11 Best Authors Like Sidney Sheldon for All Thriller Fans

Discover our guide with the best authors like Sidney Sheldon; their books will keep you guessing until the very last page. 

Born in 1917, Sidney Sheldon became well-known early in his writing career for his work as a screenwriter and for writing Broadway plays. Yet it’s his 18 novels that earned him a place in literary history, selling over 300 million copies and being translated into 51 languages. He regularly lands on the list of the top best-selling fiction writers ever. Sheldon grew up in Chicago and worked various jobs through the Great Depression.

In 1937, he moved to Hollywood and started working on scripts, earning him several awards. His screenplay The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer earned an Academy Award in 1947; in 1959, his Broadway musical Redhead earned him a Tony Award. He also worked on the screenplays for Easter Parade and Annie Get Your Gun.

In 1969, Sheldon turned his mind toward writing, with The Naked Face as his first novel. This book won the Edgar Allan Poe award from the Mystery Writers of America, and it was followed by The Other Side of Midnight in 1973, A Stranger in the Mirror in 1976, and Bloodline in 1977. He continued writing throughout his life, and his final novel was Are You Afraid of the Dark in 2004.

Readers appreciate the suspense he builds into the novels and his ability to keep them guessing until the last page. If you’re a fan of the best Sidney Sheldon books, these authors are a great place to go for your next book recommendation. 

Best Authors Like Sidney Sheldon Ranked

1. Jeffrey Archer, 1940 –

Jeffrey Archer
Author Jeffrey Archer

Born in London, Jeffrey Archer started his professional career as a member of Parliament, but when a financial scandal caused him to leave political life, he turned to writing. In the fall of 1974, he wrote Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less to avoid bankruptcy. The novel was successful, becoming the subject of a radio broadcast and television adaptation. Next, he published Kane and Abel in 1979, his bestselling book.

After reaching the top spot on The New York Times bestseller list, Kane and Abel stayed popular, and it remains a bestseller today, with 34 million copies sold worldwide. In 2009, he re-wrote the book for the modern reader. International sales of Archer’s books have passed 275 million copies to date. These early books were not political thrillers, but he later moved into this genre, placing him among the top authors like Sidney Shelton. Read our guide to the best Jeffrey Archer books.

“If you have to pay a bill, always make it look as if the amount is of no consequence.”

Jeffrey Archer, Kane and Abel
Kane and Abel
  • Archer, Jeffrey (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 656 Pages - 11/03/2009 (Publication Date) - St. Martin's Paperbacks (Publisher)

2. John Grisham, 1955 –

John Grisham
Author John Grisham

Legal and political thriller fans are well aware of the name John Grisham. This best-selling author is one of only three authors in the world to have a book that sold two million copies in its first printing. A Mississippi native, Grisham was a lawyer and a member of the state House of Representatives before he turned his attention to writing. His books, like A Time to Kill and The Firm, often become feature films. 

The Firm’s second book, published in 1991, stayed on the bestseller list for 47 weeks in a row. Grisham has had 47 consecutive number-one best sellers, and his books have been translated into nearly 50 languages. He also won the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction twice and has a Library of Congress Creative Achievement Award. Read our guide to the best authors like John Grisham.

“Some of our clients have not been saints, but no lawyer can dictate morals to his client.”

John Grisham, The Firm
The Firm: A Novel (The Firm Series)
  • Grisham, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 560 Pages - 08/25/2009 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

3. Agatha Christie, 1890 -1976

Agatha Christie
Author Agatha Christie

In many ways, Agatha Christie invented the crime thriller. This British author, the best-selling novelist of all time, wrote fascinating detective novels, short stories, and plays. The Mousetrap, one of her works, is the world’s longest-running play. Christie has sold over a billion copies of her books in English and a billion more in various translations. As a child in England, Christie was home without siblings often, and she learned to read to pass the time.

Reading taught her to enjoy words, which led to a lifetime of writing. Christie’s first book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, introduced the world to her most famous character, Detective Hercule Poirot. Read our guide to the best Agatha Christie books.

“Sometimes I feel sure he is as mad as a hatter and then, just as he is at his maddest, I find there is a method in his madness.”

Agatha Christie, The Mysterious Affair at Styles
The Mysterious Affair at Styles: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Warbler Classics)
  • Christie, Agatha (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 185 Pages - 01/02/2020 (Publication Date) - Warbler Classics (Publisher)

4. Dan Brown, 1964 –

Dan Brown
Author Dan Brown

Dan Brown is an American author of thriller novels whose books typically involve a treasure hunt in just 24 hours. Robert Langdon is a common main character, and one of the most famous Langdon books is The Da Vinci Code. Brown published this popular novel in 2003 and it remains one of the world’s most popular books. On vacation in 1993, he read a Sidney Sheldon book, The Doomsday Conspiracy, that inspired him to start writing.

In 1998 he published Digital Fortress, his first novel, and his library career began. Interestingly, in 2004, all four of the novels he had in print were simultaneously on the New York Times bestseller list. Read our guide to the best Dan Brown books.

“Men go to far greater lengths to avoid what they fear than to obtain what they desire.”

Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code
The Da Vinci Code (Robert Langdon)
  • Paris symbologist phone call murder painter
  • Brown, Dan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 597 Pages - 03/31/2009 (Publication Date) - Anchor (Publisher)

5. James Patterson, 1947 –

James Patterson
Author James Patterson

American author James Patterson is best known for his Alex Cross and Michael Bennett series. The successful writer was born in New York state and attended Vanderbilt University, where he studied English. He worked as an advertising executive until retirement in 1996, when he started writing. Since publishing his first novel, The Thomas Berryman Number, Paterson has had 114 New York Times bestsellers, and he holds the record for the author with the number one book on the list.

In addition, he has several books for children and earned the National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize for his work on promoting literacy for children and teens. To date, Patterson has sold over 425 million books, and his first Alex Cross book, Along Came a Spider, consistently ranks as one of his best works. You might also like these authors like Tom Clancy.

“It’s all right to put the weight of the world on your shoulders sometimes, if you know how to take it off.”

James Patterson, Along Came a Spider
Along Came a Spider (Alex Cross, 1)
  • Patterson, James (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 464 Pages - 08/01/2003 (Publication Date) - Grand Central Publishing (Publisher)

6. David Baldacci, 1960 –

David Baldacci
Author David Baldacci

When David Baldacci was a child, his mother gave him a notebook to write down his ideas to keep him quiet. The strategy worked well, launching what would become a very successful literary career. Today, Baldacci has 47 novels published in 45 languages and 80 countries and seven books for younger readers. Before he started writing, the author earned his law degree from the University of Virginia and practiced law in the nation’s capital. Memory Man, his 2015 novel, is one of his most famous books and was a nominee for the Goodreads Choice Award. Read our guide to the best David Baldacci books

“Kids make everything better. And harder.”

David Baldacci, Memory Man
Memory Man (Memory Man Series, 1)
  • Baldacci, David (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 432 Pages - 09/15/2015 (Publication Date) - Grand Central Publishing (Publisher)

7. Mary Higgins Clark, 1927 – 2020

Mary Higgins Clark
Author Mary Higgins Clark

Mary Higgins Clark started writing as a young mom as a way to make money on the side for her family. After losing her husband in 1964, she became a scriptwriter for radio stories to earn income. An agent discovered her work and convinced her it was time to write novels. Aspire to the Heavens, her first book, was about George Washington and did not sell well, but her agent encouraged Higgins Clark to continue writing. Soon, due to his encouragement, her first suspense novel, Where Are the Children, was published. It was a bestseller and led to the writer’s successful career writing crime novels.

When she died in 2020, she had over 50 novels that had sold millions of copies. The hardcover of On the Street Where You Live, her 2001 novel, and the softcover of Before I Say Goodbye, her 2000 novel, were simultaneously on the top of the New York Times bestseller list. Read our guide to the best Mary Higgins books.

“Regret because you really can’t control your life. Most of the time you don’t act; you react.”

Mary Higgins Clark, Where Are the Children?
Where Are the Children?
  • Clark, Mary Higgins (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 240 Pages - 05/02/2023 (Publication Date) - Simon & Schuster (Publisher)

8. Robert Ludlum, 1927 – 2001

Robert Ludlum
Author Robert Ludlum

The creator of Jason Bourne, Robert Ludlum, wrote 27 thriller novels throughout his life. Ludlum wrote spy fiction and mystery books, and his most famous were the books in The Bourne Trilogy, which became a series of successful Hollywood films, and the third book, The Bourne Ultimatum, which won an Oscar. This New York City native served in the United States Marines and gained experience in the theater before starting to write his books.

Several of his books, including The Sigma Protocol in 2001 and The Tristan Betrayal in 2003, were published after his death. If you’re searching for more thriller books to binge on a weekend, check out our list of the best Evan Hunter books. You can also search for thriller authors using our search bar at the top right of the post.

“Well, let me tell you, gentlemen, the games of the devil are not restricted to those confined to hell. Others can play them.”

Robert Ludlum, The Bourne Ultimatum
The Bourne Ultimatum: Jason Bourne Book #3
  • Ludlum, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 752 Pages - 06/26/2012 (Publication Date) - Bantam (Publisher)

9. Stephen King, 1947 –

Stephen King
Author Stephen King

A list of authors like Sidney Sheldon would only be complete by mentioning Stephen King, one of American literary history’s best-known suspense and crime novelists. King is a versatile author who has also written non-fiction, science-fiction, western and dramatic books. Carrie, his first novel, was published in 1973, and since its debut, he has published over 50 books.

King earned the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contributions to the American Letters in 2003 and the National Medal of Arts in 2014. In addition to writing novels, King is a successful screenwriter, writing the scripts for many famous movies, including The Shining and Pet Sematary, based on books with the same title. Read our guide to the best Stephen King books.

“Monsters are real. Ghosts are too. They live inside of us, and sometimes, they win.”

Stephen King, The Shining
The Shining
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • King, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 688 Pages - 08/27/2013 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

10. Robin Cook, 1940 –

Robin Cook
Author Robin Cook with his hand on a book

Robin Cook is a physician-turned-author many people credit bringing the medical mystery-thriller to readers. Cook often writes about medical and public health catastrophes with a mystery woven in. After the failure of his first book, The Year of the Intern, which he published in the 1970s, he began to study the techniques of bestselling authors. Putting those techniques to work, he wrote Coma in 1975, a book that focused on illegally selling organs for transplant.

In his books, Cook tackles real-world medical and ethical concerns. His 2018 book Pandemic became even more popular two years later when the real-world pandemic struck the world. The similarities between the book and the COVID-19 pandemic struck a chord with readers. Read our guide to the best Robin Cook books

“Haven’t you ever heard of the 1918 flu pandemic? It killed more people than World War One and World War Two combined.”

Robin Cook, Pandemic
Pandemic (A Medical Thriller)
  • Cook, Robin (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 544 Pages - 08/27/2019 (Publication Date) - G.P. Putnam's Sons (Publisher)

11. Tilly Bagshawe, 1973 –

One of the newer writers on this list, Tilly Bagshawe, got her writing start as a journalist. After taking time to develop her craft, she published her first book, Adored, which readers devoured. Since then, she has published nine additional novels, and several of her books are sequels to Sidney Sheldon’s books, exploring what happened to Sheldon’s characters after the original book ended. These sequels include Sidney Sheldon’s Mistress of the Game, written in 2009, and Sidney Sheldon’s The Tides of Memory, written in 2013. Looking for more crime thriller novels to read? Check out our round-up of the best war books! You can also search for crime authors using our search bar at the top right of the post.

“Gifted children often struggle to make attachments”

Till yBagshawe, Sidney Sheldon’s Mistress of the Game
Sidney Sheldon's Mistress of the Game
  • Sheldon, Sidney (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 448 Pages - 05/25/2010 (Publication Date) - Harper (Publisher)


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