Are you looking for the perfect book to polish off in an afternoon? If so, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve scoured upcoming and new thriller novels that clock in at under 320 pages. Including books from top authors like John Grisham and James Patterson as well as a debut novel, these reads are sure to please. Publishers’ descriptions included below.
Camino Island by John Grisham
A gang of thieves stage a daring heist from a secure vault deep below Princeton University’s Firestone Library. Their loot is priceless, but Princeton has insured it for 25 million dollars.
Bruce Cable owns a popular bookstore in the sleepy resort town of Santa Rosa on Camino Island in Florida. He makes his real money, though, as a prominent dealer in rare books. Very few people know that he occasionally dabbles in the black market of stolen books and manuscripts.
Mercer Mann is a young novelist with a severe case of writer’s block who has recently been laid off from her teaching position. She is approached by an elegant, mysterious woman working for an even more mysterious company. A generous offer of money convinces Mercer to go undercover and infiltrate Bruce Cable’s circle of literary friends, ideally getting close enough to him to learn his secrets.
But eventually Mercer learns far too much, and there’s trouble in paradise as only John Grisham can deliver it.
The Child by Fiona Barton
As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it’s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?
As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss.
But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn — house by house — into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women — and torn between what she can and cannot tell…
Full Wolf Moon by Lincoln Child
Legends, no matter how outlandish, are often grounded in reality. This has been the guiding principle behind the exhilarating career of Jeremy Logan, the “enigmalogist” — an investigator who specializes in analyzing phenomena that have no obvious explanation — previously seen in The Forgotten Room, The Third Gate, and Deep Storm. Logan has often found himself in situations where keeping an open mind could mean the difference between life and death, and that has never been more true than now.
Logan travels to an isolated writers’ retreat deep in the Adirondacks to finally work on his book when the remote community is rocked by the grisly discovery of a dead hiker on Desolation Mountain. The body has been severely mauled, but the unusual savagery of the bite and claw marks call into question the initial suspicions of a wild bear attack. When Logan is asked to help investigate, he discovers no shortage of suspects capable of such an attack—and no shortage of locals willing to point the finger and spread incredible rumors. One rumor, too impossible to believe, has even the forest ranger believing in werewolves. As Logan gets to know the remote deep-woods landscape, including a respected woman scientist still struggling with the violent loss of her father in these very woods, Logan realizes he’s up against something he has never seen before.
His most action-packed and white-knuckled novel to date, Full Wolf Moon is the perfect combination of exotic locales, provocative science, and raw action that make for a deeply entertaining Lincoln Child blockbuster.
The Roses of May by Dot Hutchison
Four months after the explosion at the Garden, a place where young women known as the Butterflies were kept captive, FBI agents Brandon Eddison, Victor Hanoverian, and Mercedes Ramirez are still entrenched in the aftermath, helping survivors in the process of adjusting to life on the outside. With winter coming to an end, the Butterflies have longer, warmer days of healing ahead. But for the agents, the impending thaw means one gruesome thing: a chilling guarantee that somewhere in the country, another young woman will turn up dead in a church with her throat slit and her body surrounded by flowers.
Priya Sravasti’s sister fell victim to the killer years ago. Now she and her mother move every few months, hoping for a new beginning. But when she ends up in the madman’s crosshairs, the hunt takes on new urgency. Only with Priya’s help can the killer be found — but will her desperate hope for closure compel her to put her very life on the line?
The Good Widow by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke
Elementary school teacher Jacqueline “Jacks” Morales’s marriage was far from perfect, but even in its ups and downs it was predictable, familiar. Or at least she thought it was… until two police officers showed up at her door with devastating news. Her husband of eight years, the one who should have been on a business trip to Kansas, had suffered a fatal car accident in Hawaii. And he wasn’t alone.
For Jacks, laying her husband to rest was hard. But it was even harder to think that his final moments belonged to another woman — one who had left behind her own grieving and bewildered fiancé. Nick, just as blindsided by the affair, wants answers. So he suggests that he and Jacks search for the truth together, retracing the doomed lovers’ last days in paradise.
Now, following the twisting path of that fateful road, Jacks is learning that nothing is ever as it seems. Not her marriage. Not her husband. And most certainly not his death…
Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips
The zoo is nearly empty as Joan and her four-year-old son soak up the last few moments of playtime. They are happy, and the day has been close to perfect. But what Joan sees as she hustles her son toward the exit gate minutes before closing time sends her sprinting back into the zoo, her child in her arms. And for the next three hours — the entire scope of the novel — she keeps on running.
Joan’s intimate knowledge of her son and of the zoo itself — the hidden pathways and under-renovation exhibits, the best spots on the carousel and overstocked snack machines — is all that keeps them a step ahead of danger.
A masterful thrill ride and an exploration of motherhood itself — from its tender moments of grace to its savage power — Fierce Kingdom asks where the boundary is between our animal instinct to survive and our human duty to protect one another. For whom should a mother risk her life?
The Store by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo
Jacob and Megan Brandeis have gotten jobs with the mega-successful, ultra-secretive Store. Seems perfect. Seems safe. But their lives are about to become anything but perfect, anything but safe.
Especially since Jacob and Megan have a dark secret of their own. They’re writing a book that will expose the Store — a forbidden book, a dangerous book.
And if the Store finds out, there’s only one thing Jacob, Megan and their kids can do–run for their bloody lives. Which is probably impossible, because —
THE STORE IS ALWAYS WATCHING.
Release date: August 14
The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer
On Ruby’s 13th birthday, a wish she didn’t even know she had suddenly comes true: the couple who raised her aren’t her parents at all. Her real mother and father are out there somewhere, and Ruby becomes determined to find them.
Venturing into the forest with nothing but a suitcase and the company of her only true friend — the imaginary Shadow Boy — Ruby discovers a group of siblings who live alone in the woods. The children take her in, and while they offer the closest Ruby’s ever had to a family, Ruby begins to suspect that they might need her even more than she needs them. And it’s not always clear what’s real and what’s not — or who’s trying to help her and who might be a threat.
Told from shifting timelines, and the alternating perspectives of teenage Ruby; her mother, Anna; and even the Shadow Boy, The Doll Funeral is a dazzling follow-up to Kate Hamer’s breakout debut, The Girl in the Red Coat, and a gripping, exquisitely mysterious novel about the connections that remain after a family has been broken apart.
Release date: August 15
A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena
You’re home making dinner for your husband. You expect him any second.
The phone rings — it’s the call you hoped you’d never get.
You jump in your car and race to a neighborhood you thought you’d never visit.
You peer into the dark, deserted building. You brace yourself for the worst.
And then, you remember nothing else.
They tell your husband you’ve been in an accident. You lost control of your car as you sped through the worst side of town.
The police suspect you were up to no good. But your husband refuses to believe it. Your best friend is not so sure. And even you don’t know what to believe…
Release date: August 15
Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent
In this “compelling, clever, and dark” (Heat magazine) thriller, a man’s shocking act of savagery stuns a local community — and the revelations that follow will keep you gripped until the very last page. This work of psychological suspense, a #1 bestseller in Ireland, is perfect for fans of Patricia Highsmith and Ruth Ware.
“I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.”
So begins Liz Nugent’s astonishing debut novel — a chilling, elegantly crafted, and psychologically astute exploration of the nature of evil.
Oliver Ryan, handsome, charismatic, and successful, has long been married to his devoted wife, Alice. Together they write and illustrate award-winning children’s books; their life together one of enviable privilege and ease — until, one evening after a delightful dinner, Oliver delivers a blow to Alice that renders her unconscious, and subsequently beats her into a coma.
In the aftermath of such an unthinkable event, as Alice hovers between life and death, the couple’s friends, neighbors, and acquaintances try to understand what could have driven Oliver to commit such a horrific act. As his story unfolds, layers are peeled away to reveal a life of shame, envy, deception, and masterful manipulation.
With its alternating points of view and deft prose, Unraveling Oliver is “a page-turning, one-sitting read from a brand new master of psychological suspense” (Sunday Independent) that details how an ordinary man can transform into a sociopath.
Release date: August 22
Which of these books do you plan to read? Let us know in the comments!