John LeCarre, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. If this were not a thriller–and belonged to some other genre–it would be hailed as one of the greatest novels of the 20th century. It also happens to be an extraordinary depiction of how grim and bleak post-war British life was.
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird. I know, I know. Everyone read it as a kid. But I think it deserves to be read again, because if you read it closely, as an adult, all of a sudden a lot of what you thought was moving and beautiful turns out to be a bit creepy. That’s all I’m saying.
Lee Child, Persuader. Lee Child happens to be an addiction of mine–and about a million other readers. This is noir, in its purest and highest form, and of all the Child books this is easily the best. My favorite thing is to convince literary snobs–the sort who would never read one of those books you get in the rack at the airport–to read Persuader. They are always blown away.
Robert Littell, The Defection of A. J. Lewinter. Another cold war spy novel, this one by maybe the wierdest of all practitioners of that genre. Littell’s books are such perfect representatives of 1970′s era paranoia and cynicism that I find them riveting.. And this is Littell’s best.
Ben Fountain, Brief Encounters with Che Guevera. This is an absolutely exquisite collection of short stories. Fountain reminds me of Somerset Maughan. Unlike a lot of contemporary literary fiction, he writes about the exterior world–about Haiti and Africa and the moral dilemmas of ordinary people.