The High-Stakes Thrill of Murder for Hire Books
If you’re after page-turning thrills and high-stakes chase scenes, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as mystery suspense books about assassins, hitmen, and hired killers. If you’re the kind of crime reader who likes mystery books told from the villain’s point of view, or if you enjoy reading about morally gray characters who don’t always make the best decisions, then these five novels will be right up your alley. They’re about evil killers, contract killers, reformed killers now working for the government, and everything in between. Some are mysteries while others are suspense books that come with a side of murder. Either way, check out the list below to find your next great read about murder for hire.
In Billy Summers, a new novel from master of suspense Stephen King, a hired killer decides he wants to get out of the game — and finds it's a bit more dangerous than he'd envisioned. Billy Summers is very good at killing for money, and he's only ever had one stipulation: that the people he murders are actually bad. But he's finally decided he's had enough; there's just one last job he has to tackle before retiring. With his uncanny ability to disappear from the scene of a crime and his years of military experience, it should be easy. But this job is anything but. Tightly plotted and always surprising, this is a summer read you don't want to miss.
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Villanelle (a codename, of course) is one of the world’s most skilled assassins. A catlike psychopath whose love for the creature comforts of her luxurious lifestyle is second only to her love of the game, she specializes in murdering the world’s richest and most powerful. But when she murders an influential Russian politician, she draws a relentless foe to her tail.
Eve Polastri (not a codename) is a former MI6 operative hired by the national security services for a singular task: to find and capture or kill the assassin responsible, and those who have aided her. Eve, whose quiet and otherwise unextraordinary life belies her quick wit and keen intellect, accepts the mission.
The ensuing chase will lead them on a trail around the world, intersecting with corrupt governments and powerful criminal organizations, all leading towards a final confrontation from which neither will emerge unscathed.
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No one writes suspense novels like James Patterson. In Cross Fire, detective Alex Cross finds himself hunting down a professional killer when he's supposed to be off work getting married. He's called into the scene when two corrupt DC politicians, a congressmen, and a lobbyist, are found dead. The bodies keep piling up and the case gathers media attention, so the FBI assigns a new agent to the investigation. Now Alex is dealing with a rival detective, a determined killer, and a postponed wedding. Longtime fans of Alex Cross will not be disappointed with this installment, the perfect blend of action, suspense, and personal drama.
Related: Eight of the Most Magnetic Detectives in Crime Fiction
Prominent U.S. Senator James Wyckoff hires former government agents-turned-private security consultants Janson and Kincaid to locate his teenage son Gregory. Gregory’s girlfriend Lynell has been found strangled in a Seoul hotel, and Gregory has fled the city to avoid being arrested for the crime. But Senator Wyckoff insists that his son is innocent, suggesting that Lynell, who was a translator, may have been murdered because of something she overheard at a recent international conference. And when Janson and Kincaid realize they’re being hunted by an assassin, they suspect that this crime–and the cover-up–were orchestrated by a shadowy unit of the U.S. State Department as part of a larger plot to provoke violence between North and South Korea.
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The Kill Room
The Kill Room is an action-packed thrill ride starring no-nonsense detective Lincoln Rhyme, the country's best investigator and top forensics expert. When a sniper kills an American citizen in the Bahamas, Rhyme is called in to investigate the case. While his partner attempts to glean evidence about the victim by retracing his steps in Manhattan, Rhyme decides to follow the trail left by the sniper himself. But when the assassin starts murdering witnesses, Rhyme's case turns into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse. Like the previous installments in Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme series, this is a fast-paced adventure with a satisfying, and unexpected, resolution.
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The Informant is the third book in Thomas Perry's Butcher Boy series. In the first novel, the Butcher's Boy, a professional hit man for the mafia, is betrayed by his employers, murders several mobsters, and then disappears. Now, years later, his quiet life shatters when a mafia hit team finally catches up with him. He goes to the only person he can think of for help: Elizabeth Waring, a higher up in the Organized Crime Division of the Justice Department. The Butcher's Boy offers her information in exchange for protection. But their partnership is riddled with deception and secrets, and if they can't learn to work together, they might end up destroying each other.
It looked like a mass execution: six people, systematically shot and killed in a private Washington mansion. One of the targets happened to be the White House Chief of Staff. But that wasn’t the reason Sean Drummond was called in on the case. Newly enlisted in a CIA cell called the Office of Special Projects, the former Army lawyer was informed that the murders were just a warning. The killer had left a note: “You can’t stop us. There will be others, and the President will be history in the next two days.”
The clock is ticking. The hunt begins for the ultimate killer-for-hire-a brilliant, coldhearted professional with an insider’s knowledge of Washington. For Sean Drummond, it’s the greatest challenge of his career, a terrifying cat-and-mouse game with unthinkable consequences. If he fails, the world will never be the same-and one calculating killer will collect the $100 million bounty on the President’s head.
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It begins with a hit gone wrong. Robie is dispatched to eliminate a target unusually close to home in Washington, D.C. But something about this mission doesn’t seem right to Robie, and he does the unthinkable. He refuses to pull the trigger. Now, Robie becomes a target himself and is on the run.
Fleeing the scene, Robie crosses paths with a wayward teenage girl, a fourteen-year-old runaway from a foster home. But she isn’t an ordinary runaway–her parents were murdered, and her own life is in danger. Against all of his professional habits, Robie rescues her and finds he can’t walk away. He needs to help her. Even worse, the more Robie learns about the girl, the more he’s convinced she is at the center of a vast cover-up, one that may explain her parents’ deaths and stretch to unimaginable levels of power.
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