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Old 06-11-2014, 11:58 PM
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Reccomend me long literary action/thriller novels


I'm currently on page 957 of Neal Stephenson's "Reamde", and I must say that on the whole it has been a very good book.

So, what I would like to know is, what other long 600, 700+ literary Action/Thriller novels.

I would like to be long and a real page turner!

Thanks for any help!
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Old 06-12-2014, 08:25 AM
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Gary Jennings's Aztec is a big, sprawling historical novel set against the last days of the Aztec empire, just before and during the Spanish conquistadores' arrival. Lots of sex, human sacrifice, adventure, diplomacy, sex, court intrigue, war, sex, family drama, exploration and - oh, yeah - sex.

Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is a big, dense, deeply engaging novel about the return of magic to Regency England. Someone likened it to a Harry Potter book written by Jane Austen, which isn't far off the mark. Not as action- or -sex-packed as Aztec, but still well worth a read.

Two very different but very good books.
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Old 06-12-2014, 10:21 AM
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Thanks, just the type of thing I had in mind, much appreciated!
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Old 06-12-2014, 02:17 PM
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The Count of Monte Cristo?
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Old 06-12-2014, 03:55 PM
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I suppose you've considered Tom Clancy novels and the sprawling, absurd techno-thrillers of Clive Cussler (and his co-author du jour) or of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Childs.


My favorites were Frederick Forsythe. A little shorter than you request, but infinitely better researched and likely. His Day of the Jackal and The Odessa File are classics. And I think The Devil's Alternative is unjustly neglected. It's dated now, but still a good read, and at 480 pages almost fits your criteria.

Look at his more recent books, too, although I think his earlier books are his best.
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Old 06-12-2014, 03:58 PM
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Sidney Sheldon's Master of the Game.
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Old 06-12-2014, 04:07 PM
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I'll mention Stephenson's Cryptonomicon and the books of his Baroque Cycle, just in case you haven't read them yet.
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Old 06-12-2014, 04:54 PM
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The original Bourne books are worth reading, too. If you're only familiar with the films, they'll seem dated (I love the scene in, I think, the first one, where attempting to place a trans-Atlantic phone call becomes a daring Oceans Eleven-type plot), but I think they hold up.
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Old 06-12-2014, 05:13 PM
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Clive Cussler's Raise the Titanic! and Vixen 03 aren't especially long, but are great modern adventure yarns with a nautical spin.
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Old 06-12-2014, 06:06 PM
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Gary Jennings's Aztec is a big, sprawling historical novel set against the last days of the Aztec empire, just before and during the Spanish conquistadores' arrival. Lots of sex, human sacrifice, adventure, diplomacy, sex, court intrigue, war, sex, family drama, exploration and - oh, yeah - sex.

Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is a big, dense, deeply engaging novel about the return of magic to Regency England. Someone likened it to a Harry Potter book written by Jane Austen, which isn't far off the mark. Not as action- or -sex-packed as Aztec, but still well worth a read.

Two very different but very good books.
Another recommendation for Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell from me. A wonderful book.
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Old 06-12-2014, 06:10 PM
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You said "literary" and "action" well ... how much more literary can you get than "The Stress of Her Regard" by Tim Powers? Lord Byron and Shelley vs. vampires, but vampires that are like NOTHING you have seen in other stories on the topic, and Powers does his usual superlative job of researching the characters and the times and bringing them to life.
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Old 06-12-2014, 06:17 PM
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Gary Jennings's Aztec is a big, sprawling historical novel set against the last days of the Aztec empire, just before and during the Spanish conquistadores' arrival. Lots of sex, human sacrifice, adventure, diplomacy, sex, court intrigue, war, sex, family drama, exploration and - oh, yeah - sex.
And all of Jennings' historical novels are similar -- even Spangle, which is about a circus! (A circus touring 19th-Century Europe, so there's lots to work with.)
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Old 06-12-2014, 09:57 PM
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You said "literary" and "action" well ... how much more literary can you get than "The Stress of Her Regard" by Tim Powers?
The Count of Monte Cristo, that's how much more literary you can get. I mean, I like Tim Powers and all, but The Count of Monte Motherfucking Cristo is IMO the best adventure novel ever written. Anyone with any interest in this sort of thing needs to track it down, set aside a comfortable several days, and read it. It's astonishingly good--not only is the plotting brilliant and the characters fascinating, but there's also a wonderful thread of vengeance and redemption running through it that's lost in lesser works.

Depending on your tolerance for nineteenth century prose, though, it might not be a page-turner for you. There are long sections of the book in which things move slowly.
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Old 06-13-2014, 12:48 AM
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Clive Cussler's Raise the Titanic! and Vixen 03 aren't especially long, but are great modern adventure yarns with a nautical spin.
I'm sorry, have to disagree. If the OP mentions the word 'literary', Cussler is automatically disqualified. His plots move, but his writing is truly awful.
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Old 06-13-2014, 10:13 AM
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Yeah, fair point. By the way, did you know that your every move is being televised?
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Old 06-13-2014, 10:18 AM
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The Count of Monte Cristo, that's how much more literary you can get. I mean, I like Tim Powers and all, but The Count of Monte Motherfucking Cristo is IMO the best adventure novel ever written.
The Count of Monte Cristo might be Original Gangsta adventure fiction, so much so that it's now considered literature by some, but it doesn't have Lord Frickin' Byron and Percy Frickin' Bysshe Shelly as its protagonists, now, does it? All it's got is some no-account English count!

Last edited by Evil Captor; 06-13-2014 at 10:19 AM.
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Old 06-13-2014, 10:33 AM
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Yeah, fair point. By the way, did you know that your every move is being televised?
What? You must have me confused with someone else who looks vaguely similar. I'm just a small-town type who never goes anywhere.
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Old 06-13-2014, 03:21 PM
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I've never read any Ken Follett, so I don't know whether any of his novels (a) fit the criteria the OP is looking for, and (b) are any good. I can, however, recommend his lecture on the history of the thriller, available for viewing at his website here, to anyone who has an interest in thriller novels.
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Old 06-13-2014, 04:07 PM
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Have you considered Clavell's Shogun?

If you're looking for long-ass SF, some of L. Ron Hubbard's works might do. Not the most literary works in the world, but could be pretty fun if you want starships and blasters and more starships. E.g. Battlefield Earth.

It's not quite so long, but you might like King Solomon's Mines. It's one of the prototypical "Adventure Novels" and is frequently subject to homage.
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Old 06-13-2014, 06:16 PM
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A longish literary action thriller novel might be John le Carre's The Little Drummer Girl
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Old 06-13-2014, 06:36 PM
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You said "literary" and "action" well ... how much more literary can you get than "The Stress of Her Regard" by Tim Powers? Lord Byron and Shelley vs. vampires, but vampires that are like NOTHING you have seen in other stories on the topic, and Powers does his usual superlative job of researching the characters and the times and bringing them to life.
This sounded interesting so I checked the public library - nothing by this guy, at all. The CPL kills me sometimes.
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Old 06-13-2014, 06:42 PM
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You said "literary" and "action" well ... how much more literary can you get than "The Stress of Her Regard" by Tim Powers? Lord Byron and Shelley vs. vampires, but vampires that are like NOTHING you have seen in other stories on the topic, and Powers does his usual superlative job of researching the characters and the times and bringing them to life.
First, I always appreciate it when someone provides a link, so thanks. Second, I've read this, and it's a weird, wonderful book. I'm also a fan of his Declare.
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Old 06-13-2014, 06:48 PM
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A longish literary action thriller novel might be John le Carre's The Little Drummer Girl
Taken as a whole, the Smiley stuff definitely counts as a long and literary thriller.

Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose is worth a look for you, I think.
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Old 06-13-2014, 06:51 PM
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I've never read any Ken Follett, so I don't know whether any of his novels (a) fit the criteria the OP is looking for, and (b) are any good.
Ugh. No - at least not his historical fiction ones. I really didn't like... Hang on... WHAT?

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If you're looking for long-ass SF, some of L. Ron Hubbard's works might do. Not the most literary works in the world, but could be pretty fun if you want starships and blasters and more starships. E.g. Battlefield Earth.
NO! NOOOO!! NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

Please for the love of all that is good and right in the world, DO NOT READ THAT SERIES!! It is the literary equivalent of The Human Centipede. Not the movie "The Human Centipede", but the actual, literal human centipede. If you extended it out to fourteen thousand people, and took what came out of person #14,000, and smeared it onto a wad of poor unsuspecting paper, I'd much rather cuddle up with that than a single paragraph of Mission Earth.
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Old 06-13-2014, 06:57 PM
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Ugh. No - at least not his historical fiction ones. I really didn't like... Hang on... WHAT?



NO! NOOOO!! NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

Please for the love of all that is good and right in the world, DO NOT READ THAT SERIES!! It is the literary equivalent of The Human Centipede. Not the movie "The Human Centipede", but the actual, literal human centipede. If you extended it out to fourteen thousand people, and took what came out of person #14,000, and smeared it onto a wad of poor unsuspecting paper, I'd much rather cuddle up with that than a single paragraph of Mission Earth.
I liked the first half of Pillars of the Earth. The second half just turned into melodramatic, soap opera claptrap. Who'd have guessed Medieval men and women could be so thoroughly enlightened and modern.
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Old 06-13-2014, 07:03 PM
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A longish literary action thriller novel might be John le Carre's The Little Drummer Girl
Ooh, good one. John Le Carre writes excellent literary thrillers, as long as you're okay with the fact that when you finish the last chapter you're going to crawl under your bed and whimper for like two days before you can face the world again.
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The Count of Monte Cristo might be Original Gangsta adventure fiction, so much so that it's now considered literature by some, but it doesn't have Lord Frickin' Byron and Percy Frickin' Bysshe Shelly as its protagonists, now, does it? All it's got is some no-account English count!
Y'know, I love me some Tim Powers, so it pains me to hear you set him against Dumas. It's like, Muhammad Ali is a great fighter, until you compare him to a velociraptor.

Declare isn't 600 pages long, but it's far and away my favorite work by Powers. The last quarter of the book was among the most exciting things I've ever read.
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Old 06-13-2014, 08:02 PM
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I loved Quincunx by Charles Palliser. Long, literary, and very suspenseful.
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Old 06-14-2014, 09:47 AM
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I thought Les Miserables was a page-turner and it certainly was long. YMMV.
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Old 06-14-2014, 10:05 AM
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Ooh, good one. John Le Carre writes excellent literary thrillers, as long as you're okay with the fact that when you finish the last chapter you're going to crawl under your bed and whimper for like two days before you can face the world again.
Y'know, I love me some Tim Powers, so it pains me to hear you set him against Dumas. It's like, Muhammad Ali is a great fighter, until you compare him to a velociraptor.

Declare isn't 600 pages long, but it's far and away my favorite work by Powers. The last quarter of the book was among the most exciting things I've ever read.
"Declare" is my favorite work by Powers, too. And while it's not 600 pages long, it's plenty long enough, and it's kind of dense in the sense that there's a lot to it. It's Powers' masterwork IMHO. The reason I nominated "Stress" and not "Declare' is that "Declare" does not strike me as all that "literary" in tone ... it's got a Cold War spy thriller edge with supernatural overtones ... what literary qualities it has are purely the quality of the writing, which is topnotch by any standard.

As for the Dumas/Powers comparison ... come on, not a serious comparison. It's like I'm saying that "Count" would have been better if Dumas had made Shakespeare the protagonist.

Hmmmmm ...
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Old 06-14-2014, 03:00 PM
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I'm also a fan of his Declare.
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Declare isn't 600 pages long, but it's far and away my favorite work by Powers. The last quarter of the book was among the most exciting things I've ever read.
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"Declare" is my favorite work by Powers, too. And while it's not 600 pages long, it's plenty long enough, and it's kind of dense in the sense that there's a lot to it. It's Powers' masterwork IMHO. The reason I nominated "Stress" and not "Declare' is that "Declare" does not strike me as all that "literary" in tone ... it's got a Cold War spy thriller edge with supernatural overtones ... what literary qualities it has are purely the quality of the writing, which is topnotch by any standard.

As for the Dumas/Powers comparison ... come on, not a serious comparison. It's like I'm saying that "Count" would have been better if Dumas had made Shakespeare the protagonist.

Hmmmmm ...
I'm hoping the OP is spotting the trend here...
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Old 06-14-2014, 05:57 PM
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Another classic suspense novel is An American Tragedy; just don't expect it to be all smiles and rainbows.
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Old 06-14-2014, 08:40 PM
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As for the Dumas/Powers comparison ... come on, not a serious comparison. It's like I'm saying that "Count" would have been better if Dumas had made Shakespeare the protagonist.
Sorry, I got whooshed (I was telling my wife derisively about the comparison earlier today, when I was suddenly all, "Hey, waitaminnit....")

Edit: That said, I just looked up Declare, and realized I was remembering the wrong book. Not only is it not my favorite, it's probably my least favorite Powers book, for reasons I don't entirely remember right now. Last Call was his work that I adored so much.

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Old 06-14-2014, 09:08 PM
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The Count of Monte Cristo might be Original Gangsta adventure fiction, so much so that it's now considered literature by some, but it doesn't have Lord Frickin' Byron and Percy Frickin' Bysshe Shelly as its protagonists, now, does it? All it's got is some no-account English count!
His countship was Italian and his nationality French.
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Old 06-14-2014, 09:33 PM
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Sorry, I got whooshed (I was telling my wife derisively about the comparison earlier today, when I was suddenly all, "Hey, waitaminnit....")

Edit: That said, I just looked up Declare, and realized I was remembering the wrong book. Not only is it not my favorite, it's probably my least favorite Powers book, for reasons I don't entirely remember right now. Last Call was his work that I adored so much.
Tease.
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Old 06-14-2014, 09:47 PM
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Stephen King's The Stand. The unexpurgated version. One of my favorite books.
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Old 06-14-2014, 09:49 PM
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You want sprawling? I highly recommend the Masters of Rome series by Maureen McCullough, best known as the author of The Thorn Birds, which I haven't read. But her seven Rome novels, of around a thousand pages each, cover the century of ancient Rome that gave us Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Julius Caesar, Marc Antony, and Augustus Caesar, along with non-Romans like Mithridates, Vercingetorix, Herod, Jugurtha, and Cleopatra. Lots of wars, lots of political intrigue, and lots of mostly accurate history.
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Old 06-14-2014, 10:18 PM
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His countship was Italian and his nationality French.
Details, details!
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Old 06-14-2014, 10:57 PM
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Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose is worth a look for you, I think.
Speaking of Eco, what about Foucault's Pendulum? I recommend reading it through, even if you feel confused at times, and then if you require a second reading, taking your time.
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Old 06-14-2014, 11:25 PM
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The work of Iain Pears may interest you. Both An Instance of the Fingerpost and Stone's Fall are long, involving stories cleverly told. Similarly The Dream of Scipio covers 3 historical periods but is not as long. His Jonathan Argyll series are of more conventional length.
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Old 06-15-2014, 09:53 AM
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Gary Jennings's Aztec is a big, sprawling historical novel set against the last days of the Aztec empire, just before and during the Spanish conquistadores' arrival. Lots of sex, human sacrifice, adventure, diplomacy, sex, court intrigue, war, sex, family drama, exploration and - oh, yeah - sex.
I'll second that and toss in Jenning's The Journeyer as well. Marco Polo's journey, and Elendil's Heir's description above pretty well covers this one as well.
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Old 06-15-2014, 04:20 PM
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The work of Iain Pears may interest you. Both An Instance of the Fingerpost and Stone's Fall are long, involving stories cleverly told. Similarly The Dream of Scipio covers 3 historical periods but is not as long. His Jonathan Argyll series are of more conventional length.
I second An Instance of the Fingerpost. Great novel.
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Old 06-15-2014, 04:56 PM
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Thirded
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Old 06-15-2014, 05:17 PM
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I second An Instance of the Fingerpost. Great novel.
Thirded. I adored it. Also Eco's The Name of the Rose, but I'm going to have to try again to read Foucalt's Pendulum. IIRC, I had a newborn the first time I tried, and just couldn't focus on the novel. And McCollough's Masters of Rome. I mostly like Ken Follett for quick, entertaining reading, but hated, hated hated Pillars of the Earth: stupid soap opera/morality tale set against the backdrop of a medieval construction project! (Which is a pity, because that had the potential to be interesting!) I also enjoy most of Leon Uris' work - definitely action-packed, but often heartbreaking.
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Old 06-15-2014, 07:25 PM
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Personally I'd class The Name of the Rose and Foucalt's Pendulum as literary mysteries rather than thrillers. I enjoyed them both very much, but everything else by Eco has left me cold.

The book I'm currently reading, Elizabeth Catton's The Luminaries, is in the same category I think. It's excellent thus far (I just finished the first part last night). I guess it's kind of like a cross between Deadwood and Foucalt's Pendulum. If it stays this good to the end I'll certainly recommend it.
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Old 06-15-2014, 07:42 PM
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Taken as a whole, the Smiley stuff definitely counts as a long and literary thriller.

Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose is worth a look for you, I think.
This and this.

Plus anything by Patrick O 'Brian.
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Old 06-15-2014, 07:43 PM
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You want sprawling? I highly recommend the Masters of Rome series by Maureen McCullough, best known as the author of The Thorn Birds, which I haven't read. But her seven Rome novels, of around a thousand pages each, cover the century of ancient Rome that gave us Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Julius Caesar, Marc Antony, and Augustus Caesar, along with non-Romans like Mithridates, Vercingetorix, Herod, Jugurtha, and Cleopatra. Lots of wars, lots of political intrigue, and lots of mostly accurate history.
Maureen McCullough? You mean Colleen, no?
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Old 06-15-2014, 07:51 PM
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Plus anything by Patrick O 'Brian.
Good shout. The Aubrey/Maturin novels combined are the very definition of a long literary action/thriller, plus a load of other stuff. Jane Austen, with more explosions, as someone wise once said.
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Old 06-15-2014, 08:08 PM
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I've never read any Ken Follett, so I don't know whether any of his novels (a) fit the criteria the OP is looking for, and (b) are any good.
I haven't read much of his later stuff, but the early novels "The Key To Rebecca" and "Eye Of The Needle" were both good reads.

Herman Wouk's "The Caine Mutiny" should fit the bill for the OP (the book is much better than the movie). It wasn't until recently that I found out that the story of the Caine (and especially the Captain Queeg character*) were heavily based on real life events and people.

*so much so (with an additional unflattering detail or two) that I'm surprised Wouk didn't get sued for defamation.
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Old 06-15-2014, 10:12 PM
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Maureen McCullough? You mean Colleen, no?
Sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of my palm smacking my forehead.
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Old 06-15-2014, 10:46 PM
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A couple of well-written alternate history thrillers: Fatherland by Robert Harris and Resurrection Day by Brendan DuBois.
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