Beach reads broadly fall into three categories. There’s War and Peace, or whichever worthy classic you’ve been promising yourself you’ll read for years and will never get round to. Then there’s the cookie-cutter soft-centred romance about a nice but rejected woman who opens a little shop/bakery/cafe in a picturesque location and at first overlooks the man who will truly appreciate her, or there’s the modern literary novel which generally disappoints, bewilders and irritates in equal measure. Ditch them all and go old school, and look to vintage crime and period thrillers for a more satisfying sunlounger read.
David York’s The Billion Pound Question is a well-crafted thriller that clocks up the air miles
as the plot shifts from the UK to China, Hong Kong and West Africa, casting a group of old friends into the world of high finance and drug-smuggling. The plot is fast moving, but the dialogue sometimes feels like the characters are explaining what’s happening, rather than talking to each other.
Serpents in Eden is a charmingly old-fashioned short story compendium of rural crimes, with dastardly deeds being done in the depths of every hedgerow. You’ll find a selection of Golden Age crime authors and some long-forgotten rediscoveries. Great for dipping into as you sip cocktails by the pool or cosy up in a country cottage.
Quick Curtain by Alan Melville is another rediscovered crime classic from the retro British Library series. A comedic crime caper set in a theatre where life imitates art and the leading man is shot dead on stage. Short but packed with witty dialogue, and wicked side swipes at the culture of the time, it’ll keep you amused for a sunny afternoon or two.
Failing that, you can always pick up the latest James Patterson at the supermarket or in departures. There’s bound to be a new one out most days this summer!