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  • BN Editors 1:30 pm on 2018/08/28 Permalink
    Tags: , book haul, , summer's best thrillers, thrillers   

    Bid Summer’s Heat Farewell with 8 Chilling Thrillers 

    It’s the end of August, and we’ve about had our fill of the heat. Unfortunately, the weather isn’t likely to oblige us with cooler temperatures for at least another month, but in the meantime, we can at least try to bring down our core temperatures by catching up on the most chilling thrillers of the year so far. Note: We understand that you can not actually cool off by reading, but we’re still adding all of these to the TBR pile.

    And for just one week, you can get them all for 50% off as part of Barnes & Noble’s first ever book haul blowout! Today through September 3, shop in stores and online to get half off of 150 select titles, across genres, for all ages, and including bestsellers, new releases, and more. When you shop in stores, you’ll get a free tote with purchase of three books, while supplies last.

    The President Is Missing, by Bill Clinton and James Patterson
    Combining his personal knowledge of the presidency with Patterson’s knowledge of how to write a heart-pounding thriller, Bill Clinton spins a story about President Jonathan Lincoln Duncan, under pressure from all sides, besieged by unhappy and hostile congressional committees, a determined assassin, and an apocalyptic threat only he knows about—a computer virus that could roll the clock back to the stone age overnight. Duncan sees just one way to deal with these combined threats—he walks out of the White House, leaving his security detail behind, and takes matters into his own hands.

    The Fallen, by David Baldacci
    Baldacci’s fourth Amos Decker novel heads to the small rust-belt town of Baronville, where Decker and FBI agent Alex Jamison are visiting with Alex’s family. Baronville’s a town in decline afflicted by an opioid crisis, and dealing with a series of brutal murders marked by mysterious clues that have the local cops stymied. It’s not long before Decker, who has a perfect memory since a head injury he suffered while a pro football player, stumbles onto the next grisly homicide scene—and with his special mental abilities, begins to see a pattern that goes far beyond Baronville. When the pattern touches on people Decker cares about, the mystery becomes a personal one—just as Decker discovers reasons to doubt his perfect memory.

    Spymaster, by Brad Thor
    The 17th Scot Harvath book finds the skilled agent finally feeling his age—though he’s still the most dangerous and effective employee at private security and espionage endeavor The Carlton Group. Across Europe, someone is assassinating diplomats, and Harvath is ordered to find out who—and why. When it’s revealed to be part of a plot by Russia to leverage the NATO alliance to draw the United States into a war, Harvath is tasked with stopping the Russian plan, and he goes on the offensive, identifying and hunting down the assassins themselves. Meanwhile, the founder of the Carlton Group battles a declining mental state that means the secrets of his long career are at risk—and the new head, former CIA chief Lydia Ryan, must scramble to protect those secrets—as well as her agents in the field.

    The 17th Suspect, by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
    Patterson and Paetro return to the Women’s Murder Club for the 17th go-round in a book that focuses on Sergeant Lindsay Boxer and ADA Yuki Castellano. Boxer is approached by a homeless woman who tells her the city’s homeless population is being hunted by a killer and the police are slow-walking the investigation. When Lindsay’s initial inquiries seem to confirm this, she’s outraged and goes on the warpath—with unexpected consequences that are serious enough for her friends in the Club to urge her to step back. Meanwhile, Yuki catches a rape case involving a man accusing his female superior of assault, and she thinks she can make the charges stick. But as she moves forward, the case seems to dissolve under her, and her opponent in the courtroom finds ways of getting under her skin. As Yuki struggles, Lindsay finds herself targeted by the killer she was hunting, as both women deal with personal problems that complicate their professional lives to the breaking point.

    Cutting Edge, by Ward Larsen
    Trey DeBolt is a rescue swimmer for the Coast Guard in Alaska. During a difficult rescue, his helicopter goes down—and he wakes up in cabin by the sea in Maine. He’s got a nasty scar on the back of his head and no memory of how he got there; his nurse informs him that he’s been declared dead even as a Coast Guard investigator in Alaska finds evidence he’s still alive. His nurse tells him that he’s undergone surgery that has gifted him with incredible abilities. Just as he’s figuring out he’s part of a secretive government experiment, his nurse is killed by a team of professional assassins—assassins meant for him. A sudden vision showing him information he couldn’t possibly know saves his life—and suddenly, Trey is on the run, trying to figure out just what’s happened to him, and how to control it, before it’s too late.

    Bring Me Back, by B.A. Paris
    In this tense thriller, Finn McQuaid and his fiancée Ellen are settled into a comfortable cottage in the small village of Simonbridge, financially secure thanks to a stroke of luck on Finn’s part. Their relationship is unusual; 12 years earlier Finn was dating Ellen’s sister Layla, until Layla disappeared while driving through France with Finn, with only a Russian nesting doll near the car for a clue. Initially a suspect, Finn was cleared of the crime, and over the years, their mutual loss and desire for comfort led Ellen and Finn to forge a bond. But now, the police are suddenly telling Finn that Layla’s been seen in town, and he and Ellen start receiving strange gifts—Russian nesting dolls. It’s clear Finn hasn’t been entirely forthcoming about the circumstances of Layla’s disappearance, but unraveling the truth of what’s really happening won’t be easy.

    Tailspin, by Sandra Brown
    Rye Mallett is a ‛freight dog,’ flying cargo around the country. He accepts a strange job flying a mysterious black box through bad weather to a remote area of Georgia, where Dr. Nathaniel Lambert will meet him to accept it. As Rye approaches the small airport, someone shines a laser into the cockpit, and Rye is temporarily blinded. He survives the crash, and when he exits the plane with the box he meets Brynn O’Neal, a beautiful doctor who claims Lambert sent her in his place. Although Rye doesn’t trust her, he has no choice but to accept her help when it becomes clear that there are others seeking whatever’s in the mystery box—and that they’re willing to kill for it.

    Red Alert, by James Patterson and Marshall Karp
    The fifth NYPD Red book shows us the 1 percent of Manhattan’s elite behaving badly—and being murdered at an alarming rate. When a filmmaker’s sex games go wrong and a charity function is bombed in the same night, Detectives Zach Jordan and Kylie MacDonald of the NYPD Red division respond, putting aside their own romantic and sexual tension to protect the rich and famous. As their investigation deepens, even they are shocked at the level of depravity and corruption on display—and when their search for the truth puts powerful people in danger, they’ll have no one but each other to rely on.

    What’s the best new thriller you read in 2018?

    The post Bid Summer’s Heat Farewell with 8 Chilling Thrillers appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 3:00 pm on 2018/08/01 Permalink
    Tags: thrillers,   

    August’s Best New Thrillers 

    The dog days of August are known for their heat. Still, even with a nice shady spot and a tall glass of something iced, this month’s best thrillers may just get you sweating.

    Texas Ranger, by James Patterson and Andrew Bourelle
    Rory Yates is one of 200 lawmen who have been elevated to the status of Texas Ranger. Fast on the draw and dedicated to the Ranger creed of “never surrender,” Yates’ rise cost him his marriage to schoolteacher Anne. When Yates gets a call from Anne complaining of creepy phone calls and strange objects left at her home, he heads home, where he finds his former wife brutally murdered. Worse, Yates is the main suspect, and clearing his name dredges up connections and memories in he’d rather not recall. When a second murder occurs, Yates knows whoever’s responsible is targeting him specifically—and he will need his shooting skills and his reliance on the Ranger code to survive the twisted scheme.

    An Unwanted Guest, by Shari Lapena
    As a snowstorm surges in, a group of people arrive at Mitchell’s Inn deep in the Catskill Mountains. The storm cuts the power, and then Dana Hart is found dead on the very first evening at the bottom of the stairs. David Paley, an attorney, suspects her fiancé Matthew, but with no way to contact the outside world, he has  no choice but to wait out the storm alongside a potential murderer. Each guest has a dark secret to hide, and as more bodies turn up, it becomes clear the murderer isn’t done yet.

    The Other Woman, by Sandie Jones
    Emily Havistock meets Adam Banks, a good-looking, affluent IT recruiter in London, and thinks she’s found the perfect man. Then she meets Adam’s mother Pammie, with whom Adam has an unhealthy, extremely close relationship. Pammie clearly dislikes Emily, and does whatever she can think of to split them up, as Emily begins to suspect that the death of Adam’s previous girlfriend wasn’t an accident. Emily is willing to fight for Adam—even if it means ignoring the warning signs that there’s something deeply strange going on.

    Assassin’s Run, by Ward Larsen
    The fourth David Slaton novel opens with the professional assassination of a Russian oligarch on his yacht off the coast of Capri, killed with a single bullet. Because of the skill required, as well as other clues, Russian intelligence suspects a legendary Israeli assassin is responsible, but David Slaton knows the famous killer didn’t do the job—because he is that storied assassin. To clear his name, he travels to Capri and begins to investigate, pulling together the threads of an international conspiracy that leads directly to the Russian government itself.

    The Other Sister, by Sarah Zettel
    Geraldine and Marie Monroe’s mother died 25 years ago, and many folks still suspect their father did her in. Geraldine always blamed herself, and fled home as soon as she could. Marie stayed in the family home, called Rose House, with her emotionally abusive father and still lives there with her son Robbie. To the outside world, Marie is the good sister who stayed with her family and Geraldine is the bad one who ran away. When Geraldine returns home after losing her job, claiming to have come for Robbie’s graduation, she presents Marie with a plan to murder their father as final revenge for childhoods filled with harsh discipline and cruel lies. But Geraldine and Marie can’t even truly trust one another.

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  • Jeff Somers 6:00 pm on 2018/06/30 Permalink
    Tags: , , , thrillers,   

    July’s Best New Thrillers 

    The Other Woman, by Daniel Silva
    Silva’s 18th entry in the Gabriel Allon series finds the art restorer and Israel’s most effective spy drawn back into the struggle against Russia’s to tip the balance of world power in their favor. When one of Allon’s best assets inside Russian intelligence is assassinated while trying to defect, he investigates—and is soon on the trail of one of the biggest and best-kept secrets of the last few decades: there is a mole inside the highest corridors of power in the west—someone who has bided their time and now stands at the summit of power. Allon will have to risk everything and give all in order to stop the unthinkable.

    Spymaster, by Brad Thor
    The 17th Scot Harvath book finds the skilled agent finally feeling his age—though he’s still the most dangerous and effective employee at private security and espionage endeavor The Carlton Group. Across Europe, someone is assassinating diplomats, and Harvath is ordered to find out who—and why. When it’s revealed to be part of a plot by Russia to leverage the NATO alliance to draw the United States into a war, Harvath is tasked with stopping the Russian plan, and he goes on the offensive, identifying and hunting down the assassins themselves. Meanwhile, the founder of the Carlton Group battles a declining mental state that means the secrets of his long career are at risk—and the new head, former CIA chief Lydia Ryan, must scramble to protect those secrets—as well as her agents in the field.

    Give Me Your Hand, by Megan Abbott
    As a teenager, Kit Owens isn’t particularly ambitious—until she meets Diane Fleming, a troubled girl with a troubled past who pushes herself to perfection in everything. Kit finds herself being pushed along with her as they both pursue an elite science scholarship, until one night Diane shares a secret with Kit—and Kit, horrified, turns her back on Diane. A decade later, Kit is working in a prestigious lab under a famous scientist and pursuing a coveted spot on the male-dominated team, and she is shocked to find herself suddenly competing against Diane. Kit struggles to keep the past in the past as she realizes her connection to Diane, so long buried, is as powerful as ever—and Diane’s secret, which she worked so hard to forget, is as terrible as ever.

    Double Blind, by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen
    The Johansens’ sixth Kendra Michaels novel finds the FBI agent drawn into a murder investigation when the victim, paralegal Elena Meyer, is found holding an envelope addressed to Kendra. Kendra doesn’t know Elena, and doesn’t recognize anyone on the video of a wedding reception contained on a memory stick in the envelope. She enlists the help of freelance investigator Adam Lynch—but the video suddenly disappears. As Adam and Kendra struggle with their attraction to one another, Kendra finds herself diving into a massive conspiracy—and tallying a rising body count.

    She Was the Quiet One, by Michele Campbell
    When their mother passes away, twins Rose and Bel are sent to Odell Academy, an elite boarding school. Rose is thrilled and immediately excels. but Bel falls in with a bad crowd. Both sisters forge unusually strong bonds with a married couple, Sarah and Heath, who act as both faculty advisors and dorm parents. When Bel gives in to peer pressure and hazes Rose, the bond between siblings is strained to the breaking point. Rose turns to Sarah and Bel turns to Heath, whose motives may be less than honorable. As the sisters’ relationship sours into violence, a deep and disturbing mystery arises, told through overlapping points of view and twisting timelines.

    Caged, by Ellison Cooper
    Sayer Altair, a talented special agent for the FBI, studies the patterns of serial killers in order to forget the tragedies that trail in her wake—parents dead in a horrific car crash, fiancé killed while working a mysterious case for the Bureau. She is forced to emerge from her research when she’s assigned to the case of Gwen Van Hurst, daughter of a senator who went missing a year before, who has been found dead in a cage in the basement of a booby-trapped house in Washington, D.C. Sayer learns that another victim may still be alive in a cage somewhere, kicking off a frantic race against time.

    Baby Teeth, by Zoje Stage
    Stage’s debut tells the story of fragile Suzette, battling with her distant, cold mother and the crippling effects of Crohn’s disease. Despite the physical risks, she and her husband Alex have a child. Determined to be a better mother than her own, Suzette tries her best, but Hanna is a difficult child. As the story opens, Hanna is seven years old and Suzette is home-schooling her because Hanna—who has yet to speak a word despite knowing how to read and write—refuses to behave. The only person for whom Hanna seems to have any affection is her father, and she views Suzette as a barrier between her and the total devotion of her dad. As Hanna’s behavior becomes more violent and unhinged, Alex doesn’t see the danger—but Suzette begins to fear for her life.

    Bound for Gold, by William Martin
    Rare-book dealer Peter Fallon returns along with his girlfriend Evangeline Carrington. At Peter’s son’s behest, the pair head out to California in search of the stolen journal of James Spencer of the Sagamore Mining Company, who searched for a legendary “river of gold.” Spencer’s story is one of violence and greed, racism and capitalism—in short, the story of America. And it’s a story that may not be quite over; as Peter and Evangeline hunt for the stolen book and stumble into a plot that threatens their lives.

    Four Dominions, by Eric Van Lustbader
    The third entry in Lustbader’s Testament series opens with Emma Shaw, artifacts expert, studying the recently acquired Testament of Lucifer onboard a private plane. Turbulence knocks lemon juice onto the parchment, revealing hidden writings that Emma reads before she realizes the danger—and finds herself possessed by the demon Beleth, who serves Lucifer’s plan to finally free Heaven itself from God’s tyranny. Beleth sets Emma to turning her brother, academic Bravo Shaw, towards evil as the demons plot their final victory.

    All These Beautiful Strangers, by Elizabeth Klehfoth
    Ten years ago, Charlie Fairchild’s mother Grace was seen on bank security cameras cleaning out the family’s safe deposit boxes—and never seen again. Now 17, Charlie is haunted by her mother’s disappearance, wondering if she truly abandoned her family, or if there is another explanation. Attending an exclusive boarding school, Charlie is pushed by the secret society she’s pledging to dig into her family’s secrets—and what she finds makes her head reel. forcing her to consider the possibility she never knew either of her parents at all.

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  • Jeff Somers 9:00 pm on 2018/05/31 Permalink
    Tags: , , , thrillers,   

    June’s Best New Thrillers 

    It’s summer, and things are heating up outside and on bookstore shelves, thanks to the arrivals of these 10 tightly-plotted, fast-paced new thrillers, including one from the dream team of former president Bill Clinton and James Patterson. Read on—only you can decide how thrilling your June will be.

    The President is Missing, by Bill Clinton and James Patterson
    Combining his personal knowledge of the presidency with Patterson’s knowledge of how to write a heart-pounding thriller, Bill Clinton spins a story about President Jonathan Lincoln Duncan, under pressure from all sides, besieged by unhappy and hostile congressional committees, a determined assassin, and an apocalyptic threat only he knows about—a computer virus that could roll the clock back to the stone age overnight. Duncan sees just one way to deal with these combined threats—he walks out of the White House, leaving his security detail behind, and takes matters into his own hands.

    Tom Clancy Line of Sight, by Mike Maden
    Vladimir Vasilev, chief of the Iron Syndicate, is dying, and the one thing he wants to accomplish before the cancer gets him is to see Jack Ryan, Jr.’s head on a platter. Ryan heads to Sarajevo on a mission for his mother, seeking to track down her former patient, Aida. As assassins circle, Jack locates the gorgeous Aida, a Muslim who runs a refugee organization, and the sparks fly even as a new threat emerges—the Iron Syndicate is planning to kill thousands in a terrorist attack on a stadium in hopes of triggering World War III. Ryan must race to figure out the plot and somehow secure the military assets necessary to stop it—but Aida has secrets that threaten to upend everything, and trigger to a disaster of incalculable proportions.

    The Pharaoh Key, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
    Gideon Crew returns in his fifth novel from Preston and Child, but Effective Engineering Solutions doesn’t. When the organization suddenly shuts down, world-class thief Gideon and and Manuel Garza head to Egypt in pursuit of EES’ final project, a priceless treasure—but not before secretly downloading a scan of the Phaistos Disk and cracking the ancient code contained thereon, revealing the treasure’s precise location. Garza and Crew face shipwrecks and other dangers on their way to meet a beautiful geologist and discover a lost civilization, adventuring their way through deadly puzzles and ancient mysteries with equal aplomb.

    Turbulence, by Stuart Woods
    Stone Barrington returns in the 46th novel featuring the suave, self-made millionaire lawyer. As a hurricane bears down on Key West, Barrington plays host to some friends—including Secretary of State Holly Barker. In the midst of the storm, Senator Joe Box arrives to beg for shelter, and is admitted—even though he attempted to assault Barker at a state dinner months earlier. When the storm passes, Barrington becomes involved in an effort to capture notorious arms dealer Selwyn Owaki (set free through machinations by Box) and the nuclear device he’s shopping—but the failure of the operation puts crosshairs on Barrington, and he must go underground. In the world of Stone Barrington, this means jetting about the world in order to get the drop on Owaki, one way or another.

    Bring Me Back, by B.A. Paris
    In this tense thriller, Finn McQuaid and his fiancée Ellen are settled into a comfortable cottage in the small village of Simonbridge, financially secure thanks to a stroke of luck on Finn’s part. Their relationship is unusual; 12 years earlier Finn was dating Ellen’s sister Layla, until Layla disappeared while driving through France with Finn, with only a Russian nesting doll near the car for a clue. Initially a suspect, Finn was cleared of the crime, and over the years, their mutual loss and desire for comfort led Ellen and Finn to forge a bond. But now, the police are suddenly telling Finn that Layla’s been seen in town, and he and Ellen start receiving strange gifts—Russian nesting dolls. It’s clear Finn hasn’t been entirely forthcoming about the circumstances of Layla’s disappearance, but unraveling the truth of what’s really happening won’t be easy.

    Social Creature, by Tara Isabella Burton
    Louise Wilson is an aspiring writer worried that her looming 30th birthday means she’s failed to make it in New York City. Tutoring a rich girl to make ends meet, she encounters her student’s older sister, Lavinia, who dresses like she’s always headed for a costume ball, and the queen of New York’s underground society. Louise decides she must keep her access to this glamorous life no matter the cost, and shirks all other responsibilities to maintain her orbit around Lavinia. At first all is well; Lavinia invites Louise to be her roommate, and it’s quite the ride—but then, Lavinia gets bored and decides its time for new blood. In order to maintain her grip on Lavinia, Louise must contemplate taking desperate measures. This thriller offers an exploration of a toxic relationship in the mold of Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley novels.

    Bearskin, by James A. McLaughlin
    Rice Moore is working as a caretaker in the rough, lawless Turk Mountain Preserve, located in the Appalachians of Virginia. The prior caretaker was raped and left for dead by the vicious poachers who plague the Preserve, and Rice is a man of secrets, fleeing from a Mexican drug cartel and hoping to stay hidden in the backwoods of Virginia. Just as he thinks he can relax, bears start turning up dead, killed by poachers seeking their valuable organs to sell overseas. When his efforts to stop the killing raises his profile, Rice finds himself fighting both the locals and the foreign criminals seeking to exact their revenge.

    The Moscow Offensive, by Dale Brown
    Brown’s sequel to Price of Duty returns to Captain Brad McLanahan, Colonel Wayne “Whack” Macomber, and Major Nadia Rozek of the Iron Wolf Squadron, which is composed of cybenetically-controlled robotic infantry, as they face a new threat: Russian President Gryzlov has managed to reverse-engineer the design and is building his own corps of war machines. Gryzlov shows off his new strength by attacking an Air Force base in Louisiana. The United States strikes back, and tensions and hostilities continue escalate, as Macomber, McLanahan, and Rozek risk everything in order to protect their country and the man who might be the next president.

    Providence, by Caroline Kepnes
    Jon Bronson was a typical high school kid, hassled by the jocks but saved by his deep friendship with classmate Chloe. When Jon disappears from his home, only Chloe and his parents keep faith that he’ll return—which he finally does, waking up four years later in a basement with no memory of the intervening time. Next to him is a copy of The Dunwich Horror by H.P. Lovecraft, and a letter from a former teacher who tells Jon that he was put into an induced coma, and now has access to more power than he can possibly imagine. Jon’s return is bittersweet—and gets more complicated when he realizes how dangerous his new powers are to the people around him. Jon tries to isolate himself, moving to Lovecraft’s home city of Providence, Rhode Island, but mysterious deaths soon attract a detective’s attention, and Jon and Chloe must find the answers to the mystery of Jon’s disappearance before it’s too late.

    The Real Michael Swann, by Bryan Reardon
    A phone call between Julia Swann and her husband Michael, who is at Penn Station in New York City, is suddenly cut off when a bomb explodes. Julia, in a panic, attempts to drive to NYC from Pennsylvania, but the city is in lockdown, and she can’t get in. Then she hears the impossible: the domestic terrorist suspected in the blast is none other than Michael Swann. Convinced of his his survival and his innocence, she seeks to make contact with her husband, who soon turns up dazed from the blast and suffering from amnesia. Julia must evade law enforcement as they search for Michael while somehow proving he isn’t the man they think he is.

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  • Jeff Somers 6:00 pm on 2018/05/07 Permalink
    Tags: , , thrillers   

    10 of The Best Political Thrillers Ever 

    When a former president writes a book, the world pays attention. When a former president writes a novel, things get really interesting. Partnering with none other than James Patterson, one of the greatest thriller writers of all time, former president Bill Clinton has cowritten The President is Missing, in which the president of the United States disappears, shocking the world and setting in motion an unpredictable swirl of events. The book is full of the sort of details only a president would know. and considering its unique combination of an expert author and a man who knows all the inside scoop (he had access to the NSA and CIA for years, after all), we could not be more excited. Here are ten more incredible political thrillers you’ll want to read next.

    House of Cards, by Michael Dobbs
    The book that inspired the British TV show that in turn inspired Netflix’s very first original series, this is the story of Francis Urquhart, Chief Whip, a cynical, manipulative politician determined to become Prime Minister. He’s willing to use every secret he knows, every pressure point he can find, and every dirty trick in the book to secure his own rise to power—and in the process confirms just about every dark and terrible thing you thought you knew about politics. Dobbs drew on his extensive real-life experience in British politics for the books, and the result is an electrifying vision of how exceedingly violent governing can be behind closed doors.

    The Manchurian Candidate, by Richard Condon
    Condon’s 1959 novel is a paranoid classic, born at the beginning of the Cold War, that continues to influence people today (the fact that Homeland has a similar concept is a testament to the evergreen nature of the device). Soldiers captured during the Korean War are tortured and brainwashed, and one, Shaw, is programmed to fall into a hypnotic state when he sees his trigger—the Queen of Diamonds during a game of solitaire. He’s programmed to forget his orders once he regains consciousness, and thus is the perfect hidden assassin, who can pass any interrogation or test. His own ruthless, power-hungry mother is his KGB handler, and relays orders to assassinate the president in order to secure the office for the vice president, who will order martial law and request emergency powers as a puppet of the Soviets. It’s creepy, tense, and still shockingly modern—and in a bizarre real-life twist, some believe author Condon subtly cribbed from Robert Graves’ I, Claudius, number 8 on this list.

    The Constant Gardener, by John le Carré
    You might think of le Carré as a writer of espionage novels, but politics encompasses espionage and crime as well as law-making and foreign policy. His novels are as much about the secret tension between ruling and governing, and the crimes committed in the name of patriotism and realpolitik, as they are about skulduggery and moles. In The Constant Gardener, an unremarkable man with a remarkable wife is jolted out of a mediocre political career when his spouse is killed, and he determines to find out why she was murdered, and by whom. For the first time in his life he’s willing to take chances—and if there’s one thing the secretive world of politics can’t stand, it’s people who have nothing to lose. The end result is a pitch-perfect thriller.

    The Day of the Jackal, by Frederick Forsyth
    The Cold War politics of this classic thriller are long gone, but Forsyth’s novel (winner of the 1972 Edgar Award for Best Novel) still carries the punch of a meticulously researched story set in a very real world. It’s a novel of agonizing anticipation: first, as we follow the slow, careful preparations and planning of the titular Jackal, hired to assassinate the President of France; then, as we follow along with the equally painstaking detective work of the man charged with identifying the Jackal as time runs out. The twin stories of detective and assassin remain separate right up until the moment the Jackal takes his shot, and it’s this element of cat-and-mouse between a devious killer and a brilliant agent—plus the elevated stakes of global politics—that make this a book that still resonates today. Forsyth was working in Paris when he wrote it, and used that firsthand knowledge to choose his setting. In fact, rumor has it the assassin’s sniping spot can still be located—with the precise view described in the text.

    The Hunt for Red October, by Tom Clancy
    Clancy’s breakout novel is set at the hot height of the Cold War, but it remains a classic political thriller because it perfectly combines thrilling spycraft, visceral action, an insider’s view of behind-closed-doors political maneuvering, and global stakes. Clancy’s expert grasp of each of these aspects makes this story of a rogue Soviet submarine captain planning to steal the experimental sub he’s been assigned to and defect to the West—and the young CIA analyst, Jack Ryan, who tries desperately to convince everyone from the president down that this isn’t the Soviet Union starting World War III—just about the Platonic ideal of a political thriller. Rumor is Clancy’s grasp of top-secret technology rattled the FBI enough that they paid him a visit, and anyone who reads the book will believe it.

    The Parallax View, by Loren Singer
    Singer’s 1970 novel, which was adapted into a film starring Warren Beatty that’s become a cult favorite, is delightfully terrifying. A journalist witnesses the assassination of a president, and years later discovers that the other people who were eye witnesses to the event are being killed off in mysterious ways. His investigation leads him to the Parallax Corporation, which trains political assassins as part of a massive conspiracy to control the world—a conspiracy that truly goes all the way to the top. The book’s plot is complex, but the sense that everything is not right with the world, that things are happening beyond our control or comprehension is, sadly, as applicable today as it was back then. Any time we lose faith in our leaders and entertain the notion that the country has been bamboozled on a national scale, this book should be pulled off the shelf and rediscovered.

    Absolute Power, by David Baldacci
    Baldacci’s audacious 1996 novel pivots off a salacious moment wherein a professional thief, having broken into the luxurious home of a billionaire, stumbles onto a two-way mirror giving him a view of the billionaire’s wife and the President of the United States having a affair. The sex turns rough, and the President’s Secret Service detail bursts in and kills the woman. The thief just barely manages to escape, but the Secret Service pins the murder on him, and a game of cat and mouse ensues as the president and his team try to cover up the truth. While conceived during the go-go Clinton years, this is another evergreen political thriller that combines a thriller plot with a plausible look at what authority decoupled from responsibility might look like.

    I, Claudius, by Robert Graves
    A historical novel? True, but also a razor-sharp story of political maneuvering in ancient Rome that involves not just murder and conspiracy, but also leverage, fake news, real policy, and power brokers. Claudius, who survives the violent reign of his nephew Caligula because he’s old and stammers—making everyone assume he’s no threat—is proclaimed emperor after Caligula’s well-deserved assassination, then proves to be smarter than anyone suspected. What makes this and its sequel, Claudius the God, so amazing is that Claudius—despite his intelligence and desire to be a “good” emperor with the ultimate goal of re-establishing the republic—is terribly flawed, continuously abusing his power in the most selfish of ways.

    Lions of Lucerne, by Brad Thor
    Thor’s first Scott Harvath novel opens with a bang: former Navy SEAL and current Secret Service agent Harvath is overseeing the president’s security detail in Park City, Utah, when a brazen attack leaves thirty other agents dead—and the president kidnapped. Harvath, disgraced and confused, goes on a one-man mission to piece together what happened and why, while the United States dithers and hesitates to meet the kidnappers’ demands, resulting in a presidential finger being mailed to the White House. While a bit more oriented towards the thriller side of things, that doesn’t mean Thor lacks a fine touch when it comes to the political side, which he renders in an equally exciting manner, leading to an explosive ending that’s not to be missed.

    The Ghost Writer, by Robert Harris
    Harris’ novel is a master class in tension. Former British Prime Minister Adam Lang is very late in turning his memoir in to his publisher—in part because his long-time collaborator and assistant has died in a terrible accident. To get the book back on schedule, a professional ghostwriter is hired to complete the manuscript. The ghostwriter struggles to figure out what’s true and what’s not so true in Lang’s notes, and then stumbles on evidence that implies the dead collaborator was actually murdered. As Lang is charged with war crimes, the stakes and the tension keep rising and the ghostwriter—appropriately never named—finds himself ensnared in the very dirty world of power and politics.

    The post 10 of The Best Political Thrillers Ever appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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