Today, we’ve compiled a list of the 20 best political thriller books ever written. These include some classics, some relatively modern stories and span a multitude of settings and plots.
List of 20 Best Political Thriller Books Ever Written:
- While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams
- Black Ice by Brad Thor
- House of Cards by Michael Dobbs
- November Road by Lou Berney
- The Parallax View by Loren Singer
- The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson
- 1984 by George Orwell
- The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth
- Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le Carre
- The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon
- Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews
- The Devil May Dance by Jake Tapper
- The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy
- Dark Horse by Kenneth Ackerman
- 11/22/63 by Stephen King
- Native Speaker by Chang-Rae Lee
- All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
- Too Bad to Die by Francine Mathews
- The Quiet American by Graham Greene
- It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis
While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams
This superb and intelligent novel follows the life of Avery, a law clerk to Justice Wynn. When Wynn falls seriously ill, he nominates Avery as his power of attorney. Now Avery must fill his ginormous shoes and deal with conspiracies and dangerous people to find the truth.
Black Ice by Brad Thor
This book follows the brilliant American spy, Scot Harvath, as he is torn between his life of pleasure in the Norwegian fjords and his duty back in the US. When he sees a man he personally killed get out of a taxi, knows something is amiss and must get back to work.
House of Cards by Michael Dobbs
Now a popular TV show, this is the story of Francis Urquhart. He knows all dirty secrets of the US politics and is willing to betray them to become the Prime Minister. Meanwhile, political correspondent Mattie Storin comes across a scandal that she must expose in order to preserve her integrity.
November Road by Lou Berney
This historical fiction centres on the biggest political event of the 20th century – the assassination of John F Kennedy. It follows Frank Guidry, who knows way too much about the assassination, and must be on the run if he wants to save his life.
The Parallax View by Loren Singer
This speculative fiction is another book that deals with the sensational murder of president John F Kennedy and the mysterious murders that followed. Several people involved directly or indirectly the investigation died or disappeared, and Singer reveals her speculations.
The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson
This landmark book was written by the honourable president Clinton and the brilliant thriller writer Patterson. It begins with a tense atmosphere in America, with various political and military threats looming on the horizon. The president becomes a suspect and goes missing, and the thriller that ensues is a work of immense intelligence.
1984 by George Orwell
Perhaps the original political thriller, Orwell’s dystopia follows a totalitarian world where the government has erased history and dictated every action of its citizens. The world love has been banned, and language has been altered. The story follows Winston Smith, who becomes aware of the government policy and decides to butcher it.
The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth
This is a novel about the English assassin, the Jackal, hired by OAS to kill the French president Charles de Gaulle. Gaulle is the most heavily guarded man on earth and the assassin is the most secretive man in the world. The battle that ensues is chilling.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le Carre
This modern classic is a war of wits between George Smiley and Soviet double agent Karla. This espionage novel will keep you at the edge of your seats for sure.
The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon
This novel is not just a spy thriller but also a dark comedy. It follows Sgt Raymond Shaw, who is a hero who saved his battalion but also an assassin. Brainwashing has made him convince people he is their saviour, when he is the one who killed them. A terrifying novel about conditioning and mind control, this will blow your mind away.
Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews
This follows the Russian Intelligence Officer Dominika Erogova who is forced to become a Sparrow – a trained seductress to Nathaniel Nash of the CIA. As their battle begins, circumstances raise the stakes and things become increasingly complex.
The Devil May Dance by Jake Tapper
This novel follows the political bigshots of the 1960s Charlie and Margaret Marder who now wish to retire. But the attorney general informs them of a security threat to not just the president but also the country and they’re pulled into a dangerous web of power and lies.
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy
This classic historical fiction is the story of the elusive Englishman, the Scarlet Pimpernel. He rescues French aristocrats from the guillotine during the French Revoution and brings them to safety across the channel. But ultimately, it is his beautiful French wife who will unknowingly betray him.
Dark Horse by Kenneth Ackerman
In this non-fiction novel, Ackerman has reconstructed the political landscape at the time of James Garfield’s presidency. Although this is based on true events, it reads like a thriller as it talks of Garfield’s election and assassination.
11/22/63 by Stephen King
This follows Jake Epping’s unconventional life as an English teacher. His student Harry’s essay informs him of the terrible murders Harry’s father committed – of his mother, brother and sister. Jack’s friend the informs him that his storeroom is a portal to the year 1958. Jack must now go back in time to stop Kennedy’s assassination and save his student’s family.
Native Speaker by Chang-Rae Lee
This story of cultural alienation is also the story of Henry part, a man of Korean American descent who finds himself neither here nor there. When he is enlisted to spy on a Korean American, his finds himself divided in two. The story that follows is an exploration of his crisis and a spy thriller.
All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
This classic is a story set in the Depression Era, and deals with the themes of politics, power and corruption. It follows Willie Stark, Louisiana’s governor and Jack Burden, his press agent with a troubled conscience.
Too Bad to Die by Francine Mathews
This is in the Tehran Conference of November 1943 when Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt and Josef Stalin meet to finalize the D-Day Invasion. However someone tips Intelligence Officer Ian Fleming that Hitler’s assassin has entered the convention, and Fleming goes undercover. The story that follows is a chilling thriller.
The Quiet American by Graham Greene
This novel follows Alden Pyle, a man sent from the US to Vietnam on a mission and Fowler, the narrator and British press correspondent. The story combines literary fiction, historical fiction, politics and thriller narratives brilliantly.
It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis
Lewis’ brilliant writing exposes how vulnerable democracy is, and hoe fascism could grasp America in its stifling hands. Lewis wrote this during the Great Depression, but this haunting story remains relevant till date.
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