Sunday, July 15, 2012

Thrillers


Thrillerfest, huh.

In 2010, NPR listeners picked SILENCE OF THE LAMB as their favorite thriller. Here is the long list.

What makes a thriller a thriller?

I don't read a ton of what I believe are thrillers, but I remember enjoying COMA a lot. What about you? What are they and which ones do you like?

24 comments:

Naomi Johnson said...

I don't know that I would have described it as a thriller, but I am happy to see that METZGER'S DOG made the list.

Margot Kinberg said...

I'm honestly not the best person to ask about that, Patti. I'm not as into thrillers as some other folks are. I think too that it depends on whether you include psychological thrillers (which can have a slow pace and not much violence). It's harder to really define the sub-genre I think.

Thomas Pluck said...

I think thriller is a cross-genre label that generates a lot of confusion. I've read that thrillers need to be about a big danger, but I think they are more about tension. A lot require big conspiracies, but any time the character is on the run or in constant danger, it can be considered a thriller. I think Harlan Coben writes great thrillers, set in suburbia. There is usually a big secret that causes all sorts of damage.
Are they action oriented?
I don't know. I've taken to calling my stories hardboiled thrillers because they're not really noir (another label that has become all-encompassing) and not really mysteries.
When you come home to a town where everything is changed, and everyone seems protective of a hidden corruption, and will destroy you to keep their secrets... I call it a thriller.

My favorites include:
Tell No One (Coben)
The Two-Minute Rule (Crais)
Hit and Run (Lawrence Block)
Choke Hold (Faust)
I think the authors might prefer a different label, but if you're on the run, it's probably a thriller.

pattinase (abbott) said...

That's about how I think of them--on the run, threatened by dangerous forces, a thriller.
I have read a Coben or two. Really good for a long car trip.
And I've read a lot of Block but I think it's more his non-thriller stories.
Metzger's Dog, huh. Have to check that out.

Anonymous said...

Do not like COMA - it was a total ripoff of Christianna Brand's GREEN FOR DANGER. Can't believe people don't recognize that.

Oh yeah, if you haven't read METZGAR'S DOG or THE BUTCHER'S BOY you should do so.

To me a thriller emphasizes fast moving action over detection, which is why including AND THEN THERE WERE NONE is wrong. You want people running all over the world chasing something (or each other), not sitting around a room recapping the suspects.

I'd highly recommend the books of Jamie Freveletti, starting with RUNNING FROM THE DEVIL. Her character Emma Caldridge is a chemist and a super long distance runner (which you can believe plays a big part in the books). I just noticed she has a new book in "Robert Ludlum's Covert-One series" coming out.

Jeff M.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I read both so long ago and at different times so I can't comment.

George said...

I associate "thriller" with "page-turner" and "beach book." Decades ago, Harry Whittington was writing thrilling books on a regular basis. I enjoyed Ken Follett's thrillers especially EYE OF THE NEEDLE. Jack Higgins wrote plenty. Right now you'd have to give the nod to Stieg Larsson's THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO trilogy.

Anonymous said...

Eye of the Needle, The 39 Steps, things like that. I just checked the list and I've read 50 of 100.


Jeff M.

pattinase (abbott) said...

39 and half of them I wouldn't consider thrillers per se. So I guess I was mistaking what counted as one.

Randy Johnson said...

I've read about three quarters of the list and have a few that i haven't read.

As for favorite thrillers, practically anything by Preston-Child or any of their solo novels or James Rollins. Both had books on the list, but of all the books between them, only one did I not like.

Charles Gramlich said...

I do like thrillers and read quite a few. I consider my book, Cold in the Light, to be a thriller. Silence of the Lambs is certainly at the top of my list. I like Michael Connelly's work too, and I've liked most of David Morrell's work.

F.T. Bradley said...

I've read a lot of these, too.

Thriller vs. mystery is probably about pacing, but mostly about how a publisher decides to package it.

Deb said...

When I see the word "thriller," I assume one of two things: Either the book in question will be action-packed, possibly taking place in far-flung places, often with some sort of political (or geo-political) angle; or that there will lots of blood and pain and torture (generally to women)with a particularly fiendish villain and a race against the clock to save the hero's wife/girlfriend/partner/ex-wife/daughter, etc.

I prefer what might be termed "psychological suspense" where the action is limited and the protagonist (usually a women with a great deal of common sense but also some imagination) is in some peril usually because of something she possesses or knows, but is unaware of its value.

Anonymous said...

To me Michael Connelly writes more police procedurals than thrillers, with a few exceptions. Lee Child is more of a thriller writer. Donald Hamilton's Matt Helm books were spy thrillers.


Jeff M.

Erik Donald France said...

Thrills and chills . . . Three Days of the Condor , , , All the President's Men, Z . . .

pattinase (abbott) said...

three great choices. Love the movie three days and the book, six days. And APM is outstanding.

Loren Eaton said...

I remember Andrew Klavan saying that you know a thriller by the way it moves, straight and fast.

Paul D Brazill said...

All The Young Warriors by A N Smith is one of the best thrillers I've read. It's thrilling.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Read one or two of ANS. Fine writer.

Paul D Brazill said...

ATYW isn't in the same style as the others but it could be his best book. really tense stuff.

John said...

Emphasis is always on action and suspense, I'd say. Settings change constantly, too. Doesn't necessarily have to have crime content. I think the better thrillers tend not to be "mysteries". JAWS? - yes. REBECCA? - definitely not. That book is plodding in terms of pace. It may be brilliantly plotted, but it ain't a thriller.

The list tends to blend crime, mystery and supernatural. I'd eliminate more than two-thirds of these books in favor of some titles from an entire genre that has been overlooked: the adventure novel. Nothing by Talbot Mundy? Geoffrey Household? Alistair MacLean? Sad. As usual way too heavy on books published from 1970 onwards.

Jeff - How is COMA a rip-off of GREEN FOR DANGER? COMA is about organ harvesting. The only thing they have in common is a hospital setting. And GREN FOR DANGER isn't even a real hospital. It's an emergency wartime hospital set up on a farm. What am I missing?

Anonymous said...

WARNING, PLOT DEVICE DISCUSSED:

It has been a long time since I read it (read either) but as I remember it Cook used the same device as Brand with the switched canisters so the patient didn't get oxygen. I'm not talking about the plot in general.


Jeff M.

Todd Mason said...

I see "thriller" and I think "Lazy attempt to label a suspense novel and/or any fast-paced novel involving, as you note, menace of some sort"...THRILLER the tv series was all horror and suspense, but lots of sf and borderline sf ("technothriller") work gets thrown in.

Thrillers said...

Oh! Great...
Really good.
Thanks to all