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Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads Hardcover – July 5, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Working with a frustratingly broad definition drawn from John Buchan—that a thriller create[s] excitement and quicken[s] the reader's heartbeat—Morrell and Wagner's collection disappoints. Morrell's First Blood was the basis for the Rambo films, and Wagner is a regular contributor to Mystery Scene magazine; they have selected 100 examples of supposedly trendsetting thrillers, each introduced by a contemporary writer of the genre. Beginning with the ancient Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur and ending with Dan Brown's 2003 bestseller, The Da Vinci Code, the list includes both obvious and puzzling selections. The introductions are also of varying quality, with the more interesting examples coming from writers who explore their personal connection to the work in question, such as the ingenious parallels Lee Child drew as a boy between the Theseus myth and Ian Fleming's Dr. No, or Duane Swierczynski discovering Donald Westlake's (writing as Richard Stark) Parker series and realizing it's fun to read about sons of bitches. But the collection lacks cohesion, and too much space is devoted to minibiographies of the writers (which can be easily gleaned elsewhere). Thriller aficionados may find new titles to add to their reading lists; casual fans will be overwhelmed by the broad-stroke approach. (July 5)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"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

"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 of Spider Bones

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. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 378 pages
  • Publisher: Oceanview Publishing; 1 edition (July 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933515562
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933515564
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,077,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By D. K. Daniel on May 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sparking an argument isn't the best thing about today's "listmania" - you know, the penchant for putting out a rundown of the top this or that. It's discovering those dusty gems that you didn't even know existed.

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!"
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on July 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The title of this indispensable volume, grand as it is, only hints at the wonders therein. What is presented here, under the careful editorship of author David Morrell and literary critic Hank Wagner, is a collection of essays by a veritable Who's Who of thriller authors and reviewers. Each essay concerns a classic work of the thriller genre, arranged in chronological order by publication. So it is that the book begins with a thoughtful discourse upon THESUS AND THE MINOTAUR, from 1500 B.C., written by Lee Child, and ends with Steve Berry's tribute to THE DA VINCI CODE by Dan Brown, published in 2003.

Both of these contributions, as well as the other 98 essays that comprise THRILLERS: 100 MUST-READS, are relatively short (a few pages each) and do exactly what needs to be done, which is to send the reader to new and, in some cases, unexpected places. There is a touch of continuity that flows from essay to essay: each includes some biographical information about the subject, backstory on the creation of the book, a summary and commentary concerning the book (and establishing its bona fides for listing), and some personal comments about what the book has meant to the author of the essay. The selection of titles is excellent, while the pairing of each book with each essayist is in all cases thoughtful and, in some, the stuff of genius. Think of J. A. Konrath writing about THE GREEN RIPPER by John MacDonald, or COMA examined by C.J. Lyons, or Lee Child's KILLING FLOOR discussed by Marcus Sakey, and you'll get the idea.

Those of us who have enjoyed a steady diet of the genre will find some of the books included here familiar, either by acquaintance or reputation. There are also titles on the list of which you may never have heard. All the better.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By R. Fountain on June 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Thrillers: 100 Must Reads presents as a summer reading list on steroids. Chosen for the impact each book had on the thriller genre, various authors were invited to write essays analyzing the importance of the work.

From Homer's The Illiad and the Odyssey and standard classics like Beowulf and Robinson Crusoe, Thrillers: 100 Must Reads takes you from Lee Child's Theseus and the Minotaur circa 1500 B.C. to Dan Brown's 2003 mega-hit The Da Vinci Code.

The essays highlight the essence of each book in regards to such matters as: influence, ground-breaking subject matter and enduring appeal--such as Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, which is just as relevant now as it was in 1938.

Most of the essays were well-done, succeeding in extolling the virtues of the represented works. However, a few didn't quite manage to capture the spirit of the book, nor pique my interest enough to read it--in theory.

Although I shamefully admit to only reading 12 of the 100 chosen titles (so far), the Thriller collection is the perfect opportunity to re-visit some old favorites, remember ones you forgot and perhaps make a few new discoveries.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Swystun on January 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book delivers value in many ways. I enjoyed it for its main purpose of introducing or re-introducing great works. Each contribution or review provides a biography of the author, a short essay on their selected book's impact, and suggested additional reads from that author. Further, the authors who did these reviews are given some airtime enticing the reader to give them a try as well.

So, in short, this is a catalogue or brochure that has helped me set up a fairly long "must read" list as I have only read 24 of the 100 included. Given that many have been made into movies (many more than once), you may have tricked yourself like me into believing you read the actual book.

Thrillers covers some classics like Beowulf, MacBeth, Robinson Crusoe, and The Last of the Mohicans ("Replace the tomahawk, bow and arrow, and the muskets with sniper rifles, Uzis, and Glocks, and the plot could have been conjured up by any of today's most successful thriller writers"). It is organized chronologically moving from Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White, credited with inventing the modern thriller to Conrad's Heart of Darkness to Fearing's The Big Clock and ending with Brown's The Da Vinci Code.

There are great stories and facts in each contribution including Douglas Preston copping to the purloining of Count Fosco for his and Lincoln Child's Brimstone (I love their whole Pendergast series), learning that Jules Verne imagined the Fax machine, aerial warfare, walking on the moon, camera phones, and text messaging long in advance of their actual introductions, and given my day job on Madison Avenue it was interesting to know that King Solomon's Mines benefited from a modern-style advertising and marketing campaign using billboards and posters.
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