Moral Degeneration Trumps In the Best Thriller Novels

Word Ethics on Vintage Filing Cabinet Drawer Label


Morals can sometimes be synonymous with ethics. Morals are defined as a person’s standards of behavior or beliefs concerning what is and is not acceptable for them to do. Degeneration is defined as a decline or deterioration. Thus a degeneration in morals is simply a decline in a person’t standards of behavior or beliefs that determine what he or she will or will not do. And live with it.

In the best thriller novels there is always at least one character who is willing to do anything. Sometimes this decision is forced upon a character. Sometimes it is the nature of the character. Oftentimes readers learn of this flaw in character at a late point in the story and sometimes a morally deplete character enters the story on the first page. It’s all up to the author.


In “Gone Girl” the story opens with a missing woman and the reader is soon led to believe that this woman has been murdered. A reader has to stay with the story to learn of the complete lack of morality in the characters appearing throughout the pages of this novel. And this fact made “Gone Girl” one of the best thriller novels that I have read in a long time.


In “A Moving Screen” the story opens with a woman strapped to a table, completely paralyzed, in an abandoned house with no idea how she got that way. This woman knows that she is about to die. A horrible death. The killer is in the room with her and there is absolutely nothing that she can do. “It was certainly nothing she had dreamed for her future. She tried to cry out, but her lips would not open, her tongue would not move. Only a low, hoarse, unrecognizable grunt came through. She screamed inside.” The killer in the room with her lacks morals. He is completely morally degenerate.


a moving screen kris allis

The best thriller novels have a strategic portion of moral degeneration and that leads to their success.


In the Best Thriller Novels Mindlessness Trumps Astuteness

In a Thriller mindlessness is invaluable. A mindless character will do anything without thought or consideration for others. Even if the character has to feign insanity, he or she will carry out a designed program. Take the film “Shutter Island” as an example.

Leonardo DiCaprio stars in the movie as the main character, Teddy Daniels, who is a widower and U S Marshal. Also starring are Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, and Max von Sydow. Teddy is with his new partner Chuck Aule (Ruffalo) on a ferry boat to Shutter Island when the story begins. They are going to Ashecliffe Hospital for the criminally insane to investigate the disappearance of a patient. The suspense begins when Teddy discovers that there is no way the patient could have escaped a locked cell under constant supervision. We learn the patient is there because she killed her children. As the story continues we soon discover that everything is not as it seems. Insanity is running rampant and the climax is a twist on mindlessness. We are left at the end wondering just who is crazy. This film was adapted from the novel of the same name written by Dennis Lehane.

In the novel, “Shutter Island” the author used a mindless character in a terrible situation to illustrate how such a character can create the suspense to keep a reader turning the page in a thriller. The reader continues to read, not knowing what to suspect and in the end he or she is left to create their own ending. In other words, the reader has to use his or her own astuteness to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion. I loved this story! It has everything needed to make it a best thriller novel. And an interestingly suspenseful thriller movie.


In “A Moving Screen” the mindless character is Michael. Michael is a serial killer who seems completely rational. As the reader turns the pages, he or she discovers that Michael has put a lot of thought into what he does. He is a killer with a purpose and a plan. It’s just that the reader doesn’t know the plan until the end of the novel, when astuteness is once again called for. “A Moving Screen” has everything needed to rank it among the best thriller novels. In the best thriller movies mindlessness trumps astuteness in a character.

a moving screen kris allis

Bullying Trumps Complacency in the Best Thriller Novels

The dictionary defines a bully as a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker. Synonyms for a bully are a tyrant or an oppressor. Because of his very nature, a bully is an unwelcome person in any venue. His or her very presence spoils the fun. A bully requires that attention be paid to his or her every move in order to ward off all advances. Protective forces need to be in play when a bully is in the room. In short, most people despise bullies.

However, in the best thriller novels a bully needs to be present in order for the hero of the story to shine through. In John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men,” the bully is Curley, a man so mean and despicable that he didn’t rate a first and last name. Just Curley. This is a diminutive man who suffers from the “little man syndrome.” As a result, in his position as son of the boss, he feels that he can bully the employees. He especially enjoys bullying Lennie, a mentally challenged worker. Had Curley, the bully, been left out of “Of Mice and Men,” the novel would have lost its intensity. A bully’s actions trumped kindness in creating the suspense in this novel.

BEST thriller novels

In “A Moving Screen,” Michael, the serial killer is a bully. He uses strength and power to subdue his victims so that he can kill them in an unimaginably horrible fashion. He roams cities in the metropolitan Atlanta area for different jurisdictions to dispose of his victims, in order to keep police in the dark. Dennis Cane is a detective who is a bully when it comes to tracking and convicting murderers. Without Dennis Michael would continue to escape justice. He makes it impossible for anyone to stop him. The reader instinctively hopes that Dennis will. Michael is the spark of suspense and thrill needed to make “A Moving Screen” fit the category of a best thriller novel. The fact that the lead detective is a bully on crime makes life difficult for the serial killer in this novel. Bullying trumps complacency!

a moving screen

Crooked Trumps Straight in the Best Thriller Novels

A good crook is hard to find in the real world and they are usually unwelcome guests in any civilized gathering. Creating a fictional one is a challenge, but worthwhile in a thriller novel. In real life the crooks oftentimes end up in jail. Sometimes they flourish, committing the same crime over and over again with impunity. In a thriller novel it’s up to the author whether or not the crooked are punished. But, the crooked are a necessary evil for a good suspense story. It’s boring watching a straight arrow go through everyday life doing everything just the way he or she should. Excitement comes when we read about a character who can do just whatever he or she pleases. And to add icing to the cake; this crooked character could care less about who or what is hurt in the process. A good crook is extremely selfish. And in novels they are welcome in any setting because they are vital to story lines.

In Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather,” most readers came to love Vito and Michael Corleone. They broke the law in all kinds of ways from murder to money laundering. But they were such great characters. They made the novel worth reading. So much so that a film by the same name was adapted to a screenplay. At least once a month this film is shown on one of the many television channels that we all are privy to today. Had Vito and Michael been straight arrows, the book would never have been as popular. “The Godfather” is an epic thriller novel.


In “A Moving Screen” an unknown subject is at work. He kills women and leaves no traces for the police to follow. He is definitely crooked. And yet without him, the book would not be a thriller novel. The whole story centers around finding the identity of this killer and stopping him. This killer makes the novel worth reading. “A Moving Screen” has all the ingredients of a best thriller novel. 


Both of these novels can be purchased on

Deception Trumps Truth in the Best Thriller Novels

Deception is the art of trickery. The skill of pretense. Slyness. Deviousness. None of these words are positive. Deception is the most grievous to the person or persons who are its object. As human beings we rely on the truth, until we read a work of fiction. In the most popular book in print it is written: The truth shall make you free. And yet, when we read a good novel, it is deception that will keep us turning the pages. The power of deception is that when it’s done correctly, no one sees it coming until it’s too late. And we like that as readers. A fiction novel is based on imagination, we understand. But a fiction novel that is based on truth could be boring. We need that character who goes one way when we expect him or her to go another. And the character who deceives himself is always a winner.

The novel “Gone Girl” is a master work of deception. The reader begins the novel and is led to believe one thing. As the story continues, everything believed at first is suddenly challenged. To top it off the reader learns that the main character is a clever master of deceit. This leads to the conclusion that such a character can never and should never be trusted. Ironically, it’s impossible to put the book down. With so much deception and only a tad of truth, “Gone Girl” was so popular that it was made into a film by the same name. This story should make every person think twice about infidelity.


The novel “A Moving Screen” is also a master work of deception. The reader turns the page trying to figure out who exactly is Michael. He is hiding in plain sight and getting away with one murder after the other. Rarely do we meet a murderer in a novel and still not know him or her when we encounter them in other parts of the story. So it is with Michael. The deception is a vital part of the story. But that’s what makes a good thriller a best thriller. The effective use of deception. Truth means nothing to a reader who is turning page after page to reach a climax in the story. Readers cheer when they are deceived. 


Deception trumps truth in all the best thriller novels.

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.


In the Best Thriller Novels Hate Trumps Love

As a noun the word trump is most often used in card games. The trump is defined as a playing card chosen to rank above the others. As a verb it is defined as to surpass or outdo.

In a thriller novel, as in all novels, there is an antagonist. The antagonist is often referred to as the villain. For a thriller to succeed the villain must be someone that the reader loves to hate. So much hatred is built up for the villain that the only way the reader will be satisfied is if this hated one suffers a horrible fate. Thus in the best thriller novels hate trumps love. Allow me to give some examples.

In 1667 a novel entitled “Paradise Lost” was published. The villain in this novel is of course Satan. According to biblical history, Satan, a beautiful angel, was thrown out of heaven and since then he has walked to and fro looking for those he can destroy. Satan is fully deserving of hatred. Hate trumps love.


In Steig Larsson’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” a man called Nils Bjurman is appointed guardian of Lisbeth Salander. Instead of caring for her needs, he rapes and sodomizes her, and refuses to give her the right to withdraw her own money unless she does what he demands. And what he demands is horrible. Lisbeth comes to hate him. When he gets what he deserves, readers are extremely happy. In Bjurman’s case, hate definitely trumped love.


In the novel “Phycho,” by Robert Bloch, Norman Bates is off his rocker. He spends time arguing with his mother, and he kills an unsuspecting woman who checks into his hotel. When the reader learns that Norman’s mother is dead and that he killed her, a sudden desire for vengeance is created. Norman hated his mother because she loved another man, and readers come to hate Norman because he is a psychotic killer. Hate trumps love.


In “A Moving Screen,” Michael has killed two women in June for the past three years. As the novel begins the reader witnesses his first kill. He gives no reason why he does what he does. And the way these women die is unmercifully horrific. The reader instantly hates Michael and turns page after page in anticipation of his making a mistake that leads to his capture. Once again, hate trumps love.

A moving screen

What Are Best Selling Thriller Novels?

Best selling thriller novels are laden with suspense. Suspense is defined as a state or feeling of excited or anxious uncertainty about what may happ

Best-selling thriller novels are laden with suspense. Suspense is defined as a state or feeling of excited or anxious uncertainty about what may happen. When a reader is uncertain about what will happen next he or she will keep reading to find out. Three of my favorites are

“The Firm” by John Grisham


“Chiefs” by Stuart Woods.


And “A Moving Screen.”

A moving screen

It can be purchased at the following:

What Are the Best Thriller Novels?

The best thriller novels are those novels with a central character that can get himself or herself out of any situation. Including death. After reading about such a character, readers usually never forget them. Characters like D’artagnon, James Bond, and Oliver Twist. These people sprung from the imagination of their respective authors. And yet those of us who’ve read about them consider them old friends. We long to know what happened to them after the last page of the novel is turned.

James Patterson’s character Alex Cross is an example. Alex is a psychologist and a former FBI agent who lives and works in Washington, D C. He is very intelligent and cool as a cucumber. He is a good father and chooses to live in a high risk neighborhood even though he can afford to live elsewhere. He volunteers at St. Anthony’s Parish as his way to get involved with the community. He has loved and lost several women due to various reasons. He appeared first in “Along Came a Spider.


Lee Child’s character Jack Reacher is another example. Jack Reacher is a different sort of guy. He is a former military police officer of the United States Army. He travels around the country with no luggage. When he needs a change of clothes he buys them and discards the old ones. He finds himself in dangerous situations quite often, but he manages to come out of them on top. He appeared first in “The Killing Floor.”

Kris Allis’s character Anissa Brogdon is yet another example. Anissa endures three years of her life with an abusive husband who goes to the outer limits of hell to torment her. She manages to escape and still maintain her dignity and sanity. She also resolves to never go back to him and finds herself literally running for her life. She first appears in “A False Start.

++++The best thriller novels have characters that are not easily forgotten and they are so likeable that readers want to read about their adventures again and again if possible. Hence the best thriller novel series.

What Are the Best Thriller Novels?

The best thriller novels are fluent with anticipation. In the best thriller novels one or more of the characters are in peril.

close up of typewriter vintage retro styled

The best thriller novels are PHAT! This acronym refers to the necessary elements of writing that make a thriller novel a success.

P      Peril⎯In the best thriller novels one or more of the characters are in peril.Something is going to happen to them. Something bad, dangerous, life-changing,or fatal. It is this peril that creates suspense. It also holds the reader’s attention.

H     Harrowing⎯Harrowing is defined as acutely distressing. Being in peril is definitely distressing. To write your best thriller novel, the characters should continuously find themselves in harrowing circumstances.

A  Anticipatory⎯ The best thriller novels are fluent with anticipation. The reader turns the pages expecting anything. It is possible for anything to happen is the idea that the thriller novel keeps at the forefront.

T       Tense⎯When a reader picks up one of the best thriller novels they immediately encounter a character in peril. Not only is the character in a bad situation, it is a harrowing experience. As the reader turns the page he or she anticipates danger at every corner. How can the reader not be tense? How can the characters not be tense? The best thriller novels keep the actions in the story at a level that inspires tension.

I repeat: the best thriller novels are PHAT.

In “A Moving Screen” the reader meets Michael on the first page. Michael is a budding
serial killer on his first kill. The story progresses, tension mounting, as Michael perfects his craft.

A moving screen