Best Thriller Books of All Time

The ten greatest thrillers ever

We’ve compiled a list of the ten best thrillers of all time, in no particular order. These extraordinary novels represent the best of the genre, and cover a wide range of thrillers: from psychological thrillers to military thrillers, from domestic thrillers to mystery thrillers. If you haven’t one of these exceptional books make sure to add it to your must-read pile!

Top Thrillers 2021 The Wife Upstairs Rachel Hawkins

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Rachel Hawkins

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Genre: Domestic Thriller

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press / Macmillan

Pub Date: January 5, 2021

Why it’s a top thriller of 2021: A smart, modern retelling of Jane Eyre with a dash of Southern noir.

Best Thrillers of the year Gregg Hurwitz Prodigal Son

Prodigal Son

Gregg Hurwitz

Will Evan Smoak give up his role as The Nowhere Man in exchange for a pardon? Can he live a normal life?

Smoak is an assassin, an equalizer, a force for good, but he’s willing to give it all up. That is, until he gets a call for help he can’t ignore. A call from his mother, who gave him up for adoption when he was just a baby.

But now a brother and sister assassin team are after him, along with a cabal of powerful people. And more than just his life hang in the balance.

Genre: Assassination Thriller

Publisher: Minotaur Books / Macmillan

Pub Date: January 26, 2021

Why it’s a top thriller of 2021: Once again, Hurwitz produces a page-turner featuring the deadly “Nowhere Man” Evan Smoak.

Best Thrillers 2021 The Unwilling

The Unwilling

John Hart

This Vietnam War-era crime thriller follows Gibby, accused of murder after his female companion taunts a prison bus and is murdered after the ensuing riot. Gibby isn’t the only suspect. His brother, Jason—also present on the empty stretch of road—is a key suspect in both that murder, and a second.

A gritty crime thriller from a master of Southern suspense, The Unwilling wades unflinchingly into a world of drugs, violence, prison, war, and motorcycle gangs.

Genre: Historical Crime Thriller

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press / Macmillan

Pub Date: February 2, 2021

Why it’s a top thriller of 2021: John Hart is the only writer to ever win an Edgar for two consecutive books. When he writes a thriller, it’s fire.

best thrillers of the year C.J. Tudor's The Burning Girls

The Burning Girls

CJ Tudor

Reverend Jack Brooks and his daughter, Flo, move to the English countryside looking for peace. But what he finds is nothing of the sort. Here, in a community rocked by unaccounted disappearances going back thirty years and continuing to this day.

Hauntings intensify when Flo comes across ghosts in the old chapel. But Jack and his daughter won’t get any help from the denizens of the village, where everyone seems to have a secret, a darkness they’re eager to protect, and no trust of the reverend and his teenage girl.

Genre: Paranormal Thriller

Publisher: Ballantine Books / Penguin Random House

Pub Date: February 9, 2021

Why it’s a top thriller of 2021: Dark secrets in a creepy English countryside setting… What’s not to love? 

best thriller of 2021 Mark Greaney Relentless

Relentless

Mark Greaney

Court Gentry—the Gray Man—is just the man for the job when a missing covert agent comes up for air in Venezuela. Except he’s not the only one going down south. A team of assassins is on the hunt for the operative as well, and it’s all the Gray Man can do to make it out alive. Intelligence officers are disappearing across the globe. And only Gentry and CIA agent Zoya Zakharova can solve the mystery, infiltrate a private intelligence firm, and stop the disappearances from continuing.

Genre: Military Thriller

Publisher: Berkley Press / Penguin Random House

Pub Date: February 16, 2021

Why it’s a top thriller of 2021: “I Love the Gray Man.” -Lee Child

Enough said. 

best thriller of 2021 Alex Finlay Every Last Fear

Every Last Fear

Alex Finlay

Matt Pine, a student at NYU, receives devastating news that his parents and siblings have been found dead in Mexico. The cause of death: an apparent gas leak.

Matt’s only living close relative is his brother, who has been locked away for a crime he didn’t commit. And now the rest of Matt’s family is dead.

A coincidence?

It’s never that simple.

 

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Publisher: Minotaur Books / Macmillan

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

Why it’s a top thriller of 2021: This one is getting more praise ahead of publication than any debut we’ve seen in a while. 

Best Thrillers 2021 Kingdom of Bones

Kingdom of Bones

James Rollins

It starts in a small Congolese village. Something is evolving, growing, spreading. Outward from this epicenter, plants and animals grow more dangerous, while humans turn catatonic. And whatever this is won’t stop. It’s sweeping across Africa.

Commander Gray Pierce and Sigma Force have one job: to keep the world safe, even as they go from predator to prey. Will they discover the secret to this mystery? Or will the human species face an extinction event like never before?

Genre: Adventure Thriller

Publisher: William Morrow / HarperCollins

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

Why it’s a top thriller of 2021: This is the 16th book in the critically-acclaimed Sigma Force series, though readers can jump in at any point.

Best Thriller 2021 Jack Carr The Devil's Hand

The Devil’s Hand

Jack Carr

James Reese is back in this geopolitical clash of the titans.

An enemy in the Middle East seeths thanks to assassinations and extra-judicial killings. America is ready, with a young, well-liked president. A man with a secret.

Can Reese stop a foreign agent with a bioweapon and save his country? This fouth installment will leave you gasping for breath. 

 

Genre: Military Thriller

Publisher: Atria Books / Emily Bestler Books / Simon & Schuster

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

Why it’s a top thriller of 2021: The fourth installment in Jack Carr’s Terminal List series, this is sure to be another bestseller. 

best thrillers of 2021 You Love Me Kepnes

You Love Me

Caroline Kepnes

Joe Goldberg is done with cities, done with the muck and the posers, done with Love. Now, he’s saying hello to nature, to simple pleasures on a cozy island in the Pacific Northwest. For the first time in a long time, he can just breathe.

He gets a job at the local library–he does know a thing or two about books–and that’s where he meets her: Mary Kay DiMarco. Librarian. Joe won’t meddle, he will not obsess. He’ll win her the old fashioned way.

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Pub Date: April 21, 2021

Why it’s a top thriller of 2021: After the cliffhanger in Hidden Bodies (You #2), this is one of the most anticipated books of 2021.

 

Paterson and Clinton Best Thrillers of 2021

The President’s Daughter

Clinton & Patterson

Matthew Keating is a former Navy SEAL— and a former President of the United States, now relocated to rural New Hampshire after a brave but ill-fated military mission cost him his second term. All he wants is to sink into anonymity with his family (and his Secret Service detail). But when he’s briefed on an imminent threat against his daughter, Keating’s SEAL training may prove more essential than all the power, connections, and political acumen he gained as President.

Genre: Political Thriller

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company / Hachette

Pub Date: June 7, 2021

Why it’s a top thriller of 2021: When these two team up, magic happens.