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3 Must-Read Vintage (Gothic) Thriller Authors

Are you as confused as I am about the sub-genres in the larger thriller genre? How about the other similar genres such as suspense, horror, supernatural suspense, and dark thrillers? Do these fall under the larger “thriller” umbrella or have their own distinct categories?

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Yesterday, a book aficionado disagreed with my classification of Mary Stewart as a suspense author. “She’s a gothic novelist, or maybe a romance writer,” said “Betty”. And while I didn’t want to argue with her, I believe Ms. Stewart was a suspense author, or maybe even a thriller author before her time.

Doesn’t it seem like modern-day life has become overly complicated? Why do we have to have 16 different sub-genres within a genre? I don’t even know how to explain to people what I like to read anymore. I usually just say, “suspense/thriller/mystery books” when asked, figuring that covers the bases.

Okay, tirade over.

My friend and fellow author, Kathryn Guare, shared that she’s been on a vintage book reading jag. Inspired by a recommendation from her, I picked up a copy of Ms. Stewart’s, Madam, Will You Talk?. I may not know how to classify it, but am thoroughly enjoying reading it!

3 Vintage (Gothic) Thriller Authors to Love

This got me thinking of how much I love vintage thriller authors. Here are three whose work always gives me goosebumps and keep me turning the pages past bedtime.

Daphne Du Maurier

“If Daphne du Maurier had written only Rebecca, she would still be one of the great shapers of popular culture and the modern imagination.” This quote, from an obituary written by Richard Kelly, Professor of English at the University of Tennessee, perfectly captures my opinion.

I struggled to read Rebecca–just couldn’t get past that long, extremely detailed first chapter–but once I got into the story it stole my breath. Even now, I’ll sometimes think about a certain scene or character from the book while doing something completely ordinary–like washing the dishes or brushing my hair–a sure sign of a powerful writer.

Where to start:

If you haven’t read any of Du Maurier’s work yet, I highly recommend beginning with My Cousin Rachel. A creepy, slow-burning novel, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Mary Roberts Rinehart

If you’ve been here a while, you might remember that I recommended this author in this post, a roundup of Best Mystery & Suspense Books I Read in 2018.

It’s embarrassing to me how long it took to read this author’s work, as she’s been dubbed the “American Agatha Christie,” (I wonder if she appreciated that title?). But I put my blushing aside long enough to dive into The Yellow Room, an absolutely fantastic vintage suspense story. Again, this one has elements that stick with you long after the cover of the book has been closed.

Where to start:

I recommend beginning with The Yellow Room, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s a slow burn, set in an empty(ish) home in New England.

Mary Stewart

Everything a good gothic suspense should be…a mystery set in the beautiful southern part of France, this novel has a hair-raising car chase, whispered conversations in dark corners, a spunky heroine and a setting described so realistically you feel as though you are right there along with the characters.

Mary Stewart authored more than 20 books in her lifetime and was also an intensely private person, rarely giving press interviews. Along with gothic suspense novels, she also wrote fantasy.

Where to start:

Begin with Madam, Will You Talk, or perhaps her better-known novel, My Brother Michael, to experience the full flavor of her writing.

Thoughts? What vintage thrillers would you recommend?

Note: I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website. I would never recommend something that I didn’t enjoy.

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