What we seek above all when we read a mystery thriller is a tense and page-turning read with fresh revelations and twists at every page. Here are three great examples of the mystery thriller at its best. I would recommend that all lovers of this genre read these three.
1) The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
This book to me excels for one outstanding reason; the psychological cat-and-mouse game between Clarice, the FBI investigator, and Hannibal Lecter, the pathological killer behind bars. Clarice seeks Hannibal’s help with the psychological profile of a serial killer she is hunting. Instead Hannibal – a former psychiatrist – turns their conversation into a game in which he will only trade information for personal details from her. And so he begins his task of winning over Clarice, step by step. This book contains all the necessary ingredients; a truly chilling killer, a hunt fraught with false turns and ironic twists, and a terrifying scene of hunter & hunted near the end. Yet over and beyond it all lies Hannibal’s pursuit of Clarice herself on the only level that really matters; her psyche. A truly gripping tale by a masterful story-teller.
2) The Lost Symbol by Dan Browne
Here the author demonstrates impeccable handling of pace. The details of the historical background to the quest are woven in to the characters’ urgent pursuit of the mystery. Here we have a cold-hearted villain whose skill at manipulating and deceiving others is finely-honed. Using the device of multiple viewpoint, the author supplies us with information which is withheld from the two main characters, thus increasing the suspense. The main character finds himself in a situation of such peril that we can only turn pages in a state of numb horror. And the twists and turns of character motivation – who is on whose side – are ingenious. A heart-pounding read.
3) The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
This classic model of the genre was written by a contemporary of Charles Dickens, who was himself greatly admired by the master novelist. Because Wilkie Collins went through a period of addiction to opium, he was well placed to weave it into his plot. Multiple viewpoint again increases the suspense, as we hold key pieces of information which are not granted to the main characters. The plot is so intriguing and cunning, I defy any first-time reader to guess the outcome. As with the other two great mystery thrillers, I believe that gaining our empathy with the main characters is vital to the thrill of the read.
SC Skillman is the author of mystery romance novel “Mystical Circles” in which Juliet, concerned that her younger sister has fallen for the charismatic Craig, leader of a dubious New Age spiritual group, sets off for the Cotswolds to see the situation for herself. She arrives at Craig’s community hoping to rescue Zoe. But intrigues, liaisons and relationships flare and flourish or fizzle out quickly within this close circle and, despite her reservations, Juliet is drawn into the Wheel of Love… with completely unforeseen consequences.