The best psychological thrillers about lone heroes and threats to national security

Robin Hawdon Author Of Number Ten
By Robin Hawdon

Who am I?

My writing is eclectic and covers many topics. However, all my books tend to have a thriller element to them. Perhaps it's my career as an actor and playwright which has instilled the need to create suspense in all my writings. I sometimes feel that distinguished authors can get so carried away with their literary descriptions and philosophical insights that they forget to keep the story going! It is the need to know what happens next that keeps the reader turning the pages. Perhaps in achieving that some subtlety has to be sacrificed, but, hey, you don't read a political thriller to study the philosophical problems of governing nations!

I wrote...

Number Ten

By Robin Hawdon,

Book cover of Number Ten

What is my book about?

Suspense, romance, and high action in an explosive political thriller. A junior aide to the British Prime Minister is falsely implicated in an assassination attempt, and has to fight for his life against unknown forces, using only his inside knowledge of Number Ten's operations and the help of a female insider.

“Wow! Number Ten begins in explosive fashion and maintains a high-octane, fast pace until the very last word. A glorious thriller that kept me enthralled throughout.” Linda Hill (top 500 Amazon reviewer)

The books I picked & why

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The Kill Artist

By Daniel Silva,

Book cover of The Kill Artist

Why this book?

I love this author for several reasons. He paints a picture of fascinating worlds of which most people have little experience—usually the Vatican and obscure corners of Italy. His research and knowledge of such places are meticulous. He knows how to keep the tension and pace of a thriller without it becoming a superficial action story. His hero, Gabriel Allon, is an intriguing character with his own history and personal problems. He is not only a lethal spy catcher, but also a brilliant restorer of old masters, which is why he has such unusual access to the Vatican and all its high officers, including the Pope himself. What a combination of talents!

The Lincoln Lawyer

By Michael Connelly,

Book cover of The Lincoln Lawyer

Why this book?

I always love thrillers that involve complex legalities and politics, especially when the author obviously has great experience and inside knowledge of how these things work. John Grisham is another example of a lawyer turned thriller writer, and I feel that both these writers genuinely know what they are talking about and are imparting fascinating information about how society's systems really operate. This adds so much authenticity to a book. I had to do a lot of research into the workings of Number Ten Downing Street in order to make my own thriller authentic. Fortunately I had the experience of having met a number of politicians over the years, which helped with my knowledge of how the government and the Prime Minister's office function.

Notes from a Small Island

By Bill Bryson,

Book cover of Notes from a Small Island

Why this book?

Bryson is an American who has settled in England and is an inveterate walker. He spends much of his time wandering around the various counties of the UK and exploring little-known historical sites and buildings. He infinitely prefers the British way of life to the American, for which he gets my vote for a start. He appreciates all the quirks and subtleties of provincial existence probably better than the British do themselves, who take them for granted. But what makes him so hugely popular is his sense of humour. He can wring irony and laughter from the most ordinary of incidents and the most unexceptional of locations. In this he can be compared with Peter Mayle (A Year In Provence) or the long deceased Jerome K. Jerome (Three Men In A Boat). All the best writers have that sense of the ridiculous or the ironic, even whilst creating the darkest of thrillers or tragedies. Just read you Dickens or Jane Austen.

The Bonfire of the Vanities

By Tom Wolfe,

Book cover of The Bonfire of the Vanities

Why this book?

I read this BIG book many years ago, but it influenced my own writing greatly. Tom Wolfe's scathingly jaundiced view of the workings of Wall Street and the American political scene is an object lesson on how to write with anarchic abandon, yet brilliant satirical and intellectual insight at the same time. Once again I go back to the theme that the best authors always have an ironic eye on their subject and its participants, surveying them and their eccentricities with objectivity and often cynical amusement. If you can keep your readers amused whilst at the same time enthralled, as Wolfe does, then you have pulled off a difficult feat.

Strangers and Brothers

By C.P. Snow,

Book cover of Strangers and Brothers

Why this book?

This is an almost forgotten series of books which had a huge impact back in the 1950s and 60s, depicting as they did in fictional form the inside story of politics, science, and academia in Britain at the time. Snow was himself a distinguished chemist and academic, who often acted as an advisor to the UK government. He used his experience and inside knowledge of the corridors of power (a phrase which he coined) to brilliant effect in his novels. Again, as with the previous authors I have mentioned, it is that detail that comes with direct experience of the subject matter, and the personalities involved, which renders the writing authentic and captivates the reader.

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