The best books in suspense intrigue thrillers

Who am I?

I'm a career editor living in the place I love most in the world, Australia's federal capital, Canberra. It's a small city encircled by mountains and populated with so many trees it's affectionately known as The Bush Capital. I love reading most genres but contemporary suspense intrigue above all. I know these books generally fall under the larger Thriller genre but I often feel that's a misnomer, and I think that applies to my novels. I love the range of stories this genre encompasses: it can take you anywhere in the world, into any situation, and follow any type of person as they attempt to come to grips with, and usually right, the wrongs of the world.

I wrote...

A Legal Affair

By Alana Woods,

Book cover of A Legal Affair

What is my book about?

For some years I worked with the court reporting system in Canberra. I spent many days in the Supreme Court recording criminal trials. During that time what was indelibly imprinted on my brain was the trauma families endured when a loved one was on trial. Not the families of career criminals, they knew what to expect.  It was the families of those new to the system. The idea for A Legal Affair grew out of that. It's the story of Elisabeth Sharman, a senior solicitor with Canberra's Legal Aid Office, trying to defend the indefensible: a 19-year-old amnesiac. 

How do you defend someone who can't remember the crime they're accused of committing?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Moroccan Traffic: Send a Fax to the Kasbah

Alana Woods Why did I love this book?

Dorothy Dunnett is my all-time favourite author. In her lifetime she wrote the most amazing historical fiction (two series and one stand-alone novel) but she also wrote a contemporary suspense intrigue series featuring the same hero tackling new situations in each one: The Johnson Johnson series. Why do I love her writing? For several reasons. The stories are convoluted and gripping, requiring 100% of your attention, the language is beautiful and transports you, the research she did was phenomenal and her wit was razor sharp. She has a fanatical global fanbase that I'm part of.

By Dorothy Dunnett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Morocco with her pushy and eccentric mother, Wendy Helman, upwardly mobile Executive Secretary, finds herself at the centre of kidnappings, explosions, murders and vintage car chases across the High Atlas from Marrakesh to Taroudant.

Book cover of For Kicks

Alana Woods Why did I love this book?

When I think of Dick Francis, Ernest Hemingway usually comes to mind because the writing style of both has been described as deceptively simple. As Dunnett's stories are convoluted, Francis' are straightforward. There is no ambiguity or second-guessing. A jockey in real life Francis themed all of his novels around the racing world. I've chosen For Kicks for this list because I'm Australian and the protagonist is an Australian horse breeder temporarily conducting an investigation in the UK. When I'm in the mood for a thoroughly entertaining and easy read I turn to Dick Francis.

By Dick Francis,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked For Kicks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Common sense said that the whole idea was crazy . . . but when offered huge sums of money to move to England and help the Earl of October uncover a suspected racehorse dope scandal, Danny Roke finds the proposal intriguing.

Swapping his job as proprietor of an Australian stud farm to work undercover as a stable hand in Yorkshire, Danny soon has his hands full. Whilst the Earl's attractive daughters Patricia and Elinor draw his attention, he finds himself ever more deeply involved with the vicious swindlers he is out to entrap. And if neither the money nor the…

Book cover of Seven Deadly Wonders

Alana Woods Why did I love this book?

Reilly, unlike my first two picks, is still alive and producing books.  And he's Australian so I'm giving him a plug! On top of that, he's an international bestseller who is now turning his attention to directing films based on his own books. Keep an eye out for Interceptor starring Elsa Pataky in early 2022 on Netflix. Seven Deadly Wonders is the first of a seven-book series following the exploits of hero Jack West Jr. If you like fast-paced then Reilly's stories are for you. He hits the ground at full speed and doesn't slow; you find yourself having to stop reading to catch your breath! Incredibly enjoyable reading.

By Matthew Reilly,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Bestselling author Matthew Reilly takes you on a thrilling treasure hunt in Seven Ancient Wonders.

It is the biggest treasure hunt in history with contesting nations involved in a headlong race to locate the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

4500 years ago, a magnificent golden capstone sat at the peak of the Great Pyramid of Giza. It was a source of immense power, reputedly capable of bestowing upon its holder absolute global power. But then it was divided into seven pieces and hidden, each piece separately, within the seven greatest structures of the age.

Now, the coming of a…

Book cover of The Black Echo

Alana Woods Why did I love this book?

Connelly's books are grounded in his experience and expertise in the crime oeuvre. A former journalist who worked the crime beat on various newspapers he has won numerous awards for journalism and his fiction. Having spent some years as a court reporter in my hometown of Canberra, and basing my novel A Legal Affair on my experiences, I identify in a very small way with Connelly. I love the detail and authenticity of his writing.

By Michael Connelly,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Black Echo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An LAPD homicide detective must choose between justice and vengeance as he teams up with the FBI in this "thrilling" novel filled with mystery and adventure (New York Times Book Review).

For maverick LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch, the body in the drainpipe at Mulholland Dam is more than another anonymous statistic. This one is personal . . . because the murdered man was a fellow Vietnam "tunnel rat" who had fought side by side with him in a hellish underground war. Now Bosch is about to relive the horror of Nam. From a dangerous maze of blind alleys…

Book cover of The Broken Shore

Alana Woods Why did I love this book?

Temple is another internationally renowned and multiple award-winning Australian writer. Several of his novels (The Broken Shore and Jack Irish series) have been turned into telemovies. The Broken Shore protagonist is Joe Cashin, a police detective who moves from the big city to live in the small South Australian town where he grew up but if he thought he'd swapped frenetic for calm he's in for a shock. This is not merely a crime novel, it plumbs life on every level. Temple's not called one of Australia's finest writers for nothing.

By Peter Temple,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Broken Shore as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'A masterpiece' John Lanchester

'Read page one and I challenge you not to finish it' Independent on Sunday

Haunted by his last case, homicide detective Joe Cashin has fled Melbourne and returned to his hometown, running its one-man police station while his wounds heal and his nightmares fade.

But when a local man is attacked and left for dead, Cashin's recovery is put on hold. And in a small town where everyone knows everyone, he finds himself…

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The Secret Order of the Scepter & Gavel

By Nicholas Ponticello,

Book cover of The Secret Order of the Scepter & Gavel

Nicholas Ponticello Author Of The Secret Order of the Scepter & Gavel

New book alert!

Who am I?

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Nicholas' 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Vanderough University prepares its graduates for life on Mars. Herbert Hoover Palminteri enrolls at VU with the hope of joining the Martian colony in 2044 as a member of its esteemed engineer corps. But then Herbert is tapped to join a notorious secret society: the Order of the Scepter and Gavel. As a new pledge, Herbert has to prove himself in a series of dangerous initiation rites, even if it means risking his life and the lives of his friends.

Many years later, when Herbert thinks the scandals of his youth are finally dead and buried, a murder occurs in the Martian colony, and Herbert starts to suspect it is linked to the secret Order of the Scepter and Gavel of his past.

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