by thread, Joe unravels the tapestry of Carl’s conviction. But as he and Lila dig deeper into the circumstances of the crime, the stakes grow higher. Will Joe discover the truth before it’s too late to escape the fallout?

  • Murder as a Fine Art

    Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell.  “Gaslit London is brought to its knees in David Morrell’s brilliant historical thriller.”  A brutal murder that took place in 1811 is being recreated in 1854 London, causing panic.

  • Norwegian by Night

    Norwegian By Nightby Derek B. Miller.  Evidently this novel has been a big hit in Europe. "I found it a little slow at first, and then I was taken on a great ride.  It is a well written novel that has many aspects to it.  It is hard to put it in one category. It is a thriller.  There is a historical piece, that I really enjoyed.   There is plenty of humor, and yet, it is very touching.  It has been awhile since I read a book that I didn’t want to put down, and didn’t want to end.  All the members of my book group thoroughly enjoyed it." "The protagonist Sheldon Horowitz, is a wise 82-year-old who carries the weight of many losses - his wife, his son (Vietnam), his friends. Then a woman upstairs is murdered in while he is hiding in the closet with the woman's young boy. Afraid the killer and his gang will return for the boy, Sheldon runs off with him, and an adventure ensues, with Sheldon's many memories woven through.  Sheldon's wonderful character emerges throughout the novel. It's just magnificent."