Best Reads for your Holiday

1. Resorting to Murder - Ed. by Martin Edwards
British Library £9.99

"Here is the perfect accompaniment to any holiday. Fourteen short stories from the Golden era of crime fiction. Here you have famous names such as Conan Doyle, Anthony Berkeley, Helen Simpson, Leo Bruce and G.K. Chesterton. The thing they have in common is that the crimes are all set in a seaside resort (hence the title). This is perfect for the sort of reader who likes a swift quick injection of crime before heading off on their daily excursion. This really is a collection you must have in your suitcase."

2. Uncle Paul - Celia Fremlin
Faber Finds £12

"Fifteen years ago Uncle Paul was exposed as a murderer by his wife Mildred, and sent to prison. Now a seaside holiday for Mildred's half-sister, Isabel and her family seems to be the venue for Uncle Paul's revenge. Mildred arrives at a lonely cottage near to Isabel's caravan site, and Isabel's urgent summons to her sister, Meg brings the three sisters to the holiday resort to play out a drama of fear and suspicion, betrayal and revenge.

It is no secret how much I admire Fremlin's novels of suspense. This dark and twisted tale of paranoia and blame is played out under the searing sun on the British coast. The two venues; a caravan park and an isolated holiday cottage appear to reflect the light and shade that is interwoven throughout this brilliant snapshot of 1950's British culture. "

3. N or M? - Agatha Christie
HarperCollins £7.99

"I confess that the jury is out with me on the current T.V. series. Christie wrote five Tommy and Tuppence books which were mainly so-so. However, the stand-out one for me has always been 'N or M?' which delivers the Beresfords a plot worthy of their enthusiasm. Here, they are middle-aged (Christie wrote the couple in read-time as she herself aged) and are sent by the Intelligence Agency to a seaside hotel, 'Sans Souci' to ferret out a wartime spy. I have read this several times and it is typical Christie - cracking plot and a cunning twist! "

4. Gently in the Sun - Alan Hunter
Constable £4.49

"A beautiful young woman is found dead on a beach at the height of summer. Every man in Hiverton knows Rachel Campion. She is the most gorgeous girl to have turned up in the fishing village in living memory. When she is discovered lying dead on the beach, Gently joins the throngs of summer visitors on their annual pilgrimage to the seaside in the midst of a summer heatwave - and as the temperature soars, the mystery deepens.

The George Gently series I feel has been a surprising hit. They appear to get the period spot on with the clothes and props. The books are different from the series as is Hunter's portrayal of Gently, and again you can dip in without having to start at the very beginning. This is a very neat little puzzle to wile away a few hours on the beach."

5. Vintage Murder - Ngaio Marsh
HarperCollins £10.99

"Not quite by the seaside, but Alleyn of the Yard is on holiday and he is staying in Marsh's country of origin, New Zealand. Alleyn is invited to a party thrown by the Theatrical Manager, Alfred Meyer to celebrate his wife's birthday. A jeroboam of Champagne is to descent in to a nest of ferns and coloured lights on a table set up on the theatre stage. But this being Marsh, things don't go to plan and murder is carried out right in front of Alleyn's eyes.

I have been reading Ngaio Marsh since I was about fourteen. I love her characterisation which she does superbly (I imagine due to her being an actress and a great observer of human nature) and they are usually such a motley crew as well. Again, the theatre is the background to this mystery, so you know Marsh is comfortably on home territory. This one is a delight."

6. A Cure for All Diseases - Reginald Hill
HarperCollins £7.99

"I do miss my fix of Dalziel and Pascoe. Reginald Hill was an exemplary writer and a lovely man, to boot. He always seemed surprised when people like me would tell him how marvellous his books were - as though he had never heard the like before. I am sure he knew as he was an intelligent man - but his total lack of arrogance and any sign of superiority simply made you admire the man and his books all the more! If you haven't read Hill's books (and you are no crime fan if you haven't!) - then do read him. They are wonderful.

Here we find Andy Dalziel convalescing at the seaside after someone tried to kill off the fat man. However, Sandytown is not the picturesque coastal town that he had hoped and soon Fat Andy, alongside his poor put-upon subordinate, DCI Peter Pascoe are solving a case involving warring landowners and holistic therapies! This has twists and humour threaded throughout. Sheer Heaven!"

7. Patterns in the Dust - Lesley Grant-Adamson
Ostara Crime £1.58

"Although not strictly based in a seaside town, Grant-Adamson's crime debut starts with journalist, Rain Morgan venturing off in to Somerset to get away from certain aspects of her troubled life. Rain feels she has reached a safe haven - there is the village pub, Gothic church, crusty old majors and country squires. It seems idyllic - and then the bodies start turning up...

This was first published by Faber in 1985. Grant-Adamson's work has been out of print for a while, but thankfully Ostara have published three of the Rain Morgan series. I have always championed this writer for her excellent prose and the individuality of her books. To me, some of her psychological novels are sublime and should be investigated by any ardent crime fan. This is a good place to start. Read this and then find Grant-Adamson's other novels - they get even better as she develops her style. And for an e-book, this is a mighty tidy price, too!"

8. Mad Hatter's Holiday - Peter Lovesey
Sphere £1.99

"It's 1882 and Albert Moscrop is holidaying in Brighton. A keen observer, Moscrop is fascinated by one particular family - the Protheros; and in particular the beautiful Zena Prothero. Moscrop becomes involved in a sensational and gruesome murder which horrifies all of Brighton. The local police seek the help of Scotland Yard, provided in the persons of Sergeant Cribb and Constable Thackeray. Once there, they find themselves facing the strangest case of their careers, one just as mystifying as it is macabre.

I am not a great fan of anything Victorian - but Lovesey is the exception. I loved his Cribb books (the author only wrote eight, of which this is the fourth) and as always with Lovesey, as with Reginald Hill, he delivers a wonderful puzzle embedded in some fine writing. This is only available in e-book, but a steal at such a price. Perfect for reading on the beach - but maybe not Brighton beach! "

9. Evil Under the Sun - Agatha Christie
Harper Collins £7.99

"Poirot is always going on holiday - but wherever he goes, death seems to follow him. This time he has decided to stay closer to home and is holidaying on Smuggler's Island. There is friction amongst the guests, usually sparked off by the beautiful actress, Arlena Stuart. Soon, Arlena is found strangled and despite being on holiday, it is down to Poirot to see who is the perpetrator of this evil under the sun.

Originally published as a short story, Christie fleshed this out to become one of her better known mysteries. The film of the 80's planted the story under the Mediterranean sun, but Christie based this near her beloved Torquay. This is typical Christie fare with a cracking denouement that knocks you for six. "

10. Deception on His Mind - Elizabeth George
Hodder £7.99

"Although billed as the Thomas Lynley series, the man himself appears only briefly here. This is the novel where his subordinate, Barbara Havers steps up to the plate. Her methods are not as smooth or as slick as Lynley, but George perfectly shows how dedicated Havers is to her job and to those she feels are victims - even if she is a bit ham-fisted in her methods. Balford-le-Nez is a dying seaside town on the coast of Essex, but when a member of the town's small but growing Asian community is found dead near its beach, the sleepy town ignites.

I admit I really disliked the T.V. series and although he is a good actor, Nathaniel Parker is not George's Lynley. And don't even get me started on their portrayal of Havers! I loved George's books for years, but the last few Lynley's have not been up to par. However, this title was before then and shows George at full throttle. And as with all George's books, it is big book, so you'll have plenty to keep you going for a few days."