Clea Simon’s Summer Reading List

You saw the recent list of summer books by CrimeReads, but I’ll always encourage you to examine another list for books you might want to read. With a holiday in the U.S., it’s the perfect day to kick off summer reading. When you check out the list of suggested titles below, don’t forget to look in the Web Store for any that might interest you.

We’re lucky author Clea Simon misunderstood an editor’s assignment. Because she already put in all the work, she offered me a list that might entice you to add to your TBR (To Be Read) pile. Thank you, Clea.


What are you looking forward to reading this summer? There are so many great books coming out. Here in the Boston area alone, we’ll be celebrating Hallie Ephron’s Careful What You Wish For, (Aug. 6) and Hank Phillippi Ryan‘s The Murder List (Aug. 20). On the cozy side, former Sisters in Crime president Leslie Budewitz has her Chai Another Day coming out June 11, and many others are due soon too. But recently I was asked by an editor to compile a list of summer mysteries and in my desperate attempt to pull together books that weren’t by friends or that haven’t been recently profiled on my own blog, I came up with the following. (Then I found out I had misread the assignment ““ he wanted books that were already out! Oops!). Anyway, here’s a small sampling of what I’m looking forward to, with an eye to every taste. Please let me know what you’re looking forward to ““ we’ve got time, at last, to indulge!

1. “One Small Sacrifice,” Hilary Davidson (out June 1)

 Author of the Anthony award-winning Lily Moore series launches a new police procedural series with NYPD detective Sheryn Sterling unraveling a complicated possible murder.

2. “Conviction,” Denise Mina, (June 18)

Newly single Anna McDonald tunes into a true-crime podcast for distraction only to realize that she knows what really happened ““ and she’s involved ““ in the latest grim psychological suspense from a Scottish master of the genre.

3. “Big Sky, “ Kate Atkinson (June 25) 

After an eight-year hiatus, Yorkshire ex-cop turned private investigator Jackson Brodie (with dog) surfaces in a quiet seaside village where a routine domestic case turns into something darker. 

4. “Paranoid,” Lisa Jackson, (June 25) 

Decades after Rachel Gatson accidentally killed her half-brother, her high school reunion ““ and a string of new murders ““ make her doubt her sanity in this bestseller’s latest psychological suspense.

5. “A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder,” Dianne Freeman (June 26)

The follow-up to the series’ multiple award-winning debut, this frothy, fun historical cozy once again has the American-born Countess of Harleigh solving a murder in Victorian London’s high society.

6. “The Paper Bark Tree Mystery,” Ovidia Yu (June 27) 

The steamy Singaporean summer of 1937 smolders when private detective Su Lin’s ex-boss is murdered in a case involving diamonds, race, and political unrest in this third evocative Crown Colony mystery.

7. “The Whisper Man,” Alex North (June 27) 

A widowed father and his young son move into a strange house in a town haunted by the memory of a serial killer in this truly creepy debut thriller.

8. “The Chain,” Adrian McGinty (July 9) 

To ransom her kidnapped daughter, a mother must kidnap another child, whose parents must then do the same, in this fast-paced, nightmarish thriller from the award-winning suspense author.

9. “Lady in the Lake,” Laura Lippman (July 23) 

Having bolted from a stale marriage in 1966 Baltimore, Maddie Schwarz has transitioned from housewife to crusading journalist, heedlessly seeking the truth about a missing woman in this New York Times-bestselling author’s latest standalone.

10. “The Hounds of Justice,” Claire O’Dell (July 30)

In O’Dell’s second strikingly engaging dystopian Sherlock Holmes pastiche, Dr. Janet Watson once again joins covert agent (and fellow queer black woman) Sara Holmes in infiltrating an extremist group.

11.  “Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead,” Olga Tokarczuk, (Aug. 13) 

This Man Booker International Award finalist veers from straight mystery into fantasy as Janina, the local crank in a Polish resort town, takes a break from astrology to investigate a murder.

12. “The Swallows,” Lisa Lutz, (Aug. 13)  

Best known for the humorous Spellman Files books, Lutz follows up her thriller “The Passenger” by going very dark with this tale of revenge and secrets at a New England prep school.

13. “Play With Fire,” William Shaw (Aug. 13) 

In his fourth series outing, Detective Sergeant Cathal Breen can’t get into the swing of 1969 London, but with his pregnant partner Helen Tozer’s help he tackles the murder of a high-society call girl.

14.  “Thirteen,” Steve Cavanaugh (Aug. 13)

Conman-turned-defense attorney Eddie Flynn uses the crooked system against itself, but he’s out manipulated when he’s brought into a Hollywood star’s murder trial in this legal thriller. 

15. Anne Cleeves “The Long Call” (Sept. 3)

With her usual stunningly deft prose, Scottish master Cleeves (“Vera” and “Shetland”) debuts Detective Matthew Venn, who returns to the North Devon evangelical community he once fled when a body washes up on the beach.


A former journalist, Boston’s Clea Simon is the author of more than two dozen mysteries, most recently A Spell of Murder (Polis), Cross My Path(Severn House), andFear on Four Paws (Poisoned Pen Press). She can be reached at