Maybe you’re the kind of person who reads Ulysses on the beach. Hey, if that’s your thing, more power to you. I love me some literary fiction, but when I’m on vacation, I’m in relaxation mode, and that applies to the books I bring, too.
We’ve all got our personal go-tos for fluffier, less challenging books that don’t require a whole lot of brain power. Mine happen to be mysteries and thrillers, and I have a sneaking suspicion I’m not alone here. So without further ado, here are some page turners to kick off your summer.
Think of these as a step (or two or three) above the mass market paperbacks you’ll find at the convenience store around the corner from the beach, but nothing too highbrow.
Believe me when I tell you: You will not see the major twist in this book coming. Even if you’re looking for it. Trust me. This is the kind of book that keeps you on your toes until the very last page. The best part? The twists actually make sense; they don’t feel like they author threw them in there just for the sake of it.
Learn more about I Let You Go
Early reviews for this book about a series of small-town disappearances told me that I wouldn’t be able to put it down — and they were right. This is a smart, fast-paced thriller with an interesting stylistic twist: the story is told in reverse. It’s a gimmick that could easily fail, but in Megan Miranda’s capable hands, it works.
Learn more about All the Missing Girls
There’s a trend in thrillers where the unreliable female narrator isn’t very likable. What’s cool about The Passenger is that you actually like the protagonist. This is a fast-paced book about a woman escaping her past, rife with changing identities and surprising reveals.
Learn more about The Passenger
The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison
Okay, so it’s not quite as twisty as some of the reviews make it out to be, but this is a compelling story about a marriage gone horribly awry, with plenty of moral ambiguity to keep things really interesting.
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Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
I’m going to be honest with you: I didn’t love this one as much as many of my fellow book lovers did, but this list isn’t about me, it’s about you. I have friends who swear by this book as one of their favorite thrillers of 2015, so I feel compelled to include it. There are more than enough twists and turns to keep things interesting. Just beware: You will hate the protagonist for most of the book.
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Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
You may have heard of a book called Gone Girl? Kidding. We’ve all read Gone Girl by now. Many of us are sick of hearing about Gone Girl (not me, because I loved it, but the point is Gone Girl has had its time and now we all need to move on). Well, hey, if you loved Gone Girl as much as everyone else with a pulse, you’re in luck, because Gillian Flynn has a couple other books, and they’re pretty awesome. Dark Places promises Satanism, a secret club obsessed with famous murders, and a shit ton of seedy people. Can’t go wrong there.
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You: A Novel by Caroline Kepnes
This one sucked me in and wouldn’t let go. I didn’t want to put it down. It places you directly into the mind of a psychopath — and damn, is he a creepy motherfucker. The writing isn’t going to win any awards, but if you want dark and disturbing and utterly absorbing (with more than a hint of satire and social commentary) this is for you. BONUS: There’s also a sequel.
Learn more about You: A Novel
The Stranger by Harlan Coben
The Stranger is an anonymous person who goes around ruining people’s lives by exposing their deepest secrets to their loved ones for reasons that aren’t immediately clear. If that sounds intriguing to you, Coben’s your man. The dude can tell a good story. I read this in one day because it’s such an easy read and it moves along at such a fast pace.
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Imagine if your daughter – kidnapped nearly a decade ago – suddenly showed up on your doorstep. Now imagine having doubts that it’s actually your daughter. It’s an uncomfortable premise, and it just gets more interesting from there. Disclaimer: This one doesn’t come out until July 26th, so you’ll have to make it a mid-summer read.
Learn more about Good as Gone
A moving story about a Chinese American family in the 1970s struggling to find the truth about their teenage daughter’s tragic death. There’s certainly a mystery at the heart of this novel, but it’s by no means a heart-pounding thriller. It’s more of a quiet, nuanced account of a family in the wake of a tragedy.
Learn more about Everything I Never Told You