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7 Southern beach reads put the sizzle in summer

ajc.com

Georgia beaches are back in business. For those willing to brave the pandemic, now is the time to stake out a place in the sand and get lost in a fun, fast-paced page-turner that ends happily ever after. Even if you’re not ready to venture out in public yet, a good beach read is a great way to while away the summer days. Here are a few we recommend.

Explore‘The Book of Lost Friends’

Author of the 2017 New York Times bestselling novel “Before We Were Yours,” Lisa Wingate follows up with this ambitious saga that braids together two narratives. In one, Benedetta Silver has taken a job teaching at a poor, rural school in 1987 Louisiana. Along the way, she comes across the history of three fearless women from 1875 Louisiana, who take a perilous journey to Texas during the Reconstruction era. Lavinia was the heir to a plantation now in ruins. She’s accompanied by Juneau June, her illegitimate Creole half sister, and Hannie, her former slave. (Penguin Random House, out now)

“Hello, Summer” by Mary Kay Andrews. Contributed by St. Martin’s Press
“Hello, Summer” by Mary Kay Andrews. Contributed by St. Martin’s Press

Explore‘Hello, Summer’

If it’s summer, New York Times bestselling author Mary Kay Andrews must have a new book out. Her 27th novel is set in fictitious Silver Bay, a small town on the Gulf Coast in the Florida Panhandle. When her career at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is unexpectedly derailed, ambitious reporter Conley Hawkins reluctantly returns home to her family’s failing newspaper. There she uncovers a mystery behind the death of a local congressman who has secrets to hide. In the process, she rekindles a romance with her high school crush. (St. Martin’s Press, out now)

Explore‘How to Bury Your Brother’

In her debut novel, Lindsey Rogers Cook explores how lives are shaped by family secrets. Eight years after the death of her brother, whom she hadn’t seen since he ran away from home at age 15, Alice is tasked with emptying our her childhood home in Atlanta. What she finds there changes everything she thought she knew about her brother’s death when she discovers his autopsy report and sealed letters from him, addressed to friends and family. One by one, Alice delivers the letters and learns about her family’s dark past. (Sourcebook, out now)

Explore‘On Ocean Boulevard’

New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe returns to her popular Beach House series. Three generations of the Rutledge family return to Sullivan’s Island in Charleston, South Carolina. Cara Rutledge is preparing for her second wedding. Her niece Linnea is back to start a new career. Linnea’s parents are recovering from a financial loss by building a new home on Ocean Boulevard. But everything gets put on pause when a family member is struck by a devastating illness. (Gallery Books, out now)

Explore‘The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires’

At the heart of Grady Hendrix’s quirky, ‘90s-era, Gothic romp is a women’s book club for fans of true crime. Patricia Campbell is a put-upon housewife in Charleston, South Carolina, whose primary source of pleasure is discussing gruesome crimes with her like-minded book lovers. Her tedious routine is upended when she meets her neighbor’s handsome nephew, James Harris, whose charm belies dark truths. Meanwhile, children start disappearing from the neighborhood. (Quirk Books, out now)

“The Lies That Bind” by Emily Giffin. Contributed by Ballantine Books
“The Lies That Bind” by Emily Giffin. Contributed by Ballantine Books

Explore‘The Lies That Bind’

Nursing a breakup with her longtime boyfriend and questioning her future in New York City, Cecily Gardner suddenly finds herself in a new whirlwind romance with a stranger named Grant in the summer of 2001 in Emily Giffin’s new novel. When terrorists fly airplanes into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, everything changes and, like many people in those grim days that followed, Grant disappears. But when Cecily sees a missing-person poster with Grant’s face on it, she begins to question how well she truly knew him. (Ballantine Books, June 2)

“The Silent Wife” by Karin Slaughter. Contributed by William Morrow
“The Silent Wife” by Karin Slaughter. Contributed by William Morrow

Explore‘The Silent Wife’

GBI investigator Will Trent and medical examiner Sara Linton are back together again and on the case of a brutal murder in Karin Slaughter’s new crime novel. A young coed on an early morning run is attacked with a hammer and left for dead. When Will Trent is called to the state penitentiary to investigate a separate case, he encounters a prisoner who claims the MO of the coed’s murder was identical to the one he was wrongly convicted of committing eight years earlier. If Will and Sara can solve one murder, they will solve them both. (William Morrow, Aug. 4)