I use the term “political thriller” loosely, and mean it to include books that touch upon American politics, espionage, international intrigue, and so on.
Here are my top five:
The Day of the Jackal, by Frederick Forsyth. I’ve probably read this book more times than any other. The pacing is perfect. The story brims with authenticity. Suspenseful to the final page.
Shelley’s Heart, by Charles McCarry. Many spy novelists revel in moral ambiguity. (I’m looking at you, John Le Carre.) McCarry is the exact opposite. This is his best book. It lays bare the corruption and hypocrisies of Washington, D.C.
The Shot, by Philip Kerr. The head-spinning plot twist midway through isn’t the best part of this novel, set in the JFK era. The best part is the ending. Wow.
Fatherland, by Robert Harris. An extraordinary crime novel set in alternate-history Berlin, after the Nazis won the Second World War.
Seven Days in May, by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II. The politics are left-of-center–the plot features an attempted right-wing coup from within the military against a pacifist president–but the story is engrossing and well-told.
What are your favorite thrillers? Join the conversation in the comments section.