Top 10 Summer Reads 2021

1. The Lucky Eight - Sheila Bugler
Canelo £1.99

"A horrific airline disaster which killed 160 passengers, made headlines around the world. On the fifth anniversary, a number of those who survived gather to mark the occasion. By morning, Nick Gilbert, a celebrity chef and one of the party, lies dead. Detective Rachel Lewis leads the investigation and within days another survivor is stabbed to death. It seems certain that a killer is targeting the lucky eight.

I am having to wait my turn, but I have been told that this standalone is as exciting as the Dee Doran books. The e-book can be pre-ordered for the princely sum of £1.99. Definitely a snip to read this engaging and exciting writer. Both ebook and paperback out 22nd July 2021."

2. We Begin At The End - Chris Whitaker
Zaffre £8.99

"Thirty years ago, Vincent King became a killer. Now, he's been released from prison and is back in his hometown of Cape Haven, California. Not everyone is pleased to see him. Like Star Radley, his ex-girlfriend, and sister of the girl he killed. Duchess Radley, Star's thirteen-year-old daughter, is part-carer, part-protector to her younger brother, Robin - and to her deeply troubled mother. But in trying to protect Star, Duchess inadvertently sets off a chain of events that will have tragic consequences not only for her family, but also the whole town. This is THE book to read this summer. It has won the CWA Gold Dagger and Best Novel at the Harrogate Crime Festival 2021. Reviewer and writer, Sheila Bugler has raved about this novel. I admit I did start this book but couldn't get in to the rhythm, which can happen to us all if our minds are not in the groove. This is one I feel many will be reading this summer."

3. Vanished - James Delargy
Simon and Schuster £14.99

"The Kane family, Lorcan, Naiyana and their young son relocate from Perth to Kallayee, an abandoned mining town in the Great Victoria Desert to start over again, free from their chequered past. The town seems like the perfect getaway: Peaceful. Quiet. Remote. Somewhere they won’t be found. But life in Kallayee isn’t quite as straightforward as they hope. There are noises in the earth, mysterious shadows and tracks in the dust as if the town is coming back to life. But the family can’t leave. No one can talk sense into them. And now, no one can talk to them at all… they’ve simply vanished. Now it's up to Detective Emmaline Taylor to find them before it’s too late.

I loved Delargy's debut, '55' making it a Fresh Blood at the time. Now he is back with 'Vanished' and again we're served a bizarre set of circumstances and we're against the clock. Delargy perfectly brings to life the dryness of the vast outback and how nature can take over anything that man builds and bring desolation in its wake. "

4. Seat 7a - Sebastian Fitzek
Head of Zeus £18.99

"Psychiatrist Mats Krüger knows that his irrational fear of flying is just that – irrational. He knows that flying is nineteen times safer than driving. He also knows that if something does happen on a plane, the worst place to be is seat 7a. That's why on his first plane journey in twenty years – to be with his only daughter as she gives birth – Mats has booked seat 7a, so no one else can sit there. If no one is sat there, surely nothing will go wrong.

But shortly after take-off, Mats receives a worrying phone call. The caller has kidnapped his daughter and will murder her – and her unborn child – unless Mats convinces the pilot to crash the plane, killing everyone on board. As the plane nears its destination, Mats must make an impossible choice and face the fact he might be the arbiter of his own worst fear.

Sebastian Fitzek is getting a reputation as the German King of the Whiplash Thriller. His stories are so fast, his plots are labyrinthine and there are twists coming at you left, right and centre! On another note, this is the fourth book to come out about a plane crash/crashing. I don't know if writers were working it out of their system last year that they couldn't get away by jet, so the next best thing is to take out their frustration on the page. I'm guessing that's the answer! 'Seat 7a' is out now. "

5. Hostage - Clare MacKintosh
Sphere £14.99

"The atmosphere on board the first non-stop flight from London to Sydney is electric. Celebrities are rumoured to be among the passengers in business class, and the world is watching the landmark journey. Flight attendant Mina is trying to focus on the passengers, instead of her troubled five-year-old daughter back at home - or the cataclysmic problems in her marriage. Soon after the plane takes off, Mina receives a chilling anonymous note. Someone wants to make sure the plane never reaches its destination. They're demanding her cooperation... and they know exactly how to get it. It's twenty hours to landing. A lot can happen in twenty hours.

I don't know if it was because nobody was going anywhere in 2020 due to the pandemic, but it seems it was time for writers to get their anger and frustration out of their system by writing a thriller on a plane! This is the third in this list along with Bugler and Fitzek. This feels a departure for MacKintosh as this is a really gripping rollercoaster of a thriller. There is nothing better than having that 'race against the clock' feel in a book or movie. As with the other two books on this list, I am not sure I would advise reading this while actually on a plane. It may not be conducive to happy a pleasant flight!! "

6. Dead Ground - M. W. Craven
Constable £16.99

"Detective Sergeant Washington Poe is in court, fighting eviction from his beloved and isolated croft, when he is summoned to a backstreet brothel in Carlisle where a man has been beaten to death with a baseball bat. Poe is confused - he hunts serial killers and this appears to be a straightforward murder-by-pimp - but his attendance was requested personally, by the kind of people who prefer to remain in the shadows.

As Poe and the socially awkward Tilly Bradshaw delve deeper into the case, they are faced with seemingly unanswerable questions: despite being heavily vetted for a high-profile job, why does nothing in the victim's background check out? Why was a small ornament left at the murder scene - and why did someone on the investigation team steal it? And what is the connection to a flawlessly executed bank heist three years earlier, a heist where nothing was taken.

With only four novels in the Poe series under his belt, Craven has taken the crime world by storm! ‘Dead Ground’ continues his run of delivering a bizarre, yet addictive read that will leave you spellbound."

7. Continental Crimes - Ed. by Martin Edwards
British Library Crime Classics £8.99

"A man is forbidden to uncover the secret of the tower in a fairy-tale castle by the Rhine. A headless corpse is found in a secret garden in Paris - belonging to the city's chief of police and a drowned man is fished from the sea off the Italian Riviera. These are three scenarios of this collection from 2017 of short stories collected by Martin Edwards. These stories have used European settings and so I have decided this will be my current read as I look out of the window and see RAIN AGAIN!!! As with all collections, some are better than others, but I am not fussed, as long as they transport me to sunnier climes!!! "

8. Midsummer Mysteries - Agatha Christie
HarperCollins £14.99

"A collection of short stories featuring Poirot, Marple, Mr Quin and the Beresfords. Christie was renowned for placing her crimes in exotic locations. Be prepared to be transported back in time to huge mansions in the English countryside, a seaside town, Delphi and the French Riviera. If you are not getting away this summer, then Christie's stories are perfect for spiriting you away to different shores! "

9. The Turnout - Megan Abbott
Virago £14.99

"After the sudden death of their parents, the Durant sisters, Dara and Marie, inherit a ballet school and take over running it with Dara's husband, Charlie. The sisters' connection is intense, forged by a glamorous but troubled family history.

But after they hire Derek, a charismatic, possibly shady contractor to renovate the studio, Marie throws herself into an intense affair with him that threatens their tight bonds and brings forward family secrets until an act of violence overturns everything.

Read by Crimesquad reviewer and crime writer, Sheila Bugler, she has praised this book to the skies having read the proof. Another searing psychological novel who is making this genre her own! "

10. Dream Girl - Laura Lippman
Faber £14.99

"Gerry Anderson has been having trouble sleeping. He's unwell - bed-bound - and has only his night nurse and his personal assistant for company. But what's really troubling him are the phone calls. Phone calls from a woman claiming to be the 'real' Aubrey. But that can't be. Aubrey's just a character Gerry made up in a book, years ago. Can Gerry see past the ever-blurring lines of fact and fiction and figure out who is threatening him, or has his long-overdue moment of reckoning finally arrived?

I loved Lippman’s novel from last year, ‘The Lady in the Lake’ and expect high standards from ‘Dream Girl’. Again, this tale is stretched over the years from 1968 to the present in Baltimore. This is a dark, comic tale of the real and imaginary. "