Real Page Turners – books u can’t put down?

Sometimes, all I want to read is a good crime novel or thriller which is a real unputdownable page-turner. I’m sure many of you will have your favourites, but of course tastes vary (and mine may be severely lacking!). Do any of you have any suggestions, based on what the following tells you about my mindset?

Page turners I have loved: ‘Red Dragon’, ‘Silence of the Lambs’ (no, sorry, didn’t like ‘Hannibal’), most Frederick Forsyth especially ‘Jackal’ and ‘Fourth Protocol’. Most Truman Capote, especially ‘In Cold Blood’. ‘Eagle has landed’ by Jack Higgins was okay. I’m not a big Michael Crichton fan, but I did find ‘Disclosure’ a riveting read. I’ve tried one Grisham (‘Rainmaker’) but he didn’t do it for me, ditto one Robert Ludlum (can’t remember which) which likewise wasn’t really me.

Over to you…

Silence of the Lambs {SOTL) and *In Cold Blood (ICB) are fantastic. Seems you enjoy works that get into the characters’ heads a bit more than the typical book. My suggestion: [I[Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevski. I won’t say anything about the plot (that’s the author’s job, it irks me when some dust jacket jockey spoils a bit of the story. Kind of like the brother-in-law who buts in the middle of a joke) other than to say that I found it a fantastic unputdownable page-turning crime novel. Somewhat like ICB, there is no real mystery, but there is a horrid sense of the inevitable. And like SOTL you get taken on a psychological journey into the depths of man’s depravity. After reading this, you will understand why it is not hyperbole to refer to it as a Masterpiece. Just thinking about it gives me a bit of the shivers…

Anyone else want to back me up on this one?

I thought I was the only one who didn’t read this because I had to! I adore this book. It’s flawless. In the spirit of not ruining the plot, I won’t give details, but it’s a page-turner from beginning to end. I usually read it once a year or so; sometimes more if I have the time.

Anything by Michael Connelly is terrific. He writes detective novels, usually starring Harry Bosch, and they drive me crazy. Years of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys have given me excellent detective skills - most of the time I solve a mystery novel 150 pages into it. But Connelly always surprises the hell out of me. My favorite of his is “The Poet,” a non-Bosch novel. I was floored by the ending. It’s gruesome and thrilling.

Steven Barnes is excellent too. I recommend “Blood Brothers” and “Iron Shadows”; I’m almost done the latter right now. Kind of creepy, widely varying plots.

Gloria Naylor has the incredible talent to tell beautiful stories that are page-turners as well. She never compromises her characters or the vivid imagery, but her books grab you by the throat and you just can’t put them down. “Mama Day” is my favorite, and “Bailey’s Cafe” is great too.

Tami Hoag writes terribly gruesome, realistic, scary books, and they also have the romance angle too. In between serial rapists and decapitated corpses, society princess Laural is ravaged in a different way by the studly, handsome loner from the wrong side of the tracks. Usually the romantic stuff is only 10% of the plot, though, and I usually know who did it within 100 pages or so. But her books are definitely page-turners.
And finally, Dean Koontz is excellent at the thriller/page-turner genre, but he’s an acquired taste. “Intensity” is a good example of this; if you like it, read some more. The whole time I was screaming “What the fuck are you doing!” to the main character, but I could not walk away from it, even though I was scared to walk in my basement for weeks after.
Hope that helps! :slight_smile:

I know these don’t qualify as ordinary thrillers or cop novels, but…

Anything by David Gemmell. Hardcore dark fantasy. Brooding, badass heroes. Tough, gorgeous women. Powerful, stylish villians. Gemmell’s prose is tight and his stories are a real treat. I’ve devoured many of them in less than a day’s rewarding work.

Of Mice and Men and The Old Man and the Sea

Both were gripping for different reasons, Of Mice and Men was very much about characters you could relate to, and The Old Man and the Sea just had so much to offer on so many levels and was one of the first books I actually saw multiple meanings in, much to my own amazement.

Also on a lighter note, Big Trouble by Dave Barry was unbelievebly funny, and I couldn’t put the thing down, I read it in one sitting.

And on a Strange Note…Have a Nice Day : A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks by professional wrestler Mick Foley, I read this and was actually impressed by the man’s intelligence and wit.

Thomas Harris- anything…(well any of the four novels) to his name.

Ira Levin- Stepford Wives in particular. Plus Rosemary’s Baby, Boys from Brazil…This Perfect Day, too. Almost anything.

In Cold Blood, yeah that was a good one.

Pet Sematary, and the Shining.

Rebecca, The Scapegoat, My Cousin Rachel.

The Hounds of the Baskervilles.

Page-turners are dying out, it seems. Plot and pace are taking second place to characterization and atmosphere. Feh. :slight_smile:

David Martin writes page-turners. Lie to Me, Bring Me Children, Tap Tap. His newest is in the TBR pile, Pelikan. Anyone read it yet?

Thomas Thompson’s “Celebrity” is responsible for my kids getting all wrinkled one day. I took it along to the pool at Lincoln Park in Seattle, and couldn’t put it down. Made the kids stay in the pool till I finished it, cuz I knew once we got home, it’d be dinner and laundry and phone calls. Now I don’t even remember what it was about.

For pure can’t-put-it-down narrative drive, a few of my favorites are:

Thomas Perry: consistently intelligent, absorbing reads. A few titles are same-character, e.g Face Changers, Shadow Woman and Dance for the Dead etc., with a young Native American woman who helps people “disappear”. Very action driven, well-researched and well-etched characters. I’m almost through his latest, Death Benefits; will finish it tonight. He manages to make insurance fraud fascinating.

Jeffrey Deaver: much darker and gorier than Perry, but equally riveting. A Maiden’s Grave is a good one to start with. General plot: a group of deaf students and teachers are taken hostage by genuinely evil, psychotic folks. The viewpoint switches between the hostages and the hostage negotiators; grim, realistic stuff. (The title comes from one of the deaf teachers, who lip read the hymn “Amazing Grace” as “A Maiden’s Grave.”)
A few titles feature a paraplegic investigator. The forensics are grisly but seamlessly written into the plots–and man, are the plots twisty and tricky. Sometimes almost over the top but Deaver manages to pull it off.


Let me echo “In Cold Blood”. I was in college when I first read it. It was the night before finals and I asked my roommate for a book I could read myself to sleep with because I wanted a good night’s sleep. The sadist tossed me “In Cold Blood.” Did not get a wink of sleep and I got to one of my exams late because of that book. Literally could not put the book down. Not that long ago, I got a job just outside of Holcomb, Kansas where the Clutters lived. The house has been torn down. But you should hear the Truman Capote stories the locals tell.

Also recommend “The Princess Bride” if you haven’t seen the movie. Movie ruins it. I also agree with “Day of the Jackle” being great.

Also recommend “Rats, Lice and History.”

James Clavell
Tai Pan
Noble House
King Rat
The first three from any W.E.B. Griffin series (after that they get a little played out) I’m presently reading Secret Honor
One or two Sidney Sheldon novels (I couldn’t put down Master Of The Game)
One or two Jeffrey Archer novels (Kane & Abel)
One or two Lawrence Sanders novels (Archie McNally, Timothy Cone)

For non-fiction, I could not put down Barbarians At The Gate, though it’s probably dated now. The Civil War by Bruce Catton is a page turner.

Er… I may have just read the thread title w/o closely reading your post (always a mistake) in any event, maybe you’d like W.E.B. Griffin’s series about police detectives, Badge of Honor.

Lawrence Block. The Thief Who Couldn’t Sleep. Burglars can’t be Choosers. and any book of his featuring matthew scudder.

Also Robert B. Parker’s Spenser books. they start with the Godwulf Manuscript, but can be read in any order.

The Book of Jhereg, by Steven Brust.
The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King.

Any of these will give you plenty of great reading and there are sequels to keep you happy for a long long time, even when you read as fast as I do.

The Turing Test, by Paul Leonard.

The Puppet Masters, by Robert a. Heinlein.

Let us know if you try any of these and how you like them, please? :slight_smile:

Try Caleb Carr’s ‘The Alienist’ or ‘The Angel of Darkness’
and anything by Gary Jennings

Maybe my taste is radically different from you folks, but the last book I read that I could honestly classify as a “page turner” was Stephen King’s “The Stand”. The first time I read it, I actually read it in one sitting, 20 straight hours. Called in sick to work, took it to the john, dinnertable, finally finished it in bed. Never felt compelled to do that before or since.

Thanks to all of you for such a wonderful response - and citing so many authors and books I’ve never heard of. Looks like I’ve got a lot of good reading to get through. The Teeming Millions come through once more!

Well, apparently I’m the only one beside Zoggie who’ll acually admit to liking Hanibal (yes, I liked it better than Red Dragon, and Silence Of The Lambs…haven’t read Black Sunday, so couldn’t say) Any hey, once I got through the first 15 chapters or so of The Stand…it became one of my well-worn oft re-read favorites.(But at the time I was in 6th grade when I first read it…give me some credit please) The one I am alomst ashamed to admit cuz it’s a “children’s book”, and still my all time favorite? (and still oft re-read, can’t wait to get to read it to my own kids)
Watership Down

As Madeline Cohn said in Blazing Saddles “how owdinawy”

ducks out of the room

Oh, yes, yes, yes. The Alienist especially is wondeful!

Or for the original, mind-bending, time-warping great read, Finney’s Time and Again. Others have expanded on what he did, but none have done it better. (The sequel sucked, though. Skip that one.)

I like King’s The Stand but truly love Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House… Can’t tell you how many times I’ve read it but it draws me in every time, just like new. I love this book!

And, yes, Capote’s In Cold Blood, though the factual basis–and great writing–make it almost too strong for me to enjoy, exactly. It sure lingers in the mind, though. (To think fey “Dill” of To Kill A Mockingbird wrote it. Strange, strange.)


Anything by Lawrence Block, but especially the Matthew Scudder series. I grew up on these novels, and really appreciate seeing Block develop his charachter over the years. He has the most fluid engaging style of any writer (in any genre) that I have ever read. He has been a huge influence on my own writing.

Also: Any of Donald E. Westlake’s early hard-boiled crime novel, or his comic, Dortmunder series. . .and for edge-of-the-seat crime - his Parker novels (written under the pseudonym, Richard Stark) are hard to beat.

And: Gun With Occasional Music by Jonathan Letham. This is the detective novel I would have killed to have written. It is post-apocalyptic noir set in a retro-future, which is best described as Philip K. Dick meets Raymond Chandler.

And oh yeah…Raymond Chandler and Dashielle Hammet!

I thought Michael Crichton’s Sphere was pretty good. Better than the movie, anyway.

Most of the “page-turners” I’ve read were children’s fiction, sice that was the last time I really read fiction much. Thus I fondly remember “Bridge to Terebithia,” “The Chronicles of Narnia,” “Dear Mr. Henshaw,” etc.
“Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH” was so much better than the cartoon!

Right now I am reading “Naked” - By David Sedaris. It is a collection of short stories and it rocks. One of the funniest books I have ever read.

I also recently read “half asleep in frog pajamas” - by Tom Robbins. Pretty funny as well.