Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads

Edited by David Morrell & Hank Wagner, Oceanview (Midpoint, dist.), $27.95 (400p) ISBN 978-1-933515-56-4
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)
Reviewed on: 05/03/2010
Release date: 07/01/2010
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 378 pages - 978-1-60809-040-2
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