16 Best Authors Like Tom Clancy For Thriller and Spy Book Fans

Looking for authors like Tom Clancy? Discover the best thriller and espionage books in our guide and add them to your reading list!

The famous author Tom Clancy was well known for the authentic technical detail contained within his espionage and military-science thrillers, such as bestsellers The Hunt for Red October, Cardinal of the Kremlin, Patriot Games, Executive Orders, and The Sum of All Fears. Clancy was also the mind behind the Jack Ryan series, which has been continued through various writers (some of whom you’ll find below) through his family estate.

To make it onto our list of authors like Tom Clancy, each writer must create plot-driven, thoughtful, believable thrillers or espionage novels with pace and plenty of grit. If you’re interested in this topic, you’ll love our round-up of the best Mickey Spillane books!

Here Are The Best Authors Like Tom Clancy

1. John Grisham, 1955 – Present

John Grisham
John is pictured standing in a room in 2016

This American novelist and former lawyer is well-known for his hugely popular legal thrillers, including The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Rainmaker, and A Time to Kill, many of which have been turned into blockbuster Hollywood films. Grisham’s books have sold over 300 million copies worldwide, and he is one of only three authors to have achieved sales, on a first printing, of more than two million copies – the other two are J.K. Rowling and Tom Clancy himself.

“I’m alone and outgunned, scared and inexperienced, but I’m right.”

John Grisham, The Rainmaker
The Rainmaker: A Novel
  • Grisham, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 608 Pages - 12/27/2011 (Publication Date) - Anchor (Publisher)

2. Robert Ludlum, 1927 – 2001

Robert Ludlum is the author of 27 thriller and spy fiction novels and is best known for the original The Bourne Trilogy books, which introduced the character of Jason Bourne. Before becoming a full-time writer, Ludlum had been a United States Marine, a producer, and a theatrical actor. He has spoken about how his theatre work has informed his novels, particularly his use of suspense to drive the plotline.

“I mean, we’re all trying to find out who the hell we are, aren’t we?”

Robert Ludlum, The Bourne Identity
The Bourne Identity: A Novel (Jason Bourne)
  • Ludlum, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 608 Pages - 01/05/2010 (Publication Date) - Bantam (Publisher)

3. Frederick Forsyth, 1969 – Present

Frederick Forsyth
Frederick pictured in 2003

Readers who enjoy the fast-paced action and clever plotting of a classic Tom Clancy novel will no doubt love to get their teeth into a book by the English novelist Frederick Forsyth. If you’re new to this author, The Day of the Jackal or The Odessa File are great places to start; both were made into successful films in the 1970s. Forsyth’s books have sold more than seventy million copies worldwide and have been translated into thirty languages. Forsyth’s autobiography, The Outside: My Life in Intrigue, revealed his role as a British spy during the Cold War.

“To understand everything is to forgive everything.”

Frederick Forsyth, The Odessa File
The ODESSA File
  • Forsyth, Frederick (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 368 Pages - 10/02/2012 (Publication Date) - G.P. Putnam's Sons (Publisher)

4. Michael Crichton, 1942 – 2008

Michael in 2002 at Harvard University

Although Jurassic Park may have catapulted this American author to stratospheric fame, his techno-thrillers were already widely read before the blockbuster movie hit the big screen. Titles like The Andromeda Strain and Congo were successful books well before those realistic-looking dinos lumbered across our screens in 1993. Fourteen of Crichton’s twenty-eight novels have been turned into films, and he’s sold more than 200 million copies of his books globally. You might also be interested in our guide on authors like Lisa Gardner.

“The planet has survived everything, in its time. It will certainly survive us.”

Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park
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Jurassic Park: A Novel
  • Crichton, Michael (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 464 Pages - 09/25/2012 (Publication Date) - Ballantine Books (Publisher)

5. Lee Child, 1954 – Present

Lee Child
Lee at a signing session at Bouchercon, Indianapolis, in 2009

James Dover Grant writes under the pen name of Lee Child and is the mind behind the wildly popular Jack Reacher series – every single book in this collection has topped the bestsellers list. Child has also written several hardboiled thriller novellas, including I Heard a Romantic Story and James Penney’s New Identity. In 2019, the author collaborated with the band Naked Blue on an album that explored the character of Jack Reacher in song. For more, check out our guide with authors like Lee Child!

“Now they broke my toothbrush, I don’t own anything.”

Lee Child, Bad Luck and Trouble
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Bad Luck and Trouble (Jack Reacher)
  • Child, Lee (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 512 Pages - 05/19/2009 (Publication Date) - Dell (Publisher)

6. Mark Greaney, 1967 – Present

Mark Greaney
Mark speaking at the Mid-Continent Public Library in 2020

Fans of Tom Clancy may already be familiar with author Mark Greany, who collaborated with Clancy on the latter’s final books and has subsequently continued expanding the Tom Clancy universe and the adventures of the character Jack Ryan. As well as this collaborative work, Greaney is also known for his Gray Man series, which was adapted into a Netflix movie starring Ryan Gosling in 2022.

“Court Gentry was a killer of men. These were men. And that’s all there was to it.”

Mark Greaney, The Gray Man
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The Gray Man
  • Greaney, Mark (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 464 Pages - 09/29/2009 (Publication Date) - Berkley (Publisher)

7. Dale Brown, 1956 – Present

Dale Brown
Dale Brown sitting on a motorcycle on an airplane runway. Behind him is a small airplane and mountains in the distance

Dale Brown should be at the top of your ‘to read’ list if you like nothing better than immersing yourself in a military thriller! Brown joined the US Air Force in 1978 and earned several military awards and decorations, including the Combat Crew Award and the Air Force Commendation Medal. His extensive flight experience informs his novels, such as Flight of the Old Dog, Tiger’s Claw, and Skymasters. Brown is also the co-author of the Dreamland series alongside Jim DeFelice.

“He could see tiny sparkles in the distance and assumed it was the Chinese pilots ejecting flares when they got the missile launch warning.”

Dale Brown, Tiger’s Claw
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Tiger's Claw: A Novel (Brad McLanahan, 1)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Brown, Dale (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 432 Pages - 09/04/2012 (Publication Date) - William Morrow (Publisher)

8. Daniel Silva, 1960 – Present

Daniel Silva
Daniel addressing an audience at a book signing event in New York in July 2013

Readers who raced through Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October and are looking for their next spy thriller adventure will devour the books of Daniel Silva. His first novel, The Unlikely Spy, was published in 1997 and remained on the New York Times’s bestseller list for five consecutive weeks. Silva has now written twenty-four books, most of which feature the protagonist Gabriel Allon: an Israeli art restorer…who also happens to be an assassin and spy.

“They sat in an awkward, embarrassed silence for a moment, the way Englishmen are apt to do after sharing private thoughts.”

Daniel Silva, The Unlikely Spy
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The Unlikely Spy
  • Silva, Daniel (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 752 Pages - 05/06/2003 (Publication Date) - Berkley (Publisher)

9. David Baldacci, 1960 – Present

David Baldacci
David pictured at the Library of Congress National Book Congress in Washington DC in September 2015

This author specializes in legal thrillers and suspense novels; to date, he’s published over forty books for adults and seven novels for younger readers. As well as several popular series, including The Camel Club and John Puller collections, you may want to dip into one of Baldacci’s standalone novels, such as Saving Faith and True Blue. His new book, Simply Lies, will be published in April 2023. Check out our guide with the best David Baldacci books for more!

“When a poor man gives something, that is a sacrifice indeed. When a rich man gives something, it hardly rises to the same level.”

David Baldacci, True Blue
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True Blue
  • Baldacci, David (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 608 Pages - 09/01/2010 (Publication Date) - Vision (Publisher)

10. Stephen Coonts, 1946 – Present

Looking for your next spy thriller read? Try Coonts’s debut novel, Flight of the Intruder, published in 1986 and partly based on the author’s experiences during the Vietnam War, in which he served as an A-6 pilot, could be the perfect pick. Of Coonts’s thirty-six books, sixteen have been New York Times bestsellers.

“There is no such thing as luck. If you think you’re lucky and that’ll carry you through, you’re living on borrowed time.”

Stephen Coonts, Flight of the Intruder
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Flight of the Intruder
  • Stephen Coonts (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 10/01/1987 (Publication Date) - Pocket (Publisher)

11. Vince Flynn, 1966 – 2013

Vince Flynn
Vince pictured in San Diego in October 2008

Vince Flynn is the creator of the fictional assassin Mitch Rapp who appears in the author’s acclaimed political thrillers; The Survivor is the first in the series, and where to start if you’re new to Flynn’s work. Flynn was also a story consultant for season five of the smash hit tv show 24. He cites his fictional influences, including Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ernest Hemingway, and John Irving.

“The world is chaos, punctuated by brief outbreaks of civilization.”

Vince Flynn, The Survivor
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The Survivor (Mitch Rapp Novel, A)
  • Flynn, Vince (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 368 Pages - 05/04/2021 (Publication Date) - Emily Bestler Books (Publisher)

12. Clive Cussler, 1931 – 2020

Clive Cussler
A photo of Clive taken in 2011

Bestselling author Clive Cussler wrote thrillers and adventure novels – and was an adventurer in real life, too! Cussler was a marine archaeologist and the chairman and founder of NUMA (the National Underwater and Marine Agency), responsible for discovering more than sixty underwater wrecks and shipwreck sites. As well as his non-fiction works, which include the memoir, The Sea Hunters: True Adventures with Famous Shipwrecks, Cussler is also the writer of the popular Dirk Pitt series: the first book in the collection, Pacific Vortex, was published in 1983.

“Marine lieutenants were almost never made aware of confidential information. They had a duty to be killed, but not the right to know why.”

Clive Cussler, Pacific Vortex
Pacific Vortex!: A Novel (Dirk Pitt Adventure)
  • Cussler, Clive (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages - 02/23/2010 (Publication Date) - Bantam (Publisher)

13. Brad Thor, 1969 – Present

Brad Thor
Brad attending a book signing in July 2013

Brad Thor is an American thriller writer whose novel The Last Patriot was nominated as the Best Thriller of the Year by The International Thriller Writers Association. National Public Radios listeners also ranked Thor’s book, Blowback, as one of the 100 Best Ever killer thrillers – all the more reason to discover this author if you’re new to his work! Thor initially announced his intention to run for President of the United States in the 2020 election but changed his mind in 2018, leaving the Republic Party to stand as an independent.

“While the words are yet unspoken, you are master of them; when once they are spoken, they are master of you.”

Brad Thor, The Last Patriot
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The Last Patriot: A Thriller (Scot Harvath Series, The)
  • Thor, Brad (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages - 04/06/2021 (Publication Date) - Emily Bestler Books (Publisher)

14. Grant Blackwood, 1964 – Present

As well as being the creator of the Briggs Tanner series, Grant Blackwood has also continued Tom Clancy’s legacy: he was the co-author, along with Clancy, of the first book in the Jack Ryan Jr collection, 2010’s Dead or Alive and the sole author of two further books featuring this character. Blackwood’s Splinter Cell and EndWar series, written under the pen name of David Michaels, is also set in the Tom Clancy universe. You might also enjoy these authors like Sidney Sheldon.

“Goddamn espionage, Jack thought. He’d stepped into this world of his own volition, but it had come with a price: Outside your inner circle, trust was a rare thing;”

Grant Blackwood, Under Fire
Tom Clancy Under Fire (A Jack Ryan Jr. Novel)
  • Blackwood, Grant (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 544 Pages - 04/05/2016 (Publication Date) - Berkley (Publisher)

15. Larry Bond, 1951 – Present

Larry Bond
Larry undertaking a reading at the 2015 Gaithersburg Book Festival

If you’re a fan of Tom Clancy, then you may already be familiar with Larry Bond’s work, even if you don’t know it! Bond co-authored Red Storm Rising with Clancy, which became one of the 1980s bestselling books. This writer’s novels are known for their fast-paced plots and accuracy of subject matter, which often focus on political or military crises. Bond is also a celebrated video games designer responsible for the Command at Sea and Harpoon gaming systems.

“We deal with people, not numbers. Numbers have their own special kind of perfection. People remain people no matter what we try to do with them.”

Larry Bond, Red Storm Rising
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Red Storm Rising: A Suspense Thriller
  • Clancy, Tom (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 725 Pages - 07/01/1987 (Publication Date) - Berkley (Publisher)

16. Mike Maden, 1960 – Present

Author and Tom Clancy superfan Mike Maden got hooked on the latter’s novels after reading The Hunt for Red October in graduate school. Maden added four novels to the Jack Ryan Jr canon, with the most recent, Tom Clancy: Firing Point, published in 2020. The author’s debut book, Drone, is a techno-thriller due to a challenge posed to Maden by friends.

“A liar is a self-interested man, which means he is a rational man. He lies because he knows the honest truth bears a cost he’s not willing to pay. But the honest man? He’s the dangerous man. He’s the one who insists on telling the truth no matter the cost.”

Mike Maden, Tom Clancy: Firing Point
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Tom Clancy Firing Point (A Jack Ryan Jr. Novel)
  • Maden, Mike (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 544 Pages - 03/30/2021 (Publication Date) - Berkley (Publisher)

Author

  • Melanie Smith is a freelance content and creative writer from Gloucestershire, UK, where she lives with her daughter, long-suffering partner, and cat, The Magical Mr. Bobo. Her blog posts and articles feature regularly in magazines and websites around the world.