The thriller genre covers a lot of ground and mixes with other genres as well as drawing a wide range of heightened feelings from a reader. Excitement, suspense, surprise, anticipation and anxiety are just a part of the roller coaster ride a good thriller can give a reader. Usually the plot in a thriller is villain-driven and the reader is aware of what he or she plans to do and can see the roadblocks put in front of the protagonist. On the other hand, in a mystery, the reader is kept in the dark and given clues to solve the central problem along with the protagonist. Some thrillers will meld the two but a thriller is usually larger in scope, i.e. the entire world is at peril in a thriller.
Patterson is a prolific author who writes in a number of genres. His thriller books include the Alex Cross Series, the Private Series, NYPD Red and standalone thrillers like Invisible. An interesting note: Patterson was turned down by twenty-six publishers before his first novel, The Thomas Berryman Number was published.
Baldacci published his first novel, Absolute Power, in 1996 and has been a force and a perennial bestseller in the thriller genre to date. His thriller books include the Will Robie series, the John Puller series, the Amos Decker character as well as the series featuring Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, former Secret Service agents turned private investigators.
Gerritsen’s first novels were romantic thrillers with the first being Call After Midnight published by Harlequin Intrigue in 1987. She branched out to medical thrillers with Harvest, Life Support, Bloodstream and then Gravity. Switching to crime thrillers with The Surgeon, Gerritsen introduced the character Jane Rizzoli, who became the central focus of ten following novels, paired with medical examiner Dr. Maura Isles. The books inspired the Rizzoli & Isles television series.
Koontz is another prolific author who combines his suspense thrillers with elements of mystery, science fiction, horror and fantasy. It’s understandable he would mix these elements since his first novel, Star Quest in 1968 was in the science fiction genre. Koontz went on to write over a dozen science fiction novels before branching out. In the 1970s he began writing suspense and horror fiction.
An interesting note: Koontz wrote under these pen names early in his career: Aaron Wolfe, Brian Coffey, David Axton, Deanna Dwyer, John Hill, K.R. Dwyer, Leigh Nichols, Anthony North, Owen West, Richard Paige.