Literary Thrillers for the Book Lover

shelved under Fiction and Mystery

Hot on the heels of my non-fiction list of books about books... I now bring you a list of great novels that have a book or manuscript as a prominent aspect of the plot. 

Note that there are many more great books that could fall into this genre, but I focused the list on those that could be classified as thrillers or at least especially suspenseful.


Blind Submission

by Debra Ginsberg

This is the book world/publishing industry version of "The Devil Wears Prada", but dare I say, more fun because it has a book-loving heroine Angel Montgomery. When Angel loses her job at a bookstore, she lands a job as an assitant to the Cruella Deville of literary agents. A mysterious manuscript mirroring Angel's life at work with her horrible boss comes to the agency. Just who is writing these terrible — but true — things?


The Book of Air and Shadows

by Michael Gruber

This satisfying literary thriller makes you want to describe it with words such as "explosive" and "gripping". The story is intellectually satisfying and replete with well-drawn characters, exotic locations, antique book sellers and a provocative mystery. Even if you are not a literary thriller fan you'll enjoy this for the thumpin' good read that it is. Now if only someone would make it into a movie...


The Shadow of the Wind

by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, translated by Lucia Graves

This is a coming-of-age tale about a young boy, who through the magic of one book, finds a purpose in life. I loved the idea of the Cemetery for Forgotten Books, and the backdrop of post-Civil War Spain is lends the story a beautiful, haunting bleakness that does much to enrich the mood.


The Thirteenth Tale

by Diane Setterfield

This rich Gothic Tale has a compelling plot and rich, nuanced prose. The reader will soon find themselves totally caught up in the story of Vida Winter and Margaret Lea. And for those grammarians out there, you aren't going to find any grammar faux pas in this book. What a treat that was. It's hard to believe that this wondrous tale is the author's first.


People of the Book

by Geraldine Brooks

Virginia Gill from Anchroage Alaska says:

We actually read this in our book club and I found it utterly fascinating. I think anyone who loves books — both to read as and treasures in and of themselves — will find this a delight. Now I will forever wonder about all the hands an old book passed through.