Can’t get to the beach in the final weeks of summer? Travel there between the pages of these thrillers, set by the sea.
News flash: It’s August. Unless you live in Christchurch, NZ or Murmansk, you’re most likely looking at sticky days and long sweltering nights, a quilt of milky haze, and the steady buzz of lazy mosquito swarms, swollen and satiated.
It’s bloody hot, and the kids are back in school. Vacation’s over. Winter is coming.
You’re craving one last day at the beach before summer gives up the ghost…but time off isn’t an option. Why not let the written word take you seaside, with a little murder and mayhem along the way?
Courtesy of NPR’s “Crime in the City” series, here are a few sanguinary page-turners—crime novels set in beach towns and port cities from Northern Europe to the South Pacific, offering you one last sting of salt air before the corpses of leaves crunch under your feet.
Playwright Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl paints sunny, vibrant Honolulu in shadowy hues and resurrects the seamy underbelly of Old Hawaii in this old-school 1930s whodunit.
Visiting playwright and occasional spy Ned Manusia joins forces with a beautiful reporter of Polynesian descent to investigate a sinister underworld of antiquities thieves, a string of slayings, and an ancient puzzle involving, quite possibly, a murdered Hawaiian king.
Author Peter James sets his detective thriller series in Brighton, England, a polished and respectable spa town with one of the UK’s highest murder rates and a seamy history of organized crime.
In this well-researched police procedural, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace investigates a fatal accident that involves torture, murder and revenge, amidst the Royal Pavilion’s shiny spires, the labyrinthine twists of The Lanes, and the plaintive cries of gulls.
The Jersey Shore:
Head down the shore with New York author Chris Grabenstein, who evokes the candy-coated delights and darker perils of the Jersey Shore, in his mystery series set in the lightly fictionalized town of Sea Haven. Each of Grabenstein’s eight novels is named for a boardwalk-empire amusement park game or ride: vertiginous summer pleasures such as Mad Mouse and Whack-A-Mole.
In the series debut, former military policeman (and decidedly un-noirish nice-guy) John Ceepak polices a New Jersey beach town, imagining a respite from the horrors of his Iraq service, but facing a murder instead.
Besides winter, is there anything dark about Oslo—an immaculate Scandinavian port city of polished streets and courteous Viking stock?
Through the eyes of author Jo Nesbø‘s police detective Harry Hole, the city’s hidden grime comes into stark, chilling focus. Peer into the gloom, and Oslo is a city like any other, rife with vice, drug addiction, violence, and in this winter’s tale, a killer of women who’s operated in the shadows for more than a decade.
The iconic gumshoe Philip Marlowe, created by Raymond Chandler, inspired Robert Crais to create his own fictional private eye, or more accurately, private eyeS—crack PI team Joe Pike and Elvis Cole.
Like their inspiration, Pike and Cole work the simmering streets of Los Angeles. Crais’ 2011 thriller, The Sentry, unfolds in offbeat Venice, where a brutal beating, a criminal gang, and the Feds terrorize a hapless young woman and her uncle, who’ve fled Katrina-ravaged New Orleans for a gathering storm of a different nature entirely.