Here's a list of classic novels that are essential reads in the Suspense Thriller genre. The list is generally chronological beginning with the modern day thriller advent in the 1960s. The Thriller genre is here defined as page-turner novels with strong action and suspense plot elements.
Fail Safe by Eugene Burdick - Nuclear War thriller envisioned, as a technical system failure brings the US and USSR to the brink of catastrophe.
Seven Days in May by Fletcher Knebel - Political crisis thriller as the Joint Chiefs plot a coup to take over the American government.
Goldfinger by Ian Fleming - Best of the James Bond spy thriller series.
Ice Station Zebra by Alistair MacLean
Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth - Assassination thriller plot played out against an international canvas.
The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton - Biological contamination crisis at a secret Nevada desert scientific facility.
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three by John Godey - the Big Heist thriller set beneath the streets of New York City.
Black Sunday by Thomas Harris - Terrorist plot to hijack a blimp and pilot it into Super Bowl stadium crowd.
Marathon Man by William Goldman - Best ever interrogation scene shudderingly enacted in a dentist's chair.
The Boys From Brazil by Ira Levin - Nazi Conspiracy thriller with a new, chilling science fiction angle.
Jaws by Peter Benchley - Natural Environment thriller at a seacoast resort town menaced by a Great White shark.
The Towering Inferno by Richard Martin Stern - Disaster thriller scenario as an unstoppable fire rages inside a giant skyscraper.
The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum
The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy - Military thriller plays out as a Soviet nuclear sub crew attempts to defect to U.S.
Firefox by Craig Thomas - Techno/Military mission as a U.S. agent tries to steal a high tech Soviet fighter plane and fly it out of Russia.
The Firm by John Grisham - Legal thriller sees a young lawyer join a law firm with secret organized crime connections.
True Crime by Andrew Klavan - Race against time thriller as a reporter tries to halt a wrongful execution.
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown - Follows chain of historical puzzle clues to revelation of a sensational religious secret.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson - Swedish government conspiracy thriller with a hacker/punk female lead character.