6 scorching beach reads, mysteries and page-turners

‘The Weekenders’ by Mary Kay Andrews. Atlanta’s prolific chick-lit queen returns to her roots as a mystery author with this frothy tale of divorce, shady real estate deals and murder. Riley Griggs has summered on Belle Isle, N.C., for as long as she can remember, but on a gorgeous Memorial Day weekend her plans go south when her scheming soon-to-be ex-husband misses the ferry. Venturing into plots a tad darker than usual, Andrews still finds room for humor, romance and zany characters worth spending a weekend with. (St. Martin’s Press, May)

‘Flight Patterns’ by Karen White. “Memories are a thief. They slip up behind you when you least expect it, their cold hands pressed against your face, suffocating.” So begins White’s latest, her 19th book and another suspenseful bundle of family grudges and buried secrets. Georgia, an expert in fine china, heads home to Florida’s Forgotten Coast searching for a rare Limoges pattern last seen in her estranged mother’s closet. (New American Library, May)

‘Sunshine Beach’ by Wendy Wax. The title alone suggests a lightweight romp full of sandy flirtations and the renovation antics seen in previous “Ten Beach Road” books, but Wax adds a slight twist to the summer do-over formula. Maddie, Avery and Nikki once again join forces to revitalize a rundown beachfront property and film the project for a reality television show. The stately hotel, though, seems to have other plans, which includes the reopening of an unsolved murder case from the 1950s. (Berkley, June)

‘The Far Empty’ by J. Todd Scott. The rough and bloody borderlands of west Texas provide the backdrop for this rousing debut novel, a hybrid of mystery and contemporary western. Young Caleb Ross finds himself entangled in the investigation surrounding the disappearance of his mother and a skeleton unearthed on the outskirts of town. The author has worked as an agent with the DEA for more than 20 years, most recently assigned to thwarting Mexican cartel smuggling routes around El Paso, Texas. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, July)

‘The Innocents’ by Ace Atkins. Mississippi crime writer Atkins continues his popular and surprising Quinn Colson series with a return to troubled Tibbehah County. Our hero is lured back into law enforcement when a 17-year-old cheerleader turns up on a rural road engulfed in flames. Colson and his ornery sidekick Lillie Virgil embark on a tense search for answers that may rip the community apart. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, July)

‘Underground Airlines’ by Ben H. Winters. This inventive genre-bender imagines an alternate America in which the Civil War never happened and slavery persists in the “Hard Four” block of Southern states. Victor, a young black bounty hunter, takes a job from the U.S. Marshall Service tracking down a runaway named Jackdaw. The assignment sends the inscrutable hero into dangerous places he’s not ready to explore, including his own suppressed memories of growing up on a plantation. (Mulholland Books, July)

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