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Thriller novels, with their heart-pumping excitement and unpredictable twists, are a top choice among fiction enthusiasts. These fast-paced tales immerse the reader in a world of danger and mystery, where the stakes are high and tension is palpable. Thrillers have been a popular genre for decades, appealing to a diverse audience of all ages and backgrounds.

Thrillers come in all shapes and sizes, encompassing a wide range of subgenres – from political to psychological, spy to legal.

What is a Thriller?

The thriller genre revolves around stories that generate a feeling of suspense, danger, and mystery. They are fast-paced and suspenseful, featuring characters in precarious situations on a quest to unravel a mystery or achieve a goal. With strong central protagonists and powerful antagonists, thrillers often incorporate elements of crime, detective fiction, horror, and science fiction. Thrillers can also include romantic and psychological suspense, and can be set in a variety of places, times, and genres – from historical fiction to medical, political, or classic crime.

Are Thrillers Scary?

Some readers might assume that thrillers are frightening, but this is a matter of interpretation. Thrillers may contain elements of horror, but their primary focus is on suspense and tension. Though thrillers can be frightening, they can also be thrilling and exciting without being overly scary. The key to making a thriller truly frightening is the element of surprise – a twist or unexpected plot point can make the entire book more intense and captivating.

Thrillers come in all shapes and sizes, encompassing a wide range of subgenres - from political to psychological, spy to legal.
The growth of technology and the rise of digital media have also led to the creation of new forms of thrillers, such as cyber-thrillers and tech-thrillers, which explore the dangers and consequences of technology.

The answer is a resounding YES! Thrillers are extremely popular, with millions of books sold each year. A report by the Publishers Association states that in 2020, thrillers were the second-most popular genre in the UK, with a market share of 14.3%. In the United States, Nielsen BookScan reports that thrillers represented 8.8% of all print book sales in 2020. A 2020 survey by the Codex Group found that thrillers were the second-most popular genre among ebook readers, with 21% of respondents reporting that they had read a thriller in the past year. Thrillers continue to grow in popularity, with surveys indicating that 45.3% of romance readers in the US prefer thrillers and that thrillers account for 11.7% of all book sales in the US.

The History and Nature of Thriller Novels

Thriller fiction has a rich history of captivating readers with tales of suspense, danger, and mystery. Dating back to the 19th century, thrillers began gaining traction with novels such as Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone (1868), Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw (1898), and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories (1890-1927). In the 1920s and 1930s, Agatha Christie’s detective novels, such as The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926) and The ABC Murders (1935), helped establish the thriller genre. The 1940s saw the rise of film noir, with Citizen Kane (1941) and Double Indemnity (1944) serving as examples of the genre. In the 1950s, Alfred Hitchcock solidified his reputation as the master of suspense with films like The Birds (1963) and Psycho (1960). Over time, authors such as Stephen King and James Patterson introduced more complex elements, incorporating bits of mystery, horror, and science fiction into their stories.Today, modern thrillers feature multiple protagonists and antagonists, making them even more unpredictable.

In the 21st century, thrillers continue to be popular in the form of books, films, and TV shows, with many best-selling authors such as Gillian Flynn, Dan Brown, and Lee Child creating popular works in the genre. The growth of technology and the rise of digital media have also led to the creation of new forms of thrillers, such as cyber-thrillers and tech-thrillers, which explore the dangers and consequences of technology. The thriller genre continues to evolve, offering new and exciting ways for readers to experience the thrill of danger, suspense, and mystery.

Reasons for Thriller’s Popularity

Why are thrillers so popular in the US, you ask? The unpredictability of their suspenseful nature keeps readers on the edge of their seat, hooked by unexpected twists and turns that keep them guessing. The myriad of characters, each with their own unique motives and involvement in the story, fuels the fire of intrigue.

But wait, there’s more! Thrillers come in all shapes and sizes, encompassing a wide range of subgenres – from political to psychological, spy to legal. This diversity caters to a broad spectrum of readers, ensuring that everyone can find a book that ignites their passion. And let’s not forget the primal fear of danger and the unknown that thrills tap into. These high-stakes, nail-biting situations are a heart-pumping adrenaline rush that keeps readers entranced.

Top Selling Thriller Novels of All Time

Another of the questions that many readers ask when they want to choose a good thriller is which are the best sellers in history. However, and despite the fact that we are talking about a number -copies sold- there is no agreement on this issue. Thus, below is a list that brings together the most mentioned thrillers by different sources, in no particular order:

1. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (2006)
2. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris (1991)
3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (2012)
5. Blue Moon by Lee Child (2019)
6. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts (2005)
7.  Faithless in Death by D. J. Robb (2021)
8. The Stand by Stephen King (1978)
9. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (1939)
10. The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith (1955)

Other popular thriller authors are James Patterson, Harlan Coben, Michael Crichton, David Baldacci, Stieg Larsson, Robert Ludlum, Tom Clancy, Dean Koontz and John Grisham.

The enduring popularity of thriller fiction is a testament to its alluring blend of mystery, suspense, and danger. With each new iteration, authors challenge the limits of the genre, delving into uncharted territory while maintaining its core elements of danger and suspense. From Agatha Christie’s timeless detective novels to Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpieces of suspense to contemporary powerhouses like Dan Brown and Harlan Coben, thrillers continue to thrill audiences with unpredictable twists and edge-of-your-seat excitement. The genre remains a literary rollercoaster that keeps readers guessing until the very end.

Would you like to read more reviews of thriller novels? We ask because here at Pick Best Book, we are feeling very thrillery, so we may read and review more of these books. What do you think?

## Sources

– “A Quick History of the Thriller Genre.” The Writers Store,

“Thriller Novels: What Are They?” Book Riot, .

– “The Top 5 Best-Selling Thriller Novels Of All Time.” Bookstr,.

“The 110 Best Thriller, Crime and Suspense Novels of All Time” 

– “16 best Thriller Books of all time (seriously)

– “20 Best-Selling Thriller Books of All Time

– “The 10 Best Selling Thriller Books of All-Time”

How to Write a Thriller

Writing a thriller requires a skillful combination of suspense, tension, and surprise to keep the reader engaged and captivated. The writer must create a protagonist that is relatable to the reader and also give them a challenging situation that will drive the plot forward. The antagonist must also be well-crafted and serve as a worthy adversary.

One key element is the pacing – a thriller should be fast-paced, with a consistent level of tension that keeps the reader guessing until the very end. The writer must also be strategic with the placement of clues and foreshadowing, building up to the climax of the story. Ultimately, writing a thrilling story requires careful planning, a strong sense of pacing and tension, and an ability to surprise the reader with unexpected twists and turns.

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