How to Catch Up on Must-Read Thriller Series Before Their Fall Releases
In the TV world, a new phenomenon has all but toppled the traditional mode of "appointment viewing": binge watching, wherein viewers watch many episodes of a show in a row. With a host of exciting new installments of some of our favorite bestselling thriller series due out this fall--including a new Jack Reacher novel from Lee Child, Sue Grafton's "W" installment of her alphabetical series and John Grisham's follow-up to "A Time to Kill"--we suggest you do the same for books: binge reading. Whether you're an initiate to these top series or need a refresher, we've lined up your summer's binge-reading schedule based on how quickly you'll need to read the books to catch up with the series by the time their next installments hit bookshelves.
Binge-reading list: 15 Temperance Brennan novels
Next book: "Bones of the Lost," August 27
Your pace: A book every two days
If you haven't read any of Kathy Reichs' 15 crime novels featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan, you've got some catching up to do. Start with the first two in the series, "Déjà Dead" and "Death du Jour," based on Reich's own experiences in forensic anthropology, and if you're pressed for time, check out the TV series based on her books, "Bones," for reference.
Binge-reading list: 17 Jack Reacher novels
Next book: "Never Go Back," September 3
Your pace: A book every two days
If you've never read Lee Child but have seen the Tom Cruise movie based on Child's hero, "Jack Reacher," you'll be shocked when you read the first book in the series, "Killing Floor," and discover that Reacher has distinctly un-Cruise-like measurements: 6 feet 5 inches tall, 220 pounds, a 50-inch chest. It's worth reading all 17 thrillers in the series before "Never Go Back" is released on September 3, but you can also cherry-pick from our list of essential Lee Child novels.
Binge-reading list: 22 Kinsey Millhone novels
Next book: "W is for Wasted," September 10
Your pace: A book every three days
What makes for a great detective novel? Sue Grafton has been spelling it out for us for more than 30 years, beginning with "A is for Alibi," in 1982; "B is for Burglar," in 1985; "C is for Corpse," and so on--all the way to the newest book in her Kinsey Millhone series, "W is for Wasted," which is set to publish this September. As Grafton revealed in an interview, the final book in the series will be "Z is for Zero," but "X" and "Y" are still up for grabs.
Binge-reading list: Six Dexter Morgan novels
Next book: "Dexter's Final Cut," September 17
Your pace: A book every nine days
With just six novels in the series so far, readers may have an easier time catching up with Jeff Lindsay's Dexter Morgan, the forensic blood-spatter analyst/sociopathic vigilante who inspired the eponymous Showtime series. The new book in the series, "Dexter's Final Cut," will be published on September 17, just five days before the final episode of the TV show, though that doesn't mean Lindsay is through with his beloved homicidal maniac: He's also penned an original graphic novel series, "Dexter," for Marvel Comics.
Binge-reading list: Five Michael Bennett novels
Next book: "Gone," September 30
Your pace: A book every two weeks
Prodigious thriller author James Patterson has penned well over 100 books, so it will come as a relief to the harried reader that there are only five novels in his Michael Bennett series to read before the sixth, "Gone," comes out on September 30. NYPD Detective Bennett has many novels ahead before he catches up with the 20 books in Patterson's Alex Cross series, but as the author told Bookish, "Michael Bennett is growing faster than any of the others as a character."
Binge-reading list: Nine Harry Hole novels
Next book: "Police," October 15
Your pace: A book every nine days
Norwegian thriller writer Jo Nesbo has been called the successor to Stieg Larsson, donning the mantle of Scandinavian crime fiction king in the wake of the "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" author's passing. Nesbo's hero, alcoholic Oslo detective Harry Hole, first appeared in "The Bat," which became available in the U.S. for the first time in early July. The translations of Nesbo's novels have nearly caught up with the originals: The newest Hole novel, "Police," will be published this October, and only the second book in the series, "The Cockroaches," remains to be translated. Bonus points for completist readers who tackle the Norwegian version, "Kackerlackorna."
Binge-reading list: One Jake Brigance novel
Next book: "Sycamore Row," October 22
Your pace: One book over three months
If you've made it this far down the list, we have a special gift for you: a series with just one book to read, and three months to read it. A quarter century after John Grisham's debut novel, "A Time to Kill" (made into the 1996 movie starring Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, Kevin Spacey and Samuel L. Jackson), the master of the legal thriller returns to the his fictional Ford County, Miss., with another complex tale of race and justice.
Binge-reading list: 20 Kay Scarpetta novels
Next book: "Dust," November 12
Your pace: Five novels every four weeks
The movie based on Kay Scarpetta, the Virginia Chief Medical Examiner-turned-private forensic consultant who stars in bestselling author Patricia Cornwell's series, is still in production (Angelina Jolie is controversially attached to star), so there are no shortcuts to speed through Cornwell's 20 Scarpetta novels. (Not to mention that famously workaholic crime solver Scarpetta is against shortcuts in general.) Though we won't tell anyone if you pick through the titles on our Patricia Cornwell Essentials list--as long as you start with Book 1, "Postmortem."
Binge-reading list: 19 Stephanie Plum novels
Next book: "Takedown Twenty," November 19
Your pace: One book per week
The seven most recent books in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series have been alluringly alliterative--"Fearless Fourteen," "Finger Lickin' Fifteen," "Sizzling Sixteen"--all the way up to the newest, "Takedown Twenty," due out this November. But will Evanovich stick with titular Ts as her spunky, bounty-hunter heroine heads to "Twenty-One," "Twenty-Two" and so on? Contemplate this as you race through the fast-paced series that began with "One for the Money."
Binge-reading list: Four Mickey Haller Novels
Next book: "The Gods of Guilt," December 2
Your pace: One book every four weeks
Los Angeles defense attorney Mickey Haller is the half brother of Michael Connelly's iconic character Harry Bosch, a surly but devoted LAPD detective. As conveyed by Matthew McConaughey in the movie based on the first Haller novel, "The Lincoln Lawyer," the attorney is smoother-edged than his older half-sibling Bosch--almost too smooth. The fifth book in the series, "The Gods of Guilt," out this December, picks up where "The Lincoln Lawyer" left off, with the murder of a prostitute Haller was fond of--and now he must defend her killer.