Every week, multiple readers email us looking for recommendations about newer series worth binge reading…
It’s an interesting thing, really, because most readers are well aware of the top long-running franchises in the genre today. Mitch Rapp, Scot Harvath, and Gabriel Allon are household names, as are the authors who created them–Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, and Daniel Silva, respectively. However, some readers are apprehensive about starting a series that’s already fifteen or sixteen books long.
If you’re one of those readers, well, you’re in luck because we’ve compiled a list of 25 binge-worthy thriller series, and all of them are currently four books or shorter!
(Note: The list is organized alphabetically by the author’s last name.)
David Baldacci’s Will Robie/Amos Decker/John Puller Series
Baldacci, one of today’s most recognizable authors, currently has three series going–rotating books to make sure each character has a new story out every year or two. Personally, our favorite is Baldacci’s Will Robie series, followed by Amos Decker and then John Puller.
Robie is a government assassin who first appeared in The Innocent. Amos Decker is an FBI investigator who, after suffering a head injury, is both blessed and cursed with the ability to never forget anything. That series begins with Memory Man, and just reached its potential with this year’s The Fix.
John Puller is a Jack Reacher-like character who was introduced to readers in Zero Day. A former combat veteran and the best military investigator in the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigation Division, Puller takes on some tough cases over the course of four books.
All of these series are still going, so expect more from each of Baldacci’s star characters in the future.
Matthew Betley’s Logan West Series
It all starts when Logan West awakens from a drunken blackout to discover a man in his house. After a brief struggle, Logan kills the intruder. Seconds later, the dead man’s phone rings…
What Logan West couldn’t have known is that by answering the dead man’s phone, he would inadvertently kick off a global race to uncover and stop a terrorist group in search of an Iraqi artifact that is central to an attack they have planned in the Middle East.
It’s one of the most exciting and original openings in years, and the story only gets better from there.
Now, two books in, Matthew Betley is without question the genre’s brightest new star. Nonstop and well-written action make Betley’s novels pop, but his dialogue is tops in the genre–and readers will enjoy going on thrilling adventures with Logan West and John Quick. Both characters are introduced in Overwatch, and both return in Oath of Honor, which is one of our highest-rated thrillers of 2017. The third book, Field of Valor, comes out next year, giving readers plenty of time to knock out the first two books.
Bottom line: Betley’s series is a must-read for fans of Tom Clancy, Ben Coes, and Vince Flynn.
Ezekiel Boone’s ‘The Hatching’ Series
If you like creepy crawlers, this one is for you. Boone’s chilling plot about killer spiders is hauntingly good. Apocalyptic thrillers are always fun, but Boone’s take is especially satisfying. The trilogy kicks off with The Hatching, then continues with Skitter. The third book comes out next year and should wrap up the story, which is unlike anything else on bookstore shelves right now.
Rick Campbell’s ‘Trident Deception’ Series
Campbell’s work is reminiscent of Tom Clancy’s early novels. His naval thrillers are top-notch, and some of the best in the genre right now. That said, his books don’t have a true main character, which can make it a tad harder to really fall in love with the series. The writing is good, though, and the different plots range from very creative to brilliant, all of them delivering plenty of suspense and entertainment.
Charles Cumming’s Thomas Kell Series
Charles Cumming can flat-out write. His spy thrillers are super underrated, and a great fit for fans of Bridge of Spies and other slow-burn style espionage novels. That’s not to say that there isn’t any action, though. Cummings can deliver on the hard-hitting action front, but those sequences don’t really drive his stories.
Joseph Finder’s Nick Heller Series
As good as this year’s The Switch (a standalone novel) was, it’s hard not to miss Nick Heller, who’s starred in three of Joseph Finder’s books to date. The first two books are solid, but Finder took Heller to another level with last year’s Guilty Minds.
Heller, a private spy, is a fantastic character. He’s quick-witted, perfectly capable in the field when the situation calls for violence, but very smart, too. He’s also funny and engaging, and it’s a treat to hang out with him for a few hundred pages.
Hopefully, we’ll see Heller again in 2018. In the meantime, readers who’ve yet to meet Finder’s character have more than enough time to get caught up.
Chris Goff’s Raisa Jordan Series
U.S. Diplomatic Security Service Agent Raisa Jordan is a strong and compelling heroine, and Goff has a knack for putting her lead character in tough positions. The first book is good, but the second, Red Sky, is truly excellent. Both books deal with Raisa investigating cases that deal with one of her own, but Red Sky ups the ante with a nice twist, plenty of suspense, and a blazing plot.
Glen Erik Hamilton’s Van Shaw Series
Van Shaw is a former Army Ranger, but that’s not the only skill set from his past that he uses in the present. Prior to turning eighteen, Shaw was plugged into the criminal world. Then he pledged his life to the military. Traits and skills from both sides of the law aid him over the course of Glen Erik Hamilton’s series.
Hamilton has developed his character really well over three books, as this series continues to get better with each new release.
Steve Hamilton’s Nick Mason Series
Steve Hamilton recently introduced readers to Nick Mason, a highly-capable man who made a deal to get out of prison twenty years before his sentence was up. Nick might be out of jail, but he definitely ain’t free. All he did is trade in one sentence for another, and now he owes a criminal kingpin twenty years of service on the street as his do-it-all errand boy. As the jobs become increasingly more dangerous, Mason realizes he needs to find a way out of his arrangement, which is way easier said than done.
The first book deals with Nick adjusting to his new life and trying to find a way out of it. The second book is even better, as Mason doubles down on his goal to get free from the man who now controls him–without allowing anything to happen to his wife and daughter.
Hamilton’s books are dark, gritty, and impossible to put down, and Nick Mason is a great new character. Hamilton understands what readers are looking for and delivers in a big way with both books.
Gregg Hurwitz’s ‘Orphan X’ Series
This list is full of great new characters, but Hurwitz’s Evan Smoak might be the best of them all. Evan Smoak was taken from an orphanage as a young child and thrown into a top-secret government project called the Orphan Program. Designated as Orphan X, Evan’s handler raised him more like a son than a recruit. Therefore, Evan is the only orphan who grew up with a conscience, while the others all turned into mindless, heartless government assassins.
Eventually, Evan breaks from the program, and those who now run it come after him with a vengeance. Nobody, according to their rules, can break from the program and live. And yet Evan does, and now spends his time as a vigilante for those in need, known only as the Nowhere Man.
In the first book, Evan tries to help people in need while two other orphan assassins attempt to locate and take him out. The story is good, but a great twist elevates it to another level. The same can be said for the second book, which has an even better twist–changing the way readers will view the first half of the book, which follows Evan as he attempts to break free from a heavily-guarded compound.
The first two books are awesome, and while the third book–Hellbent–doesn’t come out until January of 2018, I’ve already read it. Honestly, it might be Hurwitz’s best work yet, which is really saying something when you consider how strong the first two books in the series are.
Ward Larsen’s David Slaton Series
David Slaton is a cross between Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon and Mark Greaney’s Court Gentry. The comparison to Allon, obviously, makes sense because both are Israeli operatives. However, that’s pretty much where the similarities end–other than the fact that both are considered the best assassins in Israel’s arsenal. Slaton, like Greaney’s Gentry, is capable of breathtaking violence. The series starts with him just trying to live a normal life, but that doesn’t quite go according to plan.
As the books go on, Slaton faces off with numerous bad guys and faces all kinds of danger. Larsen’s books are a lot of fun and always packed full of action.
Gayle Lynds’ Judd Ryder & Eva Blake Series
Judd Ryder is a former intelligence agent who gets pulled back into the life of spies by Eva Blake, who, when we first meet her, is a rare books curator. Blake enlists Ryder’s help in tracking down the Library of Gold, a missing archive or treasure that dates back to the ancient Greeks. In the follow-up book, both Ryder and Blake find themselves caught up in a deadly game played by six master assassins who teamed up for a single job that went horribly wrong.
Lynds, the reigning queen of espionage, has masterfully developed her flawed characters. Both books are phenomenal and must-reads for fans of spy thrillers.
Sean McFate’s Tom Locke Series
Sean McFate has the kind of resumé that most authors write for their fictional characters. He was a member of the prestigious 82nd Airborne Division, then went on to work for a private security firm. Now he’s a thriller writer, and he’s darn good at it.
McFate’s books star Tom Locke, a private security operator who is betrayed by those he works for and is forced to go on the run. In the second book, Locke is taking odd security jobs when he’s given a lucrative opportunity from a shady Saudi who hires Tom to locate his son. Like his first book, McFate’s sophomore offering features a timely plot and plenty of action.
McFate reads, at times, like the second coming of Brad Taylor. His stuff is written from a been-there-done-that point of view that comes to life on the page.
Thomas Mullen’s ‘Darktown’ Series
Mullen’s series is set in 1948 on the streets of Atlanta and follows a group of African American police officers who have very limited authority. The black police officers aren’t allowed to arrest white people, they don’t have squad cars, and their headquarters is a converted office located underneath a gym.
When a black woman is beaten to death by a white man, nobody seems to care. Nobody except a few of the African American cops, who have very limited resources and authority, but pursue the case anyway.
In the second book (in stores this September), the year is now 1950. Racial tension has never been higher, and Mullen’s returning characters have a lot of new problems to deal with.
Nick Petrie’s Peter Ash Series
Last year, Nick Petrie introduced readers to Peter Ash with The Drifter, his award-winning debut novel. Ash is a strong new character who is flawed and personable, and who is similar, in some ways, to Lee Child’s Jack Reacher.
A veteran struggling with PTSD after returning home, Ash is plagued with an extreme case of claustrophobia. To escape the small confines of civilian life, Ash spends most of his time roaming the wilderness and sleeping underneath the stars instead of staring at a ceiling and four walls. But when a Marine friend of his commits suicide, Ash heads back into civilization to check in on the man’s widow. In the process, he makes a shocking discovery and ends up slipping back into the life he tried to leave behind.
The second book offers a similar scenario–Ash is just minding his own business when he comes across a woman who needs help. Once again, he finds himself being pulled back into the world he wants to move on from and forget.
Petrie’s books are entertaining and fresh. The third book, Light it Up, hits bookstores next year.
Matthew Quirk’s John Hayes Series
Underrated doesn’t even begin to describe this series. Two books in, Quirk has delivered two hard-hitting, action-packed thrillers that are on the same level as Brad Taylor and Mark Greaney’s work.
John Hayes is a bad man. In a good way–he is absolutely lethal! A special ops legend who went rogue on an undercover assignment, Hayes is accused of turning on his own men. Disgraced, Hayes finds a way home to be with his wife and daughter, but ends up attacking his accusers. Without spoiling what comes next, it’s worth pointing out that the first book has a very strong opening sequence. Quirk kicks things off with a bang, literally!
In the second book, Quirk brings back Hayes, who, once again, is undercover on a very dangerous assignment. Quirk develops his main character nicely and drops him into an even more suspenseful, nail-biting scenario for book two. Personally, I love this series, and I can’t wait to see what Quirk does next!
Joel C. Rosenberg’s J.B. Collins Trilogy
This is actually the only series on this list that we know has ended, but even so, it’s absolutely worth the read.
J.B. Collins is a foreign correspondent for the New York Times who, in the first book, goes in search of a daring exclusive with the leader of ISIS. Navigating his way through enemy territory, Collins is granted the first face-to-face meeting with the terrorist mastermind. He leaves convinced that an attack is coming on U.S. soil, and is eager to report the details–but not everyone believes him. In the end, those who ignore his warning end up regretting it.
In the second and third books, the United States deals with the fallout of not taking Collins’ warning seriously. Collins, for his part, becomes the go-to journalist for all things related to ISIS, until (in the third book) the terror group decides he’s a loose end that needs to be tied up. That book features a shocking climax that’ll leave reader’s jaws on the floor.
This series, which is the third different series Rosenberg has written, is probably his best work yet. In all honesty, his first two series are really incredible as well, but the Collins trilogy is a timely, headline-beating series that must be read.
Bill Schutt & J.R. Finch’s R.J. MacCready Series
Indiana Jones meets James Rollins–what more do you need? But seriously, this series is off to a very strong start. R.J. MacCready, who goes by “Mac,” is a cunning, resourceful, and adventurous zoologist. In the first book, Mac parachutes deep into central Brazil. Surprisingly, he finds himself face-to-face with Bob Thorne, a well-known botanist who was presumed dead, and one of Mac’s childhood friends. A whole lot of strange things are going on, and Mac continues searching for answers after a Japanese submarine is found abandoned in the middle of the jungle. Eventually, he discovers a chilling plot to destroy America.
In the follow-up book, Mac heads to the frozen mountain valleys of Tibet, where he searches for a legendary creature that may hold the answers to mankind’s evolutionary future…or could lead to its extinction.
I’m really high on this series and love what Schutt and Finch are doing. There are a lot of books and characters somewhat similar to Mac and what the authors are doing with their books, but there’s nothing quite like it.
Eric Storey’s Clyde Barr Series
I freaking love Clyde Barr. Storey, one of the better young authors in the genre, has a style that falls somewhere between C.J. Box and Lee Child. Barr is a guy who’s seen action and violence all around the world. Now he’s back home in the States, living life as a nomad moving from town to town. In the first book, a threat to his sister forces Barr to come back on the grid. In the follow-up, this year’s A Promise to Kill, Barr finds himself in a small town overrun by savage bikers who, as Clyde quickly finds out, are really up to no good.
Storey is someone to keep an eye on. He and Matthew Betley were the big newcomers in 2016, and both impressed with their sophomore thrillers. Storey’s smart and entertaining plots will suck readers in early, but fans will stay for Clyde Barr–one of the better new characters in the genre.
A.J. Tata’s Jake Mahegan Series
Tata is another guy who writes with gripping, been-there-done-that authenticity. A former brigadier general in the United States Army, Tata served for twenty-eight years before retiring in 2009. Since then, he’s gone on to become a bestselling author, delivering explosive plots that feature out-of-the-box threat scenarios–making Tata’s work fresh and original.
In the first book, Captain Jake Mahegan led his Delta Force team on a mission that ended in tragedy. Back home, Jake struggles to cope with the loss of his men, when the person who betrayed them–now allied with the Taliban–steps foot on American soil. Driven to serve justice and keep America safe, Jake takes action, proving payback can be a real, well, you know…
Book two features a brilliant plot. Terrorists are targeting nuclear power plants, and Jake winds up smack-dab in the middle of it–which sucks for him but is much worse news for the bad guys. Tata reveals more of Jake’s backstory in this book, providing additional character development, which carries over into book three.
That third book, by the way, opens with a ripped-from-the-headlines scene involving a school shooting. From there, Jake goes in search of a girl who was taken from the school and accidentally uncovers a much bigger, more sinister plot in the process.
This series has gotten better with each book and features some great action sequences. The fourth book, Direct Fire, comes out in December!
Paul Vidich’s George Mueller Series
Cold War-era thrillers once dominated the market. In recent years, authors have cooled on that time period–except for Vidich, who is just heating up.
More like Alan Furst than John le Carré, Vidich introduces CIA agent George Mueller in An Honorable Man. Mueller is the only agent the CIA director can trust to help smoke out a Russian mole, which ultimately proves to be much harder said than done. Thankfully, as Mueller’s job gets more difficult, the added tension and suspense make the story more fun for readers–and Vidich closes his first novel on a strong note.
The second book features Mueller being pulled back into the spy game for a special assignment. A man he knows better than most is suspected of flipping sides. The CIA needs to make sure the man is still on their team, so Mueller is summoned and given his orders–which are to fly to Cuba and get to the bottom of things. The mission is promised to be uneventful with little to no chance of danger. In fact, Mueller is led to believe he’ll be taking a vacation of sorts…
In the end, neither is true, and George finds himself in plenty of danger.
Vidich is another star in the making. His books have more of a slow-burn feel to them and are definitely classic espionage thrillers, as opposed to today’s modern, action-packed type of political/spy thriller. Vidich relies more on his strong writing and fascinating characters, which really works.
Andrews & Wilson’s ‘Tier One’ Series
These guys are impressive. The writing duo of Brian Andrews and Jeffery Wilson have created not only a great character, but a phenomenal premise and style.
Jack Kemper was an elite Tier One operator with a beautiful family. Then, one day, Jack Kemper died. Shedding his former identity completely, Kemper became John Dempsey…
By switching identities and giving up his old life, Dempsey became an incredibly lethal shadow man. Bad guys operate in the shadows, giving Dempsey access to the dark world where terrorists exist. By being able to get down to their level, cutting out the bureaucratic red tape, Dempsey is America’s number one weapon against terrorism, but at a great personal cost to him and his family–who still believe he’s dead.
This series features a bigger plot arc that stretches over multiple books. However, the authors do a great job of packing plenty of breadcrumbs into each book so that readers can jump in anywhere. I strongly recommend that fans of military thrillers check out the Tier One books, a great new series that is quickly building into something special.
Don Winslow’s ‘The Cartel’ Series
This year, I rated Don Winslow’s The Force a 10/10 on our rating scale, which is the very first perfect score I’ve ever given out. And he earned it, as The Force is probably the best novel I’ve ever read. That said, a lot of other readers (who also loved The Force) believe Winslow’s best work to be either The Power of the Dog or the sequel, The Cartel.
I won’t get into why I think The Force is better than both, but I will say this: if The Force is a 10/10, the first two books in Winslow’s Cartel series are both 9.5s.
Yeah, he’s that good.
Winslow’s books aren’t just entertaining–reading them is an experience unlike anything else. Well-rounded and versatile, Winslow has no holes in his game. He can write very well, his character development is second to none, his dialogue is sharp and on-point, and his plots are always suspenseful with a lot of emotional elements to them. In this series, a DEA agent, Art Keller, attempts to take down one of the biggest drug cartels in Mexico. As Winslow walks readers through the series of events, readers will find themselves glued to their favorite chair and unable to put his books down.
Trust me, do yourself a favor and give these books a read. The third one, still untitled, is slated to come out in 2018.