10 Best Authors Like Sandra Brown Who: Masters of Suspense and Surprise

Explore our list of authors like Sandra Brown who create riveting mysteries and captivating thrillers.

Suspense novels have long held a special place in the literary world, offering readers gripping stories that keep them on the edge of their seats. The popularity of this genre stems from its ability to tap into the primal human emotions of fear, anticipation, and excitement. Through intricate plots, unexpected twists, and relatable characters, these novels provide an enthralling experience that allows readers to immerse themselves in a world of intrigue.

Sandra Brown, an American bestselling author, has made a name for herself in thriller suspense novels. With over 80 published titles, she has consistently delivered riveting stories that engage and entertain her readers. Some of her most acclaimed works include Lethal, Friction, and Mean Streak, each showcasing her prowess at crafting complex narratives that keep her audience guessing until the very end. Like Sandra Brown, the following suspense authors have also mastered the art of writing thrilling novels. You might also be interested in our guide on the best Sandra Brown books.

Authors Like Sandra Brown

1. J.D. Robb, 1950 –

Nora Roberts
Nora Roberts

J.D. Robb is the pen name for Nora Roberts, the author of over 225 novels. Her J.D. Robb books are a series called In Death, and are pretty suspenseful, which is a departure from Roberts’ other “persona” as Jill March, the pen name for Roberts’ romance novels. This coveys the many-faceted nature of Nora Roberts, who grew up making stories in her imagination even as a young child. Roberts has stated that she takes her writing profession seriously and works eight hours daily, focusing on one novel at a time.

Remember When combines J.D. Robb’s futuristic In Death series and a contemporary Nora Roberts story. Laine Tavish, a small-town antique store owner, is embroiled in a dangerous conspiracy involving a hidden fortune. Years later, as Eve Dallas, Lieutenant Tavish investigates the murder of a diamond thief, uncovering a tangled web of deceit and intrigue that connects to Laine’s past. If you’re searching for more thriller novels to add to your reading list, check out our guide on the best Dan Brown books!

“No point in dragging your feet once you’ve got your direction.”

J.D. Robb, Remember When
Remember When (In Death)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Roberts, Nora (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 460 Pages - 09/15/2003 (Publication Date) - Berkley (Publisher)

2. James Patterson, 1947 –

James Patterson
James Patterson

James Patterson had a successful career in literary publicity before becoming a writer. He strongly advocates literacy and believes children should be read to and taught to enjoy books as young as possible. To that end, he started a book series called Read, Kiddo, Read, which consists of books tailored to adolescents. However, Patterson still caters to adult readers and is considered a master of suspense. He is known for his short chapters with cliffhanger endings that keep readers turning the pages to find out what happens next.

In The Thomas Berryman Number, when Thomas Berryman, a notorious hitman, is hired to assassinate a Southern mayor, reporter Ochs Jones investigates the case. As Jones delves deeper into the conspiracy, he uncovers a complex web of murder, political ambition, and betrayal. The closer Jones gets to the truth, the more dangerous his situation becomes. This thrilling novel won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel.

“Thomas Berryman shaded his sunglasses so he could see the approaching car better.”

James Patterson, The Thomas Berryman Number
The Thomas Berryman Number
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Patterson, James (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 292 Pages - 06/01/2006 (Publication Date) - Little, Brown and Company (Publisher)

3. Mary Higgins Clark, 1927 – 2020

Mary Higgins Clark
Mary Higgins Clark

During her lifetime, Mary Higgins Clark authored 51 novels, many of which became bestsellers in the U.S. and abroad. She remains one of the all-time most popular suspense writers; impressively, all her books are still in print. Higgins Clark began writing as a child and was always drawn to the written word. She worked briefly as a copyeditor before becoming a stewardess, wife, and mother. She began writing short stories to add to the family’s earnings and eventually moved on to suspense novels in later life, to great success.

In Higgins Clark’s novel, Where Are The Children? Nancy Harmon, a mother accused of murdering her two children, flees her past to start anew in a small town. Years later, she remarries and has two new children. When her young son and daughter go missing, Nancy faces the horrifying possibility that history is repeating itself. With time running out, Nancy must confront her dark past to save her children and prove her innocence.

“Life wasn’t like that. It was bits and pieces. Icebergs that showed in tips.”

Mary Higgins Clark, Where Are The Children?
Where Are The Children?
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Clark, Mary Higgins (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 308 Pages - 05/25/2000 (Publication Date) - Simon & Schuster (Publisher)

4. Harlan Coben, 1962 –

Harlan Coben
Harlan Coben

An American author, Harlan Coben’s suspense novels have flown off the shelves to the tune of 60 million copies sold so far. His readers have made him a New York Times bestselling author several times. His older and new books are popular with readers of all ages. He’s also an award-winning author who has won the Edgar Award, the Anthony Award, and the Shamus Award, and he is the first writer to receive all three of these accolades.

Tell No One is one of Coben’s most popular books, with many rave reviews on Amazon and other online bookstores. The plot is suspenseful and keeps readers on the edge of their seats. Dr. David Beck’s wife, Elizabeth, was murdered eight years ago, leaving him shattered. When he receives a mysterious email hinting that Elizabeth is still alive, David is drawn into a deadly game of cat and mouse. Unraveling a complex conspiracy and fighting to stay alive, David must confront his past and the elusive mastermind to uncover the truth behind his wife’s disappearance.

Looking for more crime thriller novels to read? Check out our round-up of the best suspense authors of all time.

“People wonder if I have any regrets. The answer is, only one. I regret that there were moments I wasted doing something other than making Elizabeth happy.”

Harlan Coben, Tell No One
Sale
Tell No One: A Novel
  • Coben, Harlan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages - 08/25/2009 (Publication Date) - Dell (Publisher)

5. Iris Johansen, 1938

Iris Johansen
Book cover of And Then You Die

Iris Johansen writes in the genres of suspense fiction, romance, and crime fiction, but her suspense fiction puts her on this list of similar authors to Sandra Brown. In the early 80s, Johansen worked as an airline reservations agent, but she quit that job to write romance novels. Not quite feeling like it was a perfect fit, she tweaked her focus and began incorporating suspense into her romance novels. The suspense resonated with her, and a crime thriller, Ugly Duckling, launched her into the big leagues. Shortly after, she became a New York Times bestselling author and has never looked back.

In one of Johansen’s most suspenseful novels, And Then You Die, photojournalist Bess Grady, recovering from a near-death experience in Mexico, discovers a small town wiped out by a deadly virus. As she investigates the horrifying truth, Bess becomes the target of powerful enemies intent on hiding their deadly secret. Racing against time, Bess must expose the conspiracy and evade her relentless pursuers before the lethal virus can be unleashed on an unsuspecting world.

“She scarcely heard his curse as he turned on his heel and left her alone.”

Iris Johansen, And Then You Die
And Then You Die: A Novel
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Johansen, Iris (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages - 08/26/2003 (Publication Date) - Bantam (Publisher)

6. Linda Howard, 1950 –

Linda Howard
Book cover of Mr. Perfect

Linda Howard is the pen name of Linda Howington, an American author from Alabama. Before she was even ten years old, Linda Howington had begun writing, and she continued to do so for the next twenty years, purely for her satisfaction. Finally, while working at a trucking company, Howington decided it might be time to try to see if a publisher would be interested in her writing. She published her first book in 1982, and from there, she has gone on to win awards and enjoy a series of successful books, including many suspense novels that have captivated the imaginations of her loyal readers.

In Howard’s famous book Mr. Perfect, four friends jokingly list the qualities that make up the perfect man. When their conversation is overheard, the women find themselves targets of a cunning killer. As the death toll rises, Jaine Bright, one of the friends, teams up with a gruff detective to find the murderer. Amidst the danger, Jaine and the detective are drawn to each other in this suspenseful and romantic tale.

“Mrs. Whitcomb put him up to saying that. Corin would never, never have hurt that hamster, would you, darling?”

Linda Howard, Mr. Perfect
Mr. Perfect
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Howard, Linda (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 434 Pages - 08/09/2011 (Publication Date) - Pocket Books (Publisher)

7. Jayne Ann Krentz, 1948 –

Jayne Ann Krentz
Jayne Ann Krentz

Jayne Ann Krentz, an American author, writes suspense novels under her name and also writes in other genres under pen names. Her fans have made her suspense novels sell exceptionally well, so Krentz is best known for writing suspense, similar to Sandra Brown. Born in California, Krentz lived with her husband in the Virgin Islands for a short stint before settling in the Pacific Northwest. A one-time librarian, Krentz continues to support libraries and is a generous benefactor to the many school libraries where she resides in Seattle.

In Krentz’s book Trust No One, a savvy businesswoman, Grace Elland, discovers her boss’s dead body and becomes the prime suspect in his murder. Struggling to clear her name, she must join forces with Julius Arkwright, an eccentric venture capitalist with secrets of his own. As they navigate a dangerous web of corporate deceit, they uncover a sinister conspiracy and must rely on each other to survive.

“She was certain that he had been gone for several hours but she thought she detected a faint, accusing question in his unseeing eyes.”

Jayne Ann Krentz, Trust No One
Trust No One
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Krentz, Jayne Ann (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 353 Pages - 01/06/2015 (Publication Date) - Berkley (Publisher)

8. Catherine Coulter, 1942 –

Catherine Coulter
Book cover of The Cove

Hailing from Texas, Catherine Coulter is one of the most well-known authors of suspense novels. She came from a family of artists; her grandmother was a writer, her mother was a concert pianist, and her father was a singer and painter. Coulter was destined to be artistic in some capacity, so it’s no surprise that she began writing poetry in college. After graduation, she worked as a speechwriter, and in her free time, she devoured romance novels.

She wrote her first novel as a challenge from her husband, earning her a three-book contract with Signet. Soon, she was making enough to write full-time. She is known for her hard work ethic and writes faithfully, starting at 7:30 each morning. Her work has appeared multiple times on the New York Times Bestseller list and continues producing about one suspense novel yearly.

In Coulter’s book The Cove, protagonist Sally Brainerd, daughter of a wanted fugitive, arrives in a seemingly idyllic town where she hopes to find refuge. Instead, she uncovers a dark mystery involving a string of unexplained deaths. Teaming up with FBI agent James Quinlan, Sally must unravel the town’s secrets and confront her past in this suspenseful and romantic tale.

“She stared at her fingers, at the white line where the wedding ring had been until three days ago.”

Catherine Coulter, The Cove
The Cove (An FBI Thriller Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Coulter, Catherine (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 370 Pages - 04/01/1996 (Publication Date) - Berkley (Publisher)

9. Karen Robards, 1954 –

Karen Robards
Book cover of Bait

Kentucky-born Karen Robards has written more than fifty novels and counting. After a successful career writing romances and then historical romances, Robards decided to pen romantic suspense novels, and readers love them. Robards began writing early, selling her first short story to Reader’s Digest when she was only 19. Her debut novel was published when she was 27 and was based on some pages she had written for a graduate-level writing class at the University of Kentucky.

In Robard’s popular book Bait, Assistant District Attorney Mica Greer becomes the target of a dangerous predator after witnessing a horrifying crime. Forced into protective custody, Mica must rely on FBI agent Jake Baldwin to keep her safe. As they navigate the treacherous underworld of organized crime, Mica and Jake find themselves in a relentless game of cat and mouse. Amidst the lurking danger, their connection deepens, threatening to blur professional boundaries. Will their survival instincts prevail, or will the duo succumb to the overwhelming odds? Bait is a pulse-pounding journey of justice, survival, and unexpected love.

“Sam stopped beside the female victim and looked down at the bodies. Multiple strips of duct tape covered each victim’s mouth.”

Karen Robards, Bait
Bait
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Robards, Karen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 398 Pages - 05/31/2005 (Publication Date) - Berkley (Publisher)

10. Tami Hoag, 1959 –

Tami Hoag
Book cover of A Thin Dark Line

Born in Iowa and raised in Minnesota, Tami Hoag is American. Even as a child, Hoah knew she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. As an avid reader, she always had her nose in a book. She had many jobs but could finally live her dream of being a writer when she started writing romances for Bantam Books in 1988. Although she enjoyed many years of success in that genre, she turned to writing suspense novels and has since had at least thirteen consecutive New York Times bestsellers.

In Hoag’s suspenseful book A Thin Dark Line, Deputy Annie Broussard is drawn into a complex murder investigation in Bayou Breaux, Louisiana. When the prime suspect is found dead, Annie teams up with Detective Nick Fourcade to dig deeper into the case. As they uncover the town’s twisted secrets, they must contend with corruption, personal vendettas, and a killer who may be closer than they think. Check out these authors like Shari Lapena.

“Limping, Annie descended the last of the steps and opened the back door of the blue and white cruiser sitting at the curb.”

Tami Hoag, A Thin Dark Line
A Thin Dark Line: A Novel (Doucet Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Hoag, Tami (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 608 Pages - 12/30/2003 (Publication Date) - Bantam (Publisher)

Looking for more? Check out our round-up of the best authors like Philippa Gregory!

Author

  • Kate has been writing since she was 10 years old, tapping away on an old typewriter in her childhood bedroom. Today, Kate is a seasoned freelance writer with over 10 years of experience writing for print and online media. She’s an avid reader and believes in the power of words to transport readers to new worlds, and inspire and nurture creativity. Kate is also a published author and is currently working on her next project.