Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads Paperback – 11 Jan 2012
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Official book release coincides with Thrillerfest, an annual international Thrillers conference in NY. National media coverage of event and book launch anticipated.
Extensive PR campaign, wide distribution of ARCs, and national advertising.
"It reminds us all of the sheer excitement and dazzling scope of the genre. A treasure!"Christopher Reich, NYT best-selling author of Rules of Deception
"The ultimate thriller resource. A fantastic reading list with a 'Who's Who' of contributors." Brad Thor, New York Times best-selling author of The Apostle
This is an essential reference book. Library Journal, Starred Review, Reviewed by Jeff Ayers, May 15, 2010"
For casual readers, scholars, or librarians, this anthology is the best go-to source for thriller interest. ForeWord Reviews, Reviewed by Angela Leeper, July/August 2010"
This is an essential reference book." Library Journal, Starred Review
"This entertaining collection starts with Lee Child's thoughts on Theseus and the Minotaur (1500 B.C.) and ends with Steve Berry's take on Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code (2003). In between are some thought-provoking essays by contemporary stars of the thriller field."
- Mystery Scene Magazine
"Some of my favorite thriller authors writing about their favorite thrillers. This epic view is itself a must-read." - Kathy Reichs, NYT best-selling author
"For casual readers, scholars, or librarians, this anthology is the best go-to source for thriller interest." --ForeWord Reviews
This is an essential reference book." --Library Journal, Starred Review
About the Author
David Morrell is the world renowned author of "First Blood" and the creator of Rambo. He is the co-founder of the International Thriller Writers Organization and is considered by many to be the father of the modern action novel. He's authored many best-selling, award-winning novels, several of which have been the basis of motion pictures and top-rated television series.
Top customer reviews
In "Thriller: 100 Must Reads" one hundred works are picked by the International Thriller Writers Association. The pluses are that most of the books listed here probably belong here, and that most of the books have had very good representative articles written about them. Although we also get more than our share of articles in which the author is recommended, not the work mentioned. In the early pages of this book I especially liked the "Robinson Crusoe" and the "Frankenstein" articles. These articles put the books in their proper historical perspective and allow us to understand why they took the world by storm. I was especially interested to find out that William Defoe, being the hack that he was, wrote prolifically about everything. And being so well known as a non-fiction writer, that "Robinson Crusoe" was for years thought to be true. So, it's ironic that the book ends with "The Da Vinci Code", another hoax novel. I did hate the "Kim" article though, it was pretty empty, and the reader will never know WHAT the novel was even about or WHY it should be listed.
Wisely, editors David Morrell & Hank Wagner list the books that are discussed in chronological order, and not in alphabetical order or by theme. The editors also wisely use a (arbitrarily) cut-off date to limit, barely, the scope of books to be discussed. Although why the date used IS used is never explained.
And this is what leads me to two major complaints about this book. The first is complaint who chose these books and why, while the second complaint is "what is a thriller?".
The first complaint first. Who the hell actually choose the novels that are to be discussed? Yeah, yeah, yeah, I get that something called "The International Thriller Writers" had something to do with this anthology, but what is this association? And what is its agenda? Were these books voted on by the members, or were they chosen by authors of the articles themselves. I ask this because several authors hint in their articles that they had to convince the editor's to write about a certain book that they consider important. The best example of this is the R. L. Stine article on P. G. Wodehouse's comic "Summer Lightning" novel.
So we have to ask: "Why these books?" I can see the fantasy work "Beowolf" being here, but why not also one of Robert E. Howard's Conan stories like "Red Nails", or 'The Phoenix On The Sword'? Or, one of Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories. If short stories 'Rear Window' or 'The Most Dangerous Game' are here, why not 'Leiningen Vs. The Ants'?
Science fiction enters when Jack Finney's "Invasion Of The Body Snatchers" is listed, but why not Robert A. Heinlein's "The Puppet Masters"? Or if Michael Crichton's "The Andromeda Strain" is listed, and then is noted as being the first techno-thriller, why wasn't Lester del Rey's 'Nerves' (1942) mentioned, as it was the first story to detail a nuclear plant's meltdown, a true techno-thriller TWENTY-SEVEN years before Crichton's novel. Other sf thrillers that are missing are 'Who Goes There?' (John Campbell), "Slan" or 'The Black Destroyer' (A. E. van Vogt), and "The Mote In God's Eye" by Jerry Pournelle & Larry Niven.
Sea thrillers "The Narrative Of Arthur Gordan Pym Of Nantucket" (by E. A. Poe, and another hoax novel), Jack London's "Sea Wolf", and Justin Scott's "The Shipkiller" are listed, so where is anything by William Hope Hodgeson? Surely either his "Ghost Pirates" or "The Boats Of The `Glen Carrig'" belong here. Or, where is "Captain Blood" by Raphael Sabintini?
If we get H. Rider Haggard, why not Harold Lamb?
We get one horror novel ("Off Season" by Jack Ketchum), but why not "The Shadow Out Of Innsmouth" by H. P. Lovecraft, "The Howling" by Gary Brandner, "Darker Than You Think" by Jack Williamson, "Black Easter" by James Blish, or "Witch House" by Evangeline Walton? All have significantly changed the horror thriller landscape after their publishing.
The apocalyptic and the post-apocalyptic thriller is completely ignored, so seminal works "The Purple Cloud" by M. P. Shiel, "I Am Legend" by Richard Matheson, "Alas Babylon" by Pat Frank, "On The Beach" by Nevil Shute, "Swan Song" by Robert McCammon and the like aren't mentioned. AND NO WESTERNS? How about "Riders Of The Purple Sage" by Zane Gray or "Destry Rides Again" by Max Brand, or anything by Louis L'Amour? C'mon now.
R. L. Stine's formulistic first horror novel is the only juvenile thriller listed, but what about the Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys books? Pulp hero Doc Savage is listed, but not The Spider or The Shadow? Blah-blah-blah. The point being that if there is no rule as to what can be included, then there is will be too much to be excluded. What may be needed is a two volume work, the early works until 1950, and then one from 1951 until the cut-off point in 2003.
As I have argued, this book just tries to do too much, and touch too many bases without doing a good job on any of them. C'mon, the editors should try to give the readers a working definition as to what a thriller is so that we can appreciate just what it is that they are trying to accomplish. "Thrillers thrill" just doesn't cut it. The long, and vague, definition that IS given could pretty much apply to virtually ANYTHING that is written. What is it that makes the "thriller" genre special enough to warrant the creation of this book, and the justification of us to read it, and follow the article's author's advice?
A little fact checking wouldn't have hurt either. Two authors are mentioned as being the father of the techno-thriller when 'Nerves' has already been mentioned as predating EITHER author. James Patterson is mentioned as being the author of eight Woman's Murder Club novels, when he has had most of them ghosted or co-written by others. "King Kong" is listed as by Edgar Wallace, when it was ghosted by others. I give this book three stars because while it was interesting, readable, and informative, it really is for newbies or casual readers only.
The best thrillers pull no punches. Amen.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Morrell and Wagner offer up scores of books and authors likely to delight fans of the thriller genre. They have enlisted top thriller writers to polish those gems by discussing what makes them work and why they may have pushed the genre in a new direction.
My advice: Enjoy reading the essays about the books you have already read and make a list of those books you will want to read; return to those essays later. But don't make the mistake of skipping books that have been made into movies or TV shows you've already seen. You might be surprised to find them a delight not only for their prose but also for their plots.
Case in point is Morrell's own "First Blood." I know that movie so well ("He could eat things that would make a billygoat puke") that I was reluctant last year to read the novel, which Morrell published a good 10 years before Rambo first hit the screen in the 1980s. Turns out, the novel is different from the film in so many ways that it was exciting on an entirely unexpected level. (By the way, "First Blood" holds up quite well as a thriller that also says something about human beings, a Morrell specialty.) I suspect that other thrillers recommended in this book offer similar unexpected delights.
The essays collected here err at times by telling a little too much about the story, and some are a bit superficial. Those are minor flaws for such a collection. At its best, which is far more often than not, "Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads" is like having coffee with a good friend who tells you, "Hey, you gotta read this!"
The only reason I am not giving it four stars is that I find the exclusion of Gerald Seymour unfathomable, though doubtless there are several authors that didn't make the cut for one reason or another.
The essays put each recommended book in its historical context and explains why the book ranks above other novels in the genre. The editors include suspense novels, legal thrillers, techno-thrillers, adventure thrillers, and spy thrillers as well as some classics in the field like THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO and KING SOLOMON'S MINES. I found enough books to keep me reading for a long time and I would highly recommend this book to any thriller fan or anyone who is just looking for an exciting read.
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