A Quick Snapshot

These thriller novels involve… well, crimes obviously, usually murder. They tend to be gritty and gory and gruesome. Murderous acts are described in graphic detail. Crime scenes are described in graphic detail. Autopsies are described in graphic detail. Well, you get the picture. The protagonists are often down-to-earth, world-weary, seen-too-much types. Usually they’re police detectives (active or retired), private investigators, FBI agents, or forensics experts. Books tend to be written as part of an ongoing series, rather than standalones.

Still, there’s a wide variety of offerings within this sub-genre. Just a few examples…

James Lee Burke’s alluring Dave Robicheaux series, which takes place mostly in the towns, steamy swamps and backwoods of Lousiana, is so delightfully atmospheric that the settings function like well-loved characters themselves.

Michael Connelly’s gritty, character-driven thriller series featuring LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch (who at one point turns in his badge) has a big-city electric charm that can’t be denied.

And Patricia Cornwell’s well-devoured Kay Scarpetta series features a self-assured Chief Medical Examiner who’s never shy about revealing the nittiest-grittiest forensics details, which are of course quite fascinating.

Crime thrillers are not for the faint of heart, but appear to be highly popular guilty pleasures for many.

DARK SACRED NIGHT by Michael Connelly

Part of the best-selling Harry Bosch series.

Working the night beat – known in LAPD slang as “the late show” – Detective Renée Ballard returns to Hollywood Station in the early hours to find a stranger rifling through old file cabinets. The intruder turns out to be retired detective Harry Bosch, pursuing a cold case he just can’t let go of. The brutal unsolved murder of Daisy Clayton, a 15-year-old runaway on the streets of Hollywood, whose body was left in a dumpster like so much trash.

Ballard stops him from going through the departmental records since he’s no longer with the LAPD, but when Harry leaves, she takes a look at the case herself and decides she wants in.

Forging a fragile trust, Ballard and Bosch join forces to solve Daisy’s case and bring her killer to justice. But their new partnership is put to the test when the case takes an unpredictable, extremely dangerous turn.

CHAOS by Patricia Cornwell

Part of the series featuring medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta.

When  Dr. Kay Scarpetta and her investigative partner Pete Marino respond to a call about a dead bicyclist near the Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It appears that the young woman was attacked with nearly superhuman force.

Scarpetta’s husband, FBI agent Benton Wesley, and Marino both receive calls about the case purporting to be from someone at Interpol, but they can’t figure out why the elite international police agency would know about the case or be interested in it. And even Scarpetta’s brilliant, tech-savvy niece Lucy can’t trace who the person is or how they could have access to the intimate information they have.

Then a second shocking death occurs. And Scarpetta realizes she and those close to her are up against something far bigger and deadlier than they’d ever imagined…

ROBICHEAUX by James Lee Burke

Another moody, atmospheric thriller in the highly popular Dave Robicheaux series, set in the towns and backwoods of Louisiana.

Dave Robicheaux is a haunted man. Between his battle with alcoholism, recurring nightmares about Vietnam, and the devastating loss of his beloved wife Molly, his thoughts drift through a miasma of irreconcilable memories. With images of ghosts at Spanish Lake hovering at the periphery of his vision.

While investigating the murder of the man who took Molly’s life, Robicheaux discovers he may have committed the homicide himself. And as he struggles to solve the case and make sense out of his own life, he faces a resurgence of dark social forces that threaten to destroy everyone he loves.

THE COVE by Catherine Coulter

The first book of the #1 New York Times bestselling FBI Thriller series.

The night her father was murdered is a mysterious Black Hole for Sally Brainerd. It’s possible that she killed him, or that her mother did. She simply can’t remember. Either way, the safest place for her is far away from Washington, DC, so she takes refuge in her aunt’s home in The Cove. But something seems off about the postcard-perfect little town.

Sally’s been flagged as a person of interest in the homicide, but despite her tarnished past and convenient memory loss, FBI Special Agent James Quinlan isn’t convinced she’s the killer. However, it’s possible she knows who is.

Using his cover to get close to Sally and unearth her buried memories, James can’t deny the connection he feels. But as their deceptions intertwine with their passion, they discover they aren’t the only ones in The Cove keeping deadly secrets.

RULES OF PREY by John Sandford

The first book of Sandford’s wildly popular Lucas Davenport “Prey” series.

The killer was mad but brilliant.

He left notes with every woman he killed. Rules of murder: Never have a motive. Never follow a discernible pattern. Never carry a weapon after it has been used… So many rules to his sick, twisted games of death.

But Lucas Davenport, the cop who’s out to get him, isn’t playing by the rules.

HOLLYWOOD STATION by Joseph Wambaugh

For a cop, a night on the job can flip quickly from killing time to trying not to get killed. If you’re a cop in the Hollywood Division, it also means dealing with some of the most desperate and despicable criminals anywhere.

When a Hollywood jewelry store is breached by masked robbers armed with a hand grenade, a sergeant known as the Oracle and his squad of street cops are tasked with bringing the criminals to justice. As they investigate, they find connections to a Russian nightclub, an undercover operation gone bloodily wrong, and a clueless pair of tweakers.

Wise-cracking and colorful, the Hollywood Station cops range from a rich boy who joined the force seeking thrills, to Hollywood Nate who never shuts up about movies. And as they patrol the dark underbelly of the glamour city that never sleeps, we see through their eyes what it really is…

A field of crazily hidden land mines, where every step you take may be your last.

THE CUTTING EDGE by Jeffery Deaver

The 14th book in the New York Times bestselling Lincoln Rhyme series.

When a brutal triple murder takes place in Manhattan’s Diamond District with the killer leaving behind half a million dollars worth of gems, forensic detective Lincoln Rhyme and his partner Amelia Sachs quickly take the case. Clearly the motive for the crimes wasn’t robbery.

As more murders follow, it becomes clear that the killer’s target is couples in love and about to marry. The Promisor vows to take the lives of men and women during their most precious moments – while purchasing an engagement ring, just after a meeting with a wedding planner, or trying on the perfect gown for the perfect day that will never come. Armed with knife or gun, the Promisor arrives swiftly and silently and in an instant transforms a moment of bliss into one of horror.

Rhyme and Sachs think they’ve caught a break in the case when the Promisor leaves a witness behind. But a disaster strikes that could break the city apart and alllow the killer to slip through the cracks…

EXHUME by Danielle Girard

The first book of the Dr. Schwartzman series.

Dr. Annabelle Schwartzman has finally found a place to belong. As medical examiner for the San Francisco Police Department, she reveals the tales the dead can’t tell about their final moments, something that gives her life purpose. And she’s created a safe refuge from her abusive husband, although she still  looks over her shoulder even after seven years.

But Schwartzman’s latest case is deeply disturbing: the victim bears an eerie resemblance to herself. And when a shocking piece of evidence suggests the killer’s business is far from over, she realizes she may be his target.

THE DRY by Jane Harper

A New York Times bestseller.

Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke, who served as his alibi 20 years ago when Falk was accused of murder,

Falk had fled with his father under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s unwavering claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and now Luke is dead.

Suspecting there’s more to Luke’s death than anyone is letting on, Falk launches his own investigation amidst the worst drought in a century. Because there’s only one thing he knows for sure…

Small towns hide big secrets.



See other types of thrillers

Please feel free to share your comments or questions below. I’m always happy to hear from you!

Thrillingly yours,

Kristy Dark


Hey, check out my scary thriller novel…

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