Seven summer reads to take to the beach


It’s finally summer, which means it’s time to head out to Michigan’s coastal beaches and bask in the sunlight with a good book. Here’s a list of seven options to read before you get a sunburn. They may fall into the category of “beach reads,” but they’re not mindless thrillers.


“Fixit: An IQ Novel”
by Joe Ide

Los Angeles author Joe Ide’s new urban thriller, “Fixit: An IQ Novel,” continues main character IQ’s tussle with doing what’s right and practical despite the legal ramifications. This time, he’s in the hospital when his ex-girlfriend is kidnapped by his nemesis, a Los Angeles hitman. The ex-girlfriend describes the man as an underground private investigator who helps find justice when the police won’t or can’t. With its suspense and villains, this adventure tops Ide’s previous works. The series has been optioned by Netflix.


“Warrior Girl Unearthed”
Angeline Boulley

“Warrior Girl Unearthed” explores Native American culture in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula through the eyes of a teenager. The southwest Michigan-based author, Angeline Boulley, hit it big time with her first book, “Firekeeper’s Daughter,” which was recently selected as the 2023-’24 Great Michigan Read by the Michigan Humanities Council. Boulley’s sophomore publication doesn’t fall far from that tree.

In this outing, Perry Firekeeper-Birch, a teenage Native American girl, confronts the ugly past when a summer internship leads her on an escapade to recover lost and stolen artifacts from her Anishinaabe tribe. The book is filled with information about the complex culture of Native Americans, and readers will cheer for Perry and her twin, Pauline, as they investigate a series of kidnappings of tribal women and take on purveyors of Indigenous artifacts.


“Small Mercies”
by Dennis

Boston-raised author Dennis Lehane’s new book, “Small Mercies,” is set against the backdrop of the tumultuous 1974 busing controversy in Boston, which moved kids between public schools to achieve racial integration. In this thriller, a young mother battles the Irish mob as she looks for her missing daughter. At the same time, a young Black man is killed. The book confronts the racist ideology of the time and pulls no punches. 


“Simply Lies”
by David Baldacci

Virginia author David Baldacci strikes again with his new book, “Simply Lies,” which introduces a new protagonist, Mickey Gibson, a former detective and single mother of two who works for a global investigation firm that forces wealthy deadbeats to pay their bills. When Gibson discovers a dead body that turns out to be someone in the witness protection program, the thrilling chase is on to discover who the killer is and why Gibson’s friend deceived her.


“Flags on the Bayou”
by James Lee Burke

Later this summer, watch for James Lee Burke’s new mystery, “Flags on the Bayou,” a standalone novel set in Civil War-era New Orleans. The book follows an enslaved woman, Hannah Laveau, who’s on the run after being accused of murder. 

As much as I’d love for Burke to live forever, he’s 86 years old, so if you haven’t read any of his works, you may want to start before he writes his last book. I recommend his “Dave Robicheaux” mysteries — most are set in the bayou country of Louisiana, which he knows well since he was raised on the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast.


“The Rediscovery of America:  Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History”
by Ned Blackhawk

After reading these five break-neck thrillers, it’s time to get back to reality with “The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History,” by Yale scholar Ned Blackhawk, who was raised in Detroit. The book covers the history of the United States’ Indigenous population, spanning five centuries.

The book will open readers’ eyes to a new range of ideas and correct a history that has too often focused on an ill-conceived notion of who Native Americans were and are in this country. The groundbreaking book, which addresses the “struggles, survival and resurgence of the American Indian nations, was recently featured on the cover of The New York Times’ weekly Book Review.


“City of Dreams”
by Don Winslow

Don Winslow’s “City of Dreams” is the second installment in his “City” trilogy, and you really shouldn’t read it until you read the first book, “City on Fire.” Winslow likes to write in threes — most notably his drug cartel series, which will scare the you-know-what out of you.

Winslow is great at writing about thugs. In “City of Dreams,” a Rhode Island crime boss, Danny Ryan, is on the run. He ends up in Hollywood, where he hooks up with a starlet, kicking off the classic crime novel. In a surreal moment, Danny discovers that Hollywood is making a movie about his life.

The next book, “City in Ruin,” sees Ryan chasing his dreams in Las Vegas. Winslow, who has been writing for more than 30 years now, says he will be retiring to his home in San Diego. In the meantime, check out some of his earlier works, like “A Cool Breeze on the Underground,” about a college student turned investigator in New York City during the punk era.


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