The best thriller books that made me want to write thrillers

Matthew Farrell Author Of The Perfect Mother
By Matthew Farrell

Who am I?

My father was a police officer and my mother was an avid reader of anything horror or suspense, so I grew up in a cop family that was entertained by the likes of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Mary Higgins Clark, etc. I’ve been reading thrillers since I could comprehend their meanings and I’ve been experiencing the life of a cop since the day I was born. The results have been four books written with over 400,000 copies sold in 14 countries. I couldn’t be prouder of my upbringing and the things (including these books) that have helped shape my writing. I hope you enjoy the books on my list as much as I have!

I wrote...

The Perfect Mother

By Matthew Farrell,

Book cover of The Perfect Mother

What is my book about?

My daughter is gone. She’s been taken. I grip the phone so hard I think it might break, and try to focus on what they’re saying. I realise I’m not crying, even though I feel like I’ve been split in two. And then they say a name that makes my blood run cold…

Suddenly, my past and present collide. My heart pounds in my chest, memories flooding my head. I have to focus on my daughter, 
Nelle, but I can’t escape the panicked questions rushing in. How do they know about Betty? And what else do they know?

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The books I picked & why


By Thomas Harris,

Book cover of Hannibal

Why did I love this book?

Thomas Harris has a way of merging excitement with a tense pace and exquisite prose. His writing style is something I aspire to. From the opening scene of pure adrenaline when Clarice and her team are making a drug raid arrest and things go terribly bad to the almost operatic nature of Hannibal trapping the Italian detective and killing him, Hannibal is a case study is melding literature and thriller and coming up with the ultimate classic. Reading this books showed me that I could set more than one mood in a book, which I did in my debut book.

By Thomas Harris,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


And seven years after he helped FBI Special Agent Clarice Starling bring down Buffalo Bill, her career is collapsing after a disastrous drug bust.

Meanwhile, seven years after violently escaping from custody, Hannibal Lecter is hunted by Mason Verger, a psychopathic former client obsessed with feeding him to wild boars.

With the one-time partners at a low ebb, Hannibal is the one to reach out to Clarice, who has been plagued by dreams of his rasping voice.

It has been seven years since they both came to realise they…

Dark Matter

By Blake Crouch,

Book cover of Dark Matter

Why did I love this book?

Dark Matter is another favorite of mine that mixes a thriller with science fiction and the result is a reader who can’t turn the pages fast enough. Blake comes from a thriller background so he uses pace and action so well in this book and the mix of sci-fi is just enough to make you believe but not so much that it’s like reading a text book. That touch of science without being overwhelming influenced my psychological explanations in my second thriller.

By Blake Crouch,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Dark Matter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Brilliant. . . I think Blake Crouch just invented something new' - Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher series.

From Blake Crouch, the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy, Dark Matter is sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human - a relentlessly surprising thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we'll go to claim the lives we dream of, perfect for fans of Stranger Things and Ready Player One.

'Are you happy in your life?'
Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.
Before he awakes to find…

The Da Vinci Code

By Dan Brown,

Book cover of The Da Vinci Code

Why did I love this book?

The Da Vinci Code taught me that you can open a book with pure action without knowing who the characters really are or what the situation is. An old man gets murdered in the Louvre. Why? The police suspect Dr. Langdon. Why? Another detective is secretly trying to help him. Why? These unanswered questions coupled with the intense action of escape and pursuit leave the reader breathless. When I first read this, I devoured half in the book in one sitting. I couldn’t get enough. This action without initial explanation influenced the openings of all of my books.

By Dan Brown,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Harvard professor Robert Langdon receives an urgent late-night phone call while on business in Paris: the elderly curator of the Louvre has been brutally murdered inside the museum. Alongside the body, police have found a series of baffling codes.

As Langdon and a gifted French cryptologist, Sophie Neveu, begin to sort through the bizarre riddles, they are stunned to find a trail that leads to the works of Leonardo Da Vinci - and suggests the answer to a mystery that stretches deep into the vault of history.

Unless Langdon and Neveu can decipher the labyrinthine code and quickly assemble the…

Tell No One

By Harlan Coben,

Book cover of Tell No One

Why did I love this book?

Tell No One is another thriller with non-stop action. We do learn a little about the main character in the beginning, but by Chapter 2 he sees the mysterious message and then the action builds from there. This book, and much of Harlan’s writing, taught me that action can be a constant while there’s still a mystery weaved in that the character (and the reader) have to solve. This book was in mind when I was writing my fifth thriller.

By Harlan Coben,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Tell No One as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Every year, the Doctor David Beck and his young wife, Elizabeth, meet at the same deserted lake to rediscover their love for each other, and inscribe one more year into 'their' tree. But that year was the last. Elizabeth was kidnapped and Beck knocked unconscious. By the time he woke up, his wife had been discovered dead, and horribly mutilated. For eight years he grieves. Then one afternoon, he receives an anonymous e-mail telling him to log on to a certain web-site at a certain time, using a code that only the two of them knew. The screen opens onto…

Book cover of The Whisper Man: A Novel

Why did I love this book?

Much like Thomas Harris, I find Alex North’s writing to be intoxicating. The way he constructs sentences that can actually create a tangible mood through the page is a true gift. This book is a slow burn mystery and I loved every page. Although not a direct influence as our books came out around the same time, my third thriller reminds me of that same slow and methodical pace that sets the mood and draws the reader in. His writing is brilliant and creepy and all the things that make reading scary books fun. I can’t recommend this one enough.

By Alex North,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The biggest new thriller of the year - pre-order the paperback now

"The best crime novel of the decade" Steve Cavanagh

You'll hear the whispers. And then you'll hear the screams...

Still devastated after the loss of his wife, Tom Kennedy and his young son Jake move to the sleepy village of Featherbank, looking for a fresh start.

But Featherbank has a dark past. Fifteen years ago a twisted serial killer abducted and murdered five young boys. Until he was finally caught, the killer was known as 'The Whisper Man'.

Of course, an old crime need not trouble Tom and…

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