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From the Stacks

The Thrill of the Thriller

It has been said that the thriller is the most popular literary genre of the 20th century. While I am sure this will be argued by genre enthusiasts of all kinds, it is hard to deny that thrillers are very popular, especially here in Southwest Missouri. 

Thrillers are characterized by a fast-paced, quickly moving story that focuses on plot and the action that moves the story forward. What separates thrillers from, say, a suspense book is the profession of the protagonist. Their profession (spy, scientist, doctor, lawyer) is key to the story and it is the protagonists' in-depth knowledge of that profession that pulls them through the perils they face. 

Here are some popular thrillers, by authors both new and well-established, to get you started: 



Jeffery Deaver, known best for his Lincoln Rhyme thrillers, was chosen to pen this new James Bond novel "Carte Blanche." Set in our modern, post-9/11 world, Bond works independently of MI6, but are there lines that even 007 shouldn't cross?


Say legal thriller and John Grisham usually comes to mind. However, Connelly burst out on the legal thriller scene in 2005 with "The Lincoln Lawyer."  Previously known for his dark police procedurals, the first book in the series introduces Mickey Haller, an L.A. lawyer who represents all kinds of shady characters while operating out of his Lincoln Towncar. Full of characters you'll love to hate, this fast- paced novel is full of intricate plot twists and excellent storytelling.



"Spycatcher", the debut novel by Matthew Dunn, is getting a lot of press including many positive reviews. Part of the appeal to readers is that Dunn is a former MI6 operative. Will Cochrane is an MI6 agent heavy on the trail of an Iranian terrorist who is plotting a large-scale attack on the west. 


Vince Flynn writes political thrillers. You know, fiction that isn't to be taken as fact? Yet, Vince Flynn's novels have garnered so much serious attention from the intelligence community worldwide, he is on the verge of being required reading for the CIA. Think about that for a moment.  "Transfer of Power" is the first book in the Mitch Rap series which currently has eleven titles. 


We've gone traditional, futuristic and shaken, not stirred. Now for the quirky. The year is 1951 and a young Jacqueline Bouvier is a CIA agent in Paris. Full of cameo appearances by the elite of the time like Audrey Hepburn, this is a thriller/chick lit explosion where the only help may come from Jackie's Chanel No. 5 atomizer.

"The Profession" is a military thriller set in 2032. Gen. James Salter, former Marine, is now a field commander in a mercenary outfit that just might be battling to take over the United States. This is a thought-provoking thriller with a strong sense of place. While Steven Pressfield is best known for his historical fiction, this futuristic thriller finds its roots in Ancient Rome and begs the question, are we repeating history? Clancy fans will appreciate.

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