Amateur Detective Mystery – solved by an amateur, who generally has some profession or affiliation that provides ready access to information about the crime.
Comic Thrillers – a thriller played for laughs, whether through a spoof of the genre or wisecracking interplay between the protagonists.
Conspiracy Thriller – In which the hero/heroine confronts a large, powerful group of enemies whose true extent only he/she recognizes. The Chancellor Manuscript and The Aquitane Progression by Robert Ludlum fall into this category.
Cosy Mystery – takes place in a small town—sometimes in a single home—where all the suspects are present and familiar with one another, except the detective, who is usually an eccentric outsider. Think Agatha Christie.
Crime Thriller – offers a suspenseful account of a successful or failed crime or crimes. This subgenre often focuses on the criminal(s) rather than a policeman. Crime thrillers usually emphasis action over psychological aspects. Central topics of these films include murders, robberies, chases, shootouts, and double-crosses are central ingredients.
Eco-Thriller – protagonist must avert or rectify an environmental or biological calamity – often in addition to dealing with the usual types of enemies or obstacles present in other thriller genres. This environmental component often forms a central message or theme of the story. Examples include Nicholas Evans’s The Loop, C. George Muller’s Echoes in the Blue, and Wilbur Smith’s Elephant Song, all of which highlight real-life environmental issues. Futuristic Eco-thrillers are of the Science Fiction genre that proposes ideas that will or may occur and include such works as Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy and Ian Irvine’s Human Rites Trilogy.
Erotic Thriller – simply put consists of erotica and thriller. The genre includes such books as Basic Instinct by Richard Osborne, and Fatal Attraction.
Disaster Thriller - In which the main conflict is due to some sort of natural or artificial disaster, such as floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes, etc., or nuclear disasters as an artificial disaster. Examples include Stormy Weather by Carl Hiaasen, Tremor by Winston Graham, and the 1974 film Earthquake.
Drama Thriller – In which the story consists of the elements of a thriller and drama film. These films are usually slower paced and involves a great deal of character development along with plot twists. Examples include The Illusionist, The Interpreter and The Prestige.
Forensic Mystery – solved through the forensics lab, featuring much detail and scientific procedure.
Futuristic Mystery/Thrillers – a crime set in the future.
Hard-Boiled Mystery - is tougher and grittier than soft- or medium-boiled stories. They often incorporate violence, no-holds-barred descriptions of crime scenes, and sexual encounters. They usually feature a lone-wolf private detective who is cynical yet quixotic. Think Sara Paretsky, Ian Rankin, Raymond Chandler, Michael Connelly, James Elroy, Clyde Ford (The Long Mile).
Historical Mystery/Thriller – thrillers or mysteries set in the past, usually combined with other subgenres. This particular subgenre is rather uncommon. Examples of this are Black Order by James Rollins and The Jester by James Patterson and Andrew Gross.
Hitman Thriller – victims are being hunted by a hitman. Dean Koontz’s The Good Guy is an example.
Horror Thrillers – conflict between the main characters are mental, emotional, and physical. Examples of this include World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks and 28 Days Later: The Aftermath by Steve Niles. What sets the horror thriller apart is the main element of fear throughout the story. The main character(s) is not only up against a superior force, but they are or will soon become the victims themselves and directly feel the fear that comes by attracting the monster’s attention. Other well-known examples are Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs.
Inverted Mystery – one where the killer is known and the story is about how the police go about proving and catching the killer- The Columbo movies were based on this genre.
Legal Thrillers – lawyer-heroes/heroines confront enemies outside, as well as inside, the courtroom and are in danger of losing not only their cases but their lives. The Pelican Brief by John Grisham and the Jack Swyteck novels by James Grippando are good examples of the type.
Literary Thrillers – concern rare books but this one was about art crime. (added by Violette Severin)
Locked Room – mystery in which the crime is apparently committed under impossible circumstances (but eventually elicits a rational explanation).
Medical Thrillers – hero/heroine are doctors or medical personnels working to solve an expanding medical problem. Robin Cook, Michael Palmer, and Tess Gerritsen are well-known authors of this subgenre.
Military Thrillers – a thriller featuring a military protagonist, often working behind enemy lines or as part of a specialized force
Murder Mystery – focuses on one type of criminal case. Usually, there is a murder victim, and the detective must figure out who killed him, the same way he solves other crimes.
Mob Mysteries or Thillers – mobsters, and their life account. It can describe the crimes they have committed, or the mob’s general development.
Police Procedural Thrillers – a crime thriller that follows the police as they work their way through a case.
Political Thrillers – hero/heroine must ensure the stability of the government that employs him. Good examples are Protect and Defend by Vince Flynn, Presidential Games by Alvin E. Hargis, and Happy Holidays: A Political Thriller by J.D. Smith.
Private Detective Mystery – Focused on the independent snoop-for-hire, these have evolved from tough-guy “hard-boiled” detectives to the more professional operators of today.
Psychological Thrillers – conflict between the main characters is mental and emotional, rather than physical. The Alfred Hitchcock films Suspicion, Shadow of a Doubt, and Strangers on a Train and David Lynch’s bizarre and influential Blue Velvet are notable examples of the type, as is The Sixth Sense by M. Night Shyamalan and The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith (who also wrote Strangers).
Religious Thrillers – popularized by the blockbuster, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. This subgenre uses the rich and long history of religion to build stories with high stakes and deadly politics. More examples are Map of Bones by James Rollins, The Templar Legacy by Steve Berry, and The Last Cato by Matilde Asensi.
Romantic Thriller – protagonists are romantically involved.
Sci-Fi Thrillers – Michael Crichton’s first novel, The Andromeda Strain (1969), still ranks as one of the top science fiction thrillers of all time. What could be scarier than microscopic killer germs run amok? Representing the larger end of the weird-creature spectrum, Mammoth by John Varley (2005) imaginatively spins a yarn starring a billionaire, a brilliant nerd, and a gifted animal wrangler whose newest charge happens to be a woolly mammoth.
Serial Killer Thriller – extremely popular subgenre of thriller. In this subgenre, a serial killer is terrorizing a group of people with horrific violence. The detective’s goal is to stop the killer before he takes his next victim. Examples here are The Skin Gods by Richard Montanari, The Narrows by Michael Connelly, Seduction in Death by J. D. Robb
Spy Thrillers (also a subgenre of spy fiction) – hero is generally a government agent who must take violent action against agents of a rival government or (in recent years) terrorists. Examples include From Russia with Love by Ian Fleming, The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum, and television series such as Mission: Impossible and 24 (the latter demonstrating a break from the norm by Robert Ludlum, as it is as much a psychological thriller as a spy thriller.)
Stalking Thrillers – obsession. This could be from a break up or the two characters don’t meet at first. Whatever it is the line is crossed and the main character becomes a victim who is being stalked.
Supernatural Thrillers – the conflict between main characters and a supernatural powers. Carrie by Stephen King and Unbreakable by M. Night Shyamalan are notable examples of this genre. This type of thriller combines tension of the regular thriller with such basic horror oriented ingredients as ghosts, the occult, and psychic phenomenon; the supernatural thriller combines these with a frightening but often restrained film. They also generally eschew the more graphic elements of the horror film in favor of sustaining a mood of menace and unpredictability; supernatural thrillers often find the protagonists either battling a malevolent paranormal force or trapped in a situation seemingly influenced or controlled by an other-worldly entity beyond their comprehension.
Techno-Thrillers – work that usually focuses upon military action, in which technology (usually military technology) is described in detail and made essential to the reader’s/viewer’s understanding of the plot. Tom Clancy defined and popularized the genre with his The Hunt for Red October, and is considered to be the “Father of the Technothriller.”
Terrorist Thriller – when someone blows up a building and are usually from the middle east or destroys something.
True-Crime Thrillers – The most famous book in this nonfiction genre is Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood (1966). The author spent months in the Midwest painstakingly retracing the steps of two young rural killers — and then wrote about it chillingly. Another excellent and more recent true-crime book is Green River, Running Red by Ann Rule (2004), the true story of the notorious Green River serial killer who terrorized the Seattle area for decades.