Best Thriller Novels

(as chosen by listeners of National Public Radio, USA, July 2010)

Any list of  Best Thriller Novels has to be hugely subjective and reflective of the people compiling it. The list below was voted on by 100,000 listeners to the USA’s NPR during the spring and summer of 2010.

The first question is whether all of the books on the list count as “thrillers”. When Sir Arthur Conan Doyles was writing The Hound of the Baskervilles (number 10) or Bram Stoker was writing Dracula (number 11), did they think they were writing a “thriller”. Probably not. But it doesn’t matter: when it comes to Best Thriller Novels, the argument is part of the fun.

Stephen King, of course, comes out as the NPR listeners’ favourite write, with 6 titles in the top 100. Lee Child follows closely behind, with 4 books; and Dennis Lehane, Michael Crichton, Stieg Larsson and the ubiquitous Dan Brown pull in 3 books each, all tying for that all-important third place.

It is certainly a poll of its time and you get the idea that if it had been taken six months earlier or later, the results would have been totally different. In any case – enjoy…

  • 1. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas HarrisBest Thriller Novels
  • 2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  • 3. Kiss the Girls, by James Patterson
  • 4. The Bourne Identity, by Robert Ludlum
  • 5. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
  • 6. The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown
  • 7. The Shining, by Stephen King
  • 8. And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie
  • 9. The Hunt For Red October, by Tom Clancy
  • 10. The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • 11. Dracula, by Bram Stoker
  • 12. The Stand, by Stephen King
  • 13. The Bone Collector, by Jeffery Deaver
  • 14. Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton
  • 15. Angels & Demons, by Dan Brown
  • 16. A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
  • 17. The Andromeda Strain, by Michael Crichton
  • 18. Mystic River, by Dennis Lehane
  • 19. The Day of the Jackal, by Frederick Forsyth
  • 20. Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier
  • 21. Eye of the Needle, by Ken Follett
  • 22. It, by Stephen King
  • 23. The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
  • 24. The Girl Who Played with Fire, by Stieg Larsson
  • 25. Jaws, by Peter Benchley
  • 26. The Alienist, by Caleb Carr
  • 27. Red Dragon, by Thomas Harris
  • 28. Presumed Innocent, by Scott Turow
  • 29. The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett
  • 30. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, by Stieg Larsson
  • 31. No Country For Old Men, by Cormac McCarthy
  • 32. Gone Baby Gone, by Dennis Lehane
  • 33. Gorky Park, by Martin Cruz Smith
  • 34. Rosemary’s Baby, by Ira Levin
  • 35. Subterranean, by James Rollins
  • 36. Clear and Present Danger, by Tom Clancy
  • 37. Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King
  • 38. Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane
  • 39. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, by John Le Carre
  • 40. The Poet, by Michael Connelly
  • 41. The Boys from Brazil, by Ira Levin
  • 42. Cape Fear, by John MacDonald
  • 43. The Bride Collector, by Ted Dekker
  • 44. Pet Sematary, by Stephen King
  • 45. Dead Zone, by Stephen King
  • 46. The Manchurian Candidate, by Richard Condon
  • 47. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, by John Le Carre
  • 48. The Talented Mr. Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith
  • 49. Tell No One, by Harlan Coben
  • 50. Consent to Kill, by Vince Flynn
  • 51. The 39 Steps, by John Buchan Best Thriller Novels - 39 Steps
  • 52. Blowback, by Brad Thor
  • 53. The Children of Men, by P.D. James
  • 54. 61 Hours, by Lee Child
  • 55. Marathon Man, by William Goldman
  • 56. The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins
  • 57. 206 Bones, by Kathy Reichs
  • 58. Psycho, by Robert Bloch
  • 59. The Killing Floor, by Lee Child
  • 60. Rules of Prey, by John Sandford
  • 61. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
  • 62. In the Woods, by Tana French
  • 63. Shogun, by James Clavell
  • 64. The Relic, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
  • 65. Intensity, by Dean Koontz
  • 66. Casino Royale, by Ian Fleming
  • 67. Metzger’s Dog, by Thomas Perry
  • 68. Timeline, by Michael Crichton
  • 69. Contact, by Carl Sagan
  • 70. What the Dead Know, by Laura Lippman
  • 71. The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  • 72. The Cabinet of Curiosities, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
  • 73. Charm School, by Nelson DeMille
  • 74. Feed, by Mira Grant
  • 75. Gone Tomorrow, by Lee Child
  • 76. Darkly Dreaming Dexter, by Jeff Lindsay
  • 77. The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
  • 78. The First Deadly Sin, by Lawrence Sanders
  • 79. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
  • 80. The Brotherhood of the Rose, by David Morrell
  • 81. Primal Fear, by William Diehl
  • 82.= The Templar Legacy, by Steve Berry
  •           The Hard Way, by Lee Child [tie]
  • 84. The Last of the Mohicans, by James Fenimore Cooper
  • 85. Six Days of the Condor, by James Grady
  • 86. Fail-Safe, by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler
  • 87. Strangers on a Train, by Patricia Highsmith
  • 88. The Eight, by Katherine Neville
  • 89. The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown
  • 90. Goldfinger, by Ian Fleming
  • 91. Bangkok 8, by John Burdett
  • 92. The Kill Artist, by Daniel Silva
  • 93. Hardball, by Sara Paretsky
  • 94. The Club Dumas, by Arturo Perez-Reverte
  • 95. The Deep Blue Good-by, by John MacDonald
  • 96.= The Monkey’s Raincoat, by Robert Crais
  •           Berlin Game, by Len Deighton [tie]
  • 98. A Simple Plan, by Scott Smith
  • 99. Child 44, by Tom Rob Smith
  • 100. Heartsick, by Chelsea Cain

So, that’s the list of Best Thriller Novels as voted on by listeners of NPR.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Katja December 12, 2013 at 7:32 pm

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