Top-100 Thrillers

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top-100 in crime fiction

1-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50 | 51-60 | 61-70 | 71-80 | 81-90 | 91-100

Frederick Forsyth (1999) The Day of the Jackal. (Reprint Ed.)

First published in 1971, the Jackal created a new genre: realistic spy fiction. Forsyth didn't bother with fantasy espionage (a la James Bond), but depicted a brutal and nasty world of evildoers. The plot is about an attempt to murder General DeGaulle of France. Most reviewers consider the novel as the gold standard of spy fiction.

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Friedrich Glauser (2006) In Matto's Realm (First published in 1936)

Glauser's second Sergeant Studer mystery is a psychological police procedural. A child killer has escaped from a psychiatric asylum and as Studer begins to investigate, the director of that institution is found in the boiler room with a broken neck. In a battle of will between Studer and the assistant director, who is suspected of the crime, the truth slowly unravels. A masterpiece!

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John Grisham (2004) A Time to Kill.

A young lawyer defends Carl Lee Hailey, a black Vietnam war hero, who had killed the white rednecks who raped his child. The tiny town of Clanton, Mississippi, is split: Some folks want to give Carl Lee a second medal; others want him to roast on the electric chair. Probably the best Grisham. (Great movie on blue-ray DVD)

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Daniel Keyes (1995) Flowers for Algernon.

Engaging simpleton Charlie Gordon tells his own story in semi-literate "progris riports." He dimly wants to better himself, but with an IQ of 68 can't even beat the laboratory mouse Algernon at maze-solving - until an experimental treatment is taking him steadily past the human average to genius level. A classic!

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Henning Mankell (2006) Before the Frost.

Atmospheric thriller about a religious fanatic on a murder spree. In his latest Kurt Wallander crime novel, Henning Mankell describes a secret world of religious extremists in peaceful southern Sweden, who are bent on punishing the world's sinners.

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Henning Mankell (2004) The Dogs of Riga.

Kurt Wallander, the stoic Swedish detective is investigating the murders of two unidentified men washed up on the Swedish coast in an inflatable dinghy. It leads him into the dangerous underworld of government corruption characteristic of Soviet-style totalitarian regimes. Scandinavian police work at the aftermath of the Soviet Union collapse.

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Denise Mina (2011) End of the Wasp Season.

A young woman is found savagely murdered in her home. When DS Alex Morrow, heavily pregnant with twins, is called in to investigate, she soon discovers that behind the murder lurks a tangled web of lies.

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Robin Moore (2003) The French Connection: A True Account of Cops, Narcotics, and International Conspiracy.

Detectives Edward Egan and Salvatore Grosso almost stumble into a case of heroin smuggling that ultimately leads to the seizure of the largest cache of heroin ever picked up in New York. Crime syndicate heads in Canada and France are involved. First published in 1969. Also a top movie with 5 Academy Awards.

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Jo NesbÝ (2012) The Leopard. (A Harry Hole mystery)

Harry Hole is dealing with another psychopath in this tantalizing 600 page thriller. The story moves from Hong Kong to Norway - with side trips to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Brutal and violent - but thought-provoking and addictive!

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Nele Neuhaus (2013) Snow White Must Die.

Outstanding thriller from Germany. A small village mystery that is sucking you into a toxic web of human emotions. A nuanced and perfect plot. If you can, read the German original (the translation is less than perfect).

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