Stuck for something to read? I’ve just returned from two glorious weeks in the south of France, where I did little apart from reading. Below are my holiday reading suggestions, listed in the order I read them, with a little detail about each one. I’ve highlighted my favourites with a star, and strongly suggest you give them a go.
Holiday reading suggestions
A perfect summer read from the author of Amazon bestseller Sealed with a Kiss. Daisy escapes to her parents’ house in Steeple St John and seeks refuge in what she knows best: gardening. This is a reassuringly familiar romance with deftly drawn characters and a wonderful setting.
Tightly plotted and beautifully written, Untouchable is an explosive erotic thriller that blows Fifty Shades out of the water. Stella is a high-class call girl working from her London flat. A cleverly drip-fed back-story prompts us to question why this intelligent, well-educated woman is working in the sex trade, and when one of Stella’s fellow escorts is murdered the questions really stack up. Untouchable is a fast-paced crime novel in a genre of its own and I predict great things for it.
Written by a former submariner, this taut crime novel oozes authenticity. Lieutenant Danielle (known as Dan) Lewis is investigating a suicide on HMS Tenacity, facing closed ranks and open hostility. As the story unfolds the pressure mounts, and it’s impossible to know who to trust. I read this in a day and can’t wait for the next in what will undoubtedly be an explosive series.
I’ve seen this author compared to Stieg Larsson, and I can see why. Another debut, The Girl who Wouldn’t Die introduces us to Georgina (known as George – what is it with all these androgynous names?) McKenzie, a student criminologist drawn into a suspected terrorist attack at the University of Amsterdam. The colourful setting and raw, no-holds-barred language makes this a strong, edgy debut that deserves to do well.
I’m a big fan of Fiona’s writing, and As Good as it Gets? doesn’t disappoint. Charlotte Bristow’s daughter might be about to hit the big time as a model, but Charlotte’s own life is decidedly dull. A feel good story about marriage, love and – ultimately – doing the right thing.
The best example of ‘women’s fiction’ I’ve read in a long time, Summer at Shell Cottage meanders through the lives of an extended family spending their summer holiday at Shell Cottage, in Devon. Expertly plotted, Lucy tackles real, gritty issues and resolves them without ever being glib or preachy. So good I wanted to flip straight back to the beginning and read it all over again.
This is the second in Mel Sherratt’s DS Allie Shenton series, and I’ve already downloaded the first, keen to follow Allie’s progression from the start. A man’s body is found on a towpath, the letter ‘E’ in his pocket. When a second victim is found with the letter ‘V’, DS Shenton realises she has a series on her hands. Follow the Leader is a fast, exciting crime story, and DS Shenton a likeable, well-rounded detective. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Old houses are filled with memories, and none more so than Edwina Spinner’s tall town house, with its basement kitchen and attic bedrooms crammed with furniture. The title of Jenny Eclair’s fourth novel is brilliantly apposite: Edwina tells her story as she prepares to leave her family home, and it is both heart-rending and compelling.
I’m a sucker for a serial killer, and Luca Veste has created a terrifying one. Dead Gone introduces us to D Murphy and DS Rossi, Liverpool detectives fast sinking out of their depth. This is a twisty, psychological crime debut in a gritty setting: a potential new favourite for police procedural lovers.
I defy you not to fall in love with Milo, a nine-year-old boy with failing eyesight, who sees the world in a very special way. Told from several points of view, What Milo Saw is a reminder to us all that in life, perspective is everything. A modern-day fable and undoubtedly a future classic, I’ll be buying copies of this for everyone I know.
Having loved Good Girls Don’t Die, by the same author, I wanted to go back and read an earlier book from Isabelle Grey, a screenwriter and former journalist. The Bad Mother is a psychological suspense novel which centres around a family-run seaside B&B. I didn’t warm to any of the mothers depicted in this rather dark story, but couldn’t help but find out how their tales would unfold.
I listened to this on audio, gasping out loud at the end of the opening section, much to the consternation of my fellow sun-lounger users. I won’t tell you what made me jump, but suffice to say DI Pat Lennon has domestic demons far juicier than the bottle-of-whisky tropes seen in all too many police procedurals. I was instantly hooked, kept on the edge of my sun-lounger as this story of missing children unfolded.
I’ll happily put my hand up and admit that I’m not a fan of science fiction and fantasy, but how could I ignore this New York Times bestseller? When a deadly virus spreads across North America civilisation begins to crumble. Decades later the Travelling Symphony takes Shakespeare plays from place to place, but the threat to human life is far from over. An extraordinarily beautiful book.
My apologies for ending this overview of summer reads with a book that isn’t out yet, but with a launch date of 29 September you don’t have long to wait. After enjoying my introduction to DI Lennon in From the Cradle, I leaped at the chance to read the follow-up. Pat Lennon’s home life continues to unfold, as he investigates the gruesome killing of a boy-band fan. Up-to-the-minute references make this a brilliantly contemporary read, touching on online bullying, ‘fandom’ and our obsession with social media. An exciting, tense read.
I hope my list of holiday reading suggestions is useful. If you’ve read any of the above, do let me know what you thought, and share what you’ve been reading this summer.