Excellent, recently-published, character-driven thriller?

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gtanders

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Does anyone know of such a book? I typically read and write SFF but would like to tighten the pacing of my WIP along the lines of a thriller.

If anyone has recommendations, I appreciate it!
 

dickson

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Does anyone know of such a book? I typically read and write SFF but would like to tighten the pacing of my WIP along the lines of a thriller.

If anyone has recommendations, I appreciate it!
This might not quite fit the bill for you, but recently I’ve been thinking fondly of Adam Sternbergh’s The Blinds. It doesn’t fit easily into a neat genre box, and came out in 2017, but it is a character-driven psychological thriller I enjoyed greatly.

ETA: It was only after hitting ‘post’ that it occurred to me you might be looking for something non-SFF. I can, however, say the SFF element is unlike anything else I can remember reading.
 
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gtanders

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The Blinds. It doesn’t fit easily into a neat genre box, and came out in 2017, but it is a character-driven psychological thriller I enjoyed greatly.

...you might be looking for something non-SFF.

Thanks Dickson! SFF is fine. Anything thrillerish. Thank you, I'll check this out.
 

Elle.

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I'm going to be that person and recommend my book. I don't know about excellent but it's a slow-born character-driven thriller. If you click on my website link you can find the details and blurb (available at the usual retailers).

Otherwise I can also recommend Chris Whitaker's novels although more crime than thriller, but very character-driven. Also psychological thriller/horror is CJ Tudor The Burning Girls.
 

Brigid Barry

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Any particular reason why it would need to be recent? If you're looking for inspiration vs comps age shouldn't matter, or am I ignorant and things have changed that dramatically when it comes to pacing?

Michael Crichton's timeline is a technothriller, as is Next. They both (Next more than timeline) to throw a LOT of information at you but not suck at the pacing. Another good one is Deception Point by Dan Brown.

ETA: Sorry, none of these are character driven. Fail.
 
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Tocotin

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I really liked Black Widows by Cate Quinn. It was published in 2021, and it's a thriller/murder mystery set in the LDS community (the black widows of the title are three wives of one man who is murdered at the beginning of the story).

:troll
 
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lorna_w

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From the 2021 Edgar Award Nominees.
The Distant Dead, Heather Young. Literary, sad.
Winter Counts David Heska Wanbli Weiden. A rare mystery novel about native Americans by a native American. First novel, so it has some flaws, imo, but the main character is done brilliantly. The GF character, I didn't believe much.
2020 Edgars:
The Stranger Diaries by Ellie Griffiths. (pen name and it won the top Edgar for its year)

All definitely strong with characters.

And if you can bear ghosts, my favorite 2022 book so far, The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James. Shea is a murderino with a website, a childhood experience of crime, and she runs into a woman who was arrested and tried for an unsolved murder, years after the crime. And investigates...

2022 edgar noms are out, but I'm reading for my new genre and probably won't get there until winter.
 
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Jazz Club

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I don't know if you'd think it's excellent but I'm reading it right now and enjoying it. It's pretty recent and character-driven, which is what you want. Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben.
 
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gtanders

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Thank you all! I knew AW would have great recs. :)

@Woollybear --good point. The agent has a few recent thriller sales. Added to the list!

@Brigid Barry --I have this (weird?) stipulation that anything I read for craft purposes has to be written in close POV. Not that you can't find older books that do that, but (forgive the massive generalization) it seems to be more important to the market now. I've found that newer books tend to have the close POV "feel" that I'm trying to achieve. I don't want to muddy my brain with anything else.

Thanks again everyone!
 

ironmikezero

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Think a police procedural might meet your needs?
DIRE COVENANTS is mine. PM me for a free e-copy.
 

Janine R

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I'm going to be that person and recommend my book. I don't know about excellent but it's a slow-born character-driven thriller. If you click on my website link you can find the details and blurb (available at the usual retailers).

Otherwise I can also recommend Chris Whitaker's novels although more crime than thriller, but very character-driven. Also psychological thriller/horror is CJ Tudor The Burning Girls.
Just got. Opening pages look great
 

Janine R

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You’re lucky you can enjoy from afar!
I’m only a quarter of the way through because of interruptions from family obligations. Some beautiful writing and the first person for her, third person for him structure is brilliant. We know we aren’t getting everything in his mind plus there’s the focused sense of being watched when it’s third person. So clever.

Okay, I'm half way through and have decided that, charming as they are, I'm not going to invite Ellie and Steven to stay at the cottage with me.
 
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Elle.

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I’m only a quarter of the way through because of interruptions from family obligations. Some beautiful writing and the first person for her, third person for him structure is brilliant. We know we aren’t getting everything in his mind plus there’s the focused sense of being watched when it’s third person. So clever.

Okay, I'm half way through and have decided that, charming as they are, I'm not going to invite Ellie and Steven to stay at the cottage with me.

No spoilers here, but it's not going to get better.
 
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Janine R

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Haha… have you finished it?
Yes, that‘s what’s been keeping me up, staying up late to finish it and then not daring to go to sleep. It’s very well done. Some of the ways you control language are beautiful and you turn these characters inside out. It’s hard to do and you do it seemingly effortlessly.
 

Elle.

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Yes, that‘s what’s been keeping me up, staying up late to finish it and then not daring to go to sleep. It’s very well done. Some of the ways you control language are beautiful and you turn these characters inside out. It’s hard to do and you do it seemingly effortlessly.
Thank you so much, that means a lot to me! Unbelievable what 14 drafts can do! Haha...
 

Janine R

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Thank you so much, that means a lot to me! Unbelievable what 14 drafts can do! Haha...
All that hard work paid off. It’s a very smooth read. Here’s wishing you every success with this. Hopefully the reviews will be rolling in.
 
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