Way back in the day, when I was a baby thriller reader, probably reading way above my level for both content and style, there were some magical tomes that opened me up to the spine tingling, can’t stop reading or I’ll bite someone’s head off, thrillers.
A majority of those first thrillers form the base of some of my favorite books today.
When you’re looking for a good thriller for someone who’s never dipped a toe into the genre, search for something that’s short. Not your typical thriller book length, which is anywhere from 250-450 pages. That way you can get a feel for the style, but not get sucked into a crazy psychological thriller that will take you a week to finish and leave you with thriller whiplash.
Short and with a troupe that interests you.
It doesn’t have to be a mystery, it doesn’t have to be a domestic thriller, it can be a classic or a new release, just make it short and make sure the chapters are short, so it keeps you flipping pages.
That way you know you won’t be getting shafted in the plot department. You’ll get what you came for: heart-pounding twists and turns, and an ending that makes you stare off into space going, huh? What happened? Where am I? Did that really happen?
Some of my baby thrillers that left me salivating for more:
The Westing Game
A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger—and a possible murderer—to inherit his vast fortune, on things for sure: Sam Westing may be dead…but that won’t stop him from playing one last game!
If fate suddenly made you more beautiful that you ever dreamed possible, would it be the beginning of a fairy tale, or your worst nightmare?
The brutal attack should have killed anybody, but Nell Calder did more than survive. She emerged a woman transformed, with an exquisite beauty found only in fairy tales. Nell Calder deserved a happy ending. Instead, her descent into terror has just begun.
Her attacker is still on the hunt, determined to finish what he’s started. And Nell, protected by a new face, is just as determined to fight back and take her revenge. But to catch her prey, she will have to expose herself—even if it makes her a killer’s prime target.
The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady’s maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives–presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.
And Then There Were None
Ten people, each with something to hide and something to fear, are invited to a isolated mansion on Indian Island by a host who, surprisingly, fails to appear. On the island they are cut off from everything but each other and the inescapable shadows of their own past lives. One by one, the guests share the darkest secrets of their wicked pasts. And one by one, they die…Which among them is the killer and will any of them survive?
Salem’s Lot Stephen King
Ben Mears has returned to Jerusalem’s Lot in hopes that exploring the history of the Marsten House, an old mansion long the subject of rumor and speculation, will help him cast out his personal devils and provide inspiration for his new book. But when two young boys venture into the woods, and only one returns alive, Mears begins to realize that something sinister is at work—in fact, his hometown is under siege from forces of darkness far beyond his imagination. And only he, with a small group of allies, can hope to contain the evil that is growing within the borders of this small New England town.
Before he was murdered and mummified nearly a century ago, notorious bootlegger Collier “Peg Leg” Dazzle discovered and re-hid a famous pirate’s treasure somewhere along the coast of New England. A vast collection of gold and silver coins and precious gems, the bounty also contains the Stone of Avarice—the very item reluctant treasure seeker Lizzy Tucker and her partner, Diesel, have been enlisted to find. While Lizzy would just like to live a quiet, semi-normal life, Diesel is all about the hunt. And this hunt is going to require a genuine treasure map and a ship worthy of sailing the seven seas . . . or at least getting them from Salem Harbor to Maine.
Greed is eternal and insatiable, and Lizzy and Diesel aren’t the only ones searching for the lost pirate’s chest. People who have dedicated their entire lives to finding it are willing to commit murder or make a deal with the devil just to hold the fortune in their hands. One of those people may even be Wulf, Diesel’s deceptively charming and enigmatic cousin. Wulf desires the Stone of Avarice. He also desires Lizzy. It’s hard to say how far he’s willing to go to gain either one.
Wicked Charms is a swashbuckling adventure full of raiders, monkeys, minions, and mayhem. Lizzy and Diesel are going to have to do everything they can to keep their heads above water and hope they’re living a charmed life.
Along Came A Spider
Alex Cross is a homicide detective with a Ph.D. in psychology. He works and lives in the ghettos of D. C. and looks like Muhammad Ali in his prime. He’s a tough guy from a tough part of town who wears Harris Tweed jackets and likes to relax by banging out Gershwin tunes on his baby grand piano. But he also has two adorable kids of his own, and they are his own special vulnerabilities.
Jezzie Flanagan is the first woman ever to hold the highly sensitive job as supervisor of the Secret Service in Washington. Blond, mysterious, seductive, she’s got an outer shell that’s as tough as it is beautiful. She rides her black BMW motorcycle at speeds of no less than 100 mph. What is she running from? What is her secret?
Alex Cross and Jezzie Flanagan are about to have a forbidden love affair-at the worst possible time for both of them. Because Gary Soneji, who wants to commit the “crime of the century,” is playing at the top of his game. Soneji has outsmarted the FBI, the Secret Service, and the police. Who will be his next victim?
Gary Soneji is every parent’s worst nightmare. He has become Alex Cross’s nightmare. And now, reader, he’s about to become yours.
For the blissful, fun, short reads, start with The Westing Game and Then There Were None, everything else is a little above the word count for short beginner thrillers. But they are all equally good. If you loved those books, move onto any of my other recommendations.
Do you have any thrillers that aren’t on this list? What were your first thriller loves?
Keep Reading Book Fam,