The best page-turning assassin thrillers

Who am I?

I worked in high-tech electronics for thirty years, specialising in the design of radio communication equipment. My first love, though, has always been books, particularly exciting page-turners about spies and assassins. Eavesdrop – my first thriller – brought those two worlds together, and “what-if” ideas from my professional life engendered the plot’s high-tech angle. I wrote the early drafts largely while on planes and in airport lounges during business trips, and in snatched moments before starting work each morning. It was exciting when Assent Publishing took it on and did such a great job of producing the thriller ready for you to read. I hope you enjoy it.

I wrote...


By Ian Coates,

Book cover of Eavesdrop

What is my book about?

You’re suspended from your job as a Customs Investigator. You’re accused of assisting a smuggling ring. You can’t tell your wife – she’s fighting cancer and has her own worries. You have one choice – to find out what’s going on. A police cover-up, a Middle East assassin, and a Mossad agent – all linked by one diamond smuggler.

From the windswept Romney Marshes to the frozen streets of Helsinki, James Winter’s investigation soon entangles him in a plot that’s intent on destabilising the Middle East; many lives are at stake. Soon, it’s Winter’s own life on the line.

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The books I picked & why

The Hunter

By Tom Wood,

Book cover of The Hunter

Why did I love this book?

Tom Wood immediately swept to the top of my list of great thriller writers when I read this book. It’s the first in the Victor Assassin series and its adrenaline-fuelled excitement gripped me from the first sentence to the final full stop.

Victor is hired to kill a man in Paris and to take the memory stick he is carrying, but Victor’s paymasters aren’t all they seem, and Victor quickly finds himself at the wrong end of a gun barrel when a hit squad is sent to eliminate him.

But Victor won’t be taken out that easily. He shoots his way free of the ambush and fights to stay alive long enough to work out who’s behind what’s happening. The underlying plot is slowly revealed and leads to a great dramatic conclusion.

By Tom Wood,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Hunter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

His name is a cover
He has no home
And he kills for a living

Victor is an assassin, a man with no past and no surname. His world is one of paranoia and obsessive attention to detail; his morality lies either dead or dying. No one knows what truly motivates the hunter. No one gets close enough to ask.

When a Paris job goes spectacularly wrong, Victor finds himself running for his life across four continents, pursued by a kill squad and investigated by secret services from more than one country. With meticulous style, Victor plans his escape .…

The Accident Man

By Tom Cain,

Book cover of The Accident Man

Why did I love this book?

This is the first book in Tom Cain’s series about the assassin Samuel Carver. It’s full of believable action and has a great storyline. Do you remember the conspiracy rumours surrounding the death of Dianna Princess of Wales? Well, in this story, Carver was responsible for the car crash that killed her, having been tricked into setting it up.

It’s a great thriller, full of exciting action from start to finish as he tries to work out who set him up. Carver then becomes the target himself when those who tricked him realise he is learning too much and has to be silenced.

By Tom Cain,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Accident Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Breathlessly paced, international in scope, and featuring one of the most intriguing heroes in recent fiction, Tom Cain's smashing debut surprises the reader at every turn. A thriller that explores the secret of Princess Diana's death, The Accident Man imagines the man who may have killed her. For a certain sum of money, Samuel Carver can arrange a death. A ruptured gas line, an automobile crash, a fall from a window-anything can be made to look like an accident. But when Carver is set up, betrayed, and pursued by the very forces that hired him, he must execute his most…

The Bourne Identity

By Robert Ludlum,

Book cover of The Bourne Identity

Why did I love this book?

No list of assassin thrillers can be complete without this book by Robert Ludlum. It set a high bar for all assassination tales and still maintains its supremacy forty years after its first publication.

The reader is quickly drawn into the mystery of the amnesiac who’s pulled barely alive from the sea and has obviously been shot. The only lead to his identity is an account number and a Swiss bank address found printed on a small celluloid slip implanted just beneath the skin. When he visits the bank to try to discover who he is, he finds himself the target of killers; the only way to stay alive is to find out who wants him dead. 

Even if you read this book in the eighties, it’s definitely well worth a re-read. Ludlum was the supreme master in this genre.

By Robert Ludlum,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Bourne Identity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jason Bourne is back in the forthcoming major motion picture starring Matt Damon and Alicia Vikander. Go back to where it all began for Bourne in his first adventure - The Bourne Identity

He was dragged from the sea, his body riddled with bullets. There are a few clues: a frame of microfilm surgically implanted beneath the skin of his hip; evidence that plastic surgery has altered his face; strange things he says in his delirium, which could be code words. And a number on the film negative that leads to a bank account in Zurich, four million dollars, and…

Book cover of The Operators: On the Streets with Britain's Most Secret Service

Why did I love this book?

Although this is non-fiction, I’ve included this book in my list because it’s written in a thriller style. The true-life security service missions it describes are written like a first-person novel and are as page-turning as many thrillers.

The author was an officer in a secret group responsible for counter-terrorism, and these tales of his missions are delivered, not like a record of events, but as a story. I don’t frequently read non-fiction, but I recommend this because of the way in which the content is presented. You’re there – you feel the adrenalin, the fear, and the tension as the missions unfold on the pages.

By James Rennie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Operators as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Few outside the security services have heard of 14 Company. As deadly as the SAS yet more secret, the Operators of 14 Company are BritainOs most effective weapon against international terrorism. For every bomb that goes off 14 Company prevent twelve. The selection process is the most physically, intellectually and emotionally demanding anywhere in the world. This is the true story of one Operator and of some of the most hair-raising military operations ever conducted on the streets of Britain.


By Stephen Leather,

Book cover of Takedown

Why did I love this book?

This is another book of heart-pounding excitement from first page to last. Lex Harper is an assassin used by the British government’s shady department called The Pool, which has the remit to work in unconventional ways to achieve its goals.

The main storyline relates to a rogue soldier who persuades ISIS to support his desire to launch an attack on British soil. When The Pool learns what is happening, they hire Harper to neutralise him.

I wouldn’t rank it as highly as my other favourite picks because I found a few parts of the plot rather unrealistic, but the never-ending action and excitement dragged me through the book at high speed, so I definitely still enjoyed it overall and award it a place among the others.

By Stephen Leather,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Takedown as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A heart-pounding new standalone thriller from Sunday Times bestselling author Stephen Leather. 'He has the uncanny knack of producing plots that are all too real, and this is no exception' (Daily Mail on First Response)

When a British Special Forces soldier goes rogue, carrying out an attack at a US army base in Syria leading to the death of two men, ex-MI5 controller Charlotte Button is hired to work out what his plan is and to take him down before he can carry it out.

Charlotte puts her best man on the case - hitman Lex Harper. It's up to…

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