Books To Make Time Fly
October 1, 2008 9:03 PM   Subscribe

I would like some good, engrossing, addictive, fast-paced fiction: thrillers, conspiracies, mysteries, anything.

Mmm, boy, I sure love reading. It's great, and I rave about it to everybody I meet. I always carry a couple of books around with me and whenever I have a spare moment I crack one open. But I also have phases. Sometimes all I want is sci-fi. Other times, florid prose and poetic, convoluted paragraphs. Sometimes, histories, astronomy, or books on philosophy.

Right now, I am going through a "mass-market" fiction phase. I want books that suck me in so completely that I look up and I've missed my bus stop, or it's past my bedtime, or everything is on fire. I know there have been threads like this in the past but I figured it was time for a fresh one.

In the past week or so I've knocked over Alex Garland's The Beach, Michael Crichton's Prey, a few Matthew Reilly's. Right now I'm on Joseph Finder's Paranoia, and it's great fun.

Basically, I just want some candy. If it's got a bit of fancy science in there, some technology, or just some cool stuff that might get me interested in certain fields, that would also be great. I'd love to hear about some quality edge-of-your-seat modern horror (one genre I've never really played with) and stuff with stabbing in it too. Bonus points if it's sexy.

I'm not so hot on legal/courtroom drama or police procedurals (like Night Dogs) but, y'know, I'm an open-minded kinda guy.

Please recommend candy for me.
posted by turgid dahlia to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (48 answers total) 54 users marked this as a favorite
Any of the Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child. Reacher is a loner, an ex-Army MP. He's like MacGyver, but without the dorkiness. Cool, hard, flinty, fast-paced.

Pretty much anything, but especially the Jane Whitefield series by Thomas Perry. Jane helps people in trouble disappear.

I'll think of more.
posted by rtha at 9:11 PM on October 1, 2008

Smillas Sense of Snow might be up your alley right now.
posted by Large Marge at 9:40 PM on October 1, 2008

I would print out this thread and take it to the library/bookstore.
posted by invisible ink at 9:48 PM on October 1, 2008

Tim Powers, "Declare."
posted by mecran01 at 9:56 PM on October 1, 2008

It probably qualifies as a police procedural, but I just finished Wolves Eat Dogs and couldn't put it down. It's the newest in the Arcady Renko (Gorky Park) series, but you don't need to have read any of the other books.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:18 PM on October 1, 2008

Response by poster: invisible ink: Cheers, I've picked up a few good ones from that thread, but it's a couple of years old now and a lot happens in the dog-eat-dog world of commercial fiction in 24 months!
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:20 PM on October 1, 2008

anything my Richard K Morgan
posted by dawdle at 10:21 PM on October 1, 2008

Any of the Prey novels by John Sandford. A bit formulaic after a dozen or so, but man are they engrossing and fast-paced. And funny.

I tried a Lee Child last month and couldn't get through it. Sandford is much tighter, just plot and serial killers and zoom.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:21 PM on October 1, 2008

Have you read any of Dan Brown's books (besides the Da Vinci Code)?
posted by at 10:45 PM on October 1, 2008

I like most David Baldacci stuff. Good page-turners with suspense, action, and twists. (Didn't care for The Camel Club.)
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 10:45 PM on October 1, 2008

• Anything by Kurt Vonnegut.
• Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series.
• Visit your local comix store, or see if your library has graphic novels on hand or by interlibrary loan.
posted by not_on_display at 10:55 PM on October 1, 2008

Try Magic, by William Goldman.
posted by Iridic at 11:20 PM on October 1, 2008

2nding Richard Morgan, but Altered Carbon in particular.
posted by juv3nal at 11:34 PM on October 1, 2008

Child 44, by Tom Rob Smith -- I read it compulsively last month in about 3 days.
posted by scody at 11:42 PM on October 1, 2008

Best answer: *John Sandford, seconded. Prey novels rock, Kidd novels are great, as was the Virgil Flowers one. There's a new Sandford out right now, it's the second Virgil Flowers book.
*Lee Child, seconded
*Thomas Perry, seconded (I just started my second Perry yesterday).
*Ridley Pearson is great, I think I like the Lou Boldt books best, but his one-offs are good too.
*Michael Connelly, the Harry Bosch novels rock.
*Harlen Coben, started out with a detective series featuring Myron Bolitar, I like those. Now he's doing more thrillerish one-offs. I like them too.
*Robert Crais, the Elvis Cole novels. Very nice, and he's moved on to some other characters as well.
*Greg Rucka, I like the Atticus Kodiak books best, but he's worked on lots of stuff (including comics).

I can't think of any more off the top of my head, but those should keep you busy for a pretty good while. If I had to try and rank 'em, I'd put Connelly, Sandford, and Pearson in a top three. Crais might be up there with those guys, and then Child, Coben, and Rucka are right there too. I left Perry out, 'cause I've only read one of his. I liked it enough to start another right away.

Oh, I just remembered Jeffery Deaver. He's good--Lincoln Rhyme novels. Ian Rankin, the Inspector Rebus series will have you craving IrnBru. Dennis Lehane is good, and some good movies have been made of his books recently. Uh, I think I could keep this up all night.

Check out You type in a favorite author's name, and they'll show you some others you might like. It's sweet.
posted by claytonius maximus at 11:43 PM on October 1, 2008

I just finished up The Silence of the Lambs (I'm sure you've heard of it) by Thomas Harris.

It was a book that kept me up constantly past my bedtime, where I would only stop reading when I physically couldn't keep my eyes open.
posted by Geppp at 12:02 AM on October 2, 2008

Seconding Child 44.

Elmore Leonard is always fun to read - Maximum Bob, Freaky Deaky, Swag, The Switch, Fifty-Two Pick Up. Ah, any of them really though I haven't read any of his since Be Cool, which was a bit of a let down. Leonard tends to cut to the chase.
posted by Elmore at 1:51 AM on October 2, 2008

Oh, and if you want a hilarious satirical conspiracy go for Richard Condon's Winter Kills.
posted by Elmore at 1:52 AM on October 2, 2008

Best answer: Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child! Their Special Agent Pendergast is like a mix of Indiana Jones and Sherlock Holmes; there's a brilliant arch-nemesis (his brother), ancient runes, impossible weapons, curses, hidden chambers ... goes down really, really easy.

Start with the trilogy of "Brimstone," "Dance of Death" and "Book of the Dead." Pure fun!
posted by jbickers at 3:12 AM on October 2, 2008

Another Jeffrey Deaver vote - "The Bone Collector" and the rest of the Lincoln Rhyme books are fast paced, twisty, full of geeky tech, and are an orgy of NYC detail and history to boot.
posted by ersatzkat at 4:02 AM on October 2, 2008

What about the Bourne novels (that the Bourne Identity, etc, movies were based on)? If you at least liked the concept behind the movies, they're worth a try as they're fast paced and exciting.
posted by wackybrit at 5:34 AM on October 2, 2008

The John Rain thrillers by Barry Eisler are quite good little spy/assassin stories.
posted by tylerfulltilt at 5:39 AM on October 2, 2008

T. Jefferson Parker. Nuff said.
posted by prodevel at 5:48 AM on October 2, 2008

Dennis Lehane has sucked me into the mass-market world. The Kenzie/Gennaro series is quite good. Mystic River was also good.
posted by backwards guitar at 5:58 AM on October 2, 2008

Run, by Douglas E. Winter.

The book doesn't run, it flies.
posted by slimepuppy at 6:00 AM on October 2, 2008

Oh, and Utopia by Lincoln Child
posted by tylerfulltilt at 6:08 AM on October 2, 2008

I'm pretty sure this is exactly what Robert Ludlum is for. Everything is a conspiracy, and all guns have silencers.
posted by fidelity at 6:08 AM on October 2, 2008

I just finished a couple of heavy non-fiction books and needed some candy, too. Went right for Lee Child and a dose of Reacher. Go Reacher.
posted by lpsguy at 6:18 AM on October 2, 2008

Well, there's always Harry Potter.

Additionally, and be careful because it'll suck you in and the series just gets worse and worse, Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series can be read over and over and over again and is captivating every time.

For something not really fluffy, but still a quick read, try most things by Alice Walker. [It's frightening in the too-true kind of a way.]
posted by lunit at 6:19 AM on October 2, 2008

Best answer: I would print out this thread and take it to the library/bookstore.

I disagree. That was my thread, and I worded my question poorly. I wanted the same sort of recommendations that you want, turgid dahlia, but I stupidly asked for "exciting" books. People interpreted that really broadly, and I got responses like "Never Let Me Go" and "Bel Canto," which are examples of literary fiction, not page-turner candy. (Though I LOVE both those books. "Bel Canto" is one of my favorite novels.)

I recommend anything by Ridley Pearson or Nelson DeMille.

An older novel that you may or may not know is "A Kiss Before Dying," a thriller by Ira Levin. It contains one of the most brilliant plot devices that I've ever come across. All I'll say by a third of the way into the novel, that you wind up knowing everything about the murderer without knowing who he is. (This is via a device that can only work in print. There have been two bad film adaptations of the novel. It's basically unfilmable.) If you like Levin (who also gave us "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Stepford Wives," you might also enjoy his relatively-unknown distopian novel "This Perfect Day." It's like "1984" or "Brave New World" without the ideas and politics -- but more cleverly plotted.)
posted by grumblebee at 7:41 AM on October 2, 2008

Michael Connelly -- Any Harry Bosch novel; any stand-alone novel (The Lincoln Lawyer is great). And -- best of both worlds -- in 12 days there's a new Harry Bosch/Lincoln Lawyer book coming out called The Brass Verdict.

James Lee Burke -- The Dave Robicheaux series. Atmospheric, down-home Louisiana police thrillers (not procedurals). I particularly recommend the Katrina-themed The Tin Roof Blowdown

Harlan Coben, Lee Child, David Baldacci (I agree with the person above who recommended skipping the Camel Club series), John Sandford, Dean Koontz (hit-or-miss), Colin Harrison's recent The Finder was a good read, Vince Flynn for fast, mindless, impossible CIA action, Nelson DeMille is pretty good too -- I get a kick out of the John Corrie books.

posted by pardonyou? at 8:01 AM on October 2, 2008

Ian McEwan is probably known best for Atonement so some might assume he only does "love stories" (On Chesil Beach, etc.). But he actually has some fine thrillers that I recommend highly: Saturday, Enduring Love.

McEwan's The Innocent is certainly a thriller (espionage, post-war Berlin, and the like) -- although it can't be called fast-paced, by any stretch.
posted by pineapple at 8:57 AM on October 2, 2008

No one is suggesting Carl Hiaasen? I don't care much for Lee Child or Elmore Leonard, but I do like Dennis Lehane and Carl Hiaasen. I'm currently reading The Lies of Locke Lamora It's like a thriller, but with a little bit of fantasy thrown in.
posted by fiercekitten at 9:32 AM on October 2, 2008

Well, I’m hugely SF biased, but Use of Weapons and Player of Games, two of the best Iain Banks books, just got a US paperback release. When I first discovered Banks I chewed through his back catalogue in no time flat during my daily trainride, so I reckon he might have some of the characteristics you’re looking for.
posted by Artw at 9:45 AM on October 2, 2008

Oh, and the entire works of Ian Flemming have been reiisued with some really nice covers lately - some are dross but others are great. I'd start with From Russia with Love.
posted by Artw at 9:46 AM on October 2, 2008

Although it's already been suggested-

Michael Connelly : You could start from the beginning and work your way thru everything he's written, but if you really want to get hooked start with The Poet. However, he uses a lot of repeat characters so there is something to be said for starting with the first novel.
Thomas Harris: Never read Black Sunday but Hannibal was one of the best fiction reads ever. The other Lecter novels are compelling as well.
Chuck Palahniuk: This is the guy that wrote Fight Club and although I never read that particular one I've read everything else he's written and they all have a "What the fuck is going on here" quality that I think is really enjoyable. They're no thrillers but they are definitely mysterious. May I suggest starting w/ Invisible Monsters because you'll never figure that one out by the end.
posted by thaworldhaswarpedme at 9:54 AM on October 2, 2008

I suffered Palahniuk fatigue after enthusiastically reading 3 or 4 of his and becoming overly aware of his tics. They are quite page turny though, I’d start with Invisible Monsters as well.
posted by Artw at 9:57 AM on October 2, 2008

If you want new and engrossing horror, Justin Evan's A Good And Happy Child will freak you right out.
posted by nicwolff at 10:34 AM on October 2, 2008

An oldie but a goodie: The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy. Sucked me right in - I had it open on the bench next to me so I could read it while pipetting samples, is how much I couldn't put it down. (Clancy's other books mights scratch your itch too, but I think this one's his best.)
posted by Quietgal at 11:20 AM on October 2, 2008

Best answer: Ooooh! Nelson DeMille! Go straight to Plum Island. I also liked The Lion's Game.

I also really like Lee Child and Harlan Coben. I've read Jeffrey Deaver and am just kind of so-so with him. Maybe I haven't read the right ones.

I really liked Boy's Life by Robert McGammon.

Relentless and Severed by Simon Kernick are both pretty good.

You've probably read it already but in case you haven't, The Andromeda Strain is a classic.

If you've read through all the past book threads you may have seen one of my favorite books - House of Leaves which kept me up into early hours, terrified, eyes wide and heart pounding.
posted by triggerfinger at 12:05 PM on October 2, 2008

2nding Richard Morgan, but Altered Carbon in particular.

Blah, just read Neuromancer.
posted by mecran01 at 12:47 PM on October 2, 2008

Daddy by Loup Durand
It's out of print but it's to die for and you can easily find it online.
posted by chickaboo at 12:54 PM on October 2, 2008

Response by poster: This is fantastic stuff guys, please keep them coming - not just for my benefit, but for the benefit of all MeFiteKind!
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:25 PM on October 2, 2008

2nding Richard Morgan, but Altered Carbon in particular.

Blah, just read Neuromancer.

Actually for nourish cyberpunky SF that doesn’t seem dated (and which I burnt through on the bus in no time flat) ">When Gravity Fails and it’s sequels are great.

Must... make... non-SF... suggestions...
posted by Artw at 3:36 PM on October 2, 2008

When Linking fails
posted by Artw at 3:36 PM on October 2, 2008

Check out The Illuminatus Trilogy. It's fun.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 5:40 PM on October 2, 2008

2nding Richard Morgan, but Altered Carbon in particular.

Blah, just read Neuromancer.

Neuromancer is more cerebral. Altered Carbon is more pulpy action movie style which is what comes to mind when turgid asks for recommendations of "candy".
posted by juv3nal at 12:57 AM on October 3, 2008

Tim Willocks for me is a very hooky writer; I read Green River Rising in one sitting. As well as Iain M, there's Iain Banks. Complicity is another book I read in one go. And Stephen Hunter (though I've kind of gone off him recently as he's a bit of a hack)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:26 AM on October 3, 2008

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