004, 13 Crime, Mystery, Suspense and Thriller Novels Featuring Characters who are Journalists

by | Behind the Scenes, Mystery Novel Nerd Podcast

Hello, Book Lovers!


As you can guess by the spoiler-y title, I’m going to discuss 13 crime, mystery, suspense, and thriller novels featuring characters who are journalists. I’ve decided to divide this episode up into two parts; the first is “books I want to read” and the second is “books I’ve read.”


My love of characters who are journalists stems from two places.


The first is my love of the Superman story. And, the second which is directly related to the first, is my love of the hit 90’s TV show, Lois and Clark. I’m not going to lie, fourteen-year-old me had a massive crush on Dean Cain. Not Dean Cain as Superman but Dean Cain as Clark Kent.


What can I say? I love a nerd.


But, I also loved Lois—I could relate to her. She was stubborn, ambitious, and was obsessed with her work. Fourteen-year-old Amelia wanted to be Lois Lane when she grew up. Honestly, there’s a part of me that still does.


My Tastes in Books

This episode initially had sixteen books, but as I was curating this list, I realised that two of the books contained plots centred around the deaths of toddlers or young children. My family has been through the tragedy of losing an older baby to SIDS when I was five years old. As I’ve grown up, got married, and considered having children, I’ve discovered that this event has had a profound effect on me. So, I removed the books from my to be read list, because I will probably find them quite triggering.


In general, I tend to stop reading books that feature the investigations of crimes against children and minors under the age of eighteen. I did start reading a book that opened with the aftermath of the death of a young teenage girl, and I got the hint that the crime had a sexual element, I immediately closed the book, and I have no intention of picking it back up. And, there are certain curse words or racial slang that I can’t handle, so I deleted another book for that reason as well, as other reasons.


I’m not saying those three books were bad; they were just not for me. Also, it’s worth pointing out that those books had a significant number of good reviews.


So, without further ado, let’s get into my list of books I want to read.


Books I Want to Read

Because I’m yet to read these books, I will be taking the plot description from the books official blurb found online. In most cases, I’ve paraphrased the blurb or used a few snippets because it sounded better than something I could write. I’m just sharing this to give credit to were it’s due.


Book #1 – See Her Run by Peggy Townsend

Aloa Snow is a former journalist who was let go from her job with the LA Times. Now, she gets one more shot to prove that she has what it takes—with a story, some would die for.


The element that made me add this book* to the list has got to be the fact that she’s possibly been fired from a job, I’m assuming, for misconduct or screwing up a story. And she has one last chance to redeem herself. There are other elements within the book that I feel may actually be a bit spoiler-y, so I’ve deliberately left them out because I want to try and keep this podcast as spoiler-free as possible.


About the Series

You can probably tell from the brief book blurb I shared, but the genre for this book is Mystery with a sub-genre of women’s sleuths. This book seems to be a two-book series, so fingers crossed that this actually continues into something bigger, but when you go online to look for this book, you’ll notice that it just says book one of two. It’s interesting that the publisher is not taking a risk and planning for more books in the series. When you look at the book description, there are a whole heap of excessive accolades about the author and book.


A part of me thinks, “If the author is that great, why aren’t you planning more books?” But, I guess that’s my inner sceptic. I hope that there are more books in this series because it sounds like it’s going to be something that’s interesting. In light of that, the second book in the series is called The Thin Edge, which was published in May 2019. The first book was published in June 2018—maybe she is releasing a book every year. There might be a book release, but I’m not seeing a preorder at the moment. I don’t know—I’ve just never seen a duology in the crime mystery and thriller space.


Most people who read crime, mystery, and thrillers want a series. Readers want a likeable character and to be taken on a journey with them, and the publisher isn’t doing that with this book. Obviously, I’m upset, and I’m not over this and are probably not going to get over it anytime soon.


Book #2 – The Dying Hour by Rick Mofina

Here’s a bit about the book’s blurb. For those of you who are intrigued by the title. Jason Wade joined the Seattle stars internship program as a rookie reporter haunted by his past. Wade pursues the story of Karen Harding, a college student whose car was found abandoned on a lonely stretch of highway in the Pacific Northwest. How could this beloved young woman with an altruistic nature simply vanish?


This book has been on my to be read list for an exceptionally long time. While I was writing the first book in my Byline Series, I was starting to think that my book was a special snowflake and there were no other books in the thriller genre actually featured crime reporters or investigative journalists. I spent a very long time searching on Amazon for books that were like mine and started to freak out. When I stumbled upon the Dying Hour*, I was so excited and immediately purchased the Kindle book and audiobook. As I downloaded the book, I remember wanting to curate a list of crime, mystery, and thriller novels featuring characters who are journalists and share it, so other readers can find these books as well.


Even though it’s been on my list for a long time, I have every intention of reading The Dying Hour. Creating this episode has reminded me of all these other books to read that I want to read. By default, it’s made my reading decisions difficult.


But, back to the dying hour.


Dying Hour is book one in the Jason Wade mystery series. There is another series with a similar name by a different author, and I think that’s a huge faux pas to create a series with exactly the same character name as someone else has used. A part of me is included to think that the other author didn’t do any research before they wrote the book. I guess it’s not for me to judge, even though I am.


All About the Trilogy

The next two books are Every Fear and A perfect grave. As you can probably tell by the titles, these books are sitting within the Mystery and Thriller genres. Unfortunately, I don’t think this trilogy will be expanded beyond the first three books because the third book was published in 2007. So, this might be all the books of the author plans to write, which is really sad. All the books are quite long, especially Dying Hour.


The audiobook is ten hours long. I purchased Dying Hour* with the Kindle whisper-sync for voice feature—this means I purchased the ebook and brought the audiobook for an extra £3.99. That’s a ten-hour ebook for the price of a really good coffee.


Book #3 – The Poet by Michael Connelly

This is another book that’s been on my list for an exceptionally long time. In the next episode, you’ll see that it’s part of a book haul.


So, here’s a bit about the book*. The apparent suicide of his policeman brother sets Denver crime reporter Jack McEvoy on edge. Surprised at the circumstances of his brother’s death, Jack looks into a whole series of police suicides and puts him on the trail of a cop killer whose victims are selected all too carefully. Not only that, but they all leave suicide notes drawn from the poems of writer Edgar Allan Poe in their wake.


Based on the book description, you can probably tell that that story sits within the crime genre. The good news is when I purchased this, this was just a book on its own, but the Poet* is now a part of a trilogy.


The second book is The Scarecrow, and book three is Fair Warning. I’m not 100% sure if book three is actually part of the trilogy, but it features Jack, and the reason why I’m questioning it is it’s not linked to the online stores. Fair Warning is on preorder, but there’s been quite sometime between the second book and the third book. Unfortunately, I didn’t write down the publishing dates for you, but it’s been many years between books two and three.


By looking at the reviews, I’ve noticed this book may have a bit of Gore, but that’s to be expected of the crime genre. It’s worth mentioning because there are quite a few reviews that mention this quality. So, I’m starting to think this book might have been placed in the wrong genre at one point.


Book #4 – False Truth (Jordan Fox Mystery Series) by Diane Capri and Beth Dexter

False Truth* is the first book in the Jordan Fox mystery series. Here is a quick description of the plot, just in case you’re curious. TV reporter Jordan Fox has one last chance to get justice for her mother before the killers returned to finish what they started. And Jordan is their number one target as she searches for her mother’s killer—with help from the sexy young cop and even sexy, a new craft brewer in town who both want to protect her.


The Book’s Genre

As you can probably tell by the description of the plot, this, there is a romantic subplot but I don’t think this subplot is enough to describe it as a romantic thriller or romantic suspense. So, that’s why I believe, to the best of my knowledge, this book sits in the mystery or thriller genres. However, I will point out because this is on the books I want to read list, I have no idea about how much of the romantic subplot plays into the story.


About the Series

The other thing that’s worth mentioning, mainly because in the reviews a lot of people mentioned a similar topic. But, this book is a part of 11 part serial, so each book is more like an episode of a larger story. Much like if you are watching a TV-show where each episode is a part of a bigger story. From what I gather, this story is more of a serial where you need to read the next book or you might possibly need to read the entire series to get the complete story arc. That’s what I’ve gotten from the reviews and also some people were quite upset. But, when you purchase the book, it’s really clear and each book has the same title. To me it’s pretty clear, so maybe over time the author changed it or maybe people didn’t pay attention to the book description and the title of the book.


Book #5 – The Secret Patient by Vaughan W. Smith

The Secret Patient* starts off with a character called Nathan going to the hospital for a blood test, but he never leaves. Prize-winning journalist Elizabeth is in a slump. After taking down the mayor in a career-defining story, nothing else measures up. Desperate for anything, she follows a vague lead from a spooked informant to the local hospital. I’m interested in reading this because I worked in a haematology lab, where they analyse blood and bone marrow and perform these tests. Once again, I’ve tried to keep the description of the plot as spoiler-free as possible.


What Made Me Buy This Book?

I’m interested in reading this because I worked in a haematology lab where they analyse blood and bone marrow and performed these tests. And I’m interested to see how the blood test element is involved in the conspiracy that’s clearly going down at that hospital.


The Genre

Based on the description of the plot, you can probably tell that this book is a medical thriller and sits within the mystery genre as well and the sub-genre is women’s Sleuths. If you particularly like books with women sleuth’s you may like this book.


The Reviews

The caveat I would like to add to is based on the reviews. Reader’s either loved or hated the story. But personally, I’m genuinely interested in reading this purely because of the haematology and hospital factor. However, I will say that the biggest complaint is some people didn’t find it realistic. Because I haven’t read this book, it’s hard for me to know why. Maybe they found the concept of someone going missing from a hospital, a little unrealistic, but again, the descriptions were really vague but I saw this sort of kept popping up.


I think this is a big deal for the thriller genre. Readers do want something that has a realistic feel, but then again there is a 50/50 split. Fifty-two percent of the reviewers gave this book four or five stars, and then forty-eight percent gave it three stars and under. Just for the record, I don’t consider the three stars a bad review, but I do believe it’s worth pointing out. Even though there are a few reviewers who were quite vocal about whether they believe the book was realistic—I still want to read it. I also read the first page of the book, and I didn’t see anything that put me off buying, so I purchased the book.


Books I’ve Read

Part of the reason why there’s a huge gap between the last episode and this one is, when I curated the list, I looked at it and realised that I had read less than half of the books. To me, that didn’t feel right. So, I decided to read a few more books, just so there are more books on my read list than to be read lifts. And, that’s the reason this show has taken so long to produce. Just in case you’re curious.


Book #6 – Absolute Proof by Peter James

Absolute Proof* has got to be one of my new favourite books. I loved this story so much. And I read it in only a few days. There’s a part of me that really wishes that this book was a part of the series, but unfortunately, it’s a standalone, and I’ve honestly stopped myself, several times, from getting on Instagram and asking Peter James if he’s going to write books in this series. That’s super obnoxious, and I should let the man write what he wants.


The Blurb

Here’s a bit about the story. Absolute Proof is a fast-paced story with an interesting plot with a dash of religious conspiracy. If you like Dan Browns, Robert Langdon series, then you’ll love this book. Journalist Russ Hunter receives an unexpected call from History of Art Professor Dr Harry F. Cook, who claims that he has been given absolute proof of God’s existence. Cook hooks Ross Hunter into investigating his claims, after saying he has a message from his deceased brother. One week later, Ross finds Dr Harry Cook dead in his house after he seeks him out, and I think at this point Ross is still quite sceptical of whether there’s any truth to this. At this stage, he’s had a few warnings about investigating the claims.


I know I mentioned this earlier, and you can tell I’m clearly not over it, but this book is standalone. But, I digress. As you can see in the image, the hardback has a beautiful dust jacket cover. It’s absolutely gorgeous. And, I’m considering doing a giveaway with this book and a few other books, but I’ll keep you posted.


The Genre

Absolute proof sits within the conspiracy thriller and religious thriller genres. However, online the book is sitting in the religious fiction category. Even though it talks about proving the existence of God, it’s not religious like the Left Behind series. It’s different. Honestly, based on what I’ve read, I do believe it’s a thriller, just like Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series.


Book #7 – The Anonymous Source by A. C. Fuller

One year after the 9/11 attacks, court reporter Alex Vane discovers the story of a lifetime. After his editor buries the story, his source turns up dead. The events pull Alex into a violent world of media conspiracy.


It almost feels redundant saying this, but this book sits within the conspiracy thriller genre. I loved this novel from start to finish. Just like many other books on this list, I read The Anonymous Source* using the whisper sync for voice feature, but this author only has one book in audio.


My inner audio nerd prompted me to ask the author if audiobooks were going to be created but he hasn’t replied back. As I pointed out, this book is a five-book series and it’s most likely complete. But, the author has gone on to write a different series within the same genre, also featuring journalists. I have all five books in this series on my Kindle app and there is a part of me that’s waiting for the audiobooks, but I suspect it’s probably not going to work out like that. Yes, I’m still on this audio-topic but, it’s how I like to read and it enables me to stick to my reading goals and do other things at the same time.


Book #8 – Don’t Tell Meg by Paul J. Teague

I’ve mentioned this book a few times throughout this podcast, but I’m still yet to finish this book. At the moment, I’m 10% of the way through this book. Don’t Tell Meg* is written in the first person, you get the sense that Pete, the main character, is about to do something stupid, and you get to witness the events unfold. Due to the nature of the point of view, the narration style adds an extra level of suspense. Based on that, you probably figure out that it’s a psychological thriller and the first psychological thriller that I’ve started reading. I was getting really upset, and I thought I’ll put the book down, calm down, and then I’ll come back. And I’ve also got shiny object syndrome in between. To be honest, I have every intention of coming back to this book, but I haven’t.


About the Book

Here’s a little bit about the story. Just in case you’re curious. Radio journalist Pete Bailey’s relationship with his wife is on the rocks. They’ve been trying for a baby to no avail. And you get the impression that they’ve been trying for a long time. On a working weekend, he falls for this charming TV reporter and has an affair that creates a trail of chaos which results in five people losing their lives.


Don’t Tell Meg* is the first book in a trilogy bearing the same name. Book two is called The Murder Place, and book three is The Forgotten Children.


Book #9 – Fatal Enemy (The Jess Kimball Thrillers Series, Book 7) by Diane Capri

Fatal Enemy* is a short story that was full of suspense and intrigue and was over too soon. Because it’s so short, I’ll avoid talking about the plot because there’s no way for me to discuss the story without literally spoiling the entire book for you. So, Fatal Enemy is the first book in a ten-book series, and the series has been completely written. This is a series you could binge from start to finish.


It’s worth pointing out that the rest of the books in this series are full length. And, I think this first book is designed as a teaser for the rest of the series. The story is short so you get a taste of the background and meet the character for the first time. When you read the series, you know what you’re getting.


The genre of this book and possibly the series because the themes possibly continue on in the other books, are private investigator mystery and legal thrillers. I guess there is some type of legal aspect to these stories as well, but the main character is a journalist, just like the other books on this list.


Book #10 – Dead Shot (A Cal Murphy Thriller Book 1) by R J Patterson

Dead Shot* is the first book in the Cal Murphy series. The series features a journalist who works for a small-town newspaper who accidentally stumbles across the town’s first serial killer and uncovers a dark secret. But, naturally, everything is not as it seems.


Dead Shot is the first book in a twelve-book series, and I do believe the series is complete. The reason I say this series is most likely complete is the last book was published on the 30th of September, 2018. So again, this is another series you could binge. And you can probably tell by the book description, but this book sits within the mystery and crime genres.


I’ve recently just finished reading the novel and the ending took me by surprise. It was quite unexpected. When I got to the start of the third act, I had no idea who was committing all the crimes and I thought it was a different character.


Book #11 – Last Girl Gone by J. G. Hetherton

Here’s a bit about Last Girl Gone*. Laura Chambers returns home after being fired from the Boston Globe, and she returns to her hometown with her tail between her legs. Her new job is boring until the body of a young girl is discovered. The little girl’s body is discovered, and this leads her to realise that there’s a serial killer in her town. But, no one is interested in knowing about this or her solving the crimes, which is really fascinating. As I reached the halfway point in the book, I had no idea about the identity of the serial killer. It wasn’t until the final hour that the killer was revealed. The story was well-written.


Based on the book description I just shared with you, you can probably tell that this is a crime thriller or it sits within the mystery genre with the sub-genre of women’s sleuths.


About the Series

Interestingly enough, I think this book might be a part of a series. And, I’m getting the impression that it might be an open-ended series, depending on the success of the first book. At the moment, there doesn’t seem to be a set number of books, because books one and two aren’t linked in any way. Book two is on pre-order and will be released on July 7th 2020. I use this term lightly, but it’s on sale for £9.41 or $12.28 USD plus taxes. That’s the price for the ebook, not the paperback, that’s right, The ebook. I was absolutely floored by that price; It’s so expensive.


I understand how some traditional publishing houses charge so much for an ebook. It’s a digital file, but I think it’s because they want you to buy the hardback or the paperback. Maybe that’s where they make the most money, possibly. I have no idea why they do it, but it’s so expensive. Anyway, rant over.


Book #12 – Sanctus by Simon Toyne

This is another series that I loved from start to finish. And this is book one in that trilogy. The second is the Key, and the third is the Tower. These books are a little similar to a serial. Each book is a contained story, but you need to read the books in order.


The Sanctus Trilogy* is similar to the Robert Langdon books by Dan Brown. If you like those books, you probably love this, too. And an interesting fact about these books is The Citadel, and the City is set in Turkey, but it’s fictional. It’s not a real place you can visit. When I discovered this, I couldn’t believe it. The way the citadel and city are described makes you feel as if you’re there, and the setting is real. A lot of other people mentioned this in the reviews as well, so I’m not alone in that thought.


About the Book

So, here’s a bit about the plot just in case you’re interested. New York crime reporter, Liv Adamson discovers her missing brother, had joined a monastery in Turkey and died after flinging himself off the cliff of the Citadel in a seemingly symbolic gesture. And she finds out about this is from a news channel. Liv sees it on the news and this broadcast ignites a search for the truth and a journey to discover her true identity. In all honesty, this book and the entire trilogy was a complete page-turner. There are so many mysteries in this trilogy. It kept me guessing until the very end. And the ending of the trilogy had me quite flawed because I didn’t expect it to go in that direction. You can probably tell, but I’ll share it anyway, this book sits within the conspiracy thriller genre.


Book #13 – Suspicion by A. D. Hay (previously titled, Missing)

And that’s me. In all honesty, I forced myself to add to my book. When I started recording this episode, I included my book at the end with the intention of skipping it, which is just ridiculous. I was avoiding it so much that I didn’t put it in the book description. Before I started recording this segment of the podcast, I had to go and copy a portion of my book description into my notes. It just seems stupid of me not to include my book in a list of books featuring characters who are journalists. You can probably tell I’m avoiding talking about my novella.


It’s ridiculous. I’m stalling.


The Book Blurb

But just in case you’re curious about my book. Here’s a bit about the plot.


James is the chief editor of a small newspaper. It’s hardly captivating work. He’s bored. But all of that is about to change. Late one evening, he returns home to discover that his long-time girlfriend and journalist, Valentine, has left. Early the next morning, James fails to reallocate her assigned story. To avoid blank space in the culture section and losing his job, he decides to write the story on the local museum’s latest acquisition, Excalibur. But there’s one thing he didn’t count on—Excalibur is missing, and a dead body is at the crime scene. As his investigations commence, James unravels a tangled web of betrayal, kidnapping and murder. But his fact-finding hasn’t gone unrecognised. The wrong people have started to notice. And, there will be consequences—dire consequences. You’ll love this gripping cloak-and-dagger mystery because of the twists, turns, and ending you’ll never guess.


You Can Get a Free Reader Copy

If you want to try this for free and leave an honest review, then sign up on this page to receive a review copy. This link will only be available for a limited time.


Just in case you’re wondering, an ARC is an advanced reader copy. But because it’s published, I’m just calling it a reader copy. The reason I’m doing this is I published my book at the end of January, and I need reviews on the book. My book needs social proof so people who are thinking about buying it know that other readers enjoyed the book. That’s how the reviews work. It’s not really for me, the author. Reviews are for other readers who are considering buying the book and need to know that other people may or may not have enjoyed it.


If you made it this far and you’re still listening to me, thank you for listening to me talk about my own book.


Concluding Thoughts

As always, I have a few important questions for you. Do you love reading books featuring journalists investigating crimes? And, if so, do you know of any thriller novels featuring journalists as the main character that you can recommend? Or, books within the crime, mystery, thriller, and suspense genres that feature characters who are amateur sleuths?


I want to hear from you.


Share your recommendations in the comments section below, or in The Book Nerd Reader Club Facebook Group.


Thank you for listening and happy reading, everybody.


Amelia xx


* DISCLAIMER: This blog post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission. The commission helps support the blog and allows us to continue to make content like this. Thank you for your support. 🙂

Amelia D. Hay

Amelia D. Hay

I’m Amelia. I write amateur sleuth mystery novels under the pen name A. D. Hay and I’m the author of The Candidate, The Locked Room, The Lawn, Suspicion and Duplicity. I’m also the host of the Mystery Novel Nerd Podcast and The Authorpreneur Podcast™️. Right now, I’m writing the first novella in a cozy mystery series, and writing the third book in the James Lalonde Mystery Series. When I’m not writing, hosting my podcasts or coaching aspiring authors, I love to travel around Europe with my Husband, drink tea, and eat pizza.

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