As the year heats up, so do the new book releases—and not a moment too soon. As we round the halfway mark on 2016, a whole new crop of exciting thrillers is hitting bookshelves, ready to get your blood pumping all summer long. Any of these 10 thrillers are perfect vacation reads, or for lazy weekends in the hammock, or whatever else you’ve got planned (or determinedly not planned).
End of Watch, by Stephen King
King ends his Bill Hodges trilogy with the best book of the bunch, expertly tying together the loose threads from Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers while taking the story in unexpected directions. As Hodges deals with a shattering piece of personal news, a series of bizarre suicides lead him inexorably back to Mr. Mercedes himself, Brady Hartsfield, who has sat silent and harmless in a hospital room due to the brain injuries he suffered when Bill and his partner Holly put a stop to his horrifying plans for mass murder. But the killer proves to be more capable than he seems, and Bill and Holly find themselves racing against time to prevent his final, impossible plan from coming to fruition. It’s a taut, intricate thriller that transforms the hard-boiled detective story into something only Stephen King could write.
The Games, by James Patterson and Mark Sulllivan
Patterson and Sullivan dive back into the glitzy, dangerous word of Private, a high-end security firm that always seems to be in the thick of international intrigue. Once again taking inspiration from the real world and current politics and situations, Jack Morgan is called to Brazil to assist with the security detail for several high-profile officials, even as the country slides into political and economic chaos in advance of the World Cup and the Olympics. When his clients start turning up dead, Morgan follows the clues to a deadly underworld run by people who have no interest in seeing Brazil succeed in hosting the two biggest games in the world—people willing to use violence at an unprecedented scale to achieve their goals.
Foreign Agent, by Brad Thor
Thor’s 15th Scot Harvath book feels as urgent and immediate as the first, thanks to a neat trick: Thor throws Harvath off-balance by putting everyone’s favorite unofficial government agent at as much a disadvantage as the reader. After helping to pinpoint the location of a key player for ISIS, Horvath is mixed up in a blown operation that turns into a security and public relations nightmare for the U.S. government. As Harvath investigates the leak that led to his near-ruin, he discovers a rogue player in the game, someone who’s sole purpose is to kill as many Americans as possible—and who might just be Harvath’s equal when it comes to subterfuge and espionage. Fast-paced and white-knuckled, Foreign Agent offers further proof that Thor is one of the best thriller writers working.
Dishonorable Intentions, by Stuart Woods
When you’re Stone Barrington—rich, capable, suave, with a name like “Stone Barrington”—you’re bound to make a few enemies. Stone cultivates one in the form of Boris Tirov, a film producer with deep connections to the Russian mob, who resents Stone’s relationship with his ex-wife, Gala Wilde. As Boris follows Stone and Gala around the world, Stone seems to have little trouble keeping the angry ex-husband at bay—until Tirov cuts a deal with the Russian President, Viktor Petrov—the details of which might not be resolved until Barrington’s next adventure. In the mean time, Tirov and Barrington head for an explosive final confrontation rendered in Woods’ signature style, offering a satisfying end even as it sets up the next book.
The House of Secrets, by Brad Meltzer and Tod Goldberg
Meltzer and Goldberg are clearly having a great time with this smart thriller, and that makes reading it a pleasure. Hazel-Ann Nash wakes from a car crash with much of her memory gone. She’s told her father, the host of a TV show investigating the unexplained, died in the accident, which seems like a routine tragedy—until it is revealed to be connected to the murders of two men named Kennedy and Nixon, killed thousands of miles apart. Every time you think you know what’s coming next, Meltzer and Goldberg surprise you, and the mystery becomes almost excruciatingly complex as they race through a gripping, intensely enjoyable final act.
Tom Clancy: Duty and Honor, by Grant Blackwood
Blackwood calibrates the new Jack Ryan, Jr. adventure for maximum tension by forcing Ryan to work without a safety net. On forced leave from The Campus, Ryan survives an assassination attempt that makes it clear he’s not on leave from his enemies. Without any official support, he has only his own skills, experience, and intelligence to uncover a conspiracy that points straight to the main private security firm serving the European Union—and the powerful man with dangerous secrets who runs it, a man who has plenty of reasons to want Jack Ryan, Jr. dead. When Ryan discovers the plot involves something much bigger than just himself, the race it on to stop what could be a catastrophic event.
Ghosts of War, by Brad Taylor
Pike Logan returns for his 10th adventure, and finds himself the only thing standing between a desperate Russian mobster and the horrifying chain of events he’s poised to enact. Simon Migonuv, a powerful head of an organized crime syndicate, is summoned to a secret meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, depicted as the ultimate criminal. Putin terrifies Migonuv into becoming a terrorist in an attempt to spark a war in Europe by any means necessary, propping up Russian oil and gas profits. Logan and his confederates, including catatonic Israeli assassin Shoshana, have little to rely on beyond their own smarts and guts as they try to stop Migonuv’s desperate plans, and Taylor nails the heart-pounding sense of urgency that will keep those pages turning well past your bedtime.
The Crow Girl, by Erik Axle Sund
In a scathing book that is equal parts thrilling mystery and social commentary, Sund (the pseudonym for a pair of writers) has crafted a tale that will keep readers guessing—and squirming—as they make the case that modern Sweden’s welfare state hides a deep societal sickness. Detective Superintendent Jeanette Kihlberg, herself worn down by a life that hasn’t gone quite the way she envisioned, is assigned to investigate the murder of a young immigrant boy who was drugged and mutilated. At first, the system doesn’t seem to care about one immigrant, but as more bodies turn up, Kihlberg reaches out to psychiatrist Sofia Zetterlund for assistance—and their relationship quickly becomes the very definition of complicated, both personally and professionally. From there, the web grows only more intricate, leading to a series of shattering revelations.
First Strike, by Ben Coes
The sixth Dewey Andreas thriller does not disappoint. Years ago, Deputy Secretary of Defense Mark Raditz used $2 billion from a secret fund to assist a jihadist who wanted to establish a democratic Muslim state. Instead, the jihadist went on to become the leader of ISIS. Going from bad to worse, the jihadist then kidnaps Raditz’s ex-wife and daughter and demands weapons in exchange for their safety. Meanwhile, Andreas is investigating claims that America has secretly funded ISIS—and as the two storylines collide, Coes expertly orchestrates the tension, plotting out a succession of disasters that ramp up the tension to unbelievably entertaining levels, heading to a crackerjack ending that will leave readers clamoring for the next in the series.
MEG: Nightstalkers, by Steve Alten
The long-delayed fifth novel in Alten’s MEG Series picks up where 2010’s Hell’s Aquarium left off: Megalodons Bela and Lizzy have escaped into Salish Sea, and Jonas Taylor and Mac are on the scene in an attempt to recapture—or kill—the enormous superpredators. Taylor’s son David is on his own dangerous mission, working for a Dubai prince tracking the enormous, hundred-ton Liopleurodon. David’s suicidal thoughts make his every encounter fraught with tension, and Alten slowly weaves his storylines together brilliantly, leading to an epic confrontation between the ancient world’s most dangerous predators—right here and right now.