Top 8 Military Thrillers (2023) Historical Fictions, Navy Books, Investigations and Mystery
Nothing beats a good military thriller. I’ll be honest with you, I’m into thrillers more than I’m into military books. But then, it makes you think for a second. Sure, there’s quite a bit of imagination in these books, but there has to be a bit of reality in such books.
Despite the fictional profile, I believe such things could happen, or maybe they've already happened. All in all, throw in a bit of thrill and action to the mystery, and you have the perfect book. Here are my favorite military thrillers released over the past years.
What Are The Top Military Thriller with a Blend of Mystery?
Fair Winds of Deceit, by Billy R. Wade (2023)
The action takes us back to the fall of 1971, a time in history we all know for the cold conflicts around the world. It's been a few good months since one of the best scientists in the Navy has disappeared without leaving any clues.
It may not be such a big deal, but the scientist has nearly finished a top secret submarine project. Working on the project by himself, no one can really complete it. In other words, the government must find him, no matter what.
Then, the story takes us to Colt. With years of experience in Navy investigations, Colt is the primary choice for difficult cases that most agents can't solve. This project is different from what he's used to, though.
He has been given a free hand by the government, so he takes advantage and builds a small team of old friends for the case. Torn between the mission and the new relationship he's in, Colt also has to face a bunch of assaults affecting his small crew.
It sounds like mission impossible, but a few plot twists change everything in Colt’s favor. With help from unexpected directions, the decorated officers are in a tight race against time. Only if he could actually survive, and this is where I'll stop with the spoilers and let you discover the rest.
Straight Shot, by Jack Lively (2020)
This is the first book in the series, and trust me, once you're done with it, you'll crave more action. The action takes us from the harsh war fields in the Middle East to the beautiful hills of France. Anyway, the story follows Tom Keeler.
Tom has done more than enough for his country after fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. It's now time for his discharge from the Air Force squadron. He's still not sure what he'll do next, but for a start, he's planning a very long holiday in Alencourt, France, a place where his mother used to go as a kid.
Tom gets to Alencourt, and within his first hour there, three men try to murder him. It's not the best start for the experienced soldier, and he suspects there's more than just a random murder attempt.
His first thought is to jump on the first train and go back, but then, there’s something drawing him to this beautiful French town. It could be the fact that it feels like a holiday, with everyone around him speaking a different language. Maybe it's the laid back lifestyle, the cuisine, or perhaps his new crush.
Tom falls for a stunning policewoman, Cecile. During an investigation, she tells him that the murder attempt was aimed at someone else, a case of mistaken identity. Tom thinks those three men are the same thugs who left his French cousin paralyzed, so he decides to investigate further.
At this point, you won’t know what to believe anymore. There are connections with asylum seeking girls from the Middle East, missing people in the area, as well as his previous experience in combat. Tom's fighting spirit kicks in, and he starts an investigation on his own. And that's when things get messy.
Going Dark, by Neil Lancaster (2019)
The first book in the series follows Tom Novak and his real life experience after the army. He knows that his army years changed him as a person. He has got blood on his hands and a dark past he doesn’t want to talk about.
His first years as a refugee didn’t give him too much hope, but hard work put him in the elite Special Reconnaissance Regiment. He has passed his military days, but his military action years just won't let go of him, despite his new career as a police officer.
Things get messy when he has asked to go undercover and infiltrate a group of people traffickers. His cover goes down the drain, so he ends up chased by both Serbian thugs and other police officers.
He knows something is fishy when the Serbian mafia seems to know every move he makes. Someone in the police is a snitch for them, so he knows that he can’t trust anyone. At this point, he only has one option, to go dark.
Get ready for some gritty suspense and plenty of action. And more importantly, let me clear this out first, the book comes from a former detective sergeant, so you’ll get a pretty realistic story that feels like an inside job, totally worth it.
Red Metal, by Mark Greaney and Lieutenant Colonel Hunter Ripley Rawlings IV. USMC (2019)
With a severe military crisis in Asia and a few issues in Europe, it sounds like the perfect scenario for the Kremlin to attempt to take the eastern side of Africa over. Who would notice? Everyone's busy with all kinds of problems, and then, Africa has some incredible deposits of rare earth minerals.
Having access to such resources would make Russia the top leader in the hi-tech sector for many generations.
But the Americans have a different idea. A Marine lieutenant colonel and a captain from the French Special Forces team up with a Polish partisan fighter, a pilot, and a few other professionals to strike from behind enemy lines.
They know their countries have too much to worry about, so there’s no chance anyone would get involved with the Russians in Africa. But these guys are willing to give it a try.
The action spreads from land to sea and air, bringing a small unit of experts fighting in African jungles against Russian forces, only to prevent Russia from reaching world dominance. And to top all these up, there’s also the threat of a Russian nuclear detonation. Who’s going to win?
Raven One, by Kevin Miller (2017)
No guns, no armor, and lost in a hostile world, it sounds like the worst possible scenario. It's more than enough to give you some thrills, but wait until the action unfolds. This is one of those military thrillers so well written, you’ll feel like you’re in the middle of the action.
This isn't one of those Navy books where the hero gets stuck behind enemy lines. The action takes you inside a plane cockpit, and while it doesn’t seem so exciting at first, trust me, you’ll feel chills down your spine.
To give you a few hints, Wilson faces an enemy fighter plane. Across the space between them, he sees the pilot's eyes. They're dark, and they don't show any emotion whatsoever. The plane goes above him and gets in control of the situation.
Horrified, he realizes he's exposed, and there's not much he can do about it. And in the last moment, he realizes his enemy has an extra weapon that can end everything.
I’ll stop here with the spoilers, and I believe it's enough to get you hooked. Once you go through the first few pages, you’ll crave for action. The tension buildup is simply amazing.
Man Down, by Marine Mark Ormrod (2009)
This is one of those military thrillers written from a personal point of view. It's not just a random author using their imagination, but an actual former marine who loved the action. He spent much of his career fighting on the Afghan front, gathering plenty of prime time experience and detailed insight into the war.
But then, like any other soldier, he had a fear. And the unimaginable did happen one day.
A landmine took his right arm away, as well as both of his legs. Such catastrophic injuries took ages to fix, and the mental trauma is still there.
Written as a memoir, I believe this book is a must for everyone who loves Navy books. It's not a personal journal but detailed action right from the front. I'd go further and say it's also a motivational book for anyone who struggles with a physical disability.
But then, what did it for me was the detailed graphics of the war action. It feels like you’re there. And although many aspects feel like pure fiction, the fact that everything’s real makes this book even better.
All in all, this action-packed book is written with brutal and tough honesty. It’s dramatic at times, but it also exposes the harsh reality of war.
The Hunting, by Stephen Leather (2021)
When you think about doctors, you think about people in white uniforms who save lives. But then, can a doctor actually change his career and start taking lives instead?
This book tells the story of a British doctor, Raj Patel. Deployed in Syria, he has the primary mission to take care of injured military troops, as well as civilians. His great medical skills save lives. But like everyone else in a war zone, he has some fears.
And one day, those fears become a reality when he's mistaken for someone else and taken hostage.
The story takes us to billionaire Jon van der Sandt. His family has been murdered by jihadist terrorists, and he wants revenge. He hires a team of experienced mercenaries and former soldiers and sends them to Syria to find terrorists and transport them to his estate in the USA.
Unfortunately, these mercenaries also snatch Raj by mistake. And when the killing game begins, he realizes it's too late for him to explain his situation. Instead, he ends up caught in a sophisticated survival game, and he has to do whatever it takes to survive.
Get ready for an extraordinary action and, by far one of the most intense military thrillers out there. The pressure buildup stands out, and to be honest with you, I think this is one of those books that will make it into a movie one day.
Call to Kill, by Billy Billingham and Conor Woodman (2022)
This is the first book in a longer series and, by far one of my favorite military thrillers out there, packed with action, tension, and quite a few plot twists.
Mace ends up deployed in Yemen. He has one mission, saving some hostages. All odds are against him and his team. Despite having a decent plan in place, the mission fails.
Now, things are less likely to go in the right direction anyway because the local political scene is too corrupt.
On one side, General Ruak Shahlai is a local warlord who controls many politicians. On the other hand, American arms dealer Erica Atkins has some impressive connections too. She wants the war to go on, it’s just money for her.
Mace and his men team up with CIA agent Redford to prevent a catastrophe that will take Yemen even deeper into war, not to mention causing a horrible environmental disaster that would ruin the region.
It feels like the type of plot that anyone can anticipate, but there are a bunch of plot twists that will change everything. War is such a profitable business that pretty much everyone has some sort of an interest, and sooner or later, Mace realizes there aren't too many people he can actually trust.
I could probably go on with this list even further. There are plenty of good military thrillers and Navy books out there, some of them based on tough war realities, others written from pure fiction.
However, I believe the above mentioned list will satisfy your hunger for action, mystery, drama, and thrillers. And to make things even better, I've also included a few series with great endings, excellent for follow-ups and further action.
Check out also our favorite historical mystery books!
My profession is online marketing and development (10+ years experience), check my latest mobile app called Upcoming or my Chrome extensions for ChatGPT. But my real passion is reading books both fiction and non-fiction. I have several favorite authors like James Redfield or Daniel Keyes. If I read a book I always want to find the best part of it, every book has its unique value.