What is a Political Thriller?

What is a Political Thriller?

Thriller Spotlight with Joel C. Rosenberg

I warmly embrace the label of “Political Thriller” for my books. The only problem is that there are a lot of people who have no idea what that phrase means. Are they action books primarily centered around political intrigue and power struggles at the top? Must the stories be woven around elections or coups or assassinations to qualify for that appellation?

If you were to Google “Political Thriller,” you would find a wide range of definitions. But at the core, all of them would carry the theme of a book centered on political struggle or intrigue, usually with elements of suspense and danger.

Examples of great novels that would clearly fit that definition are The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon, All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren, and Absolute Power by David Baldacci.

But if you were to expand your Google search to “Best Political Thriller Novels,” you might be surprised at the authors you find. Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, and Jack Carr would all be near the top of the list. This is bound to bring confusion because most people would label these men’s work as military thrillers or spy thrillers. Stepping back, however, and looking at the series written by these authors and others like them, you would see that in the background of each of their stories there is almost always something wonky going on in the halls of Washington.

My new novel, The Libyan Diversion, is one of the more “political” of my political thrillers. There is major intrigue going on in the halls of power, particularly in the White House itself. And this political element is one of the elements that I most enjoy bringing to my novels. For years, I worked as a political consultant in Washington and worked for some Israeli leaders, too. Not necessarily successfully, but still, it gave me a front row seat and a backstage pass that provided me a better understanding of how both the American and Israeli political systems work.

Since that time, I’ve continued to work hard to hone my understanding through relationships with numerous high-placed political figures. Also, over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to visit and have meetings in the Oval Office and US Capitol Building, the Kremlin, and the Saudi Royal Palace. Not every political thriller writer gets to visit such places, but I find it really helps add detail and realism to my novels.

The simple truth is that I write political thrillers because that is the world that I lived in, the world I know, the world I find compelling and mysterious. I have come to know how the leadership in Washington thinks and operates. I understand the intrigue of those who are struggling to get to the top, and the stresses and pitfalls of those who reach the pinnacle.

In The Libyan Diversion, you’ll get a close-up view of the back-stabbing, character assassination, and media manipulation that Washington is famous for, and you’ll see what happens when the Oval Office is in complete chaos, including the Cabinet triggering the 25th Amendment because the President is no longer capable of functioning, much less leading.

But for you Marcus Ryker fans, you needn’t worry that he’s being pushed into the background. You all know that when terrorists are threatening and pandemonium is occurring in the White House, there is only one person the President is going to call to clean it up. The question is can Marcus pull it off in time?