Beaches, a venue of escape themselves, provide a singularly unique backdrop for escapist reading, which is no doubt why many opt for that locale to enjoy thrillers, steamy romances, and other fare that transport us to other worlds, the way the best books do. In the hotter months, when we do take the time to soak up sun and bask a bit, be it in the hammock in the back yard, or with a cold one near the water somewhere, its perfectly acceptable - and even encouraged - to indulge yourself in a “beach read.“
How you define that is your choice, but heres a few new releases that I plan to lose myself in over the next few months.
The Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen L. Carter
Hailed as smart, complex, scathing, and the book that insiders of Washingtons legal/political scene will be the most likely to read first this summer, this is the first work of fiction from Carter, a professor of law at Yale University whose seven non-fiction books include the acclaimed “The Culture of Disbelief and Civility.“
This is a big, strapping novel about two privileged worlds - the upper crust African American society who summer on Marthas Vineyard, and the inner circle of an Ivy League law school. Protagonist Talcott is the son of a disgraced, powerful father, a federal judge whose mysterious death includes instructions for his son to carry out “the arrangements.“ This edict means danger, deception, and denizens, and seems geared for the kind of success generated 11 years ago when John Grishams “The Firm“ hit stands.
Sin Killer by Larry McMurtry
Even this distinctly American authors lesser efforts are wildly entertaining, but advance buzz on this one, the first of a new four-volume work, is that hes crafted another “Lonesome Dove“ epic.
Set largely along the Missouri River in 1832 and with a decidedly comic bent, this is the tale of the rich, aristocratic Berrybender Family from England, who decide to tackle the West, and are tamed themselves, especially their beautiful eldest daughter, Tasmin, who falls in love with Jim Snow, a strong, silent Westerner known for his prowess at both religion and killing Indians (earning him the name “Sin Killer“). In true McMurtry fashion, a colorful cast of characters keep the considerable action moving along. Cant wait.
The Nanny Diaries: A Novel by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Krause
Amazon.com describes this best-seller as “an absolutely addictive peek into the utterly weird world of child rearing in the upper reaches of Manhattans social strata,“ and the audio version, with its reading by Julia Roberts, is as hot as the book.
McLaughlin and Krause are two former Manhattan-based nannies who blow the lid off private child care and eccentric employers as they fictionalize their story in the form of Nan, a modern day Mary Poppins who loves Grayer, her young charge, but has little use for employers Mr. And Mrs. X. Its a world where kids attend Mommy and Me group with their nannies, women wrap themselves in Prada and ignore marital infidelity, and husbands make passes at the sitters, when theyre not being masters of their universe or arranging appointments with mistresses. Already a national phenomenon, it should make its way to the big screen in short order.
Face the Fire by Nora Roberts
This is the third and final book in Robertss top-selling Sisters Island trilogy of witches and magic that was preceded by “Dance Upon the Air“ and “Heaven and Earth,“ true beach reads if ever there were.
Here, Mia, a sexy and powerful witch who posses the gift of Fire, is reunited with Sam Logan, who broke her heart more than a decade ago when he left Sisters Island. He has returned to claim the family business, the Magick Inn, and Mia, and though passion still burns, their complicated relationship is haunted by an ancient, looming curse that threatens to destroy everything around them. Robertss considerable legion of fans have been eagerly awaiting this one, and report that it might be the best installment yet in a captivating series.
In This Mountain by Jan Karon
Another episodic book, this is Karons seventh in the popular Mitford series, which has included “At Home in Mitford“ and “Out of Canaan,“ books that have been as well received with critics and booksellers as they have readers.
Three years have passed since Father Tim Kavanaugh and his wife, Cynthia, have been at home in Mitford since returning from Whitecap Island. While her new career as a childrens book author holds great promise, he struggles to deal with the challenges of health and retirement, issues that raise Karons familiar themes of failure and forgiveness. The many inhabitants of Mitford, “the little town with the big heart,“ are around to either lend support or complicate matters, and those that have followed the series should expect to be rewarded once again by Karons honest, humorous writing of little miracles in everyday life.
The Beach House by James Patterson, Peter DeJonge
I have saved the best for last, as I just might do in waiting until closer to the end of summer to pick up this one, only because Patterson is a guilty pleasure for me, and I dont mind savoring it a bit. And, after all, doesnt a beach read list have to have either “summer“ or “beach“ in the title?
Suspense master Patterson is joined by “Miracle on the 17th Green“ author de Jonge in a classic summer tale that opens with the death of a good-looking townie on Memorial Day weekend in the Hamptons. When Peter, a high school dropout who parks cars at private parties, is found dead, members of a wealthy family insist he drowned, but Peters brother Jack knows that he was beaten. As Jack begins to uncover Peters secret life, he realizes that the world of the haves is very different from the have-nots, and begins to patiently plot revenge. While those who know arent saying (except t each other), the end boasts a page-turning, totally shocking denouement that some say Patterson will never be able to top. Well see...
Coming in the next edition of Express: summer beach reads for the more serious-minded, or those who want to look impressive while doing some low-key profiling.