January 20 – 26: “What is your favorite thriller sub-genre?”

thriller-roundtable-logo5Military thrillers? Mysteries? Espionage? Domestic thrillers? This week we’re asking ITW members David William Pearce, Bonnar Spring, Cathi Stoler, Lynette Eason and C. S. O’Cinneide what is your favorite thriller sub-genre, and why? Scroll down to the “comments” section to follow along!


C.S. O’Cinneide (oh-ki-nay-da) is a Canadian writer and a blogger on her website, She Kills Lit, where she features women writers of thriller and noir. Her debut novel, Petra’s Ghost was a semi-finalist in the Goodreads Choice Award for Horror in 2019. The Starr Sting Scale, a tongue-in-cheek noir and her first book in the Candace Starr crime series will be published in February/March 2020.


An engineer for 40 years, David William Pearce, following open heart surgery, decided to pursue his muse and write. After completing a debut novel, Mr. Pearce so enjoyed the experience that he began writing the Monk Buttman series. When not writing, Mr. Pearce is the accomplished recording artist Mr. Primitive. He and his wife live in Kenmore, Washington.


Cathi Stoler’s latest series, with professional Blackjack player Nick Donahue, includes just-published OUT OF TIME and its sequel, Nick of Time. Her urban thriller, Bar None, features Corner Lounge bar owner Jude Dillane. The second book in the series, Last Call, will be published in 2020. She is a three-time finalist & winner of the 2015 Derringer for Best Short Story, “The Kaluki Kings of Queens.” Cathi is on the board of Sisters in Crime NY, and a member Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers.


Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of Protecting Tanner Hollow, as well as the Blue Justice, Women of Justice, Deadly Reunions, Hidden Identity, and the Elite Guardians series. She is the winner of three ACFW Carol Awards, the Selah Award, and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, among others. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and has a master’s degree in education from Converse College. Eason lives in South Carolina with her husband and two children.


Bonnar Spring writes eclectic and stylish thrillers with an international flavor. A lifelong traveler, she hitchhiked across Europe at sixteen and joined the Peace Corps after college. She divides her time between tiny houses on a New Hampshire salt marsh and by the Sea of Abaco. TOWARD THE LIGHT is her debut novel.


  1. Noir. Hands down. I love the gritty characters, the blurred lines between right and wrong, the delicious darkness. Although I disagree with James Ellroy that noir must be pessimistic. To me, there is an optimism in creating characters who are fundamentally flawed, because…well…we are all flawed in some way or another. Nobody’s perfect, right? And knowing that makes us more accepting of ourselves and each other. Knowing that makes our own dark sides a little less scary.
    Also, I’m a sucker for a good anti-hero. Traditional heroes can inspire me. But anti-heroes make me smile. Despite having the wrong motivations, they usually end up doing the right thing, and they are often more exciting. We may not aspire to be the anti-hero, but it’d sure be fun to ride shotgun with them for an evening.
    What character from thriller fiction would you like to ride shotgun with on a Saturday night?

  2. Favorite: international thriller. As it says on my bio, I’m a nomad at heart. When I’m not on the road, I’m dreaming of it. I have friends who spend the long New England winters pouring over seed catalogs, making detailed plans for their summer garden. Vividly imagining the look, the smell, the feel. Waiting for the sun to warm the ground and let them dig.
    I’m like that about getting away from it all.
    A close second (and a huge plus for me if combined with ‘international’) are thrillers that feature a female MC.
    It should come as no surprise to anyone reading this that my debut novel falls precisely into that category. Write what you love, right?

  3. My favorite thriller sub-genre is tough because what I like in thrillers has changed over time. Initially, I was into techno and political thrillers like The Andromeda Strain and the Manchurian Candidate because it seemed important to save the world. These days, I’m more into thrillers where the protagonist is someone whose ordinary life is thrown into chaos and has to survive by intelligence, guile, and their wits rather than brawn and gadgets. Psychological and mystery thrillers with characters that, to me, are fully drawn, flawed, difficult fish out of water, yet still interesting and I find them more satisfying because of that.

    1. I’m with you, David. I grew up on gritty political thrillers, but am now gravitating toward the ones you mentioned: “where the protagonist is someone whose ordinary life is thrown into chaos and has to survive by intelligence, guile, and their wits rather than brawn and gadgets.”
      Dare I call them aspirational? That I could (that any reader could) rise to the heroic

  4. My favorite thriller sub-genre is International Intrigue. To me, it’s were I find the most complicated, twisted and exciting plots, most devious characters, and best of all, the most enticing settings.

    Taking a reader on a rollercoaster ride and introducing them to someplace they might not know, can be truly exhilarating. There are many thriller writers who do this so well, including Daniel Silva and John le Carré, who’ve created two of the world’s greatest spy masters. Silva’s, Gabriel Allon, head of Israel’s the Office (read Mossad) has a cover as an art historian, which allows him to travel the world and catch the bad guys as he restores works of art. Le Carré’s George Smiley, the ever-suffering head of British Intelligence’s the Circus, has his work cut out for him in Eastern Europe, Russia and even closer to home. In fact, Mr. le Carré recently received the $100,000 Olof Palme prize for his contribution to democracy through a career filled with extraordinary contributions in the fight for freedom, democracy and social justice. Themes prevalent in all his books.

    Reading these authors along with David Balducci, David Morell and Terry Hayes is like attending a master class in intrigue. And let’s not forget, Ian Flemming, whose James Bond
    traveled the world and lived the espionage life to the fullest.

    For me, writing my Nick Donahue character is a step in this direction. I hope I can make him as thrilling, captivating and exciting as those who’ve come before.

  5. I think the fun thing about thrillers is you can turn just about any story into one, which is why there are so many sub-genres. Even everyday matters, making dinner for instance: big date or important client and you’ve got only so much time and only so many options-can I even cook?-in order to make the best impression. Throw in a little danger and off you go.

  6. My favorite is techno-thrillers, especially when it involves aviation. Not many people seem to be writing them these days except me. My favorite book is Tom Clancy’s, Red Storm Rising.

  7. My favorite sub-genre is mystery, especially crime and detective (investigations and whodunit). I usually like to be a part of the investigation and try to deduce who the killer is or killers are. The setting and the context are important to me, because I like to learn something new in books.

    For instance, I currently work with a construction company (civil engineering), and after only five enjoyable months of discovery and learning with the company, I wrote a crime mystery novel titled “Murder On Site” in 2018 (unpublished). Those who have read it so far say that they learnt a little about building and construction, and joined the detective to discover where a body can be hidden.

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