The Triumph of the Thriller: How Cops, Crooks, and Cannibals Captured Popular Fiction

Emphasizing violence, imagination and the dark vision integral to these novels, Patrick Anderson provides not so much a comprehensive theory for the popularity of thrillers—triumph is assessed from best-seller lists—as a series of reviews of best-selling authors. Most of the authors discussed are male, and Anderson notes that racial, sexual and other prejudices mar many thrillers but don’t keep them from being best-sellers. While that’s not unique to this genre, it’s relevant to anyone considering whether to read specific books. Readers sharing Anderson’s taste certainly will enjoy his book, and other readers can use it to help identify books they’d want to avoid. As the author comments—and many of us strongly believe—life’s too short to waste time on bad books.