Putting thrills and chills into Christmas stocking fillers
Myles McWeeney picks his thrillers of the year
Best Irish Thriller
INQUEST by Paul Carson
Century, Trade Pbk, €12.99
After an absence of nine years, medical doctor/thriller writer Paul Carson returned with this action-packed, pulse-raising read featuring a hugely likeable central character in Dr Mike Wilson, the new Dublin City Coroner.
His decision to reopen a case of the suicide of a scion of a prominent Dublin business family puts him and his family firmly in the sights of a ruthless career criminal. But he perseveres in trying to find the truth in a case that exposes all the excesses of Ireland's boom despite the opposition of just about everyone -- the young man's family, the gardaí and the political elite.
Best International Thriller
AN OFFICER AND A SPY by Robert Harris
Hutchinson, Trade Pbk, 464 pages, €18.75
Over 500 pages of masterful story-telling, Robert Harris breathes vibrant new life into the familiar story of the miscarriage of justice known as the Dreyfus Affair by telling it from the perspective of another ambitious young French army officer, Major Georges Picquart.
Picquart is initially neutral about Dreyfus's plight. However, when he is put in command of the shadowy intelligence unit that exposed Dreyfus, he begins to suspect that all is not right within the unit. When he discovers another French officer spying for the Germans, his superiors want to know nothing about it.
Like Dreyfus, he is savaged by his former colleagues. The novel's themes -- an intelligence agency gone rogue, justice corrupted in the name of national security, and the instinct of those in power to cover up their crimes -- resonate in today's world.
Best Debut Thriller
I AM PILGRIM by Terry Hayes
Bantam Press, Trade Pbk, 704 pages, €17.35
At 700 pages and tipping the scales at a little over 2lbs in weight, this first novel from Australian screen writer (Dead Calm, Mad Max) Terry Hayes exerts a vice-like grip on the reader.
From its grisly beginning at a challenging murder investigation in a seedy walk-up apartment in New York to its terrifying dénouement, this race-against-time pursuit to save America from a terrorist attack takes readers on a hair-raising hunt for a clever jihadist who seeks to destroy America.
Best European Thriller
POLICE by Jo Nesbo
Harvill Secker, Trade Pbk, 528 pages, €18.70
A vicious killer is on the prowl in Oslo's cold autumnal streets and the victims are all police officers. Harry Hole's colleagues desperately need his expertise, his dedication to the job and brilliant insights, but this time he is outside the loop, with those he most cares for, his lawyer girlfriend Rakel and her son Oleg, in deadly danger.
This 10th Harry Hole thriller is a terrifying roller-coaster.
Most Quirky Thriller
THE OCTOBER LIST by Jeffery Deaver
Hodder, Trade Pbk, 354 pages, €18.70
Jeffery Deaver is famous for the surprise twists he builds into each of his books, and his latest thriller, The October List, delivers as stunning a twist as he has ever written. The novel starts on page 297 and Chapter 36.
This is a thriller written backwards. The central character, Gabriella, is sitting in an apartment in Manhattan, anxiously watching the clock. Her daughter has been kidnapped; she's shot and killed a man; she's trying to evade the police and negotiate with the kidnapper. He's a killer who wants the October List and a great deal of money; the door opens . . . ? an interesting experiment pulled off with panache.