Find That Book!: Beach Read That’s Not a Beach Read

Scan those bookshelves!  We have a Find That Book request for a very specific sort of beach read….

The parameters (in more detail below): no dystopias, no thrillers with nasty people, no deeply depressing content; yes mysteries, historical fiction, or the lighter sort of thriller (I’m thinking romantic suspense?)

Christine writes:

We’re going on a beach vacation for the holidays. We have not been on a beach vacation in 15 years. I plan to spend a good part of that time with my butt in a beach chair reading a good book. But it has to be a physical book. I have plenty of unread books on my phone but I don’t want another reason to pick up my phone and end up scrolling aimlessly on vacation when I could be doing that at home. But I’m also super picky, especially about physical books, because shelf space. My laundry list below:

1. I need something light: no pandemics, no terminally ill children, no dystopia, no running from totalitarian regimes. Happy ending absolutely required (or at minimum, satisfying ending).
2. But not too light. A lot of the beach read chick lit type books kind of annoy me because it’s too fluffy and superficial. Some use of critical thinking is welcome.
3. I have basically already read everything by Lauren and Beatriz Williams. Anything I haven’t read exists as an e-book on my phone.
4. I tend to read historical fiction, mysteries, and semi-thrillers. Not looking for “Gone Girl” type brain scramble.
5. Not a huge fan of YA, but really enjoyed the Inheritance Games trilogy.
6. I am also open to suggestions if you ABSOLUTELY LOVED something recently and it falls outside my criteria.
Here it goes.  I’d recommend:
— Maureen Johnson’s Truly Devious series: like Inheritance Games, it’s YA with a snarky narrator, set around a series of mysteries and puzzles.  Absolutely absorbing (and snarktastic).
— Andrea Penrose’s Sloane and Wrexford series: Regency mysteries about an artist and a scientist who team up to solve crimes, starting with Murder on Black Swan Lane.
— Kate Ross’s Julian Kestrel books: if you haven’t read these already, you should have.  Utterly brilliant Regency-set mysteries and the standard by which all other Regency-set mysteries should be judged.  There are only four.  Cherish them.  (Although physical book might be harder here, since they might be out of print.)
— A.J. Pearce’s Dear Mrs. Bird: it may be set during the Blitz, but this historical novel still manages to be strangely upbeat with the sort of humor reminiscent of the early Pink books.
— Deanna Raybourn’s Killers of a Certain Age: sexagenarian secret agent assassins think they’re on a retirement cruise until their own agency tries to kill them.  Which really wasn’t very bright.  But the book is terribly bright and so much fun.
— Robert Thorogood’s The Marlow Murder Club: very differnt women in a small British town band together to solve a murder– very much like reading an episode of Midsomer Murders, in the best possible way.  (I would, of course, recommend the Thursday Murder Club books, but I’m assuming you’ve read them already….)
Okay, folks!  What am I missing?


  1. Carey on November 16, 2022 at 10:08 am

    Jasper Fforde’s “The Eyre Affair”. The ending we know of “Jane Eyre” is not the original ending.

  2. Josephine on November 16, 2022 at 10:25 am

    Anything by Elly Griffiths, but particularly her Ruth Galloway series. Satisfying murder-mysteries set in Norfolk, England.

  3. Mary D. on November 16, 2022 at 10:41 am

    The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston. There are ghosts involved so there are deaths to deal with, but it is a romance. The main character is probably in her late 20s. She’s a ghostwriter for a romance author, and she no longer believes in love after a bad breakup. It’s pretty lighthearted and gives a peek into the publishing world with lots of namedropping. Also involves quirky characters in the main character’s hometown.

  4. Michelle Springer on November 16, 2022 at 10:52 am

    I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks lately and I still can’t get A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier out of my head. The ending actually made me cry in the drive thru at Culver’s (bot not bad tears).

  5. Marjie on November 16, 2022 at 11:00 am

    The Thursday Murder Club series by Richard Osman.

  6. Denise Huffman on November 16, 2022 at 11:21 am

    Cocoa Beach by Biatriz Williams

    • Tracy on November 16, 2022 at 11:38 am

      The Medlar series by Jude Devereaux, or anything by her 😀, starts with A Willing Murder

  7. Linda Loiselle on November 16, 2022 at 11:39 am

    I loved, loved, loved the Seven Sisters series by Lucinda Reilly. I was glued to each one and I couldn’t pick a favorite if I had to. I’ve recommended the series to a few friends and they have all raved about them as well.

  8. Debbi Oldon on November 16, 2022 at 12:21 pm

    The Newcomer by Mary Kay Andrews – a little mystery a little romance, humorous and near a beach

  9. Ellen Freeman on November 16, 2022 at 12:28 pm

    Stephanie Barron’s Jane Austen mystery series might fill this niche – not too heavy, but also not entirely fluff.

    I’d also recommend the Sparks & Bainbridge series by Allison Montclair – two smart women figuring their lives out in post-World-War-II London.

    Taking notes of recommendations…

    • Margaret B on November 16, 2022 at 9:01 pm

      An oldie but a goodie is Coming Home
      By Rosamunde Pilcher. Lisa Wingate has several series set by the sea that combine historical fiction with modern day. My favorite was the Carolina Chronicles series. Paula Brackston’s Found Things series is also a favorite. Enjoy your reading.

  10. Kristen A. on November 16, 2022 at 2:48 pm

    I finished Etiquette for Runaways by Liza Nash Taylor and said “That was the frothiest beach read about drug addiction I’ve ever seen.” It’s a jazz age story about a young woman who moves to NYC and eventually Paris to escape from a scandal back home and it’s just a very surprising and yet satisfying combination of fluff and grit. I got it to review and my summing up line was along the lines that it’s like a delicious cocktail that burns a little bit.

  11. Christine on November 16, 2022 at 4:52 pm

    Thanks for the fabulous suggestions! Looks like I have some research to do… and more books to add to my phone…

  12. Alicia on November 17, 2022 at 7:41 pm

    Harlan Coben is a great author for mystery/thriller, but not psychological thriller! He has a series with recurring characters, as well as some standalones.

    I also recommend Karen White’s Tradd Street series, or Last Night in London! (shout out to Team W!)

  13. Terasa on November 17, 2022 at 10:08 pm

    Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell series, starting with A Curious Beginning
    Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen ( a little fluffy but still entertaining)
    And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander (Lady Emily series)

    I’m partial to the idea of getting started with a new series. The only thing better than curling up with a good book is knowing you’ve got another good one waiting in the wings!

  14. Julie on November 18, 2022 at 1:30 am

    Carol Snow would be a great author suggestion. At first glance, her books look like fluffy chick lit, and to a certain extent they are, but they also have a surprising depth and feeling towards the characters and their arc through the story. Written with humor but a few bittersweet moments sprinkled throughout and satisfying endings (even if they aren’t typical happily ever after).

    Probably my favorite one is Been There, Done That but really I would recommend any of her books.

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