I love thriller, adventure, and mystery novels, and I don't like paying for them, so here is what I do to get to the top of the library's "Hold" list. Like everything else in life, it involves preparation, research, and an occasional sneaky-trick:
Subscribe to Stop, You're Killing Me
They track an awesome number of authors, including every popular current author you can think of, so you'll always know in advance of the publishing date for new books. I bet Amazon has a similar feature tied into their "recommendations" feature that will do the same. I don't know if it pushes you the recommendations, though. But, I love that SYKM publishes 2 newsletters/month - not too many, not too few... just right...
Get a library card
Nearly every library system of any substance has the ability to place holds on books over the internet
Policies on newly-published books may vary, but I've done this with three different systems and the only restriction was shorter borrowing time than standard checkouts. Many libraries use library software systems and already have catalog records established well in advance of publication dates. Read your newsletter, place holds on all the new books of interest.
You don't have to be the first hold, just in the first batch of holds
By the time the publication date rolls around, your hold has probably been queued for several months. Most libraries, when they see demand for a book in the form of a long queue, will buy additional copies. Once you've placed your hold, don't hesitate to suggest the same to friends, family, and your book club - generate demand so the library buys more books.
Don't forget to check the large-print holdings!
If the occasional title slips past you until its too late to get first dibs, or you discover an author that is new to you and you want to catch up on his or her past books and there are lengthy queues, check to see if there are large-print editions available (save the flame-comments and emails, AARP and vision-impaired: if there were a heavy demand for large-print books, it wouldn't be so easy to get them). Seriously, it works. Just a little nugget I learned from my sister-in-law librarian.
Enjoy your next book!