Tag Archive for: John Grisham

The Thrill that Inspires

by Barbara Kyle

As the author of historical thrillers and contemporary thrillers, I’ve enjoyed pushing the boundaries of the genre.

It’s often said that a good thriller is like a roller-coaster ride. That’s true enough. The genre is about high stakes, countdowns, and suspense, and
every compelling thriller delivers this kind of excitement.

But the most satisfying thrillers deliver more: an exciting story that also
explores complex issues and has something important to say about our world. This
kind of story takes the reader away from the amusement park and sends them on a
voyage: an exhilarating journey into a different way of thinking.

I call it the Inspiring Thriller.

An inspiring thriller takes readers beyond their expectations and gives them
an insight they never saw coming. “Insight” literally means seeing the truth
through and under the surface of things. It’s the inspiring thriller’s job to
challenge readers’ acceptance of society’s status quo.

At its heart, an inspiring thriller is always about confronting power.


Charles Dickens knew this when he used his immensely popular novels to hold
a mirror up to the horrors that working-class people suffered under unfettered
capitalism in nineteenth-century England.

In our time, bestselling author John Grisham has often done the same with
his thrillers about the “little guy” up against some form of corporate bully. 

John le Carré’s thrillers train his unflinching focus on the controlling corporate
and political powers that corrode our lives.

Denise Mina, a master of crime fiction, reveals the raw wounds that
Glasgow’s poor and powerless suffer, while featuring female central characters
who are resilient and resourceful.

 Grisham, Le Carré, and Mina use the thriller genre to say what needs to be

 What’s It All For?

Christopher Vogler, in his book The Writer’s Journey, says the final step of
any hero’s journey is bringing back an “elixir” to heal the rupture that
incited the main character’s risky quest. The elixir might be literal: food for
the starving tribe. Or it might be abstract: a hard-won wisdom that heals a
shattered family. In a big techno-thriller, it might even heal the world.

Whatever it is, if the hero does not bring back something to share, they
remain unenlightened, adolescent. They haven’t grown. And therefore, neither
can the reader.

In other words, the roller-coaster ride is all you get.

An inspiring thriller may end in tragedy, or it may end with justice
prevailing, or maybe a bittersweet blend of both. Whatever the outcome, readers
welcome the experience. We need it.

Because it’s not the roller-coaster ride that satisfies the soul. It’s the



Barbara Kyle is the author of the bestselling
Thornleigh Saga series of historical novels and of
acclaimed thrillers. Her latest novel of suspense is The Man from Spirit Creek. Over half a million
copies of her books have been sold. Barbara has taught
hundreds of writers in her online Masterclasses and many have become
award-winning authors.
Visit Barbara at https://www.barbarakyle.com/ 

The Books on My Kindle

My co-author Marian received a Kindle for Mother’s Day. I’ve had mine since last December – a combination birthday and Christmas gift. Last week I purchased two ebook mysteries from Amazon, hoping to find time to read them. As I downloaded the ebooks, I thought The Stiletto Gang readers might find the current titles on my Kindle interesting.

Of course the first books I put on my Kindle were those by Evelyn David. I mean charity always begins at home, right? I have all five of the Brianna Sullivan Mysteries – you can see those listed at the bottom of this post with handy buy links. I also have our Sullivan Investigations mysteries – Riley Come Home, Murder Off the Books and Murder Takes the Cake (also see below for buy links). And our romance short story collection – yes, we’ve written some love stories! One of the stories in the collection, Pipe Dreams, was published in Woman’s World (and yes, we’ve got a buy link below – we are nothing if not prepared to make it as easy as possible for our readers to find our books).

These are the non-Evelyn David ebooks I have loaded on my Kindle:

Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Secret of the Scroll by Chester Campbell
Port Mortuary by Patricia Cornwell
Love You More: A Detective D.D. Warren Mystery by Lisa Gardner
Live to Tell: A Detective D.D. Warren Mystery by Lisa Gardner
The Neighbor: A Detective D.D. Warren Mystery by Lisa Gardner
The Confession: A Novel by John Grisham
South Riding by Winifred Holtby
Down the Long Hills by Louis L’Amour
Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane
Christmas Mourning by Margaret Maron
The Reincarnationist Series by M.J. Rose
Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Steward

Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson is a brand new novel and author for me. I haven’t started the ebook yet, but I love the title. Sometimes I do buy books mostly because the title intrigues me. Isn’t that a great title? Other titles that have caught my attention over the years: A Bad Day for Pretty, If I’d Killed Him When I Met Him, and She Walks These Hills.

I downloaded The Secret Garden because I’d never read the children’s book and it was free. Never discount the allure of “free.” Only thing is, I’ve had the book five months and still haven’t read it. Secret of the Scroll was also offered as a free download by the author, Chester Campbell. I’ve read Chester’s posts on the listserve DorothyL and appreciate his humor. I haven’t read his book yet, but I will.

I’ve read all of Patricia Cornwell’s “Kay Scarpetta” novels and read Port Mortuary during Christmas. I enjoyed it, but miss the “Kay” of the early novels in the series. I read those books several times each. I’d never consider rereading the later ones. Now I’m just along for the ride. I want to see how the series ends. I have all the other books in hardback, but buying the more economical Kindle editions will make me feel a little better about my continued investment in the series.

I received a couple of the Lisa Gardner “D.D. Warren” ebooks for Christmas and got hooked. I found the mysteries tightly written and loved the main character. I need to get the rest of the books in the series. I just purchased her latest, Love You More, but haven’t had a minute to read it yet. I’m saving it as a reward for when my co-author and I finish one of the several writing projects we have in progress.

John Grisham is one of my favorite authors. The Confession was very good and up to the high standard of the other Grisham books. My favorite of his is still The Client. The movie made from it was good, but the book was better. The book is one that begs to be read aloud. Grisham’s choice of words delivers the nuances of the southern location and characters perfectly.

I searched out South Riding by Winifred Holtby because I’ve started watching the current PBS series and enjoying the plot. I suspected that although the series was based on the novel, much had been edited out. The original print version has 500 pages, so even with the convenience of having the book on my Kindle, it might take me awhile to read it. I’m hoping this isn’t a case of the television series being better than the book.

Down the Long Hills by Louis L’Amour was a book I read in my early teens and wanted to reread. It’s a western, but it’s also a wonderful tale of a young boy’s survival after a wagon train massacre. He and a toddler make their way with the help of a large red horse.The book was just as good as I remembered.

I purchased Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane about four months ago and had trouble getting into it. But I loved Gone Baby, Gone so I will try again when I’m less distracted. Maybe during summer vacation.

Christmas Mourning by Margaret Maron is a fine installment of her Deborah Knott series. I own all of them and can’t wait for the next.

The Reincarnationist Series by M.J. Rose was also a free download. I haven’t started it yet. This is also a new author for me.

Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Steward was the basis for one of my favorite television movies. The 1979 movie, Heartland, starred Conchata Ferrell and Rip Torn. In 1910, Elinore Randall, a widow, and her seven-year-old daughter travel by train to Wyoming to create a new life for themselves in the west. Elinore has a job as a housekeeper and cook for a lonely, taciturn rancher, but she has dreams of her own homestead. I’ve seen the movie more than a dozen times. I didn’t realize it was based on a real person until I found the ebook earlier this year.

When I started this blog post, I thought it was going to be a short one. Sometimes I forget that before my co-author talked me into writing a novel, I’d spent 40 years reading just about everything I could get my hands on. I love books. And obviously I like talking about them.

aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David

Brianna Sullivan Mysteries – e-book series
I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries- KindleNookSmashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah- KindleNookSmashwords
The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah- KindleNookSmashwords
Undying Love in Lottawatah- KindleNookSmashwords

A Haunting in Lottawatah – KindleNookSmashwords

The Sullivan Investigation Series
Murder Drops the Ball (Spring 2011)
Murder Takes the Cake- PaperbackKindle
Murder Off the Books- PaperbackKindle
Riley Come Home (short story)- KindleNookSmashwords


Love Lessons – KindleNookSmashwords