Six Must-Read Debut Thrillers Hitting Bookstores in 2018

2017 was a fine year for debut authors. .  . with Kimberly Howe and Peter Kirsanow leading the charge, several new authors made great first impressions with readers. Going back another year to 2016, when Matthew Betley, Nick Petrie, and Erik Storey burst onto the scene, it’s obvious that there’s been a real infusion of talent over the past few years. 

With the new year closing in, we’re turning our attention to 2018 and looking at six authors who have a chance to be this year’s Betley, Howe, or Petrie.

Note: For a sneak peek at what some of the thriller genre’s biggest stars will be up to in 2018, check out our preview article here.


Woman in the window.jpgThe Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (January 2, 2018)

About the book: “For readers of Gillian Flynn and Tana French comes one of the decade’s most anticipated debuts, to be published in thirty-six languages around the world and already in development as a major film from Fox: a twisty, powerful Hitchcockian thriller about an agoraphobic woman who believes she witnessed a crime in a neighboring house.

It isn’t paranoia if it’s really happening . . .

Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.”

Why you should read it: Think Hitchcock meets Girl on the Train–this book will screw with your mind and leave you begging for more. 

Pre-order here!


Need to knowNeed to Know by Karen Cleveland (January 23, 2018)

About the book: “Vivian Miller is a dedicated CIA counterintelligence analyst assigned to uncover the leaders of Russian sleeper cells in the United States. On track for a much-needed promotion, she’s developed a system for identifying Russian agents, seemingly normal people living in plain sight.

After accessing the computer of a potential Russian operative, Vivian stumbles on a secret dossier of deep-cover agents within America’s borders. A few clicks later, everything that matters to her—her job, her husband, even her four children—is threatened.‎

Vivian has vowed to defend her country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. But now she’s facing impossible choices. Torn between loyalty and betrayal, allegiance and treason, love and suspicion, who can she trust?”

Why you should read it: The rights for this book were sold in more than twenty markets, and the movie rights were snatched up by Universal Pictures for Charlize Theron. . . that kind of hype is almost unheard of for a debut author. It’s a spy thriller, yes, but it’s also a suspense/domestic thriller in the vein of Gone Girl. The story is unique, to say the least, and Cleveland, who’s worked as an analyst with the CIA, knows what she’s talking about. 

Pre-order here!


TraitorTraitor by Jonathan de Shalit (January 30, 2018)

About the book: “In the exhilarating tradition of I Am Pilgrim comes a sprawling, international high-stakes thriller that pits the intelligence of one man against one of the most successful spies ever to operate against American interests.

When a young Israeli walks into an American embassy and offers to betray his country for money and power, he has no idea that the CIA agent interviewing him is a Russian mole. Years later, that young man has risen in the ranks to become a trusted advisor to Israel’s Prime Minister and throughout his career, he’s been sharing everything he knows with the Kremlin. Now, however, a hint that there may be a traitor in the highest realms of power has slipped out and a top-secret team is put together to hunt for him. The chase leads the team from the streets of Tel Aviv to deep inside the Russian zone and, finally, to the United States, where a most unique spymaster is revealed. The final showdown—between the traitor and the betrayed—can only be resolved by an act of utter treachery that could have far-reaching and devastating consequences.”

Why you should read it: Traitor is a game between spies in this gripping, smartly-written debut from Jonathan de Shalit, the pseudonym of a former high ranking member of the Israeli Intelligence Community. There’s not a ton of action, but the plot is entertaining, and the pacing is fast enough to keep readers turning pages at a fast clip. It’s sort of a cross between the first Mission: Impossible movie and Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon series. . . fans of either, or both, will love Traitor

Pre-order here!


The Terminal List.jpgThe Terminal List by Jack Carr (March 6, 2018)

About the book: “A Navy SEAL has nothing left to live for and everything to kill for after he discovers that the American government is behind the deaths of his team in this ripped-from-the-headlines political thriller.

On his last combat deployment, Lieutenant Commander James Reece’s entire team was killed in a catastrophic ambush that also claimed the lives of the aircrew sent in to rescue them. But when those dearest to him are murdered on the day of his homecoming, Reece discovers that this was not an act of war by a foreign enemy but a conspiracy that runs to the highest levels of government.

Now, with no family and free from the military’s command structure, Reece applies the lessons that he’s learned in over a decade of constant warfare toward avenging the deaths of his family and teammates. With breathless pacing and relentless suspense, Reece ruthlessly targets his enemies in the upper echelons of power without regard for the laws of combat or the rule of law.”

Why you should read it: There are three big action thriller debuts coming out in 2018, and this is the first one to hit bookstores. Written by a former Navy SEAL, The Terminal List bleeds with gripping authenticity. . . think Vince Flynn’s Term Limits meets Mark Greaney’s Back Blast, and you’ve got this high-octane debut. Fans of Jason Bourne, Mitch Rapp, and Scot Harvath will love Carr’s hero, James Reece, who’s destined to be a household name in the near future. 

Pre-order here!


Warning lightWarning Light by David Ricciardi (April 17, 2018)

About the book: “No one knows what CIA desk jockey Zac Miller is capable of–including himself–when a routine surveillance job becomes a do-or-die mission in the Middle East.

When a commercial flight violates restricted airspace to make an emergency landing at a closed airport in Iran, the passengers are just happy to be alive and ready to transfer to a functional plane. All of them except one . . .

The American technology consultant in business class is not who he says he is. Zac Miller is a CIA analyst. And after an agent’s cover gets blown, Zac–though never trained to be a field operative–volunteers to take his place, to keep a surveillance mission from being scrubbed. 

Zac thinks it will be easy to photograph the earthquake-ravaged airport that is located near a hidden top-secret nuclear facility. But when everything that can go wrong does, he finds himself on the run from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards and abandoned by his own teammates, who think he has gone rogue. Embarking on a harrowing journey through the mountains of Iran to the Persian Gulf and across Europe, Zac can only rely on himself. But even if he makes it out alive, the life he once had may be lost to him forever . . .” 

Why you should read it: If a young Tom Clancy and a young Robert Ludlum would have ever teamed up on a thriller, it’d look a whole lot like David Ricciardi’s Warning Light, the second top-notch action thriller debut of ’18. A true origin story, this book is unique because the character you meet on the first page isn’t the same guy you see on the final page. Zac Miller is baptized by fire here, forced to overcome insurmountable odds without the proper training or experience. Sheer perseverance drives him onward, as Ricciardi masterfully weaves action and suspense into his electrifying thriller. 

Pre-order here!


Reaper book.jpgReaper: Ghost Target by Nicholas Irving and A.J. Tata (May 8, 2018)

About the book: “American hero, or unhinged vigilante?

In Reaper: Ghost Target, Vick “The Reaper” Harwood is an esteemed sniper with a record kill count―33 kills in 90 days―when he is knocked out under mortar attack in Afghanistan. He wakes up back in the United States with little memory of what happened, his spotter and gun both unrecovered from the battlefield. Harwood has resigned himself to slowly picking up the pieces of his life, training Special Forces snipers in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and starting a promising relationship with an Olympic medalist named Jackie.

But when a series of assassinations start occurring in the area, Harwood can’t explain why he just happens to be nearby for each killing―or how a sniper rifle that matches the description of the one he lost seems to be involved. His memory of the past few days is hazy and full of blackouts, and even he has to wonder, is he being framed? Or is he the killer?

As Harwood runs from the authorities, his girlfriend falls off the radar, his missing spotter resurfaces, and the assassinated men are outed as drug and sex traffickers. Nothing is adding up. Harwood realizes he has to unravel this mystery, and fast, or find himself paying the ultimate price for crimes he may not have committed.”

Why you should read it: Out of all the books listed here, this one is my favorite. In fact, Reaper: Ghost Target is one my favorite books in years. General A.J. Tata is, of course, one of the biggest names in fiction thanks to his Jake Mahegan series. Irving, one of the most deadly snipers in U.S. history, is no stranger to penning bestsellers–his two nonfiction books (The Reaper and Way of the Reaper) are fantastic–but this is first fiction thriller. Together, this dynamic co-author team is a lethal combination in more ways than one. Think Stephen Hunter’s Point of Contact meets Vince Flynn’s Term Limits. . . if you pre-order just one book from this list, make it this one! 

Pre-order here!


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