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The Best Thriller Novel

Last updated on July 2, 2019

We looked at the top 10 Thriller Novels and dug through the reviews from 59 of the most popular review sites including Good Reads, Serious Reading, Jennly Reads, Kirkus Reviews, Penguin Random House, Criminal Element and more. The result is a ranking of the best Thriller Novels.

Best Thriller Novel

Why Trust The DWYM Score?

DWYM is your trusted product review source. Along with our in-house experts, our team analyzes thousands of product reviews from the most trusted websites. We then create one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

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Our Picks For The Top Thriller Novels

Show Contents
Our Take
Experts Included
Pros
Cons
  The Best Overall

Robert Dugoni

My Sister's Grave

Overall Take

Robert Dugoni's "My Sister's Grave" features the best parts of a legal thriller and mystery, adding in elements of a police procedural. You'll find it unputdownable, with compelling writing and believable characters. The satisfying conclusion also won't let you down.

Experts Included
DWYM Entertainment Experts plus Serious Reading, Kirkus Reviews, One Readers Thoughts, Bookworm Basics, Quiet Fury Books, I Heart Reading and 4 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" The book is very interesting and captivates the mind of readers. The story flows very well and the language used is quite simple for all to understand."
Cons
"Though the book is well-written and its classic premise is sure to absorb legal-thriller fans, it grows a bit plodding at times, with too many pages dedicated to House's retrial."

Robert Bryndza

The Girl In the Ice

Overall Take

They say you can't judge a book by its cover. But Robert Bryndza's "The Girl In the Ice" lives up to its stunning cover and title. This story follows a detective who lost her husband during a previous investigation. More of a suspense novel, this might not be the best... Read More

Experts Included
DWYM Entertainment Experts plus Publishers Weekly, Quick Book Reviews, Crime By The Book, Bookouture, Geeks, The Bookish Deer and 2 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" The Girl in the Ice is a fantastic murder mystery thriller, one that will grip from beginning to end anyone who enjoys this genre."
Cons
"If you’re in the market for a crime book that digs deep into the details of a police investigation, this might not be the right choice for you - you're likely to find its portrayal of police work too “surface..."

Mike Omer

A Killer's Mind

Overall Take

Mike Omer's "A Killer's Mind" follows a forensic psychologist on the trail of a serial killer. If you like mysteries, you'll love the surprises in this book. One of the best things about this book, though, is its believable characters, including the bad guys.

Experts Included
DWYM Entertainment Experts plus 20 Something Reads, Mystery Sequels, Brandywine Books, Quiet Fury Books, Gary David Gillen, Books Of My Heart. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" What it does well is present the killers not as monsters but as men --- men who have a severe dark side and are operating amongst fellow humans, remaining unseen."
Cons
"What I had problems with was how Zoe’s character worked into the plot. We’re supposed to believe that an accomplished, adult professional woman would withhold what she believes to be material evidence in an ongoing homicide investigation, because she’s afraid..."
  The Best Value

Michael Connelly

The Wrong Side of Goodbye

Overall Take

If you're a thriller fan, you're likely familiar with Harry Bosch, the detective in Michael Connelly's popular novels.  "The Wrong Side of Goodbye" marks the series' 19th book, following Bosch as he tracks down a billionaire's ex-lover. Connelly's focus on creating strong characters makes every one of his books compelling. Read More

Experts Included
DWYM Entertainment Experts plus Kirkus Reviews, New York Journal of Books, Huff Post, The Irish Times, Crime Fiction Lover, The Real Book Spy and 3 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" Grade-A Connelly. The dark forces arrayed against the hero turn out to be disappointingly toothless, but everything else clicks in this latest chapter of a compulsively good cop’s odyssey through the City of Angels and its outlying neighborhoods and less..."
Cons
"I gave the last two Michael Connelly books I reviewed 3 stars and this is another 3-star effort. I’d really like him to up his game on his next book."
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We identified the majority of the thriller novels available to purchase.
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59

Expert Reviews Included

Reviews from our DWYM category experts and analysis of some of the most respected sources including: Good Reads, Serious Reading, Jennly Reads, Kirkus Reviews, Penguin Random House.

103,077

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including Amazon and 3 others.

Our experts reviewed the top 10 Thriller Novels and also dug through the reviews from 59 of the most popular review sites including Good Reads, Serious Reading, Jennly Reads, Kirkus Reviews, Penguin Random House, Criminal Element and more. The result is a ranking of the best of the best Thriller Novels.

DWYM is your trusted roduct review source. Our team reviews thousands of product reviews from the trusted top experts and combines them into one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in their category.

The Best Overall

Robert Dugoni My Sister’s Grave

Expert Summarized Score
8.4
10 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
8.8
15,304 user reviews
The DWYM Expert Take

Robert Dugoni's "My Sister's Grave" features the best parts of a legal thriller and mystery, adding in elements of a police procedural. You'll find it unputdownable, with compelling writing and believable characters. The satisfying conclusion also won't let you down.

What other experts liked
The book is very interesting and captivates the mind of readers. The story flows very well and the language used is quite simple for all to understand.
- Serious Reading
Though the pace lags at times, the characters are richly detailed and true to life, and the ending is sure to please fans.
- Kirkus Reviews
It is well written, with a pace that builds, and Tracey is well-rounded, as are the secondary characters.
- One Readers Thoughts
July 14, 2016 | Full review
I found the woodsy rural setting to be a refreshing take on conventions of the genre and this book to be a much more convincing take on the genre of rural noir than other books
- Bookworm Basics
June 19, 2017 | Full review
My Sister’s Grave is a solid suspense story that held my interest from start to finish. The writing is smooth, carrying us along without any intrusion from the author.
- Quiet Fury Books
October 23, 2014 | Full review
And the plot itself was certainly refreshing. The flashbacks from past to present worked well too, and overall, this was just a really enjoyable read, and one I’d recommend to any thriller / mystery fan.
- I Heart Reading
July 8, 2015 | Full review
My Sister’s Grave reads like a crime thriller as well as a legal one, and it’s thoroughly enjoyable. Once I started reading, I was hooked and intrigued until the very last pages.
- Bibliophile Book Club
June 14, 2016 | Full review
Those secrets drive a good story and often produce an even scarier scenario – the melodramatic conclusion of the story just kept me glued to the very last drop in the bucket.
- Patricia's Wisdom
My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni had Fantastic pacing. It was slow but steady laying out all the information at hand.
- First Impressions Reviews
May 22, 2015 | Full review
Dugoni skillfully builds the tension, and the story’s crisis begins to happen sooner than expected. My Sister’s Grave is part mystery, part police procedural, part legal thriller – all combined into an extremely satisfying story.
- Faith Fiction Friends
January 30, 2015 | Full review
What other experts didn't like
There were also many small characters with slightly similar names which may make the story confusing since one character can be mistaken for another.
- Serious Reading
Though the book is well-written and its classic premise is sure to absorb legal-thriller fans, it grows a bit plodding at times, with too many pages dedicated to House's retrial.
- Kirkus Reviews
The first few chapters, I have to say, didn’t help the nerves as I struggled to find the flow of the book and really get into it.
- One Readers Thoughts
July 14, 2016 | Full review
So I really did not like the first half of the book, including the trial.
- Bookworm Basics
June 19, 2017 | Full review
First, the ‘bad guy’ is too predictable and one-dimensional. Second, and more importantly, I didn’t believe the story’s outcome.
- Quiet Fury Books
October 23, 2014 | Full review
I felt this story was confusing at the start (maybe because of the spelling errors with an unproofed copy) but I could not find the life flow – the value – within the story except by the attacking the victim...
- Patricia's Wisdom
Truthfully, I thought I had it figured out within the first half of the book. It stared me in the face and seemed painfully obvious.
- First Impressions Reviews
May 22, 2015 | Full review

The Best Bang For Your Buck

Michael Connelly The Wrong Side of Goodbye

Expert Summarized Score
6.0
9 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
9.4
6,113 user reviews
The DWYM Expert Take

If you're a thriller fan, you're likely familiar with Harry Bosch, the detective in Michael Connelly's popular novels.  "The Wrong Side of Goodbye" marks the series' 19th book, following Bosch as he tracks down a billionaire's ex-lover. Connelly's focus on creating strong characters makes every one of his books compelling.

What other experts liked
Grade-A Connelly. The dark forces arrayed against the hero turn out to be disappointingly toothless, but everything else clicks in this latest chapter of a compulsively good cop’s odyssey through the City of Angels and its outlying neighborhoods and less angelic spirits.
- Kirkus Reviews
Bosch turns police work into fascinating stories in the same way that a good reporter (Michael Connelly was one at the Los Angeles Times) puts flesh on the bare bones of a news report.
- New York Journal of Books
It may be Connelly’s twenty-first Harry Bosch book but it is fresh and innovative from the first page till the last.
- Huff Post
November 6, 2017 | Full review
Connelly’s best-selling success is built on an understanding of the symbiotic relationship between plot and character. Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch is one of the most aptly named protagonists in crime fiction, an eagle-eyed observer of fearsome landscapes who is unafraid to peer into the abyss and report back on the horrors...
- The Irish Times
November 19, 2016 | Full review
It is rare for a screen version of a well known fictional character to resonate with me but Titus Welliver’s face and voice leapt out from the pages and, if anything, added to the enjoyment of The Wrong Side of Goodbye. A masterclass in crime writing.
- Crime Fiction Lover
March 15, 2017 | Full review
Harry Bosch is a great character, and nobody does this stuff better than Michael Connelly. The Wrong Side of Goodbye is easily one of the year’s best mystery novels and a must-read for thriller fans everywhere.
- The Real Book Spy
September 26, 2016 | Full review
Connelly is always at the top of my to-read list and I suspect he will be for a long time yet.
- Single White Female Writer
The characters in The Wrong Side of Goodbye are real, the plot compelling. With his latest novel, he has written another winner.
- Marilyn's Mystery Reads
January 21, 2017 | Full review
Unlike so many authors of long-running series, Connelly continues to discover new depths to his character and new stories to tell that reveal those depths in always compelling ways.
- Booklist Online
What other experts didn't like
I gave the last two Michael Connelly books I reviewed 3 stars and this is another 3-star effort. I’d really like him to up his game on his next book.
- Single White Female Writer

Overall Product Rankings

1. Robert Dugoni My Sister’s Grave

Overall Score: 8.8
Reviews Included: 12

2. Robert Bryndza The Girl In the Ice

Overall Score: 8.6
Reviews Included: 11

3. Mike Omer A Killer’s Mind

Overall Score: 8.5
Reviews Included: 8

4. Michael Connelly The Wrong Side of Goodbye

Overall Score: 8.5
Reviews Included: 12

5. Dustin Stevens The Boat Man

Overall Score: 8.4
Reviews Included: 3

6. L.T. Vargus Dead End Girl

Overall Score: 8.2
Reviews Included: 5

7. Allen Eskens The Life We Bury

Overall Score: 8.2
Reviews Included: 10

8. Jeff Carson Foreign Deceit

Overall Score: 8.1
Reviews Included: 3

9. Christopher Greyson The Girl Who Lived

Overall Score: 8.0
Reviews Included: 9

10. Michael Crichton A Case of Need

Overall Score: 7.5
Reviews Included: 6

Our Thriller Novel Buying Guide

  • The thriller genre includes a wide range of subgenres, so it’s important to consider the type of thriller you like. Robert Dugoni’s “My Sister’s Grave” is a combination mystery, police procedural and legal thriller, with a strong emphasis on the crime and legal elements. Robert Bryndza’s “The Girl In the Ice” isn’t the right fit for police procedural lovers. It’s more of a suspenseful thriller, following a detective as she attempts to track down a serial killer. With Mike Omer’s “A Killer’s Mind,” you get another chase after a serial killer, with a mystery element that will catch even the most seasoned reader off guard. If you’re familiar with Michael Connelly’s Bosch series, you likely already know he writes mystery thrillers with a strong emphasis on the characters.
  • The goal of any thriller reader is to find a book they can’t quite put down. Robert Dugoni’s “My Sister’s Grave” is one of those books. You’ll get smooth writing that pulls you in from the start. Even though the book does feature some flashbacks, they don’t overwhelm the story. Robert Dugoni, a New York Times bestselling author, introduces us to Tracy Crosswhite, a homicide detective with the Seattle Police Department, who is motivated to track down serial killers due to her sister’s disappearance 20 years prior.
  • Robert Bryndza’s “The Girl In the Ice” features not only an attention-grabbing title and cover, but it also hooks you from page one. You’ll enter the world of Erika Foster, a detective who lost her husband during her last investigation. She’s on the trail of a serial killer possibly responsible for a series of murders in London. There are a few clichés, but you’ll probably be too caught up in the compelling storyline to notice.
  • With Mike Omer’s “A Killer’s Mind,” you get a plot full of twists as it follows Zoe Bentley, a forensic psychologist chasing down a serial killer. Three women have been found embalmed and posed and Zoe has to track down the culprit before he tracks her down.
  • The name Harry Bosch is no stranger to thriller fans, and Michael Connelly’s “The Wrong Side of Goodbye” introduces readers to the 19th book in the series. In this book, Bosch is hired to find the former lover of a dying reclusive billionaire. This book comes across as fresh, even though it’s part of a long-running series.
  • When a thriller fails, it’s often because it simply isn’t “thrilling” enough. That has a great deal to do with pacing. Robert Bryndza’s “The Girl In the Ice” features a relentless pace that keeps you turning the pages. Mike Omer’s “A Killer’s Mind” maintains a steady pace throughout, tossing in some humor where necessary to ease the tension. With Robert Dugoni’s “My Sister’s Grave,” the pace can tend to lag at various points. Be prepared to be patient at first, as the pace gradually builds, drawing you in more slowly than with other thrillers.
  • When it comes down to it, though, the most memorable books are those with characters you truly love. This is no more evident than with the success of the Harry Bosch series, which showcases a hero who is fearless but still very likable. In Robert Dugoni’s “My Sister’s Grave,” Tracy Crosswhite is a well-developed lead, and the secondary characters jump off the page as well. However, the antagonist is a bit one-dimensional, which takes away from the story. On the other hand, Mike Omer’s “A Killer’s Mind” excels with its bad guys, painting them as truly human, which adds to the believability of the plot.
  • Although you don’t want any spoilers, it is helpful to know if an ending is worth the hours you’re about to put into reading a book. You’ll find Robert Dugoni’s “My Sister’s Grave” has a very satisfying conclusion, as does Robert Bryndza’s “The Girl In the Ice.”

DWYM Fun Fact

Thrillers have a long history, dating all the way back to Homer’s “Odyssey,” which features a protagonist overcoming numerous obstacles to find his way home. You’ll also see thriller elements in fairy tales like “Little Red Robin Hood,” which has a young girl dealing with a stalker in the form of a “big, bad wolf.” Although contemporary experts often consider Alfred Hitchcock the master of thrillers, today’s authors often look to books like Robert Ludlum’s “The Bourne Identity” and Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” for inspiration. The popularity of Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” created a new trend of twist-filled mystery-thrillers with unreliable protagonists, many written by women.

The Thriller Novel Tips and Advice

There’s nothing like a thriller that pulls you in from the start and won’t let you go. But finding that book you just can’t put down can be difficult, especially with the unlimited number of books available today. It can help to start with a New York Times bestseller, but even those can be hit or miss.

Before you choose a thriller novel, it can help to narrow down exactly the type of book that interests you. Do you prefer a book that goes in-depth into police work, or do you like a story told from the criminal’s perspective? There are crime thrillers, disaster thrillers, legal thrillers, medical thrillers, spy thrillers and more. As you begin to narrow the list of subgenres you enjoy most, the list of books to add to your to-read pile will shrink considerably.

Then there are the known names. Authors like Michael Connelly have become fan favorites due to their consistent delivery of compelling stories. Readers know exactly what they’re getting when they pick up a favorite author’s book, and unless the author lets them down, they’ll stay loyal. It also helps when an author’s books land a movie or TV deal, further helping readers know exactly what to expect.

But as with any genre of fiction, it’s all about the writing itself. It’s especially important for thriller novels to maintain a fast pace, prompting readers to turn the page to see what happens next. Many of today’s thrillers also pack in plenty of twists, thanks to the large group of readers who like to try to solve a mystery. But as valuable as those twists are, it won’t help if the reader is left disappointed at the end, so the payoff of those twists is essential.

In many cases, though, it all comes down to characters. If you look back at some of your favorite novels, chances are you think of the characters first. The ability to make the fictional people in a story jump off the page is what makes some authors more successful than others. When you’re reading book reviews, pay close attention to mention of characters since you’ll likely toss the book in the trash if they’re too unredeemable.