5 Favourite Secular Thriller Writers

This is the third post in this series on some of my favourite books. You can find the first 2 posts on these links: Favourite Classics and Favourite Christian novels.

“Secular” reflects the market these novelists address and in no way is meant to be any assessment of their spiritual leaning.

At a young age I read a lot of Agatha Christie WhoDunnits plus a bunch of action adventure books, which likely fuelled a passion for thrillers.

Thrillers are my preferred genre to read. I use the term “Thrillers” fairly loosely as in my mind it can relate to suspense, action adventure, mystery, speculative and even fantasy.

It was much harder for me to decide on actual novels due to the large volumes produced by some of my favourite thriller authors. So I’m actually going to focus on the author.

There are three authors whose books I purchase religiously. Everything they release I buy. So let’s start with those three, in no particular order. The novel I feature in the photo is the first one that got me hooked.

  • Matthew Reilly

Matthew’s an Aussie author who writes fiction like you’re watching a movie. It’s fast, crisp and thrill-a-minute. He’s written 11 novels and is well known for self-publishing his first and then being picked up by his publisher, who read that first novel.

The novels aren’t for the faint hearted and usually involve some cataclysmic global disaster if the good guys don’t stop the bad guys from enacting their dastardly scheme. There’s a lot of killing and heaps of fast paced action. They’re very hard to put down once they get going, which is usually from the first page.

Reilly has branched off into two series: one involving Shane ‘Scarecrow’ Schofield and the other, Jack West. Its’ been good reading the development of both characters over the years, particularly Scarecrow.

  • Clive Cussler

I’m a diehard Cussler fan. He’s written 66+ novels and I’ve read most of them. Having started with one series: The Dirk Pitt series, he now has extended to five. Cussler uses a second writer for each series who naturally understands his formula very well. His son, Dirk Cussler, is now the second writer for the Dirk Pitt series. Generally each of the 5 release one book a year. So there are always a few Cussler books in my TBR file.

Yes, they are becoming too formulaic and in some cases unnecessarily long. They’re typically regarded as action adventure rather than thriller. However, I still find them enjoyable holiday reading or when I’m sitting on a long flight and don’t need to concentrate too much.

I always find it interesting most feature in the Top 10 Best Seller lists for the first few weeks after release. Clive Cussler certainly has a huge global following.

  • Daniel Silva

I’ve only become a fan of the Gabriel Allon series in the last three years. I bought ‘The Defector’ at an airport and couldn’t put it down. Silva releases a new one every Northern summer and I’ve now read four in total, with his latest in the TBR file.

I was so captured by the character, Gabriel Allon, and his mission. A retired Israeli intelligence agent and assassin, who was first employed to track and kill the people responsible for killing the Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Allon is a talented art restorer. He’d prefer to be fully occupied in this vocation; however, his old Israeli bosses keep coming dragging him back to help rid the world of some bad guys.

I like it when authors grab actual events and overlay fictional elements. It can be very clever.

The novels are full of espionage, fascinating detail about art, and sweep across multiple countries in Europe, Middle East and America. Silva also includes interesting dialogue about the current political relationship between USA, Israel and its Middle Eastern neighbours.

  • Others

John Le Carre, Anne Rice, Stephen King, Richard North Patterson, Frederick Forsyth, John Grisham, Michael Connolly, Nelson DeMille, and David Baldacci are all thriller writers whose work I’ve read and enjoy. However, getting the time to read more of them is so difficult.

John Le Carre, in particular, is one who’d I’d love to read more of. His multiple layers of intrigue and suspense are so invigorating but require very concentrated attention.

Then there are all the others who’ve I never gotten to. Lee Child, Jeffrey Deaver, and Dean Koontz to name just a few.

No doubt, some of you reading this are thinking, you’ve gotta read such and such. Well, I’d love to adopt a new thriller writer in 2013? I’d love to hear some of your favourites and, specifically, which of their novels you would recommend to read first. I’ll choose one author and commit to read one of their novels in 2013 and report back.

2 replies
  1. Lucy Morgan-Jones
    Lucy Morgan-Jones says:

    Hi Ian! Funny, I read your posts with your voice in my head. I’m glad I met up with you at the conference. 🙂

    I think the only thriller I’ve ever read is the one recommended by one of the ladies who spoke at last year’s ACFW conf (can’t remember her name, sorry!). I listened to the cd’s and in one of the workshops they analyzed 2 books. One was “Odd Thomas” by Dean Koontz~which I do recommend you read. 1st person, but done sooo well. Such an odd, likable, friendly, did I mention odd? character. 🙂 I loved it. Interesting spiritual things happen in that book, though secular I could relate to a Christian mindset.
    The other book recommended was “The Book Thief” by Mark Zusak (an Aussie author) Omniscient pov. Narrated by Death, who is an actual character and tells the story of a young girl in Nazi Germany. Fascinating story and such an interesting pov. It’s good as well, but not a thriller.

    Of course you could buy and read both and justify it by calling it ‘research’. I do that a lot. 🙂 Salves my conscience like a packet of Tim Tams. 🙂

    Enjoy reading! All the best, Lucy.

    • Ian
      Ian says:

      Hey Lucy, lovely to hear from you.

      And 2 great suggestions, thanks. So many readers recommend Dean Koontz as a Thriller extraordinaire. The Tuesday Night Book Club on the ABC mentioned The Book Thief and how marvellous it was especially from the perspective of it being written by “death”.

      I’m tending to definitely read a Koontz novel in 2013.

      Thx for leaving a comment Lucy. I do appreciate it.



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