Holidays from Hell: Seven deadly summertime reads

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With the world burning on its axis, you might need a holiday book to cool off with indoors just as much as a beach read for summer 2023. Here at Crime Fiction Lover, we are never short of hot book recommendations and as the schools close and the resorts open, our team has selected seven deadly reads where the murderin’ and misdeeds take place on holiday…

The Island by Adrian McKinty

The Island by Adrian McKinty front cover

We’ll get the ball rolling that a book that really does have a menacing vibe to it. Think Deliverance. American couple Tom and Heather Baxter are in Australia for a break with Tom’s children Olivia and Owen. Exploring the coastline, they decide to take a ramshackle ferry across to a private island but while there Tom knocks down a cyclist. The girl is dead and soon her relatives want vengeance. There are no police here. There’s no phone signal. And no way back to the mainland. Just a furious clan of hairy, backwoods Irish-Aussies with some very nasty plans for Tom, Heather and the kids. Gripping. Action filled. Primal. Ultra-violent. And yes, explosive, with a powerful woman character stepping to the fore. Read our review here.
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Looking Glass Sound by Catriona Ward

Looking Glass Sound by Catriona Ward front cover

Wilder Harlow’s summer holiday at his uncle’s old cottage in Maine starts off whimsical and mystical as he makes the first true friends of his life at the age of 16. Lithe and beautiful Harper and the tanned blond boy Nat lead him into a world where he feels like he matters but, gradually, a dark shadow begins to cross their friendship with tales of missing women, a monster in an ocean cave and a creeper who sneaks into children’s rooms at night and photographs them sleeping. This is one of the most beguiling books you’ll read this year, with a serial killer and an imaginative metafictional concept to it that will have you questioning who is real, who isn’t, and who really killed those women. See our review here.
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Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie

Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie original paperback front cover

In this Golden Age classic from 1941, we join Hercule Poirot for a beach holiday in Devon. Not long after the Belgian detective arrives at Pixie Cove, the body of sunbather Arlena Marshall is found – a curious thing as it was not sunny. Who could have wanted the flirtatious Mrs Marshall dead? Her husband? Her step-daughter? The wife of someone she flirted with? Poirot plays a cat-and-mouse game with the holiday makers at the resort until he determines the truth. A number of Agatha Christie novels take place during Poirot’s travels but we’re going to give this one some love. Alternatively, watch the wonderful 1982 film adaptation with Peter Ustinov as the detective with the little grey cells.
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Death Comes to the Costa Del Sol by MC Ecclestone

Death Comes to the Costa Del Sol by MH Eccleston front cover

Sun, sangria and sleuthing are all in store for art conservator Astrid Swift when she decides to visit her father at his new home in Estepona on Spain’s Costa del Sol. She’s expecting a relaxing time on the beach, but the activities of a devious online troll mean there is evil under the sun far beyond controversy over Brexit or what constitutes a full English breakfast. Death Comes to the Costa del Sol is another excellent cosy mystery from MH Eccleston. With Estepona turning out to be more Midsomer than Malaga, there is crime and grime aplenty for Astrid to investigate as well as many weird and wonderful people for her to meet while doing so. Read our review here.
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Disappeared by Bonnar Spring

Disappeared by Bonnar Spring front cover

Morocco provides a gorgeous, exotic and very hot setting for Bonner Spring’s Disappeared, in which sisters Julie and Fay plan on some tourism and some catching up. Unexpectedly, Fay disappears to a remote village, leaving a note saying she’ll be back in two days. Julie’s initial anger fades when Fay doesn’t return and, with no help from the US consulate or the Moroccan authorities, she has to venture into the Sahara to find her sister. The perils for a woman alone in this environment are made very real by author Bonner Spring as Julie discovers that Fay has been ‘disappeared’ by the police and the military and she must fight to save her sister. Highly evocative of the Moroccan culture, the desert and the dangers involved, this is another must-read holiday from Hell. Read our review here.
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The Cliff House by Chris Brookmyre

The Cliff House by Chris Brookmyre front cover

Theakston Crime Novel of the Year and McIlvanney Prize winner Chris Brookmyre finds innovative and surprising ways to breathe new life into some familiar crime fiction tropes with this standalone novel. Don’t let the fact that it features a hen do party staying on an upmarket island at a rather swish venue put you off, instead, get comfy on your sun lounger and enjoy an out of the ordinary psychological thriller from an author who has more than a few tricks up his sleeve, and who produces them with the flair of a master magician. See our review.
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Murder at the Seaview Hotel by Glenda Young

Murder at the Seaview Hotel by Glenda Young front cover

Oh, the joys of staying in a traditional British seaside town! Rain, bossy landladies, dubious breakfasts and… murder? The only one of those requirements that features in Glenda Young’s Murder at the Seaside Hotel is the latter, because her heroine, widow Helen Dexter would never dream of letting her place run to rack and ruin. The death in question occurs when 12 Elvis impersonators come to stay in at the Seaview Hotel in Scarborough, on the north east coast of England – leaving our heroine all shook up. Heartbreak Hotel indeed. Read our review here.
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