The best thrillers with an international villain

Who am I?

From a very early age, writing has always been my one true passion. Ever since I was in eighth grade and my teacher would pass out copies of my journal assignment for that week, I was hooked on the idea of writing. I could create my own world where no one could tell me how my characters should behave. Well, two Pushcart Prize nominations and many awards later, I’m grateful I pursued my dream to become a writer. I hope you’ve enjoyed the list I provided and please feel free to pick up one of my Nick Bracco thrillers about a Sicilian FBI agent who uses his Mafia-connected cousin to track terrorists. 


I wrote...

A Touch of Terror (A Nick Bracco Thriller Book 6)

By Gary Ponzo,

Book cover of A Touch of Terror (A Nick Bracco Thriller Book 6)

What is my book about?

A rogue Russian agent known as The Machine has infiltrated the U.S. border with a case of uranium powerful enough to destroy the entire west coast. FBI agent Nick Bracco recruits his Mafia-connected cousin Tommy to help track down the case and try to save the nation from the devastating attack. But this time Nick and his partner, Matt McColm, have met their match.

The books I picked & why

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American Dirt

By Jeanine Cummins,

Book cover of American Dirt

Why this book?

This book grabbed me right from the first page. Lydia and her young son, Luca, are on the run from a cartel leader who has killed her family. They are trying to make it to American soil to avoid the cartel’s reach. As they trek across the Mexican desert, they find that the cartel leader, Javier, has spies everywhere looking for them. They can trust no one and you can be assured that every page will be full of tension. Beautifully written.  

American Dirt

By Jeanine Cummins,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked American Dirt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*NOW A BBC RADIO 4 BOOK AT BEDTIME*
'Breathtaking... I haven't been so entirely consumed by a book for years' Telegraph
'I'll never stop thinking about it' Ann Patchett

FEAR KEEPS THEM RUNNING. HOPE KEEPS THEM ALIVE.

Vivid, visceral, utterly compelling, AMERICAN DIRT is an unforgettable story of a mother and son's attempt to cross the US-Mexico border. Described as 'impossible to put down' (Saturday Review) and 'essential reading' (Tracy Chevalier), it is a story that will leave you utterly changed.

Yesterday, Lydia had a bookshop.
Yesterday, Lydia was married to a journalist.
Yesterday, she was with everyone she loved…


The Lion's Game

By Nelson DeMille,

Book cover of The Lion's Game

Why this book?

John Corey is a wise-cracking NY cop who joins an FBI task force where he works with FBI Agent Kate Mayfield to take custody of a Libyan terrorist known as the Lion. The Task Force is at JFK waiting for the terrorist who is flying in from Libya on a 747. When they lose communication with the pilot, they realize something is wrong. The rest is a rollercoaster ride all the way to the end. You will not be disappointed.

The Lion's Game

By Nelson DeMille,

Why should I read it?

1 author 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.…


The Drop

By Dennis Lehane,

Book cover of The Drop

Why this book?

Chovka Umarov is a Chechen mobster who runs a gambling racket through local bars in Boston. He’s not the main character of the book, but he’s the underlying tension that makes the novel flourish. Cousin Marv owns a local dive bar and Bob is a bartender who may or may not be on the spectrum. Bob makes some strange decisions, while Marv tries to understand what he is up to. You get so wrapped up in these characters that you are knocked off your chair at the ending. They also made a movie about this starring James Gandolfini as Cousin Marv. But read the book first, it’s a great treat for any thriller lover.

The Drop

By Dennis Lehane,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

New York Times bestselling author Dennis Lehane's The Drop is a crime story, a love story, and ultimately a journey of faith, set in Boston's underworld.

"[A] gritty gem...a stark and moving short novel." - Publishers Weekly

Two days after Christmas, Bob Saginowski, a lonely bartender looking for a reason to live, rescues an abused and abandoned pit bull puppy from a trash can and meets a damaged woman named Nadia Dunn looking for something to believe in.

As their relationship grows, they cross paths with the Chechen mafia, who have taken over his cousin Marv's bar and use it…


Dr. No

By Ian Fleming,

Book cover of Dr. No

Why this book?

Dr. No is so much more sinister than you remember him in the movie that began the James Bond series in 1962. He is a reclusive Chinese-German millionaire who lives on a Jamaican island where an MI-6 agent has gone missing. M calls on James Bond to find the missing agent and upon arrival is treated to a basket of poisoned fruit and a deadly centipede is left in his bed while he’s asleep. Dr. No has pincers for hands which just adds to the tension as Bond closes in. The menacing villain forces Bond to navigate his way through an obstacle course constructed within the facility's ventilation system while Bond suffers electric shocks, burns, and an ordeal with poisonous spiders. This is such an enjoyable read for anyone who likes thrillers.  

Dr. No

By Ian Fleming,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dr. No as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dispatched by M to investigate the mysterious disappearance of MI6’s Jamaica station chief, Bond was expecting a holiday in the sun. But when he discovers a deadly centipede placed in his hotel room, the vacation is over.

On this island, all suspicious activity leads inexorably to Dr. Julius No, a reclusive megalomaniac with steel pincers for hands. To find out what the good doctor is hiding, 007 must enlist the aid of local fisherman Quarrel and alluring beachcomber Honeychile Rider. Together they will combat a local legend the natives call “the Dragon,” before Bond alone must face the most punishing…


Be Cool

By Elmore Leonard,

Book cover of Be Cool

Why this book?

I’ll admit, the Russian villain in this thriller is a very bit part, but I can’t have a top 5 list of any thriller without including Elmore Leonard. I read one of Leonard’s first urban thrillers, Glitz, back in ‘80’s and was blown away with how gritty it was. I’d never heard dialogue coming out of character’s mouths like that before. He wrote dialogue like people actually spoke—not with perfect dialect, but street language. It’s the reason he was dubbed the Dickens of Detroit. If you’ve read Elmore Leonard and liked him, then pick this up and read it. It’s a quasi-sequel to Get Shorty with shylock Chili Palmer moving from the movie industry to the music business. 

If you’ve never read Leonard, then start with this one. My writing career would never have flourished like is has without reading Leonard, so this on is near to my heart. Enjoy.  

Be Cool

By Elmore Leonard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The sequel to Chili Palmer's hit movie tanked and now Chili's itching for a comeback. So when a power lunch with record-label executive and former associate Tommy Athens ends in a mob hit, he soon finds himself in an unlikely alliance with organized-crime detective Darryl Holmes and the likely next target of Russian gangsters. But where others see danger, Chili Palmer sees story possibilities.

Enter Linda Moon, a singer with aspirations that go further than her current gig in a Spice Girls cover band. Chili takes over as Linda's manager, entering the world of rock stars, pop divas, and hip-hop…


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