15 authors pick the best summer reads for 2022
With summer holidays in full swing and long, light evenings to enjoy, there’s plenty of time in the warm months that lay ahead to get stuck into some killer books.
To help you narrow down which page-turners will take up precious room in your suitcase this holiday season, we asked some of our favourite authors, from Simon Mayo to Claire Douglas, to choose their most thrilling summer titles.
Expect well-drawn characters, surprising stories and deadly plot twists, and keep yourself cool whatever the temperature outside with this selection of chilling reads…
Cameron Ward, author of A Stranger on Board:
There’s something delightfully indulgent about sitting down to read a Bond novel. The promise is there – the characters, the themes, even the resolution, and yet Horowitz’s latest chapter in the world of 007, With A Mind to Kill, still manages to thrill with its mix of globe-trotting set pieces and old-school espionage. An incredibly satisfying ending – this is sadly Horowitz’s final Bond novel – and a great holiday read. Put your feet up in the sun, grab that martini, and lose yourself for a few exhilarating hours.
G R Halliday, author of Under the Marsh:
Confidence by Denise Mina is a perfect summer thriller. Podcasters Anna and Fin investigate the disappearance of a young woman, and alongside brilliantly dodgy antique dealer Bram van Wyk and his son Marcos, are quickly drawn into the hunt for an ancient relic. Heart-breaking and hilarious, you’ll be desperate to join the gang as they charge around Europe in this fantastic adventure.
Shari Lapena, author of Not A Happy Family:
If you’re looking for your next gripping summer read, you can’t go wrong with Fiona Barton’s latest, Local Gone Missing. Elise King is a detective on medical leave when a man goes missing in her seaside town. She can’t help herself – she has to dive in, and she uncovers a mess of dark secrets. This is brilliant storytelling – you won’t be able to put it down.
Simon Mayo, author of Tick Tock:
What a masterful writer Tom Bradby is. The title Yesterday’s Spy tells you this is a spy book but really this is historical fiction. And like all my favourites in this genre, takes the reader to a world about which they know (almost) nothing. Or maybe that’s just me. The spy in question is Harry Tower, a fading star in Britain’s security service. He learns that his estranged son Sean has gone missing and he sets out to find him. So far so good. But this is Iran in1953 and it turns out that we should all know a lot more about this lesser-known moment in world history. This is a febrile, revolutionary Iran, where the Americans and the British are trying to replace the nationalist prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh with the Shah who, they believe, will be more amenable to their ‘interests’. Not since James Lee Burke’s Hurricane Katrina-set Tin Roof Blowdown has a setting, a background, created such a thrilling stage for Bradby’s characters to walk. Or more usually run.
Claire Douglas, author of The Couple at No 9:
I’ve read so many brilliant thrillers recently but one that I still think about is Breathless by Amy McCulloch. It’s about a journalist, Cecily Wong, who has been invited to join an expedition to climb one of the world’s tallest mountains. As Cecily’s team begin to ascend towards the Death Zone things start going wrong – a theft and an accident – but when she finds the first body it becomes apparent there is a murderer on the mountain. Breathless is such a chilling, exhilarating, and heart-thumping read, and Amy’s mountaineering experience really shines through making it even more authentic. Ingenious, original, terrifying and completely immersive, I can’t recommend this highly enough.
Eve Chase, author of The Birdcage:
One of my favourite thrillers I’ve read recently is The Searcher by Tana French. Think a wild west story set in rural Ireland: a retired cop moves to a small town, searching for a quiet life, and is sucked into a dark local mystery. It’s unashamedly slow burn. No plot pyrotechnics, instead a masterly, note-perfect unravelling, and characters who live and breathe on the page. French’s exquisite writing – particularly about the lush Irish landscape – draws in the reader like the peat bogs might a lost rambler. Stunning.
Tom Hindle, author of A Fatal Crossing:
Readers searching for summer thrills are in for a treat with Lucy Foley’s The Paris Apartment. We join Jess, visiting her brother in Paris only to find he’s vanished without a trace. What follows is a dark, dangerous mystery, trailing through a city that’s a far cry from the beauty and romance we might expect. Packed full of Foley’s trademark twists, turns and characters so convincing you could recognise them in the street, once you’ve entered The Paris Apartment, there’s no turning back. Essential summer reading.
Ashok Banker, author of A Kiss After Dying:
Ira Levin’s A Kiss Before Dying was published in 1953. That’s almost 70 years ago! How could a novel that old possibly still be worth reading in 2022? That’s just it. The parts that made A Kiss Before Dying a stone cold crime classic – and the Best First Novel Edgar Winner that year – still work just as well. Toxic masculinity, class differences, youthful ambition, racism and a whiff of white supremacy, misogyny, male privilege, a sense of entitlement, it’s all there in this slender, powerful, often harrowing book. By sticking closely to the protagonist Burton Corliss’s point of view and inner voice, Levin builds a compelling thriller that reflects the angst of young America of that era. Which turns out to be not that different from today’s young America. In a sense, Burton Corliss is a prototype of today’s Incels and young White Supremacists. I discovered this classic novel only a few years ago, and it made such an impression, I was inspired to undertake my own take in my thriller debut A Kiss After Dying. My thriller turns the race, gender, and even the agenda of the original novel on its head, hewing its own dark, twisty path through the urban wilderness of contemporary noir. If you’re in the least bit curious, check out both novels, the Ira Levin classic and my own 2022 rift, and read them back to back. No judgement about which one you’ll like better!
Patrick Worrall, author of The Partisan:
I’ve seen at least two movie adaptations of The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M Cain but I’m embarrassed to say I had never read it until a couple of weeks ago. It does what you want all crime thrillers to do: make you feel dazed afterwards, like you’ve been punched in the face. It’s the ultimate noir – so black that no light can escape it. After the first chapter I thought it was better than Chandler. By the end I thought it was better than Fitzgerald. It came out in 1934 and it scandalised America and it scandalised me too and I wish I had read it before I ever tried to write anything.
Kate Riordan, author of Summer Fever:
I always make a beeline for anything by Sabine Durrant and her new one, Sun Damage, set in the South of France and narrated by a con-artist who inveigles her way into the lives of a privileged British family, did not disappoint. Durrant is expert at creating holiday settings which seem idyllic on the surface but are actually harbouring dark secrets and menacing characters. Every character is excruciatingly well-drawn and the twists just keep on coming. A subtle, sophisticated thriller I raced through in a couple of days.
Tim Weaver, author of The Blackbird:
It goes without saying that I’m not just late to the Jane Harper party, I got lost on the way here, but I arrived eventually – and I’m so glad I did. I’ve now read The Dry, Force of Nature and The Lost Man on the spin, and – while they’re all brilliant – for me, The Lost Man was her best novel yet. The story centres around the Bright family – who run a vast cattle property in Queensland – and the mysterious, unexplained death of the second of the three Bright brothers, who is found next to a remote burial site. Answers are drip-fed expertly throughout, suspicions shift constantly between the brilliantly-written characters, and the sense of isolation and the relentless, punishing heat of the Outback are palpable on the page. Best of all, it builds to a terrific, satisfying climax. I loved this book and I can’t wait to read Jane’s latest, The Survivors.
Katie Gutierrez, author of More Than You’ll Ever Know:
In Counterfeit by Kirstin Chen, Ava Wong is a mother of a difficult toddler, taking a break from the law job she hates, barely seeing her busy surgeon husband, when her old college roommate, Winnie Fang, comes back into her life. Soon, Ava is entrenched in Winnie’s counterfeit handbag empire, which we know from the start, as Ava tells her story to a detective, is doomed. And where is Winnie? This novel comes to life with detail on the counterfeit scheme, but what makes it brilliant is the way it cleverly exploits and then subverts our expectations on who these women are, examining the model minority myth from all angles. Chen uses point of view to shift our understanding of the story and the characters the way an image might look first like a vase, then the profile of a woman’s face, surprising us at every turn. And finally, I loved the scenes between Ava and her son, Henri. Her desperation and loneliness, her love for a child who needs something she doesn’t understand how to give, moved me to tears. Counterfeit is a fresh kind of crime novel that succeeds on multiple levels. I couldn’t recommend it more highly.
Mahi Cheshire, author of Deadly Cure:
My crime read of the summer is Emma Styles’ debut, No Country For Girls. After accidentally killing a man over stolen gold, strangers and now outlaws Nao and Geena embark on an unexpected road trip. This tense, high octane read transported me straight to the heat of the Australian outback and kept me gripped as Nao and Geena encountered more complications while trying to escape. Guaranteed to bring some sunshine no matter what happens with the British weather.
Deborah Masson, author of From the Ashes:
You can’t beat a summer read. For me, it signals the excitement of boarding a plane to far-off sunny shores and long, lazy days on the beach. But, with life throwing us the curveballs that it has in recent years, more and more we’re having to bring the sunshine to us – and what better way to do that than by reading Morgan Cry’s latest release, Six Wounds. The sequel to Thirty-One Bones, Six Wounds, finds us back in the Costa Blanca bar, Se Busca, with Daniella Coulston at its helm. A kick-ass woman who just can’t seem to shake trouble, this second outing is no exception when a dead gangster turns up in the basement of her pub. Cue Costa chaos, angry expats, gritty wit and action aplenty. The greatest of summer escapes.
Robert Goddard, author of This is the Night They Come For You:
It may seem perverse to be recommending a book I’ve only just started reading for others to enjoy this summer, but in my defence I can’t actually finish reading it until the autumn, when the second and concluding volume of Kaoru Takamura’s Lady Joker will make its belated appearance. First published in Japanese in 1997, what is commonly regarded as the masterwork of Japan’s acknowledged ‘Queen of Mysteries’ grips from the start, though exactly where this convoluted kidnap conspiracy thriller is going is unclear. What is clear is that you’ll want to find out. A mystery unexamined in the plot is why it’s taken a quarter of a century for the book (or books) to reach an English readership. But some good things, it seems, come to those who didn’t even know they were waiting. ‘Superior Quality – 100 Years in the Making’ reads an advert glimpsed on a damp scrap of newspaper stuck to an umbrella at Fuchu racecourse one wet Sunday in 1990. And we’re off…
What’s at the top of your summer reading list for 2022? Let us know in the comments below!