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Typically, among the top ten hardcover novels on the New York Times Best Sellers List about half are thrillers. As the world’s highest-paid author James Patterson has noted: “Ultimately, a great thriller is a roller-coaster ride.” Yet given the enormous popularity of thrillers, there are tons that get published every year. Only the most gripping tales shine—while the absolute best often get made into movies or a TV series.
So what are the latest must-read thrillers? Let’s unravel the mystery:
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Set in a quiet beach town in North Carolina in 1969, a mystery unfolds in Delia Owens’ acclaimed debut novel, after a young and handsome local is found dead. The town rushes to suspect Kya Clark, the beauty who for years has lived alone in a nearby marsh. This is a murder mystery as much as it is a coming-of-age story.
The Night Before by Wendy Walker
Author Wendy Walker, a former attorney, got her idea for this novel from her awful experiences with online dating. The protagonist in The Night Before is Laura Lochner, who always seems to find Mr. Wrong. Things get so bad that she quits her lucrative job on Wall Street and moves in with her sister in the Connecticut suburbs. Unfortunately, this makes things even worse as she responds to a post on a dating site and winds up missing. It’s up to her sister, Rosie, to find out what happened.
The Outsider by Stephen King
In this novel, Stephen King writes about the horrific death of an 11-year-old boy. The investigation also shows that all evidence—including DNA—points to a beloved Little League coach as the murderer. For the most part, all this sets up for tons of suspense, twists and surprises. Late last year, HBO announced it would turn The Outsider into a ten-episode series, which will star Ben Mendelsohn as the lead detective. (And if you’re a huge King fan, here’s a look at Stephen King’s best novels).
The President Is Missing by James Patterson
It’s hard for fans of thrillers to resist a book with a title like The President Is Missing. It’s even tougher when the authors include James Patterson and former president, Bill Clinton. They both deliver. This is an action-packed story that happens over three days with no shortage of suspense. True, some of the plot lines are kind of ridiculous (it appears that one of the president’s Cabinet officials is in on the conspiracy). But hey, this is fiction, right?
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
A recent New Yorker profile of A. J. Finn has an intriguing title: “A Suspense Novelist’s Trail Of Deceptions.” Keep in mind that Finn’s real name is Dan Mallory, and he’s a very successful book editor. But his penchant for deception has served him well—at least in his literary career. His debut novel, The Woman in the Window, was a mega-hit. It’s about Anna Fox who lives alone and likes to keep an eye on her neighbors. Then one day she sees an awful crime committed. The Woman in the Window is actually part of a two-book deal for $2 million. Oh, and a movie is slated to be released in October, so read it before then.
The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
A twentysomething preschool teacher, Nellie, will soon marry Richard, who is a heavy-hitter on Wall Street. But his ex-wife, Vanessa, is far from pleased and stalks her. Yet as the story progresses we learn that things are not as they seem. The book is the work of Sara Pekkanen, who has written a number of novels, and Greer Hendricks, an editor at Simon & Schuster. Interestingly enough, even before it was published, Steven Spielberg bought the film rights.
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Alicia Berenson had a seemingly idyllic life as a painter who lives in a beautiful home in London. Then one day she kills her husband, with five gunshots to the head. And then she goes silent—literally—and winds up in a psychiatric hospital. Now it’s up to psychotherapist Theo Faber, who is obsessed with the case, to solve the mystery. This novel, Alex Michaelides’ first, has turned out to be a major bestseller and is expected to be a feature film.
The Wife by Alafair Burke
Now a thriller writer, Alafair Burke has the advantage of being a former prosecutor. In other words, her books are very real, which adds to the suspense. Her latest novel, The Wife, is certainly topical. It’s about a successful businessman and bestselling author who is accused by one of his interns of sexual harassment. But the story is told from the standpoint of his wife, who must deal with the chilling revelations as well as secrets from her past. Amazon Studios has purchased the movie rights to the novel, and Alafair is writing the screenplay.