The best thriller novels that don’t skimp on character development

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a retired surgeon and have no expertise in espionage, law enforcement, or the legal system. But I enjoy thriller novels that feature these things, and I follow the adage, “Write what you like to read.” But I do have medical/surgical expertise and have followed another adage: “Write what you know,” so I have inserted medical situations into many of my stories and one of my published books is a medical thriller. What I like about thrillers is the ability to show each side of the conflict. The good guys against the bad guys, neither side knowing what the other is doing. But the reader knows, and this adds to the suspense.


I wrote...

The Girl from Belgrade

By John L. DeBoer,

Book cover of The Girl from Belgrade

What is my book about?

A young girl’s parents are killed during the NATO bombing of Belgrade during the 1999 Kosovo War. Katarina Petrovic grows up with a hatred for Americans and becomes a willing recruit for Russia’s espionage agency, the SVR.

When American pilots involved in the bombing are assassinated, Alex Baker, former commander of an Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and whose father was one of those victims, is brought into the investigation. The OSI, CIA, and FBI begin an international search for a female assassin working for the SVR but with an apparent personal motive of revenge. Twists and turns involving her identity keep everyone guessing until Alex, and an attractive female CIA agent head to the island of Key West and a thrilling conclusion.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Lion's Game

John L. DeBoer Why did I love this book?

Besides being a page-turning terrorism thriller, what gives the novel even more life is the protagonist, John Corey. He’s a bit of a wise-ass, and his sarcastic humor, despite dire situations, appeals to me. You just know he’ll get the bad guy(s) and do it with devil-may-care determination. His pugnacious attitude often gets him in trouble, but he’s a character easy to like and root for.

By Nelson DeMille,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Lion's Game as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

April 1986 : American F - 111 warplanes bomb the Al Azziyah compound in Libya where President Gadhafi is residing. A 16-year-old youth, Asad - Arabic for 'lion ' - loses his mother, two brothers and two sisters in the raid. Asad sees himself as chosen to avenge not only his family but his nation, his religion and the Great Leader - Gadhafi. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

Twelve years later, Asad arrives in New York City, intent on killing all five surviing pilots across America who participated in the bombing , one by one.…


Book cover of The Runaway Jury

John L. DeBoer Why did I love this book?

I’ve enjoyed most of Grisham’s novels, but I’m picking this legal thriller (as are most of his books) because of the fascinating plot. It’s a David vs. Goliath story, in which the underdogs are seeking righteous justice from a huge corporation by using the legal court system. The planning involved to make it happen and the attempts by the opposition to destroy the effort gives an inside-baseball look at how multi-million dollar lawsuits are put together. The book also made a great movie!

By John Grisham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ever wonder what happens in the jury room, a place where the lawyer's aren't heard and the judge is not welcome? Who controls a jury when the door is locked and the deliberations begin? John Grisham returns to the legal world and weaves another gripping tale of intrigue and power play. With a combination of taul suspense and high drama this novel will once again show John Grisham as the master storyteller of our generation.


Book cover of The Wanted

John L. DeBoer Why did I love this book?

There isn’t a Robert Crais novel I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed, but I especially like the ones featuring PI Elvis Cole and his no-nonsense, stoic buddy Joe Pike. What is especially good about this novel is the character development of the two antagonists. Their personalities, often clashing with each other, make them more than one-dimensional killers, adding spice to the story—something I try to do in my own books.

By Robert Crais,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Just keeps getting better and better' Evening Standard
As addictive as Lee Child and as explosive as Michael Connelly - THE WANTED is the new thriller from Robert Crais, and a NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Seventeen-year-old Tyson is a normal teenaged boy - he's socially awkward, obsessed with video games, and always hungry. But his mother is worried that her sweet, nerdy son has started to change... and she's just found a $40,000 Rolex watch under his bed. Suddenly very frightened that Tyson has gotten involved in something illegal, his mother gets in touch with a private investigator named Elvis…


Book cover of Live Wire

John L. DeBoer Why did I love this book?

Like with Robert Crais’s Cole/Pike buddy novels, Coben has a number of books featuring the teamwork of two “good” guys—Myron Bolitar, former pro-basketball candidate and now a literary/sports agent who somehow gets involved in solving mysteries; Win Lockwood, a business tycoon you don’t want to mess with physically. What makes this book stand out is that a line is crossed in the adventure, one that had not occurred in their previous collaborations and one that could affect their lifelong friendship.

By Harlan Coben,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sometimes the ugliest truth is better than the prettiest of lies... From the SUNDAY TIMES bestselling author of SIX YEARS.

A beautiful woman walking into Myron Bolitar's office asking for help should have been a dream come true. Only this woman, Suzze T, is in tears - and eight months pregnant...

Suzze's rock star husband has disappeared, and she fears the rumours questioning her baby's paternity have driven him away. For Myron, questions of fatherhood couldn't hit closer to home. His own father is clinging precariously to life, and the brother who abandoned the family years ago has resurfaced -…


Book cover of Killing Floor

John L. DeBoer Why did I love this book?

Child has made a fortune with his stories featuring the imposing character Jack Reacher who, like the guys in that old TV series, Route 66, wanders aimlessly around the country, always looking for new experiences. But he stays off the grid while doing so. Reacher is a loner and wants to stay that way. He’s a man you don’t mess with if you want to stay healthy. Though no shrinking violet myself, I get a vicarious thrill when bad guys attack him, not realizing who they’re up against, and come out on the short end. I select this particular Reacher novel because it was Child’s first, and it explains why the Reacher character has become who he is.

By Lee Child,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Killing Floor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ex-military policeman Jack Reacher is a drifter. He's just passing through Margrave, Georgia, and in less than an hour, he's arrested for murder. Not much of a welcome. All Reacher knows is that he didn't kill anybody. At least not here. Not lately. But he doesn't stand a chance of convincing anyone. Not in Margrave, Georgia. Not a chance in hell.


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Return to Hope Creek

By Alyssa J. Montgomery,

Book cover of Return to Hope Creek

Alyssa J. Montgomery Author Of A Spanish Seduction

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an Australian USA Today bestselling romance author who writes contemporary romance and uses the pen name Alyssa James to write medieval romance. I think the makeover trope resonates with me because although I’m no beauty queen now, I was definitely an ugly duckling in my teens. For reasons best known to him, my father insisted on close-cropped hair, and financial circumstances dictated out-of-style hand-me-down clothing. After university, I found my own style, but it wasn’t until I was accepted as an international flight attendant that I believed that I couldn’t be all that ugly if Qantas employed me!

Alyssa's book list on makeover romances

What is my book about?

Return to Hope Creek is a second-chance rural romance set in Australia.

Stella Simpson's career and engagement are over. She returns to the rural community of Hope Creek to heal, unaware her high school and college sweetheart, Mitchell Scott, has also moved back to town to do some healing of his own.

Mitchell, a former NFL quarterback, doesn't need the complication of encountering Stella again so long after the messy end to their relationship, but as each tries to build a new life, they are drawn together and find their chemistry is just as strong as ever.

Will their love be stronger the second time around?

Return to Hope Creek

By Alyssa J. Montgomery,

What is this book about?

When two old flames come back to their home town, sparks are bound to ignite. A rural romance from USA Today bestselling author Alyssa J. Montgomery.


A horrific car accident ended former world number-one Stella Simpson’s tennis career, and a betrayal ended her relationship with her fiancé/coach. When a family friend offers to sell her half of a property in the rural community where she grew up, it seems like the perfect place to escape, heal and begin the next phase of her life. Until she discovers that the man who broke her heart ten years ago has bought the…


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