15 Authors Like Brad Thor for Espionage Fiction

Uncover gripping authors like Brad Thor, who masterfully weave tales of espionage and thrill. Read our guide for book recommendations!

Brad Thor, an American novelist noted for his spy fics and faction books, is widely acclaimed for his intriguing account narrative. Authors like Brad Thor are known for their intricate, suspenseful plotlines that draw readers in, resulting in the best spy thriller books of our time.

Thor’s accolades include 23 number one New York Times bestselling author awards, the Near Dark Best Books of the Year award, and many more. He started his writing career with the 2002 novel The Lions of Lucernethe first installment of his Scot Harvath Series.

Since then, he has produced at least 20 more books. In his writing, Thor has been quoted saying, “If we talk about the glass being half empty or half full, I want to know what does the glass look like from underneath the table?” This shows Thor’s narratives involve his need to look at unusual perspectives to create gripping tales.

Best Authors Like Brad Thor Ranked

1. Lee Child, 1954 –

Lee Child
Lee Child began writing novels in 1995, at 40, after being laid off from his corporate job

Lee Child is living proof that there’s no such thing as being too late when starting your writing profession. Later, Bloomer’s article on him said it best: “Fired at 40 and World Famous by 50.” Of course, Child, being a renowned British author, isn’t without substance. He writes captivating plots, rich with meticulous character development.

His claim to fame? The enthralling Jack Reacher series – one that catapulted him into the literary limelight, securing his status as a dominant figure in the genre. It was a massive, massive success that it had a 2012 movie and a 2016 sequel. What’s more, it became an Amazon Prime Video TV series.

If you plan to know more about Reacher, start with Killing Floor. The book doesn’t only introduce readers to a world of murder and conspiracy. It also perfectly encapsulates Child’s narrative style.

“I’d never believed in luck. Never had any cause to. Never relied on it, because I never could.”

Lee Child, Killing Floor
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02/18/2024 07:31 am GMT

2. Vince Flynn, 1966 – 2013

Vince Flynn
Vince Flynn served as a story consultant for the fifth season of the TV series 24

The Mitch Rapp series’ suspenseful and action-packed novels became Vince Flynn’s legacy. Though he succumbed to prostate cancer in 2013, Flynn’s contribution to the literary world continues. His books, much like Thor’s, often include stakes on national security and counterterrorism – a sure hit with thriller enthusiasts.

His breakout novel and the first in the series is American Assassin. Here, readers are introduced to Mitch Rapp, a dedicated CIA operative. Though he is focused on his counterterrorism operations, Rapp also has a personal vendetta against terrorists, as his lover was a victim of one of their bombings. The Mitch Rapp series, with its intense plotlines and authentic representation of the international spy networks, has consistently landed Flynn on the New York Times bestselling list. 

“Revenge is more wild, less calculated… deeply personal. Retribution is a punishment that is morally right and fully deserved.”

Vince Flynn, American Assassin
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02/19/2024 09:05 am GMT

3. Brad Taylor, 1965 –

Brad Taylor
Brad Taylor served for over 20 years in the U.S. Army, including participating in Special Forces missions

Brad Taylor did not waste his experience as an army veteran when he chose to pen novels. As Taylor was immersed in the reality of the subjects he now writes about, readers were immediately attracted to his books.

His extensive military background is evident in the depth of his writing, notably the Pike Logan series, beginning with One Rough Man. Readers follow Pike Logan, a stalwart former operator in a top-secret U.S. counterterrorist unit called the Taskforce. Taylor’s depiction of the secret Taskforce and international threats offers an insider’s perspective on how covert missions go. 

“If they didn’t appreciate their history, they wouldn’t care about their future.”

Brad Taylor, Hunter Killer
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02/18/2024 12:51 pm GMT

4. Daniel Silva, 1960 –

Daniel Silva
Daniel Silva was a journalist for UPI and CNN

Though his debut novel was published in 1994, The Unlikely Spy only climbed the New York Times bestseller list in 1997. Still, this didn’t deter Daniel Silva from creating one of his most notable works, the Gabriel Allon series. As a previous journalist diligent with research and fact-checking, Silva presents complicated international conspiracies in a digestible manner. All without sacrificing scenes teeming with action. 

In the Gabriel Allon series, readers work alongside a skilled art restorer dabbling in international spy craft. Silva’s ingenious fusion of the worlds of art and espionage results in a unique and charming narrative. To know Allon’s backstory and go on adventures with this protagonist, start with the 2000 novel The Kill Artist.

“In the online age, it was more important to live out loud than to live with dignity.”

Daniel Silva, The Heist
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02/18/2024 08:31 am GMT

5. Tom Wood, 1978 –

Tom Wood
Tom Wood once worked as a film-maker and freelance editor

Famous for his Victor the Assassin series, Tom Wood’s first book, The Killer, catapulted him into the realm of must-read authors in the genre. So, who is Victor? He’s a freelance assassin with no past or future. Killing is routine for him – merely a business transaction. That’s until he was caught in an ambush, and now he has to be on the run. 

Imagine being the target of everyone – enemies, other assassins, even the government. Wood’s background has no doubt contributed to this accurately detailed representation. Wood’s works are not just about the thrills, though. They also delve into the psyche of an assassin, adding an extra layer of depth to his books. 

The parallels between Thor’s Scot Harvath series and Wood’s Victor the Assassin series are particularly striking. Both craft masterful thrillers centered around lone wolf characters navigating the treacherous world of international espionage. 

“Once you’ve sold your soul to the devil you can’t then ask for it back.”

Tom Wood, The Hunter
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02/18/2024 01:10 pm GMT

6. David Baldacci, 1960 –

David Baldacci
David Baldacci began writing stories in the notebook given by his mom

As a New York Times bestselling writer, Baldacci has created an impressive repertoire of work. This includes the Will Robie and Amos Decker series. With over 150 million copies in print, Baldacci’s books have been translated into more than 45 languages and sold in over 80 territories. 

One of his best books, the 1996 Absolute Power, tells the story of the American President, the power he reigns, and his corruption. The following year, it was screened at the Cannes Film Festival. Clint Eastwood directed and starred in the film.

Baldacci is a powerhouse when it comes to pulse-pounding plotlines, intricate characters, and engaging storytelling. His Memory Man, the first book in the Amos Decker series, is another noteworthy read. 

“We have not one but two killers. And as implausible as it sounds, I don’t think either one knew about the other.”

David Baldacci, Long Shadows
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02/18/2024 07:06 am GMT

7. Mark Greaney, 1967 –

Mark Greaney
Mark Greaney used to sell medical equipment to make ends meet

Mark Greaney took the literary world by storm when he penned his 2009 debut novel, The Gray Man. It’s the first in the series of the same name, featuring the highly skilled ex-CIA operative and now assassin-for-hire, Court Gentry. Readers go through the protagonist’s struggle as he untangles his previous agency’s secrets. The novel was turned into a 2022 movie led by Ryan Gosling, with around 43.55 million viewers in just three days. 

Greaney also has the distinction of co-authoring several books in Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan universe. He even continued the series after the legendary Clancy died in 2013. Greaney will continue to pen great thrillers, with Burner and Sierra Six being his most recent ones.

“My skill set is not conducive to honest work.”

Mark Greaney, The Gray Man
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02/18/2024 01:21 pm GMT

8. Alex Berenson, 1973 –

Alex Berenson
Alex Berenson was a reporter for the New York Times, starting in 1999

As a former writer for the New York Times, Alex Berenson wasted none of his journalistic acumen and imbued his writing with it. Piling extensive experience in the field, Berenson leveraged his intimate knowledge of international affairs, investigative journalism, and the inner workings of the government to create the bestselling John Wells series. 

His debut novel and the first installment in the series, The Faithful Spy, won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel. It’s about a deep-cover CIA operative who is as complex and intriguing as Brad Thor’s Scot Harvath.

Berenson’s writing stands out as he’s fond of mixing fast-paced action with insightful commentary on contemporary political and social issues. The authenticity of his plotlines injects a sense of realism into his books. His latest book, The Power Couple, offers a fresh take on the domestic thriller genre, demonstrating his versatility.

“Everything depends on which side of the shotgun you’re on.”

Alex Berenson, The Faithful Spy
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02/18/2024 01:21 pm GMT

9. Ben Coes, 1966 –

Ben Coes
Ben Coes was once a White House speechwriter

As a former speechwriter for the U.S. Secretary of Energy, it’s not surprising that Ben Coes decided to pen his debut novel surrounding just that – energy sources. The 2010 novel Power Down, written when Coe was in his 40s, has everything a thriller seeker wants. It has terrorists, intelligent dialogue and premise, and high-octane scenes. Coes’ ability to infuse his plotlines with intricate details and his firsthand knowledge of the bare bones of politics sets him apart from his contemporaries. 

Another celebrated work of his is First Strike. What is it about? It’s a seamless blend of heart-stopping action sequences with intense political drama. This book not only solidified his place on the New York Times bestselling list. It also won him accolades for his riveting portrayal of national security threats. 

“If you think you have nothing, then you do, and that’s when you’re defeated.”

Ben Coes, Coup D’Etat
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10. Jack Carr, 1996 – 2016

Jack Carr
Jack Carr is a former Navy SEAL

Not many have the guts to be a Navy Seal sniper – and yet Jack Carr served as one for almost seven years. His involvement with the special operations force, in turn, gave him the baseline he needed for his espionage and military fiction. One page and you’ll appreciate his unparalleled level of authenticity, plunging readers into the heart of the action. 

His debut novel, The Terminal List, was a tour de force, introducing readers to James Reece. Just like the author, Reece is a Navy SEAL who walked into a sabotaged mission where he lost 12 of his comrades. It now has a 2022 TV adaptation on Amazon Prime featuring Chris Pratt.

Brad Thor described Carr’s fourth James Reece installment, The Devil’s Hand, as “So powerful, so pulse-pounding, so well-written.” If that’s not enough to sway you to read Carr’s novels, what will?

“You must direct the fire and movement of the entire element and resist the instinct to become just another gun in the fight.”

Jack Carr, The Terminal List: A Thriller
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02/18/2024 02:01 pm GMT

11. Kyle Mills 1966 –

Kyle Mills

Image caption: Kyle Mills took over the Mitch Rapp Series after the death of its original author, Vince Flynn.

Kyle Mills’ talent to continue Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp series since 2013 without losing the characters’ essence proves he’s among the most prodigious American authors today. Moreover, he penned the extended series with his touch. His first book in the series, The Survivor, became a New York Times bestseller. 

Of course, Mills also penned his series. The most famous is about a special FBI agent, Mark Beamon. The series includes Rising Phoenix, Storming Heaven, and three more. Readers are treated to a much-needed adrenaline rush and plot twists with Mills’ novels. 

“it would be very much a mistake to paint Ward as either innocent or a victim.”

Kyle Mills, Enemy at the Gates
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02/18/2024 02:06 pm GMT

12. Marc Cameron, 1961 –

Marc Cameron
Marc Cameron was a former U.S. Marshal

With almost 30 years in law enforcement, Marc Cameron is one of those who bring authenticity to the writing table. Though he has been heavily involved in Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan universe, he’s also the proud creator of the Jericho Quinn Series. 

Cameron’s books, such as National Security, Code of Honor, and State of Emergency, feature deftly woven plotlines overflowing with action, suspense, and a level of detail that only a seasoned law enforcement officer could provide. If you’re looking to travel right into the heartland of America’s secret defense and counterterrorism operations, look no further than Marc Cameron’s works – they are as real as it gets. 

“No one ever made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.” 

Marc Cameron, Code of Honor
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02/18/2024 02:07 pm GMT

13. Tom Clancy, 1947 – 2013

Tom Clancy
Tom Clancy was once an insurance agent

We’ve finally reached the one man responsible for the Jack Ryan series. Tom Clancy’s portfolio comprises numerous international bestsellers. Still, it was his first novel, The Hunt for Red October, that propelled him to fame. The gripping plotline, combined with his uncanny ability to detail submarine warfare, struck a chord with readers and critics alike. This established Clancy as an unforgettable force, even after a decade of his passing.

Clancy’s profound understanding of national security intricacies, combined with his crafty storytelling, make his books an absolute must-read for any techno-thriller enthusiast.

“In the Soviet Union, every worker is a government worker, and they have a saying: As long as the bosses pretend to pay us, we will pretend to work.”

Tom Clancy, The Hunt for Red October
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02/19/2024 04:51 pm GMT

14. Ted Bell, 1846 – 2023

Ted Bell
Ted Bell was an advertising executive at Young & Rubicam

Ted Bell, best known for his Alex Hawke series, is an author who successfully transitioned from advertising to writing high-stakes espionage thrillers. With flair and precision, no less. His transition into authoring was marked by his 2001 debut novel, Hawke. Bell’s books are renowned for their complex plotlines, immersive detail, and intriguing characters.

The Alex Hawke series, in particular, has garnered Bell widespread acclaim. After all, who could resist a British nobleman-slash-spy? Hawke handles cases the MI6 can’t touch. Although Bell died at age 76 in early 2023, his skill in threading action, international intrigue, and nuanced character development would live on forever through the pages of his novels.

“He said having a smoking section in a restaurant was just like having a pissing section in a swimming pool.”

Ted Bell, Hawke
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02/18/2024 02:20 pm GMT

15. Barry Eisler, 1964 –

Barry Eisler
Barry Eisler was a covert operative for the CIA

Barry Eisler’s time in the CIA put him in the direct line of what espionage is all about. He had seen the action, been a part of it, and now he’s imbuing his novels with his real-life encounters.

He made a striking entrance into the literary world in 2003 with his debut novel, Rain Fall. It’s the first installment in the now widely acclaimed John Rain series. John Rain is an assassin specializing in making his hits look like natural deaths.

His firsthand knowledge of undercover operations lends a unique level of credibility to his works, making them a must-read. Eisler’s The Killer Collective, a crossover novel featuring characters from his John Rain and Livia Lone series, is something you should read if you’re a thriller fan. 

“But there’s a third kind of person. The sheepdog. Sheepdogs have fangs like wolves. But their instinct isn’t predation. It’s protection. All they want, what they live for, is to protect the flock.”

Barry Eisler, Livia Lone
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02/18/2024 06:46 am GMT

  • Maria Caballero is a freelance writer who has been writing since high school. She believes that to be a writer doesn't only refer to excellent syntax and semantics but also knowing how to weave words together to communicate to any reader effectively.