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T. J. Brearton

The Essential Reading List

T. J. Brearton attended the New York Film Academy in Manhattan and spent several years working in film and television in Los Angeles and New York before moving north to the Adirondack Park. Writing screenplays became writing novels, and his first crime thriller was published in 2013.

He has since written more than twenty novels, many reaching the Top 100 list of Amazon Kindle bestsellers in the US, UK, Australia, and Canada. When he's not writing, he's gardening, taking care of his chickens, skiing or camping with his family. He lives in the Adirondacks with his wife, three children, and their cat and dog -- Rambo and Breezy, respectively.

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Books that influenced me

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Road

Cormac McCarthy

"I was a single father for a short while, taking care of a young son. I read this book one particularly dark and cold winter, and it moved me in ways no other book has ever moved me before, or since. McCarthy’s eschewing of punctuation — particularly quotation marks — can be jarring at first, but ultimately removes any obstacles between you and the characters, you and the story. The effect is brilliant, and brave."

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City of Thieves by David Benioff

City of Thieves

David Benioff

"The thing about this book — each chapter is like a complete short story. An absolutely engrossing and emotional — yet stunningly simple — tale during the fall of Leningrad. "

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It by Stephen King


Stephen King

"For two weeks my freshman year of high school, I had to stop reading "It.". I’d had a nightmare about a clown at my back door, talking to me in a stereophonic sound in my head, swearing at and taunting me. Sounds terrifying, because it was. Yet I returned to the book, because that’s Stephen King."

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Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

Silence of the Lambs

Thomas Harris

"This book is known for Hannibal Lecter, and the mercurial Clarice Starling. But it should also be known for Harris’s impeccable writing. Swift and cunning, yet it never sacrifices the beauty of language; the way Harris writes, there’s a grace note on every page."

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The Monkey’s Raincoat by Robert Crais

The Monkey’s Raincoat

Robert Crais

"The definitive PI novel. Anyone that wants to try their hand at writing the gumshoe story, this is required reading. Excellently built, paced, plotted, and with a perfect duo of unforgettable main characters."

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The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

The Silent Patient

Alex Michaelides

"I consider this book a guilty pleasure — it’s pure gimmick. Everything from the way the very short chapters are enumerated from one again after each “part” break, to the tantalizing premise and title, the massive twist (even if I saw it coming) — this is a master class on the manipulative and (spoiler alert) unreliable-narrator-driven thriller. "

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Bad Blood by John Sandford

Bad Blood

John Sandford

"The Virgil Flowers books by Sandford have a kind of insouciant way — Flowers doesn’t let much bother him, and neither does Sandford. The series seems to almost depict another era, one before smartphones and TikTok, before a hot culture war and a politically divided country. When he’s not on a case for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Flowers just wants to go fishing. I’ve read about five of these; this one is the best."

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Trespassing by Brandi Reeds


Brandi Reeds

"The quintessential psychological thriller where the main character’s very grip on her ontological reality is cracking apart. With a setting as lush as the Florida Keys, what’s not to love."

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The Long Walk by Richard Bachman

The Long Walk

Richard Bachman

"Using his pseudonym, I'm including Stephen King twice, but I’d be remiss to close a list without this book. It’s a novella, technically (or maybe a novelette), but it’s one of the only books I’ve ever read twice, and definitely the only one I’ve read three times. A perfect story, a perfect premise, perfect suspense. Nothing supernatural required, either — just a great idea wonderfully executed by a (then) young writer. "

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