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Love a Good Thriller? OJ Prosecutor Marcia Clark’s 8 All-Time Favorites

Marcia Clark knows nail-biting crime stories—after all, she was the lead prosecutor on the O.J. Simpson case. Since 1997, she's been a full-time mystery novelist, and her fourth book comes out this month. Just in time for summer reading, she's sharing her essential list of the 8 all-time grittiest thrillers. How many have you read?

L.A. Confidential, by James Ellroy

“Powerful prose, compelling and vivid characters, and a fabulous rendering of police corruption early 1950s Los Angeles, the book is unparalleled in its breadth and depth. Really, I could’ve included so many of Ellroy’s books in my list, but I tried to pick only one per author.”

Primal Fear, by William Diehl

“A story and a set of characters which were so beautifully realized by the author that they even came off well in the movie [released in 1996 and starring Richard Gere and Ed Norton]. This legal thriller has one of the best and most compelling plot twists in its genre.”

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

“A classic, it’s the first of the Phillip Marlowe series. It is the iconic example of character-centric crime fiction, and Chandler’s impact on all subsequent crime writers can’t be overstated.” These are the greatest thriller books of 2019. 

The Silence of the Lambs, by Thomas Harris

“This was a sequel to [1981’s] Red Dragon, and both novels feature Hannibal Lector, the psychiatrist, serial killer, and iconic villain who put an indelible mark on crime fiction. The interplay between Lector and FBI investigator Clarice Starling is superb.”

The Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters

“This crime novel is set in Victorian England with a female lead who happens to be… a pickpocket. Everything about it is fresh, unique and provocative: the writing, the story, the characters. Even if you don’t care for period pieces, you’ll love this book.”

A Kiss Before Dying, by Ira Levin

“One of the best and most accurate and chilling depictions of a psychopath ever written.”

The Talented Mr. Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith

“Another classic, this was the first in the [five-volume] Mr. Ripley series, and it was written from the point of view of the lead character, a psychopath. The author’s spare style and the subtlety and irony of her writing are still a model for other crime writers.”

The Grifters, by Jim Thompson

“This is classic noir. The dark, living-on-the-fringe characters are the story, and they are unforgettable.”

The Competition, by Marcia Clark

The Competition is the fourth thriller to feature Marcia Clark’s heroine, Los Angeles special prosecutor Rachel Knight. This time, she and her best friend are trying to find the real perpetrators behind a high school shooting.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest