General Book Stuff

The Best Mystery Books to Read on Vacation

Everybody likes a good mystery or a grisly murder to solve while on vacation. Here is a selection of the best classic and new mystery novels to read on the beach or beside the pool this summer.

Murder on the Calais Coach, by Agatha Christie

Starting with a classic, follow Hercule Poirot’s investigation into the murder of Samuel Ratchett during a train journey on the Orient Express journey from Constantinople in Turkey (now Istanbul) to Calais in France. Following a disturbed night, Poirot rises to find out Ratchett has been killed by twelve stab wounds. The train gets stuck in a snow storm and the killer is still aboard.
The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler

This is a classic crime novel in which Philip Marlowe, Chandler’s hard-boiled detective, is hired by General Sternwood to stop his daughter Carmen from being blackmailed. He gets caught up in a series of murders and a hunt for a missing person, before Carmen attempts to kill him.
The Thirty-Nine Steps, by John Buchan

This book introduces the hero Richard Hannay who has returned from Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe in Africa) and is looking for adventure. It is 1914, there is talk of war, and there are German spies everywhere.  Hannay encounters a private investigator who tells him of a German spy ring and the mysterious phrase, “the thirty-nine steps,” before later turning up dead in his apartment. Hannay then has to go on the run, and find out what, and where, the thirty-nine steps are.
The White Lioness, by Henning Mankell

With Scandinavian crime being big on our TV sets, why not try some of the written stuff? Mankell’s Inspector Kurt Wallander has to investigate the disappearance of a young housewife and pillar of the local Methodist church. He uncovers an international terrorism plot and must prevent a major attack on civilization.
Criminal, by Karin Slaughter

If you want your mysteries contemporary, gory, and brutal, author Karin Slaughter is for you. Will Trent, an Atlanta police officer, encounters a grisly murder victim that shocks him with the familiar details. The year of his birth, 1975, saw the same murderer on the loose, who is frighteningly close to Will himself.
Red Mist, by Patricia Cornwell

Even more grisly than Slaughter’s books, Cornwell writes from the point of view of the pathologist Kay Scarpetta and her forensic science methods of catching terrifying killers. Scarpetta’s deputy chief Jack Fielding was murdered six months previously, and she wants to know how it happened and who did it. She finds out more than she wants to know on a trip to the Georgia Prison for Women to talk to one of the prisoners.
Labyrinth by Kate Mosse

For something a bit different, turn to Kate Mosse’s book on the 800-year-old mystery that binds the fate of two women, Alais from medieval France and Alice from modern England. Alice finds two skeletons and a stone ring on an archaeological dig. She finds herself pursued by a stranger who wants the power that ring can bring. Meanwhile, we follow Alais and her quest to save the secret of the Holy Grail.

Jared Grant is a writer and travel agent who works with luxury Bahamas resorts and often gets to see travel issues first hand. He is quite a reader and loves to give tips to others on the best books around.

Photo Credit: Tchao Photo du Jour

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