A nuclear missile…
A cult of terrorists…
And only two people who can prevent Armageddon.

Do a lowly sergeant and a female psychiatrist have what it takes to prevent a nuclear holocaust? You’re about to find out in this gripping thriller from bestselling crime writer Paul Levine.

In Ballistic, the future of the world is at stake when a doomsday cult hell-bent on bringing about Armageddon captures an ailing U.S. Air Force missile base. Ballistic is set against the real-world findings of the Air Force that an alarming number of missile launch officers are suffering from boredom, burnout, and some are even cheating on routine preparedness exams.

The greatest disaster in the history of mankind is imminent.

With morale and discipline suffering as a nuclear arms treaty forces the disbandment of the base’s missile squadrons, a home-grown horde of heavily armed religious commandos led by Brother David moves in. His mission: to realize Armageddon as prophesied by the Book of Revelations.

Sergeant Jack Jericho is haunted by an act of cowardice in his past. Dr Susan Burns is a psychiatrist trapped in the launch control capsule during routine missile crew tests. Will the pair be able to work together and battle their own demons to defeat these religious terrorists once and for all?


Ballistic” is ‘Die Hard’ in a missile silo. Terrific!”

– Stephen J. Cannell

“Imagine Paul Levine channeling Tom Clancy but with a sense of humor and far, far better writing.”

– Kindle Nation Daily

“It’s easy to compare Levine to Tom Clancy but I think he’s better for two simple reasons—he’s a better storyteller and his characters are more believable, good guys and bad guys alike.”

– Ed Gorman, author of Blood Moon


A catastrophic jetliner crash. A billion-dollar lawsuit. The defense? Kill anyone, even a Supreme Court Justice, to win the case.

Was negligence or terrorism responsible for the horrific Everglades jetliner crash at the center of Impact? That’s what a billion-dollar lawsuit must decide in this thriller from bestselling crime author Paul Levine.

As the lawsuit winds its way through the federal courts, law professor Sam Truitt ascends to the Supreme Court. Truitt’s high ideals and lofty intentions hide a troubled marriage. At his side is Lisa Fremont, his stunning and brilliant law clerk, who has a dark secret in her past.

Will this be the case that costs them their lives?

If Lisa fails to secure Sam’s vote in this high-stakes lawsuit, she’ll lose her life – and so will he. He’s always lived by the rules; she never has. But in this gripping tale of seduction and betrayal, the two must join forces to battle those who live by no law at all.

Impact was the inspiration for television drama First Monday, starring James Garner and Joe Mantegna. Now available as an ebook and trade paperback, it was originally published as a hardcover titled 9 Scorpions. Read what others have said about Paul Levine’s thrilling novel.


“A relentlessly entertaining summer read.” – New York Daily News

“A breakout book, highly readable and fun with an irresistible momentum, helped along by Levine’s knowledge of the Supreme Court and how it works.” – USA TODAY

“A big brash blend of violence, sex, and the Supreme Court.” – Miami Herald

“There’s a first-rate chase scene in the Everglades that helps puts the “thrill” in this thriller.” – The Mystery Reader

“Sizzles the Supreme Court as it has never been sizzled before, even by Grisham.” – F. Lee Bailey

“A master storyteller. The Supreme Court was never as dangerous or sexy.” – Stephen J. Cannell

“A masterfully written thriller, coiled spring tight. The plot is relentless. I loved it!” – Michael Palmer

Mystery Novels vs. Thrillers

By Paul Levine

At a conference recently, I was asked, “Do you write mystery novels or thrillers?”

“Yes,” I answered with a smile.

Okay, it’s a wise ass reply. There are discernible differences between the two genrea.  As Wikipedia succinctly explains, the thriller hero must stop the villain’s plans, rather than uncover a crime that has already happened. The latter situation is, of course, the setup for classic mystery novels.

By the time Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple or Columbo or Jessica Fletcher appears on the scene, the murder has been committed, the mystery is underway, and the heroes use their powers of detection to nail the killer.

Mystery Novels Raise Questions

So, “The Maltese Falcon” and “Gone Girl” are mystery novels. There are questions to answer. In “Falcon,” who shot Sam Spade’s partner and why are people willing to kill to get that black bird?

mystery novels, gone
Mystery Novels: “Gone Girl” is a classic mystery, despite the cover sticker proclaiming it a “thriller.”

In Gillian Flynn’s runaway bestseller “Gone Girl,” why did Amy Dunne go missing? Did her husband kill her? And…oh, wait! I can’t ask the next question, because as with many mystery novels, there’s a huge TWIST halfway through, and I won’t spoil either the book or movie for you.

Mystery Novels Are Puzzles

Mystery novels are often puzzles that are solved by the hero discovering the identity of the villain…and hopefully bringing him/her to justice. But there are sub-genres. The “closed mystery” or “whodunit?” conceals the identity of the villain until late in the story, while the “open mystery” reveals the perpetrator committing the “perfect crime” at the beginning, forcing the hero to figure it out at the end.  Columbo, anyone?

mystery novels, tattoo
Is “…Tattoo” a mystery or a thriller? Both!

In thrillers, the hero and the reader generally know the identity of the villain. Often, there are chases, explosions of violence, and a “ticking clock” race against time. The hero is often in danger, as are people he cares about. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “Strangers on a Train,” “The Silence of the Lambs,” and “The Day of the Jackal” are all thrillers…but all also have elements of mystery. In “…Tattoo,” a mystery is at the heart of the story. What happened to the missing teenage girl nearly 40 years ago? But the action of the story is the hallmark of the thriller.

Mystery Novels and Thrillers Overlap

All of which brings up an important point. There is much overlap in these definitions.

So, back to the question at that panel…where do I fit in? I’m going to be as evasive as a shady witness on the stand. I prefer the broad category that labels me a writer of “crime fiction.” In fact, that’s where you’ll find me in Wikipedia, (alphabetically) just after Elmore Leonard and before Laura Lippman. And that’s a very fine place to be.

But then Wikipedia also says I’m a thriller writer and a mystery writer…alphabetically just after Gaston Leroux. Who? He wrote “Phantom of the Opera.”

To make matters more confusing, I write “legal thrillers,” which combine elements of mystery novels –who’s the murderer and will he/she be convicted? — with the classic thriller that places the hero in jeopardy.

mystery novels; alibi
Mystery Novels: Legal Thrillers Can be Both Mysteries and Thrillers

My legal thrillers clearly overlap the boundaries I’ve described. How else to explain that they’ve been nominated for the International Thriller Writers Award (“The Deep Blue Alibi”), the Edgar Allan Poe (crime fiction) award (“Kill All the Lawyers”), the Shamus (private detective) Award (“State vs. Lassiter”) and even the James Thurber humor award. (“Solomon vs. Lord.”)

So, bottom line…don’t worry about labels. Read what you enjoy. Mystery, thriller, or the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are pretty mysterious, too. Until next time…

Paul Levine