The best thriller books with action, emotion, and diversity

Why am I passionate about this?

As a multicultural author, born in Honolulu of Hawaiian, Chinese, Norwegian descent, I am drawn to mainstream thrillers that feature diverse characters and explore non-mainstream cultures. Since I also hold a fifth-degree black belt in To-Shin Do ninja martial arts and have traveled the United States teaching martial arts and empowerment, authentic fight scenes in fiction are a must! Nothing turns me off quicker than a shallow representation of culturally diverse characters or mundane and improbable action. I strive for authenticity, emotion, and page-turning action in my Lily Wong ninja thrillers, so it’s probably no surprise that I value these elements in the novels I read.

I wrote...

The Ninja Daughter

By Tori Eldridge,

Book cover of The Ninja Daughter

What is my book about?

The Ninja Daughter is an action-packed thriller about a Chinese-Norwegian modern-day ninja with “Joy Luck Club” family issues who battles the Los Angeles Ukrainian mob, sex traffickers, and her own family to save two desperate women and an innocent child. When a young mother Lily has rescued returns to her abusive marriage, Lily focuses her protection skills on a new client, a nightclub waitress victim shamed in the press in the crosshairs of an enigmatic assassin with no apparent reason for wanting her dead. The mystery leads Lily on a dangerous journey of tangled truths, deadly conspiracies, and gritty suspense.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Her Name Is Knight

Tori Eldridge Why did I love this book?

Yasmin Angoe’s debut novel features a Ghanaian female assassin heroine whose horrifying past as a survivor of sex trafficking, sexual abuse, and heartbreaking loss clashes with her assassination assignment in Miami for a secret African tribal council. The action is fast-paced with fight sequences that ring true. The alternating chapters between past and present kept me engrossed with both stories as they collided in a satisfying and unexpected finale. Deeply emotional, engrossing, and unique.

By Yasmin Angoe,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Her Name Is Knight as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A smash debut novel from rising star Yasmin Angoe, Her Name Is Knight features an elite assassin heroine on a mission to topple a human trafficking ring and avenge her family.

Stolen from her Ghanaian village as a child, Nena Knight has plenty of motives to kill. Now an elite assassin for a powerful business syndicate called the Tribe, she gets plenty of chances.

But while on assignment in Miami, Nena ends up saving a life, not taking one. She emerges from the experience a changed woman, finally hopeful for a life beyond rage and revenge. Tasked with killing a…

Book cover of Rage

Tori Eldridge Why did I love this book?

Jonathan Maberry amps up the danger, risk, and action with his first book in the Joe Ledger International series. As always, his science is terrifyingly real, especially when spun into current politics. As a fellow, master martial arts practitioner, Maberry’s fight scenes are always top-notch. But the true gem, for me, of this book and the Joe Ledger series lies in the raw emotion of his protagonist and the authentically diverse voices of his supporting characters.

By Jonathan Maberry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From New York Times Bestselling author (creator of the Netflix series V Wars), Jonathan Maberry comes the first in a brand new series featuring Joe Ledger and Rogue Team International.

A small island off the coast of Korea is torn apart by a bio-weapon that drives everyone - men, women, and children - insane with murderous rage. The people behind the attack want Korea reunified or destroyed. No middle ground. No mercy. Soon Japan, China, and the United States are pushed to the brink of war, while terrorists threaten to release the rage bio-weapon in a way of pure destructive…

Book cover of Lies We Bury

Tori Eldridge Why did I love this book?

As with my own Lily Wong novels, Lies We Bury is an exciting blend of thriller, mystery, and cultural family dynamics. Elle Marr hooked me from the start and kept me binge-reading through twists and heart-wrenching emotions to a finish that took away my breath. Although no fighting, per se, the action and suspense kept me on edge. It’s always refreshing to read a novel with an empowered, fully-dimensional female Asian protagonist. 

By Elle Marr,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Lies We Bury as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A novel about secrets and revenge by the number one Amazon Charts bestselling author of The Missing Sister. It's only by confronting who she was then that she can understand who she is now.

I was born in captivity...

Two decades ago Marissa Mo escaped a basement prison-the only home she'd ever known. At twenty-seven, Marissa's moved beyond the trauma and is working under a new name as a freelance photographer. But when she accepts a job covering a string of macabre murders in Portland, it's impossible for Marissa not to remember.

Everything is eerily familiar. The same underground lairs.…

Book cover of Blacktop Wasteland

Tori Eldridge Why did I love this book?

From the moment I began reading Blacktop Wasteland, I knew S.A. Cosby would become one of crime fiction's most notable authors. His protagonist, Beauregard “Bug” Montage, drew me in and still won't let me go. What I love most are the gray areas between right and wrong, good and bad. There are no easy answers or choices in this strikingly honest look at Black life in the rural South. The action sequences and fights wing as true as Cosby’s characters and dilemmas.

By S.A. Cosby,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


'BLACKTOP WASTELAND may be the book of the year.' MICHAEL CONNELLY
'Sensationally good' LEE CHILD
'Stunning. Can't remember the last time I read such a powerful crime novel' MARK BILLINGHAM

"Bug" Montage: honest mechanic, loving family man. He's no longer the criminal he was - the sharpest wheelman east of the Mississippi.

But when his respectable life crumbles, a shady associate comes calling with a one-time job promising a huge payout. Inexorably drawn to the driver's seat - and haunted by…

Book cover of Winter Counts

Tori Eldridge Why did I love this book?

Wanbli Weiden pulls no punches in his vivid, often brutal mystery thriller set on South Dakota’s Rosebud Indian Reservation. His enforcer protagonist Virgil Wounded struggles with his own heritage and history while fighting to protect his nephew and Lakota community. I appreciated the stark brutality of the fight scenes. I was deeply moved by the raw emotion, depth of characters, and struggles that still exist for Indian Nations today.

By David Heska Wanbli Weiden,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?




“Winter Counts is a marvel. It’s a thriller with a beating heart and jagged teeth.”  —Tommy Orange, author of There There

A Best Book of 2020: NPR * Publishers Weekly * Library Journal * CrimeReads * Goodreads * Sun Sentinel * SheReads * MysteryPeople 

 A groundbreaking thriller about a vigilante on a Native American reservation who embarks on a dangerous mission to track down the source of a heroin influx. 

Virgil Wounded Horse is the local enforcer on the…

You might also like...

Magical Disinformation

By Lachlan Page,

Book cover of Magical Disinformation

Lachlan Page Author Of Magical Disinformation

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I lived in Latin America for six years, working as a red cross volunteer, a volcano hiking guide, a teacher, and an extra in a Russian TV series (in Panama). Having travelled throughout the region and returning regularly, I’m endlessly fascinated by the culture, history, politics, languages, and geography. Parallel to this, I enjoy reading and writing about the world of international espionage. Combining the two, and based on my own experience, I wrote my novel, Magical Disinformation, a spy novel set in Colombia. While there is not a huge depth of spy novels set in Latin America, I’ve chosen five of my favourites spy books set in the region.

Lachlan's book list on spy books set in Latin America

What is my book about?

This book is a spy novel with a satirical edge which will take you on a heart-pumping journey through the streets, mountains, jungles, and beaches of Colombia. Our Man in Havana meets A Clear and Present Danger.

Magical Disinformation

By Lachlan Page,

What is this book about?

In the era of ‘fake news’ in the land of magical realism, fiction can be just as dangerous as the truth... Discover Lachlan Page’s Magical Disinformation: a spy novel with a satirical edge set amongst the Colombian peace process. Described by one reviewer as “Our Man in Havana meets A Clear and Present Danger.”

Oliver Jardine is a spy in Colombia, enamoured with local woman Veronica Velasco.

As the Colombian government signs a peace agreement with the FARC guerrillas, Her Majesty’s Government decides a transfer is in order to focus on more pertinent theatres of operation.

In a desperate attempt…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Ghana, photographers, and North Korea?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Ghana, photographers, and North Korea.

Ghana Explore 25 books about Ghana
Photographers Explore 22 books about photographers
North Korea Explore 39 books about North Korea