These are the thrilling, historical, and heartwarming books you’ll want to tote to the beach all summer.
By Jessica Dukes
Sand in your drink? Annoying. Sand in your book? Somehow charming. Any of these would make a perfect vacation book so raise a beach umbrella, relax with one of these summer reads, and pause for a moment to realize that life doesn’t get much better than this.
Tom and his son, Jake, are hoping that a move to a new town will give them the space they need to grieve the sudden death of their wife and mother. Unfortunately, their new town is dealing with an old nemesis: “The Whisper Man” – a jailed serial killer who appears to have a partner on the outside and their first victim, a young boy. When Jake starts hearing whispers at his window, a new nightmare begins.
Alicia Berensen’s beautiful life dissolves in an instant when, for no understandable reason, she shoots and kills her husband. Her following silence captures the public’s imagination and feeds the wild rumors about their lives. When a criminal psychotherapist, Theo Faber, finally gets to study Alicia, what he uncovers is a plot twist so shocking you’ll have to read it twice to believe it.
Newlyweds Henry and Effie have just arrived in the quaint beach town of Cape May, New Jersey, when they meet an enigmatic couple, Clara and Max. What follows is a whirlwind of parties and erotic adventures that, unfortunately, Henry and Effie aren’t at all ready to navigate as a couple. Swept into Clara and Max’s dramatic world, their exploits lead to some difficult conversations about marriage, sexuality, and their future together.
Imagine that your ordinary teenager is suddenly in the middle of a murder investigation, accused of killing a shady businessman. Of course your first reaction is to protect your child, but what if you can’t? What if the law isn’t on your side? What if you develop questions about your child’s life to which there are no answers? Watching the Sandell family tackle these moments makes it the family saga of the summer.
The characters in Maizes’ debut collection are all struggling with their identities and taking risks, trying to live their best lives. Some, happy to say, are more successful than others. Her eleven short stories are equally heartwarming and emotional to read – there’s a lot of human tension and unexpected epiphanies packed into a few thousand words.
The luxurious Hudson Valley retreat is every pregnant woman’s dream, unless you want to leave. Jane, a Pilipino immigrant, learns the hard way that once she agrees to be a “host” for a wealthy couple’s baby, she is detained at The Farm and constantly monitored with no outside communication. Any misstep, no matter the tragedies her family is facing back home, and she risks losing the life-changing payment she’ll receive upon delivering the child.
At long last, the author of The Silence of the Lambs has delivered another spine-tingling thriller. Cari Mora is the caretaker of Pablo Escobar’s mansion in Miami, where he allegedly hid a thousand pounds of cartel gold before his death. Hans-Peter Schneider is a sex-trafficking treasure hunter who has plans for both the gold and Cari. She’s tougher and wiser than Schneider expects, but can she get out of Miami alive?
Berlin in the 1930s was an intellectual and cultural playground for Mildred Fish, her husband, and her friends. But the rise of the Nazi Party put their lives on a different path – one of resistance. Mildred and her friends work their journalist and government contacts for intel which they pass to Nazi enemies, until the day that their work is exposed and their lives become a fight for survival.
Peter and Katie have known each other their whole lives. Their families are neighbors in a tranquil suburb, close friends until a tragedy drives a wedge between their mothers. As adults, Peter and Katie grow close even as the heartbreak of the past tests their love for each other in unimaginable ways, over decades, while childhood memories complicate their lives.
It’s the 1970s, and music is supercharged with power and sexuality like never before. So when an L.A. producer introduces sultry Daisy Jones to a hot band called The Six, rock and roll legends are born. Daisy and the other lead, Billy, clash often and publicly, but they also work in perfect harmony to create one of the biggest groups of the decade. Hold on to your seats because the higher they rise, the harder they fall.
Being a young, black, female FBI agent at the height of the Cold War has its challenges. Marie’s biggest case yet has her investigating the Communist president of Burkina Faso, and within a year she has infiltrated his administration, seduced him, and played a key role in his coup. She also may have fallen in love, and now has to live with the guilt of a grand betrayal, executed in the name of her country.
Frannie Langton is a former slave from a Jamaican sugar plantation, and a current servant at a wealthy home in London. She is accused of murdering her employer and his wife, and her trial is the talk of the town. As Langton retells salacious stories from her past – including a relationship with her employer – her verdict is not just an indictment of herself, but of English society as a whole.
Chandra is a busy economist, a divorced father of three, and is on the verge of a mid-life crisis. The stress of his highly-competitive job will certainly be a threat to his life if he doesn’t change. Right on time, he is involved in a minor accident and is placed under doctor’s orders to relax. It’s a joy to watch a tightly-wound professor slowly unwind as he travels (and lets a few stray threads of his life waft in warm ocean breezes) – a reminder for all of us to find a little bliss.
Kitty and Ogden Milton used their considerable wealth to purchase Crockett’s Island off the coast of Maine in the 1930s, but now the grandchildren are unable to afford its opulent upkeep. As the family debates whether to sell, long-buried secrets emerge, opening old wounds for a family struggling to come to terms with the ugly bigotry in their past.
Is Stella Fortuna cursed? This is what she and everyone around her want to know, for just when it looks like Stella is about to die a grisly death, she narrowly escapes. Now, her scariest moment of all may be the life-changing move from Italy to Connecticut on the eve of WWII. As Stella and her sister come of age in an unfamiliar country, family pressures to be traditional Italian women threaten to tear them apart, sending Stella on a search for an escape she needs more than ever.