Don't go outside. It's getting sweatier by the second, and you can, believe it or not, enjoy a beach read indoors with air conditioning. Or at the actual beach. (Your choice.)
The mystery genre is ideal for these beach reads—you get hooked for hours on end and forget about everything else. But finding the right book is a chore unto itself; you could go to any bookstore and find yourself staring at a seemingly endless maze of options. Looking for some top notch, Texas-focused picks? We’ve got you covered.
For the low-key conspiracy theorist: 11/22/63 by Stephen King
In 11/22/63, Stephen King departs from his well-known brand of horror to create a mystery intertwined with elements of historical fiction, sci-fi and romance. Jake Epping is a teacher in Maine who is solicited by his friend Al to go back in time with the goal of preventing the Kennedy assassination. (No biggie, right?) Jake is transported to the fictional town of Jodie, Texas, and eventually encounters Lee Harvey Oswald. What would happen if we could rewrite history? What if JFK wasn’t assassinated? What’s the cost of altering the past? While this book is admittedly much longer than your typical poolside read, the alternate scenarios and questions King presents has readers devouring every page.
For the island enthusiast: Long Fall from Heaven by George Wier and Milton T. Burton
Some might forget that Galveston was once considered the “Sin City” of Texas. Combining historical references with a fictional mystery, Long Fall from Heaven features two ex-cops—Cueball Boland and Micah Lanscomb—who become entangled in the dark secrets of Galveston’s past as they go after a serial killer. While on the trail of one criminal, they find another who plagued the area decades earlier during the World War II era. Will Cueball and Micah be able to crack the case, or will the FBI and influential island families be successful in stopping them?
For the Texas historian: The Bottoms by Joe R. Lansdale
The Bottoms transports readers back to Depression-era East Texas, where economic and racial tensions are further heightened by a string of murders. Narrator Harry Collins is just a child when he and his younger sister discover the body of a woman who had been horrifically murdered and dumped into the bottomlands of the Sabine River—but they soon find that this is not an isolated incident. The small town looks the other way because the victims are primarily black sex workers, but the kids’ father, Jacob Crane, is the constable, and these three are determined to seek justice when no one else will.
For the serial reader: Firewall by DiAnn Mills
Firewall is the first book in DiAnn Mills’s FBI: Houston series, where software developer Taryn Young is about to depart for her honeymoon via Houston International Airport (let’s just call it good ol’ Intercontinental) when a worst-case scenario unfolds: a bomb explodes in the terminal. When she wakes up in the hospital, her new husband is gone and they’re both being labeled as suspects in the act of terror. Taryn is interviewed by FBI Special Agent Grayson Hall, who is eventually convinced of her innocence, and Taryn must come to terms with the fact that she might not know the truth behind the man she married.