Top 24 Books to Make Your Summer Reading Spectacular

When you think of summer does it include the perfect beach read? Or the latest novel your friend recommended? Some of the best books we read are ones we read for the first time on a summer vacation. Our minds are usually a little more relaxed at this time and we can fully immerse ourselves into the story we choose to read. But how do you go about choosing the right book off your reading list for that perfect summer relaxation? You won’t get second chances, so how do you decide? 

It may be a personal quirk (and please tell me I’m not alone in this) but I truly enjoy going back and reading books that are not new releases. You know, the older books, the ones your mom used to tuck in her beach bag on the way out the door for a day of sun and relaxation. The pages dogeared and worn. A good book, but one that isn’t all the “hype” right now. I am always on the hunt for that type of book each summer to add to my summer reading list. 

So here are 24 books worth the Summer Read in 2024 (and beyond), some new, some old. All are well worth the time spent, and the memories made. Here’s to finding your new best friend.

Summer Reading

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New Books:

1. One Wrong Word by Hank Phillippi Ryan

An intriguing twister of a story Hank Phillippi Ryan’s newest book is filled with rumors, lies, and the understanding that one wrong word could be the end of you!

One wrong word can ruin your life. And no one knows that better than savvy crisis management expert Arden Ward. Problem is, she’s now forced to handle a shocking crisis of her own. Unfairly accused of having an affair with a powerful client, Arden’s life and dreams are about to crash and burn. Then, Arden is given an ultimatum. She has just two weeks to save her career and her reputation.

Is Cordelia Bannister the answer to her prayers?

Cordelia needs Arden’s help for her husband Ned, a Boston real estate mogul. Though he was recently acquitted in a fatal drunk driving accident, his reputation is ruined, and the fallout is devastating not only to the Bannisters’ lives, but the lives of their two adorable children.

On Goodreads, Amazon, and Bookbub.

2. Safe and Sound by Laura McHugh

Summer is the perfect time for a twisty Psychological thriller right? 

In a town no one ever leaves, there are only so many places to hide.

As kids, Amelia and Kylee were found unharmed in their upstairs bedroom the night their teenage cousin Grace, who was babysitting them, vanished from the farmhouse in Beaumont, Missouri, leaving blood all over the kitchen. Scrappy and driven, Grace, the first in their family to go to college instead of getting married and working at the meatpacking plant, had been on the verge of escaping their dead-end town. Her disappearance is a warning to any local girl who dared hope for better.

On Goodreads, Amazon, and Bookbub.

Favorite Classics:

3. The Killing Floor by Lee Child

This is the start of the Highly Acclaimed Reacher Series by Lee Childs and a personal favorite of mine. I love the mystery and the small-town politics of it. 

Ex-military policeman Jack Reacher is a drifter. He’s just passing through Margrave, Georgia, and in less than an hour, he’s arrested for murder. Not much of a welcome. All Reacher knows is that he didn’t kill anybody. At least not here. Not lately. But he doesn’t stand a chance of convincing anyone. Not in Margrave, Georgia. Not a chance in hell.

On Goodreads, Amazon, and Bookbub.

4. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (A Debut Novel) – a recommendation from Rosalie Spielman

“This book is one that has stuck with me.”

Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m.

There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit.

We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer.

Understood? Then let’s begin . . .

Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others . . .

On Goodreads, Amazon, and Bookbub.

5. Cold Dead Night by Lisa Philips

Lisa, Lisa, Lisa… You always provide a thrilling story and this one might just be my favorite.

The FBI betrayed her. Now they need her.

Private Investigator Kenna Banbury lost everything two years ago at the hands of a serial killer. From the ashes of that encounter, she’s built a life she believes in, searching for the lost and forgotten all over the western US.

Bringing her own brand of justice.

When a series of murders drags her into an FBI investigation, Kenna finds herself back in the place where it all went wrong. Struggling to make sense of the case, Kenna’s past and present collide in a deadly plot that risks another betrayal and threatens to shatter everything she’s built.

On Goodreads, Amazon, and Bookbub.

6. The Garden Girls by Jessica Patch

A new release on our summer reading radar is The Garden Girls by Jessica Patch. A fictional Thriller/True Crime book!

On a remote Outer Banks island, a serial killer collects his prized specimens. And to stop him, an FBI agent must confront his own twisted past.

FBI agent Tiberius Granger has seen his share of darkness. But a new case sets him on edge. It’s not just the macabre way both victims—found posed in front of lighthouses—are tattooed with flowers that match their names. There’s also the unsettling connection to the woman Ty once loved and to the shadowy cult they both risked everything to escape.  

On Goodreads, Amazon, and Bookbub.

Summer Reading Romance (with some suspense):

New Books:

7. The Vanished by Cara C. Putman

This one sounds especially intriguing with themes of art theft, law, and a bit of romance on the side.

Janae Simmons left the small town of Kedgewick, Virginia, ten years ago to pursue her legal career and never looked back–until a professional mistake leads her to her grandmother’s historic carriage house and to the town where her past threatens to find her. The quiet streets echo with her grandfather’s sterling reputation, one that conflicts with fresh questions that claw at Janae, launching her on a reluctant journey to unearth his secrets. When her new job at a local law firm doesn’t live up to expectations, she wonders if coming home was the right decision.

Favorite Classics: 

8. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

As far as Romantic suspense goes, how can you go wrong with Rebecca by Daphne De Maurier? It is the type of book that legends are made of. 

In Monte Carlo, our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady’s maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at Manderley, her husband’s cavernous estate on the Cornish coast, that she realizes how vast a shadow his late wife, Rebecca, will cast over their lives—introducing a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their love from beyond the grave.

On Goodreads, Amazon, and Bookbub.

9. Where Truth Lies by Christiane Heggan

Travel combined with an FBI investigation? Ah just sign me up!

Museum curator Grace McKenzie is shocked when she receives word that her ex-fianc, Steven Hatfield, has been murdered. In his will, Steven has left her his art gallery in New Hope, Pennsylvania. Anticipating that she would turn down the bequest, he asked that she spend a week at the gallery before making her final decision. Motivated by a sense of duty to a man she once loved, Grace agrees to go to New Hope for one week.

She isn’t the only person drawn to the small town. FBI agent Matt Baxter has returned to his hometown for one reason only–to clear his father of a bogus murder charge. While he and Grace seek answers, they discover that beneath the surface of this charming, peaceful town lies an old secret a few of its citizens would rather keep buried. And when their search takes an unexpected turn, they have only hours to find out where the truth lies–or be buried with it.

On Goodreads, Amazon, and Bookbub.

10. Decoy by Jasmine Cresswell – recommended by Anita Dickason

This is a book that she has had on her shelf for years! Definitely worth the read that means.

Art gallery owner Melody Beecham was raised in the elite social circles of her English mother, Rosalind, and her American father, Wallis Beecham, a self-made millionaire. But when her mother dies suddenly, a shocking truth is revealed: Wallis is not Melody’s father. Worse, he is a dangerous man.

Furious, Melody is determined to uncover the secrets hidden at the heart of Beecham’s vast empire, unaware that her actions are being monitored by members of a covert government agency known as Unit One. And Unit One has decided to recruit Melody, believing her connections will be invaluable in penetrating the highest political circles. They simply have to blackmail Melody into joining them…

On Goodreads, Amazon, and Bookbub.

11. Vanished by Irene Hannon

A book full of twists-and-turns that will leave you wondering…

Reporter Moira Harrisons is lost. In the dark. In a thunderstorm. When a confusing detour places her on a rural, wooded road, she’s startled by the sudden appearance of a lone figure caught in the beam of her headlights. Though Moira jams on her brakes, the car careens across the wet pavement–and the solid thump against the side of the vehicle tells her she hit the person before she crashes into a tree on the far side of the road.

A dazed Moira is relieved when a man opens her door, tells her he saw everything, and promises to call 911. Then everything fades to black. When she comes to an hour later, she is alone. No man. No 911. No injured person lying on the side of the road. But she can’t forget the look of terror she saw on the person’s face in the instant before her headlights swung away.

On Goodreads, Amazon, and Bookbub.

Historical Fiction Mystery:

New Books: 

12. Death in the Details by Katie Tietjen

This is one I’m very much looking forward to reading. It was inspired by the real-life mother of forensic science, Frances Glessner Lee. 

Maple Bishop is ready to put WWII and the grief of losing her husband, Bill, behind her. But when she discovers that Bill left her penniless, Maple realizes she could lose her Vermont home next and sets out to make money the only way she knows how: by selling her intricately crafted dollhouses. Business is off to a good start—until Maple discovers her first customer dead, his body hanging precariously in his own barn.

On Goodreads, Amazon, and Bookbub.

13. Night Falls on Predicament Avenue by Jaime Jo Wright

Okay, now hear me out on this one. We have a dual timeline, a British mystery, an abandoned house, and secrets to uncover? I mean this one just checks all the boxes. 

In 1910, Effie James is committed to doing anything to save her younger sister, who witnessed a shocking murder, leaving her mute and in danger of the killer’s retribution. Effie must prove what her sister saw, but when a British gentleman arrives, he disrupts Effie’s quest with his attempts to locate his wife, Isabelle Addington, who was last seen at the supposed crime scene in the abandoned house at 322 Predicament Avenue. Just as Effie discovers what she seeks, she finds that the blood staining the walls will forever link her to a scandal she couldn’t imagine, and to a woman whose secrets promise to curse any who would expose them.

On Goodreads, Amazon, and Bookbub.

14. The Naturalist’s Daughter by Tea Cooper

I stumbled across this one while scrolling through social media and was immediately intrigued by the mystery in the synopsis. 

Two fearless women–living a century apart–find themselves entangled in the mystery surrounding the biggest scientific controversy of the nineteenth century: the classification of the platypus.

1808 Agnes Banks, NSW

Rose Winton wants nothing more than to work with her father, eminent naturalist Charles Winton, on his groundbreaking study of the platypus. Not only does she love him with all her heart but the discoveries they have made could turn the scientific world on its head. When Charles is unable to make the long sea journey to present his findings to the prestigious Royal Society in England, Rose must venture forth in his stead. What she discovers will forever alter the course of scientific history.

1908 Sydney, NSW

Tamsin Alleyn has been given a mission: travel to the Hunter Valley and retrieve an old sketchbook of debatable value, gifted to the Public Library by a recluse. But when she gets there, she finds there is more to the book than meets the eye, and more than one interested party. Shaw Everdene, a young antiquarian bookseller and lawyer, seems to have his own agenda when it comes to the book. Determined to uncover the book’s true origin, Tamsin agrees to join forces with him.

On Goodreads, Amazon, and Bookbub.

Favorite Classics:

15. Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters (Amelia Peabody #1)

This book is one I read after Mystery Manon kept telling me to read it. It is a little like the Mummy movie (the original) with some wonderful characters and a fun mystery. It was originally published in 1975. 

Amelia Peabody, that indomitable product of the Victorian age, embarks on her debut Egyptian adventure armed with unshakable self-confidence, a journal to record her thoughts, and, of course, a sturdy umbrella. On her way to Cairo, Amelia rescues young Evelyn Barton-Forbes, who has been abandoned by her scoundrel lover. Together the two women sail up the Nile to an archeological site run by the Emerson brothers-the irascible but dashing Radcliffe and the amiable Walter. Soon their little party is increased by one-one mummy that is, and a singularly lively example of the species.

Strange visitations, suspicious accidents, and a botched kidnapping convince Amelia that there is a plot afoot to harm Evelyn. Now Amelia finds herself up against an unknown enemy-and perilous forces that threaten to make her first Egyptian trip also her last . . .

On Goodreads, Amazon, and Bookbub.

16. The Key To Rebecca by Ken Follett

Published in 1985 this classic mystery combines a love of exotic locals and a murder mystery that’s easy to follow along. 

A brilliant and ruthless Nazi master agent is on the loose in Cairo. His mission is to send Rommel’s advancing army the secrets that will unlock the city’s doors. In all of Cairo, only two people can stop him. One is a down-on-his-luck English officer no one will listen to. The other is a vulnerable young Jewish girl.

On Goodreads, Amazon, and Bookbub.

Cozy Mystery:

New Books: 

17. Nonna Maria and the Case of the Lost Treasure by Lorenzo Carcaterra

After we read Lorenzo Carcaterra last few books we couldn’t help but add this one to our summer reading list. He has such an evocative way of writing scenes that helps us feel like we are right there drinking espresso with his characters. 

As Nonna Maria’s longtime pal and sometimes colleague, Captain Murino, in charge of the local carabinieri, never wanted to see harm brought to the doorstep of everyone’s favorite espresso-brewing, counsel-giving amateur sleuth. But when you live a long life, you’re bound to make a few enemies. And when those enemies come calling, you have to rely on friends. Faced with an assassin seeking revenge for a decades-old grudge, Captain Murino has no choice but to turn to Maria, who must use all her neighborly resources, clever faculties, and web of connections to save him from his perilous predicament.

On Goodreads, Amazon, and Bookbub.

18. Death at a Scottish wedding by Lucy Connelly

​We get to travel to Scottland! Okay… maybe not really but this new book by Lucy Connelly will help us feel like it from the comfort of our homes. 

Finally feeling like Sea Isle, Scotland is becoming her new home, American doctor Emilia McRoy is delighted when she is invited to a wedding at Morrigan’s Castle. Her friends have warned her that it’s a three-day party and it’s bound to get wild, not to mention the impending snowstorm. Constable Ewan Campbell, owner of the castle, ensures their safety with the blizzard. What he didn’t ensure, is that all of his guests would survive the night alive. When Emilia explores the impressive castle, she finds a dead man in one of the turrets.

On Goodreads, Amazon, and Bookbub.

Favorite Classics:

19. Live and Let Chai (Seaside Cafe Series) by Bree Bakers – recommendation courtesy of @reginathesouthernista (Regina Williams)

She said it feels like coming home and gives her all the cozy vibes when she reads it. 

When a body turns up on the boardwalk outside Everly Swan’s iced tea shop and café, she becomes the number one suspect in a murder case. Can she bag the culprit, prove her innocence, and dish up the real killer before it’s too late?

On Goodreads, Amazon, and Bookbub.

20. No Filter (Barks & Beans Cafe Cozy Mystery Book 1) by Heather Day Gilbert recommendation from Kimmie @Travelerswife4life

I love Heather Day Gilbert’s sleuthing style. It is one I continually recommend, full of dogs, coffee, and a mystery, what more could you ask for?

Fed up with her go-nowhere job, newly single Macy Hatfield moves back to her small hometown in West Virginia. She joins forces with her brother Bo in his crazy new venture—the Barks & Beans Cafe, which caters to dog lovers and coffee drinkers alike.

When a golf instructor is murdered at the nearby spiritual center, Macy winds up adopting his Great Dane. Just after Macy finds a mysterious message sewn under the dog’s collar, her Dane is dognapped. She launches into a relentless search for her newfound canine friend, but along the way, she digs up a cruel and confident killer.

On Goodreads, Amazon, and Bookbub.

True Crime: 

New Books: 

21. Long Haul by Frank Figliuzzi 

Ah this book. This book is one that intrigued me as soon as I saw the synopsis (and the cover). Figliuzzi, explores the hidden dark side of traveling across the country, giving us yet another reason NOT to hitchhike, and dives deep into the long case spanning multiple jurisdictions. 

In 2004, the FBI was tipped off to a gruesome pattern of unsolved murders along American roadways. Today at least 850 homicides have been linked to a solitary breed of predators: long-haul truck drivers. They have been given names like the “Truck Stop Killer,” who rigged a traveling torture chamber in the rear of his truck and is suspected to have killed fifty women, and “The Interstate Strangler,” who once answered a phone call from his mother while killing one of his dozen victims. The crisis was such that the FBI opened a special unit, the Highway Serial Killings Initiative. In many cases, the victims—often at-risk women—are picked up at truck stops in one jurisdiction, sexually assaulted and murdered in another, and dumped along a highway in a third place. The transient nature of the offenders and multiple jurisdictions involved make these cases incredibly difficult to solve.

On Goodreads, Amazon, and Bookbub.

22. A Gentleman and a Thief: The Daring Jewel Heists of a Jazz Age Rouge by Dean Jobb

What could be more interesting than a thief with actual morals? A con artist with a sweet side? Well, A Gentleman and a Thief has definitely caught my eye.  

A skilled con artist and one of the most successful burglars in history, Arthur Barry was adept at slipping in and out of bedrooms undetected, even when his victims slept only inches away. He became a folk hero, a gentleman bandit touted in the press as the “Prince of Thieves” and an “Aristocrat of Crime.” Think Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief. In a span of seven years, Barry stole pearls, diamonds, and other precious gems worth almost $60 million today. Among his many victims were a Rockefeller, an heiress to the Woolworth Department Store fortune, an oil magnate, Wall Street bigwigs, a top executive of automotive giant General Motors, and a famous polo player. He befriended the Prince of Wales, Harry Houdini, and other luminaries. The rollicking, caper-filled rise and dramatic downfall of this master thief is a high-speed ride told in stylish prose.

On Goodreads, Amazon, and Bookbub.

Favorite Books: 

23. Mind hunter by John E Douglas & Mark Olshaker 

If you like to get a true behind the scenes look at the realities of catching a serial killer, I cannot more highly recommend any book by John E Douglas or Mark Olshaker. They both bring years of experience and a way of explaining things that’s easy to follow. 

In chilling detail, the legendary Mindhunter takes us behind the scenes of some of his most gruesome, fascinating, and challenging cases—and into the darkest recesses of our worst nightmares.

During his twenty-five year career with the Investigative Support Unit, Special Agent John Douglas became a legendary figure in law enforcement, pursuing some of the most notorious and sadistic serial killers of our time: the man who hunted prostitutes for sport in the woods of Alaska, the Atlanta child murderer, and Seattle’s Green River killer, the case that nearly cost Douglas his life.

On Goodreads, Amazon, and Bookbub.

24. I’ll be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara

This one is a book I consider to be a classic. It is a touching story of one womens search for answers that leads to the catching of a truly scary killer. 

For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.

Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called “the Golden State Killer.” Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.

On Goodreads, Amazon, and Bookbub.

Summers are truly a fun time to find the best beach near you (or the nearest shade tree) and sit down in the warm sand to get lost in a world that feels like coming home. One that you will remember even after you read the final page. If you need some book club questions be sure to check out our Cozy Mystery Book Club Questions as well as our Thriller Book Club Questions.

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