The Very Bookish Year of TV Thrillers

Posted by Cybil on September 7, 2018


This post is sponsored by YOU—series premiere September 9 on Lifetime.

It's no secret that television is getting in on the book adaptation game. With so many channels—along with Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon—vying for your screen time, it makes sense that TV is turning to novels for chills and thrills.

This trend shows no sign of slowing down. Television adaptations slated for later this year include Netflix's take on Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House in October and AMC's miniseries of John le Carre's spy novel The Little Drummer Girl in November.

In addition, mystery writers are heading to Hollywood to work on made-for-tv stories, including Megan Abbott adding her byline to the HBO show The Deuce, Harlan Coben's Safe series on Netflix, and Noah Hawley's FX shows Fargo and Legion.

Here are some of the most heart-pounding book-based suspense that has come to TV so far this year.

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Kepnes' bestselling psychological thriller about a charming, tech-savvy stalker begins its 10-episode series on Lifetime beginning on Sept. 9.



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Tom Clancy's beloved CIA analyst Jack Ryan gets a reboot (with actor John Krasinski taking on the role) in this new Amazon series that debuted on Aug. 31.



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The USA Network's second season of the thriller anthology began in August. Season one, in which a woman snaps and kills a stranger at the beach, was based on this German novel.



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In June, HBO launched this eight-episode miniseries based on Flynn's debut novel of female rage set in the small town of Wind Gap, Missouri.

Check out our interview with Flynn here.


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This crime drama was first broadcast on BBC One last year, and the series premiered in the United States in June on Cinemax and in Canada on HBO Canada with the title C.B. Strike.



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This BBC One limited series of one of Christie's classic mysteries premiered in the UK in April, and landed on Amazon in August for stateside viewers.



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This 1967 novel about three girls and a teacher who disappear during a field trip was adapted to film in 1975. Now, it's also a six-episode miniseries on Amazon that debuted in May.



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This true story of Jeremy Thorpe—the rising star of the Liberal Party, who in in 1979 stood trial for conspiracy to murder—premiered on BBC One in May and can be found on Amazon for American viewers.



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In March, this supernatural arctic thriller loosely based on the doomed 1845 Franklin Expedition aired on AMC. A second season has already been announced.



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Glenny's study of global organized crime was the inspiration for an 8-part crime drama that was first broadcast on BBC One in January and on AMC in February.



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Caleb Carr's bestselling novel about a serial killer on the loose in Gilded Age New York was adapted into a 10-episode series in January for TNT.



Which adapted thriller would you recommend to your fellow readers? Please share it in the comments!

Check out more recent blogs:

11 Ways You Know You're a YA Reader
Doris Kearns Goodwin Examines Presidential Leadership
Why Fiction is Suddenly Swimming with Mermaids

Comments Showing 1-17 of 17 (17 new)

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message 1: by Heather (new)

Heather Miller "You" (and it's sequel, "Hidden Bodies") were wonderfully creepy books. I had no idea a TV show was being made but I will have to check it out!


message 2: by Reader453 (last edited Sep 07, 2018 10:24AM) (new)

Reader453 CTV is in its third season of the adaptation of Giles Blunt's John Cardinal novels, which I believe airs on Hulu in the US.

CBC also aired an adaptation of Lisa Moore's Caught.


message 3: by Alex (new)

Alex Bear Heather wrote: ""You" (and it's sequel, "Hidden Bodies") were wonderfully creepy books. I had no idea a TV show was being made but I will have to check it out!"

I agree, the books were great. I'm a little disappointed that it was LifeTime that picked it up. Oh well, I hope Caroline Kepnes is happy with it. She seem's like a good person who interacts with her fans quite a bit.


message 4: by Jakk Makk (new)

Jakk Makk Mind if I warm my hands by this dumpster fire?


message 5: by N.E.C.C. (new)

N.E.C.C. Strike (the show based on the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith is really good,


message 6: by ♥ Sandi ❣ (last edited Sep 07, 2018 01:34PM) (new)

♥ Sandi ❣	I have seen the Alienist, the Sinner, the Terror, and Sharpe Objects. Of the four I would recommend them in the order I have listed them.

There are a couple more that are listed that I would watch, however I do not have access to their channels of choice.

I will be watching You when it airs.

I have read all the books of those I have watched - prior to the viewing - and think that most of the books are the better choice.

However it is nice to see a visual adaptation of a book you enjoyed.


message 7: by Lee (new)

Lee The tv adaption has had the opposite effect on me with one and that's Harlan Coben. Safe was awful. So bad in fact, I would be loath to now ever pick up one of his books.


message 8: by Miss M (new)

Miss M Codename Villanelle by Luke Jennings started out as self-published Kindle shorts, now it’s the basis for ‘Killing Eve’ on BBC America. And a big hit.

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-ra...


message 9: by Joann (new)

Joann S. Barton hello


message 10: by Zella (new)

Zella Kate Recently watched The Terror and loved it! (So much so I am watching it again.) Currently have the book checked out too (as well as another one on the true story of The Franklin Expedition.)


message 11: by Charles (new)

Charles Miss M wrote: "Codename Villanelle by Luke Jennings started out as self-published Kindle shorts, now it’s the basis for ‘Killing Eve’ on BBC America. And a big hit.

https://www.th..."


Killing Eve was really good, Dexter/Hannibal, that sort of thing. :)

I enjoyed McMafia but haven't read the book so...

Bosch season 1 was good, again, haven't read the book.

The Sinner was... odd but interesting. I did give up halfway through the first season but probably because the episodes were being released weekly. Still, haven't read the book. XD

Ahhhh so McMafia is non-fic. That actually explains a bit. I actually thought there was good character development but that the sub-plots weren't as fleshed out as they would be in something adapted from a novel.


message 12: by Sara (new)

Sara Eames As a huge Agatha Christie fan, I have to say I was completely disappointed by the TV adaptation of Ordeal by Innocence. It was nothing like the book - which was one of my favourite books - and I had to stop watching it as I was getting so annoyed. Why put something on TV - and say it is based on a book - when crucial events/characters/plot points are changed to make a new story - why not just write your own TV series and put that on?


message 13: by Anna (new)

Anna I once bought "You" in a used book store on a whim (I don't know why honestly, it just called out to me), and I pretty much forgot about it over the months... but these past few weeks, I keep hearing awesome things about it! I guess ths just bumped it way up in my to-read list/pile!


message 14: by ~*~Meg~*~ (new)

~*~Meg~*~ I know it's not completely a thriller but it is a little thrilling so I'm going to add it to this list: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. It just premiered as a TV series! It's such a fabulous book series.


message 15: by ~*~Meg~*~ (new)

~*~Meg~*~ One that I just watched and had no idea was even becoming a TV series is Gone. It’s based of the Chelsea Cain book series on Kick Lannigan. It just started last week!


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* I'm curious about Sharp Objects - read the book this year with my book club and enjoyed it.


message 17: by Caroline (new)

Caroline Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder* wrote: "I'm curious about Sharp Objects - read the book this year with my book club and enjoyed it."I really enjoyed it Erin,hope to read the book one day.


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