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The category of fiction encompasses a wide variety of books. Many people tend to read in just one of these genres, without exploring the different possibilities available. This section will take a closer look at the various fiction categories. We will try to define each genre, explain a little bit about it, and cover some of the popular authors. We hope that you will try at least one book in each category.


Like the mystery genre, thrillers also cover a lot of ground. They are fast-paced books, full of action and adventure, and an often complicated plot, where the main character does not know whom to trust. They also contain elements of other genres, primarily mystery, suspense, and adventure. Usually, thrillers focus on a particular profession, immersing the reader in the details and language of that world. The storyline in thrillers revolves around something bad that happens in a particular profession; often someone trying to gain more power through dangerous, illegal or immoral means, which the protagonist must then stop. The hero also often has his own moral code; think James Bond. Thrillers usually have a number of plot twists and turns, and are compelling and engrossing reads.

There are, of course, various categories of thrillers; the main ones being legal, medical or scientific, political/corporate/financial and spy/espionage thrillers. Beyond these, there are also crime thrillers, told from the criminal’s point of view, eco-thrillers, which revolve around environmental issues (try the novels of Bill Evans and Marianna Jameson) and techno-thrillers, like those written by Tom Clancy.

Legal thrillers obviously revolve around the legal profession. The protagonist most often fights corruption and greed within the legal world, and, as a result, often addresses a wide range of moral, ethical and social issues and questions. These books can be a little dark, as victory is often not without a cost. John Grisham is the most notable author in this category, but it also includes Lisa Scottoline and Scott Turow, among others. Grisham’s novels are fast-paced and easy to read, while Turow’s are more thoughtful. A good legal thriller revolves around a character to which readers can relate and empathize.

Medical or scientific thrillers usually involve some experiment gone wrong. The bad guy could be a crazy doctor or scientist, big medicine, an HMO, etc.; while the protagonist is usually a doctor or researcher who discovers something sinister going on. A good medical thriller makes the reader believe that something similar could happen to them; in essence, it plays on the fears of the reader. A good medical thriller also leaves the reader believing that they have a good understanding of the medical issues involved. Issues are often ones that have been in the news. On the medical side, authors like Robin Cook, Michael Palmer, Steven Spruill are popular. Michael Crichton is the most obvious example of a scientific thriller, with books like Jurassic Park and the Andromeda Strain; William Boyd and Steve Alten also write in this category.

Political/corporate/financial thrillers usually involve the government or a big corporation doing something really bad, the protagonist then finds out and they come after him/her. Stories about terrorists (not spies) also fall here; also, someone trying to overthrow a government, non-espionage assassination attempts and scheming within governments or corporations. As with medical or scientific thrillers, story lines are often taken from the news. Details about politics, political or financial corruption, and power struggles fill the stories. A classic example is Frederick Forsyth’s Day of the Jackal, or more recently, David Baldacci’s books.

If you grew up in the cold war era, when spy and espionage thrillers were very popular, you are probably familiar with authors like Robert Ludlum (Bourne series), Ian Fleming (James Bond) and John le Carré. Thrillers in this category are set in the world of international intrigue. For more recent additions, try Robert Littell, Janice Weber or Maureen Tan.

Thrillers, suspense, mystery and adventure novels tend to overlap, so it is often hard to decide where a book falls among these categories. However, the key in thrillers is that although there is action, suspense and a mystery to solve, the protagonist in a thriller uses his/her knowledge of the profession to come out the winner.

Thriller Authors

  • Steve Alten
  • Jeffrey Archer
  • David Baldacci
  • Larry Bond
  • CJ Box
  • William Boyd
  • Dale Brown
  • Dan Brown
  • Lee Child
  • Lincoln Child
  • Tom Clancy
  • Harlan Coben
  • Paul Coelho
  • Michael Connelly
  • Robin Cook
  • Stephen Coonts
  • William Coughlin
  • Michael Crichton
  • Linda Davies
  • William Diehl
  • Eileen Dreyer
  • Bill Evans/Marianna Jameson
  • Ian Flemming
  • Gillian Flynn
  • Ken Follett
  • Frederick Forsyth
  • Stephen Frey
  • Tom Gabbay
  • Tess Gerritsen
  • Andrew Grant
  • John Grisham
  • Adam Hall
  • John Hart Hiaasen
  • Evan Hunter
  • Greg Hurwitz
  • James Huston
  • David Ignatius
  • Sarah Jenson
  • Raymond Khoury
  • Jon Land
  • John Lawton
  • Stephen Leather
  • John le Carré
  • Jim Lehrer
  • Elmore Leonard
  • David Lindsey
  • Robert Littell
  • Robert Ludlum
  • Steve Martini
  • Victor O’Reilly
  • Michael Palmer
  • Richard North Patterson
  • Douglas Preston
  • Piers Paul Read
  • Christopher Reich
  • Patrick Robinson
  • James Rollins
  • Greg Rucka
  • Lawrence Sanders
  • John Saul
  • Lisa Scottoline
  • Laurence Shames
  • Christopher Simms
  • Steven Spruill
  • Olen Steinhauer
  • Maureen Tan
  • Robert Tanenbaum
  • Craig Thomas
  • Scott Turow
  • Andrew Vachss
  • Janice Weber
  • Stuart Woods
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