In the Best Thriller Novels Dishonesty Trumps Honesty

We value honesty. Yet in the best thriller novels dishonesty trumps honesty.


As we go through our day to day lives, most of us appreciate associating and coming into contact with honest people. We usually purchase a home or an automobile after lengthy conversations and discussions with agents that we trust. Rarely does one make such major purchases from a blatant dishonest person. We value honesty. Yet in the best thriller novels dishonesty trumps honesty.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” was not called a thriller, and yet it fits the genre. It has suspense and mystery. Readers are immediately empathetic to the fear the two children have of mysterious Boo Radley. Almost simultaneously the reader is jettisoned into the case of Tom Robinson who has been accused of raping Mayella Ewell. Mayella is a liar and her father Bob is too. He is also a bully. The theme of the novel is racism. Racism is a dishonest belief that some hold about the human race. It implies that one group of people is superior to another. Without Mayella’s lies and the theme of racism, the novel would have been just another story about a small Southern town. It is the dishonesty that keeps the reader turning the page. Dishonesty trumps honesty. And in my opinion, makes the novel one of the best thriller novels.


“A False Start” is a thriller. Readers immediately become passengers in a red car driven by a heavily intoxicated female driver. She hits a pedestrian and keeps going. She refuses to do the honest thing which would be to stop and greet the police when they reach the scene. Instead she drives all the way from Manhattan to Connecticut where she hides the car. It is her dishonesty that creates a way for another woman to escape an abusive marriage. The reader is drawn into the story from the beginning as one extraordinary event leads to another. A web of deceit is woven. Dishonesty trumps honesty. And, in my opinion, will eventually make the novel one of the best thriller novels.


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