Written by Jeff Ayers. A more detailed version of this article can be read at The LA Review of Books.

It doesn't matter whether the setting is a foster home or an attorney's office or the Texas scrubland, the great thriller writers know how to worm their way into our most hidden fears and anxieties, and the truly great authors can give us some new ones.

Even when the devices - like a person buried alive, a missing child, a serial murderer on the loose - have been seen many times before, the best writers can make them brand new, sometimes by adding a twist (a video camera inside the coffin, for instance), but always by giving us strong, compelling characters and nonstop suspense. You may not have heard of all these authors before, but you’ll be a fan by the time you turn the last page.

The Los Angeles Review of Books recommends these five to kick off your summer reading list, and click here to read more from these reviews.

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  • The Law One: "Murder One" by Robert Dugoni

    One of the best thriller writers in the business is back with serial main character David Sloane, an attorney on the perennial hunt for injustice. Only this time, he finds himself personally involved in a case that involves a new love affair, a murder and a daughter's death.

  • High Tech: "Buried Secrets" by Joseph Finder

    A parent's worst nightmare is the disappearance of their child. It's even worse for Marshall Marcus. In <em>Buried Secrets</em>, Marcus learns his daughter has been kidnapped and buried alive in a coffin with a video camera so he can watch her suffer until he pays ransom.

  • Read It and Weep: "You're Next" by Greg Hurwitz

    When Mike Wingate was four-years-old, his parents dropped him off at a playground, drove off and never came back. After growing up in foster care and starting a family of his own, Wingate starts to receive mysterious death threats he suspects are related to the mysteries of his past. ABC television writer Greg Hurwitz takes the reader on a pulsating adventure while questioning the true meaning of family.

  • Profiling: "Inmate 1557" by Alan Jacobson

    Serial killer novels seem to be all the rage since James Patterson sold his millionth book. The best writer in the genre currently is Alan Jacobson; his novels starring FBI profiler Karen Vail never disappoint. In <em>Inmate 1557</em>, Vail must utilize all of her training and superior intellect to stop a killer from striking again.

  • Western Flavored: "Strong at the Break" by John Land

    Thrillers share many elements with westerns, and Jon Land is an expert at mixing the two. <em>Strong at the Break</em> finds his regular main character Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong trying to reconcile her traumatic past with a man tied to the murder of her father.


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