Categories of Suspense: Political Thrillers

T. Macdonald Skillman’s book, WRITING THE THRILLER, outlines eight categories of suspense. I’m discussing Political Thrillers today.

Again, this category is fairly easy to identify. If the subject matter is political at the heart, it falls in this category. Think treason. Spies. Murder plots against political figures. Coups to overthrow dictators and despots. Terrorist activities. Think Tom Clancy. (Oh, wait. He’s techno-thriller AND political thriller–yet another example of the overlap in these categories.) Others include A COFFIN FOR DIMITRIOS by Eric Ambler, THE KEY TO REBECCA by Ken Follett, and THE RUSSIA HOUSE by Jon le Carre.

“From Watergate to the Iran-Contra and Lewinsky scandals, the intrigue and behind-the-scenes shenanigans of elected or appointed officials is always fertile ground for political thrillers,” Skillman says. And these stories do well in the market-place. Be wary, writers! These types of novels require extensive research in the areas of political science, world economics, and history, not to mention current affairs. Readers in this category know the political scene and expect the authors to get it right.

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