Let's face it, back then there was a reason the word trashy often preceded the word thriller. Today, even though most contemporary crime fiction has left graphic exploitation behind, there is still a certain stigma attached to reading thrillers, as if enjoying a book that has a page-turning plot means your taste is unbecoming and, worse, not serious. The truth is that most of our enduring works of literature have some sort of crime at their center, whether it's the murderous rampages in Hamlet, the lone gunman of The Great Gatsby, or the tense courtroom scenes in To Kill a Mockingbird.
Here are some of my favorites:
Where Are the Children?
By Mary Higgins Clark
This classic was written almost 40 years ago, but the plot—about a woman who is accused of killing her own children—is as timely and tense as ever.
By Linda Fairstein
Alex Cooper is a fascinating heroine—an updated Kinsey Millhone with a little V.I. Warshawski thrown in—based on the equally fascinating life of her creator, who was a Manhattan prosecutor for 30 years. This latest entry in the series is about a scourge that Fairstein has seen firsthand: human trafficking.
By Chevy Stevens
The premise of this first novel is one of the creepiest I've read in a while: A real estate agent is abducted from an open house by a man who turns out to be a sexual predator. This is not a book to read alone in bed at night.
By Lisa Gardner
A family is murdered in the middle of the night. Detective D.D. Warren's investigation takes her to some dark places, including a locked-down pediatric psych ward. You may have had nightmares like this.
By Lee Child
Child's Jack Reacher is the kind of manly man you want to curl up with on a rainy afternoon. 61 Hours takes us to South Dakota, where Reacher battles with Mexican meth dealers to save the heart of a classic American small town.
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