August is here, and with it a fresh batch of world-class thrillers to keep your heart pounding through the dog days. This month sees the arrival of the sixth book featuring Lisbeth Salander, the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; the launch of a new series from Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child; the 50th Stone Barrington romp from Stuart Woods; and a creepy dystopian thriller from Rob Hart that might be one of the breakout books of the year.
The Girl Who Lived Twice, by David Lagercrantz
The sixth book in the late Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series (and third from David Lagercrantz), opens with Lisbeth Salander nowhere to be found. Mikael Blomkvist goes looking for her even as he investigates the death of a man who doesn’t exist in any records, but whose final words hinted at explosive knowledge involving the most powerful people. Salander has sold her apartment and vanished from the internet entirely, and as the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo secretly stalks her worst enemy—her twin sister Camilla—her fate and Blomkvist’s will once again intertwine.
The Inn, by James Patterson and Candice Fox
The remote Inn at Gloucester is former cop Bill Robinson’s dream for retirement: a dozen rooms whose occupants pay rent in exchange for the privacy Bill is more than happy to give them. The tenants include local sheriff Clayton Spears, army vet Nick Jones, and loyal groundskeeper Effie Johnson, and everything is going fine until a gang of criminals move into the Inn, bringing with them drugs, murder, and yet more violence. Bill soon realizes that he can’t escape the darkness of the world, and these fiercely independent people will have to band together to defend their home turf—whatever the cost.
The Turn of the Key, by Ruth Ware
Over the course of four explosive novels—In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, The Lying Game, and The Death of Mrs. Westaway—Ware has established herself as one of the best mystery writers working today, and her streak remains unbroken with this, her fifth novel. Rowan Caine comes across a dream job, working as a nanny in a posh estate in the Scottish highlands outfitted as a “smart” home. The family is wealthy and the children are adorable; Rowan can’t believe her luck. Yet we can’t ignore the fact that she’s narrating this story from prison, where’s she’s awaiting trial for a child’s murder. Even as she recounts the bizarre and disturbing story, Rowan is trying to solve her own mystery, piecing together the chaotic events—the frequent long absences of the parents, the increasingly disturbing malfunctioning of the home’s technology, and the bizarre turn of behavior in the two small girls she was hired to care for. All Rowan knows for sure is that she isn’t guilty—but can readers trust her?
Old Bones, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Preston and Child promote archaeologist Nora Kelly from key supporting character in their Special Agent Pendergast books to the main character of her own series. Kelly learns of the existence of a diary kept by the wife of George Donner (of Donner Party fame), and of the possibility suggested by the diary of a heretofore unknown third camp set up by members of the ill-fated expedition. As Kelly searches for evidence of this huge historical find, fellow Pendergast alum FBI agent Corrie Swanson works a murder case with a link to the Donner Party as well. It isn’t long before the two women combine forces to solve a typically twisty Preston/Child mystery.
Outfox, by Sandra Brown
FBI special agent Drex Easton is obsessed with a serial killer who has been stalking wealthy young women for decades, never leaving a clue behind. When he finally gets a break and thinks he’s identified the killer, he moves in next door to his suspect. The man calling himself Jasper Ford may or may not be a murderer, but Drex finds himself smitten with the man’s much younger wife, Talia. As he works the case, Drex falls in love, a circumstance that begins to adversely affect the investigation and threaten the lives of Drex and his co-workers. Meanwhile, a rival at the bureau works to shut Drex’s case down, setting the clock ticking and setting the stage for another of the intense finales Brown excels at orchestrating.
Contraband, by Stuart Woods
Woods’ 50th Stone Barrington novel finds the detective-turned-attorney in fine form, vacationing on a yacht off the coast of Florida. When a small plane crashes into the water nearby, Barrington does what he always does: he dives in to help, literally. Barrington rescues the pilot, Al Dix, and notices a large amount of luggage in the drink. As Dix recovers in Key West, Barrington meets the beautiful police officer investigating the crash, Max Crowley, but the case takes a turn when the mysterious luggage vanishes without a trace, and Dix refuses to say what might have been in it, then disappears himself—as does the plane itself. With nothing to go on to solve the mystery, Barrington heads to New York, where he is asked by new friend Robbie Calder for some help obtaining a divorce from her violent husband. When Calder’s husband turns up dead alongside one of Robbie’s friends, things look grim for Barrington on two fronts—until he discovers a connection between the missing luggage and this new problem.
The Perfect Wife, by J.P. Delaney
Abbie Cullen-Scott was a loving mother, an adventurous spirit and surfer, and a celebrated artist; in the words of her husband, tech genius Tim Scott, she was “the perfect wife.” When she disappears, Tim is a prime suspect, but no charges are brought. Five years later, Abbie wakes up in a hospital room—but she’s changed. Tim has spent the intervening years pouring the immense resources of his company into creating a “companion robot” programmed with Abbie’s memories and personality. As this Abbie investigates her own disappearance, she questions whether she can trust her husband and is troubled by the nature of her existence; she isn’t human, even if she has a human’s memories. Unlocking the truths hidden inside each of these mysteries is hard, but Abbie persists, slowly making her way toward a twisty and emotionally powerful climax.
The Russia Account, by Stephen Coonts
When CIA Director Jake Grafton discovers a small Estonian bank is laundering huge amounts of money, he dispatches Tommy Carmellini to investigate. When Tommy brings in a Russian oligarch with ties to Vladimir Putin, Grafton authorizes an interrogation at a CIA safe house. There, they learn the operation is much bigger than suspected, involving politicians and investors in a grand scheme to destabilize all of the Western world by destroying people’s confidence in concept of money itself. When Grafton finds himself the target of an assassin as a result, former thief Carmellini has to get to the bottom of a massive conspiracy before it’s too late—for him and for the world.
The Whisper Man, by Alex North
In the town of Featherbank, a little boy disappears after reporting that a man came to his window and whispered to him. That’s the precise M.O. of Frank Carter, known as The Whisper Man—but Carter’s been in jail for twenty years. Detective Inspector Amanda Beck calls in the policeman who put Carter away, Pete Willis, to consult on the case. Meanwhile, a grieving widower moves to town with his young son, a boy with an invisible friend. The child complains about being afraid of the boy under the floor—and when he starts to hear whispers and an attempt is made to lure the boy away from his home, it all seems to connect to Beck’s puzzling investigation. Part procedural, part ghost story, part haunted house tale, this gripping thriller will keep you riveted.
The Warehouse, by Rob Hart
Rob Hart, best known for the Ash McKenna series, offers up a chilling and plausible vision of our corporate-run future, lurking the logical end of our current drive towards deregulation and privatization. After taking over the Federal Aviation Administration from the government, a familiar mega-corporation known as Cloud dominates commerce and labor to a frightening extent. In essence, the world has been turned into a huge open-air mall… run by Cloud. It is in this future where three stories converge: that of Gibson Wells, the dying founder of the company, who defends his legacy; Paxton, a former competitor turned Cloud employee living and working at one of the company’s self-sustaining facilities; and Zinnia, a corporate spy who sees Paxton as an asset and uses his attraction to her in pursuit of her own ends. Detailed worldbuilding makes this one feel nightmarish and all too real, but the thrilling plot keeps you turning pages anyway.
Which thriller are you looking forward to this August?