Thrillers with Smuggling Rings

Shady characters and sometimes protagonists try to cross borders with dangerous cargo

thrillers with smuggling rings

These three thrillers share an illicit bond: They all revolve around smuggling rings. In these nail-biting plots, shady characters—and sometimes the protagonists—try to cross borders with dangerous cargo. They hide drugs, people, even poisonous snakes. These novels are impossible to put down, as they balance high stakes and fatal consequences.

In Straight Cut by Madison Smartt Bell, Tracy Bateman, a freelance film editor, has run into a string of bad luck. His marriage crumbled, his dog just died, and he’s out of work. When an old friend offers him a job in Italy, he jumps at the chance, ignoring his fears about the legitimacy of the project and the trustworthiness of his friend. Tracy soon finds himself involved in a scheme involving suitcases full of heroin; gun-wielding drug runners; and infinite deadly plots involving himself and his ex-wife.

The gritty, realistic Do They Know I’m Running? by David Corbett tests ideas of borders, love, family, and loyalty. Eighteen-year-old Roque Montalvo is wise beyond his years. Living with his hard-working aunt and uncle, and taking care of his ex-marine brother who suffers from PTSD from his tour in Iraq, Roque does what he can to make ends meet. When his uncle is deported back to El Salvador, Roque teams up with cartels in a dangerous scheme to smuggle his uncle back to the United States, along with a Palestinian refugee and a young beauty destined for a fierce Mexican crime boss.

Combining elements of suspense, crime, and the occult, The Second Woman by Mark T. Sullivan pits a San Diego cop against a snake-charming cultist. A guest at a luxurious San Diego resort dies in a mysterious, excruciating way, convulsing and bleeding from the mouth. At first glance, it looks like he had the deadly Ebola virus, but the medical examiner soon discovers that snakebites killed him. To track down the snake-wielding murderer, police detective Seamus Moynihan is drawn into an ancient, sinister cult involved with animal smuggling and sexual violence.

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