Explore action-packed worlds with our list of authors like James Rollins. Uncover thrilling adventures that make it hard to stop flipping to the next page!
Authors like James Rollins are celebrated for their interesting plots and action-packed series. His real name is James Paul Czajkowski, and he’s a favorite among American techno-thriller authors. That isn’t really surprising. Not when he’s one of the best science fiction authors today who seamlessly blends history and fast-paced scenes.
Though he’s fond of brisk storylines, Rollins doesn’t sacrifice the narrative’s elements. He focuses on embedding his plots with meticulously researched historical and scientific details. To truly polish his work, he first started with short stories. He even joined a critique group where he continuously gets feedback.
He once said, “Fiction writing was in my blood from a very young age, but I never considered writing as a real career. I thought you had to have some literary pedigree to be a successful author, the son of Hemingway or Fitzgerald.”
With his effort, he’s now a consistent presence in the New York Times Bestseller list. He’s living proof that it’s not too late to let your passion for writing lead you.
- Best Authors Like James Rollins Ranked
- 1. Steve Berry, 1955 –
- 2. Matthew Reilly, 1974 –
- 3. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, 1957 –
- 4. Andy McDermott, 1974 –
- 5. Dan Brown, 1964 –
- 6. Clive Cussler, 1931 –
- 7. David Gibbins, 1962 –
- 8. David Lynn Golemon,1955 –
- 9. Boyd Morrison, 1967 –
- 10. Jeremy Robinson, 1974 –
- 11. Brad Thor, 1969 –
- 12. James Grippando, 1958 –
- 13. Michael Crichton, 1942
- 14. Greig Beck
- 15. Raymond Khoury, 1960 –
- 16. Jeff Long, 1951 –
- 17. Scott Mariani, 1968 –
- 18. Chris Kuzneski, 1969 –
- 19. Sam Bourne, 1967
- 20. Simon Toyne, 1968 –
- 21. Gregg Hurwitz, 1973 –
- 22. Jon Land, 1957 –
Best Authors Like James Rollins Ranked
1. Steve Berry, 1955 –
Steve Berry is a titan in the world of action-adventure novels. Like Rollins, he’s notorious for interweaving historical facts, intense action, and dynamic conspiracies. Berry uses his 30-year experience as a practicing attorney to pen engaging narratives. One of his best so far is the first book in his Cotton Malone series, The Templar Legacy.
Berry is a master in his vivid portrayal of historical events. Often, these events happened in real life, thus making his work all the more intriguing. If you enjoyed James Rollins’ Sigma Force series, Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone series will likely be up your alley.
“All of us bear God’s image, all are worthy to be loved, all can grow in the spirit of God.”Steve Berry, The Templar Legacy
2. Matthew Reilly, 1974 –
Aside from being one of the renowned Australian authors today, Matthew Reilly is also responsible for directing the 2022 film Interceptor. Most would give up their writing career after being rejected by major publishing houses. But not Reilly. Instead of backing down, he published his first book, Contest, on his own.
Gaining recognition was difficult, but he took off with Ice Station, the first book in the popular Scarecrow series. Like James Rollins, Reilly’s books are an adrenaline-infused mix of intense action and sharp twists. His Scarecrow series is renowned for its high-stakes adventure and larger-than-life hero.
“You’d be surprised, you can do a lot more damage with your brains than with your fists.”Matthew Reilly, Contest
3. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, 1957 –
Who would forget Preston and Child when discussing similar authors to James Rollins? After all, they’re the power duo behind the acclaimed Pendergast series that threads historical factoids with thrilling fiction.
Douglas Preston, formerly a writer for the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and Lincoln Child, a former book editor, teamed up to write the bestseller Relic. It not only became a blockbuster hit but also a movie.
The Pendergast series features a charismatic and quirky FBI agent. This premise sets the stage for mysteries that range from murder investigations to scientific anomalies. Their storytelling prowess is further demonstrated in The Cabinet of Curiosities, highlighting New York’s dark history and shocking bombshells.
“One can reach the gates of hell just as easily by short steps as by large.”Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, The Cabinet of Curiosities
4. Andy McDermott, 1974 –
Whoever says there’s an age limit to starting your writing journey is unequivocally wrong. Just take Andy McDermott as an example. He applies his array of previous professions and experiences to his narratives, making him a sought-after author at age 33. His novels are a suave combo of intriguing history, tense action, and stimulating mystery. McDermott’s claim to fame is the Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase series. It stretches over 15 books, with the 2007 The Hunt for Atlantis being the first installment.
“You were right! That whole aiming thing really does work!”Andy Mcdermott, The Hunt for Atlantis
5. Dan Brown, 1964 –
We’ll take a gander and bet you’ve heard about The Da Vinci Code—at least once in your life. We’ll be really surprised if you haven’t. After all, Dan Brown’s masterpiece endures to be a debate topic within school campuses and by scholars around the globe.
Its fame is also not without merits. When reading Dan Brown’s books, you’ll feel like you’re always in a race against time. You become breathless, like the protagonist, as you search for hidden clues. The Da Vinci Code is just one that shows off Brown’s skill in knitting complex themes into a cohesive narrative. All while presenting personal insights into religious history and symbology.
“Telling someone about what a symbol means is like telling someone how music should make them feel.“Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code
6. Clive Cussler, 1931 –
Clive Cussler is not your usual American novelist. He spent so much time underwater that you’ll wonder how he didn’t turn into a merman during his expeditions. When it comes to writing, his being a marine archaeologist lets him curate such rich tales. Aside from his James-Bond-esque novels, the nonfiction record of his exploits led him to write at least 80 books.
Take his 1976 adventure tale, Raise the Titanic!, for instance. Open the pages, and you’ll be transported into the deep sea with the remnants of the RMS Titanic. Another worthy read is his Dirk Pitt series, particularly the novel Inca Gold. This action-packed thriller sends Dirk Pitt on a perilous mission to unveil an ancient Incan treasure.
“Intruders can rig your private elevator easier than stealing a Mercedes-Benz.”Clive Cussler, Inca Gold
7. David Gibbins, 1962 –
Another deep-sea adventurer is the English novelist David Gibbins. As an underwater archeologist, his diving explorations make for intriguing narratives mirrored in his novels. The authenticity and depths of his works are well-received, with them being translated into over 30 languages.
Among his novels is the Jack Howard series that begins with Atlantis. A legend, an ancient puzzle, and a race against time. It’s a gripping tale where readers hunt alongside the book’s protagonist. Gibbins’ ability to infuse his real-life experiences and extensive knowledge into his stories makes his books a must-read for any fan of action-packed adventure stories.
“He knew that to achieve greatness you had to be an outsider.“David Gibbins, Atlantis
8. David Lynn Golemon,1955 –
David Lynn Golemon’s mesmeric, high-stakes tales bear a striking resemblance to the works of James Rollins. But where did he get his talent for such palpable, tension-filled action sequences? His time in the military lends veracity to his novels. Through his shared, real-life experience, readers feel the intensity that almost jumps from the books’ pages.
He’s best known for the 14-book Event Group series that mingles history, military strategy, and science fiction. The book Event, in particular, stands out. It tells the story of two beings, one good, one the Destroyer of Worlds. Here, only the top secret US agency, Event Group, can prevent this destruction from happening. It’s an action-packed thriller similar to James Rollin’s A Map of Bones that uses fantastical elements to set the fiction apart from others.
“Distrust is an assurance against corruption.“David Lynn Golemon, Event
9. Boyd Morrison, 1967 –
With a background as diverse as Boyd Morrison, it’s predictable that he brings a unique perspective to his storytelling. His works, especially the Tyler Locke series, are best known for their sophisticated diegesis, religious, and scientific probings. Morrison’s writing parallels the page-turner narrative style of the Sigma Force series by James Rollins and the captivating mystery unraveling of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.
If you want to start reading Morrison’s book, try The Ark: A Novel. It’s an action-packed adventure akin to Indiana Jones’ escapades. In The Ark, you get to uncover the mysteries related to Noah’s Ark and its effects on the modern world.
“The brave do what they can. The desperate do what they must. The crazy do what you least expect. Where do you think I fit in?”Boyd Morrison, The Vault
10. Jeremy Robinson, 1974 –
Jeremy Robinson is one of the most prolific writers, with 60 novels under his belt. Aka Jeremiah Knight, aka Jeremy Bishop. He has a penchant for combining science and history, like others on this list. In his case, he adds another secret ingredient: mythology. His resounding success is evident through the many comics and films inspired by his art.
As a new reader, you can delve into Pulse, the first book in his Chess Team series. You get to meet the players, their specialties, and how they strive to prevent any–and we mean any–threat to the US. Riding with the Special Forces is exciting enough. Now, add that with an evil villain who wants eternal life. Not for himself but to create immortal soldiers to conquer the world.
“Chaos is only chaos to the people who aren’t expecting it.”Jeremy Robinson, Pulse
11. Brad Thor, 1969 –
Brad Thor is an internationally acclaimed author. So much so that he has been referred to as the “Master of Thrillers.” If you’re wondering why, he only has 23 New York Times bestsellers to his credit. And that’s just a peak at his awards.
The 54-year-old novelist is a veteran of penning spy and geopolitical drama. Who wouldn’t get drawn to worlds full of high-stakes espionage and international conspiracies? In his Scot Harvath series alone, there are 21 books waiting for readers to digest.
Here’s a taste: In The Lions of Lucerne, the US president is kidnapped by a terrorist group. What happened to his Secret Service Agents? All executed. With Thor intermingling reality and fiction in such a tight manner, it becomes easy for readers to understand his plots and the characters’ motivations.
“Fortes Fortuna Adjuvat. Fortune favors the brave.”Brad Thor, The Lions of Lucerne
12. James Grippando, 1958 –
James Grippando’s excellence isn’t limited to his 2017 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction. His ability to capture the histrionic and adrenaline-inducing theatrics of crime, legal, and psychological thrillers makes his works stand out. His time at the courts just made his narratives more authentic and engaging. The intricate plots, his extraordinary writing, and the revelations he jots down will keep you on your toes.
Reading books like Grippando’s takes you alongside the characters’ dilemmas. His unpredictability and zero-sum storylines reflect those of James Rollins. A particular favorite is the last installment of his Jack Swyteck series, Gone Again. A sudden disappearance, a convicted but innocent felon, and a desperate case to find the truth. That’s just scratching the surface of this 400-page novel.
“There are only two types of people who can be totally honest with each other, lovers and strangers. Everyone else is just negotiating.“James Grippando, Gone Again
13. Michael Crichton, 1942
Michael Crichton, one of the most successful authors of his generation, was a master of the medical fiction and techno-thriller genre. With over 200 million book copies sold and at least a dozen tales turned into movies, it’s no wonder he was on top of his game. Moreover, he was a TV producer and director. His rich experiences in biology, medicine, and technology helped him deliver bestsellers.
Crichton’s most renowned work, Jurassic Park, is a testament to his genius at fusing scientific concepts with action-packed narratives. Here, readers go on an adventure to an island where a mogul’s vision of a prehistoric theme park comes horrifyingly to life. This unrelenting pace, much like the Sigma Force series, seizes the audience until the last page. His other works, such as Sphere and Congo, also echo the thrilling intensity and scientific intrigue that readers crave.
“The planet has survived everything, in its time. It will certainly survive us.”Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park
14. Greig Beck
Greig Beck, an Australian author renowned for his heart-stopping action and adventure novels, has etched his name in the tableau of contemporary thriller-slash-science fiction. His storytelling prowess centers around the supernatural and scientific spectacles. Beck injects a vibrant life into what others may find boring to keep readers interested. h
This New York Times bestselling author’s Alex Hunter series takes readers to various heart-pounding missions. The first book in the series, Beneath the Dark Ice, sets the tone with an intoxicating mix of horror, science fiction, and non-stop action. Beck’s masterful weaving of suspense and intrigue and his knack for painting vivid, cinematic landscapes make his novels a must-read.
“Soldiers we are not alone. Prepare to go hot.”Greig Beck, Beneath the Dark Ice
15. Raymond Khoury, 1960 –
The Lebanese-born American author Raymond Khoury takes pride in his riveting storytelling abilities. To lace historical truths and high-octane fiction is no easy feat. Yet Khoury established himself among the ranks of masterful thriller novelists
His debut novel, The Last Templar, skyrocketed to the status of an international bestseller. It only reinforced his position on the New York Times Bestselling Author list. The book unfolds a gripping tale that merges the mystique of the medieval Templar Knights with the pulse-pounding suspense of modern-day thrillers.
Khoury’s subsequent novels, particularly those in the Sean Reilly series, continue to demonstrate the thrill and intrigue he effortlessly curates from his narratives. His ability to create a cinematic atmosphere with words alone is astounding, making his books a must-read for every action-adventure enthusiast.
“Religion has always been the fuel that keeps the furnaces of intolerance and hatred burning.”Raymond Khoury, The Last Templar
16. Jeff Long, 1951 –
Jeff Long earned his place next to authors like James Rollins for his meticulousness and rigor in presenting details in his narratives. For him, it’s not just knowing suspense, action, science, and history. It’s presenting his tales in a way that can satiate any thrill seeker.
We recommend listing The Descent for your next read if you want something terrifying. Just imagine—humanoids trapped in the underworld that can invade us anytime. Through this novel, you’ll be pushed to acknowledge the unknown. Its sequel, Deeper, continues the heart-stopping adventure, further cementing Long’s reputation as a master of the genre.
His other notable works include The Wall and The Ascent, which showcase his gift for creating viscerally real worlds and characters that live in the reader’s imagination long after the book is closed.
“Life’s too short for doubt, and yet too long for faith.”Jeff Long, The Wall
17. Scott Mariani, 1968 –
From a musician to a translator, Scott Mariani has an array of occupations he did before being a novelist. Though his first book was published in 2007, it became an immediate hit. Most will describe Mariani’s books as “James Bond meets Jason Bourne.”
For instance, Mariani’s Sigma Force-like series, the Ben Hope novels, have consistently found themselves on bestseller lists in the US and the UK. His debut novel, The Alchemist’s Secret, introduced readers to the charming Ben Hope, an ex-SAS major with an uncanny penchant for getting embroiled in deadly mysteries rooted in historical events. Need we say more?
“Shame on the shepherd who runs and hides when wolves are coming to harm his flock..”Scott Mariani, The Armada Legacy
18. Chris Kuzneski, 1969 –
This list is full of celebrated authors with a keen interest in research and breakneck packing, but with Chris Kuzneski’s works, you’ll feel like you teleported someplace else. When you open his novels, you are greeted with a world of historical mysteries and unforgettable characters. He won readers’ attention and got a spot in the #1 New York Times bestselling author’s list.
Personally endorsed by James Rollins and James Peterson (and many others) is his book, The Plantation. It’s a kidnapping, a man-hunt, and a rescue operation. Here, you’ll meet the charismatic duo of Payne and Jones, ex-military men embroiled in adventures that span continents. Their camaraderie, quick wit, and high-stakes action are sure to keep you up late.
“Some people see the glass as half-empty, while others see it as half-full. But Jones stares at it and tries to figure out who drank the damn water.”Chris Kuzneski, The Plantation
19. Sam Bourne, 1967
Sam Bourne, the pseudonym for award-winning journalist Jonathan Freedland, is responsible for a series of successful high-concept thrillers. A seasoned journalist for The Guardian, Bourne brings a keen understanding of politics and international affairs to his tales, lending credibility and authenticity to his action-packed narratives. But wait—his mastery is not just within the realm of story-making. It extends to baking real-world political issues into his narratives.
His breakout novel, The Righteous Men, is an exciting blend of ancient prophecy and modern-day conspiracy. Meanwhile, The Last Testament exhibits his capacity for spinning multi-layered tales.
“It is better to live one day as a lion than a hundred years as a sheep.”Sam Bourne, The Last Testament
20. Simon Toyne, 1968 –
When it comes to storytelling, Simon Toyne is considered an all-rounder. He’s had his hand on everything in the thriller genre—police procedural drama, apocalypse, etc.
One of the most well-received, though, is his Sanctus Trilogy. The first book, Sanctus, focuses on a suicide—except it isn’t. It’s actually a symbolic act… that happened to have a witness. Who? The world. Sounds interesting? Like his other work, Toyne’s uniqueness lies in his talent for marrying mythical elements with heart-stopping action. His latest work, Solomon Creed, has further solidified his standing as a master of action-adventure thrillers.
“The end of one thing must also be the beginning of another.”Simon Toyne, Solomon Creed
21. Gregg Hurwitz, 1973 –
Gregg Hurwitz has made quite a stir in the action-thriller literary realm with his series of Orphan X novels. His works, such as The Crime Writer and Tell No Lies, have found a cozy place on the New York Times Bestseller list. It’s just one part of the testament to his works’ popularity among avid readers.
Let’s get back to Hurwitz’s Orphan X. In this book, he introduces readers to Evan Smoak, who’s drawn into a world of high-stakes espionage and relentless action. The Orphan X series perfectly depicts Hurwitz’s writing— taut prose, engaging characters, and unpredictable twists.
“Pursue what is meaningful, not what is expedient.”Gregg Hurwitz, The Crime Writer
22. Jon Land, 1957 –
Jon Land’s narratives contain historical context, conspiracies, and gripping action sequences. Land’s novels stand out for their remarkable characters, heart-stopping suspense, and riveting storytelling – elements that have earned him a place on the New York Times Bestseller list. His most popular series, the Caitlin Strong novels, has garnered critical acclaim and a dedicated fanbase.
“Death had come to be treated too often like lost points in a video game.”Jon Land, Caitlin Strong
Looking for more? Check out our round-up of the best crime thriller authors!