From summer love to abject terror: The books to read on holidays this year

Fiction and history, Irish and international ... a feast of reading for summer 2022

Miss Aldridge Regrets by Louise Hare

HQ, £14.99

It’s 1936, and after witnessing the murder of her boss at the London nightclub where she worked as a singer, Lena Aldridge is heading to New York, where an old friend of her late father has offered her a job in a Broadway show. On board the luxurious Queen Mary, where everyone wrongly assumes she’s white, Lena meets the rich, unhappy Abernathy family. But when one of the family dies suddenly, Lena discovers that this luxurious ship might be more dangerous than the streets of Soho. Louise Hare’s second novel is an atmospheric, gripping murder mystery with real depth.

The Snag List by Sophie White

Hachette Books Ireland, £13.99

Lindy Reid never thought she’d be in her 30s and working for her 11-year-old son; she manages his hugely popular YouTube channel. When Lindy meets her new neighbours Ailbhe and Roe, the trio discuss their personal “snag lists” — all the things in their life they wish had worked out differently. But what will happen when they confront their pasts? As in her previous novels, Sophie White shows her ability to write about big, serious subjects in a highly entertaining and often very funny way.


Death on Ireland’s Eye by Dean Ruxton

Gill, €16.99

In 1852, a young Dublin woman called Maria Kirwan, who was holidaying in Howth with her husband William, drowned in a swimming spot on Ireland’s Eye. Initially her death was deemed an accidental drowning, but when strange revelations about William’s behaviour came to light, he was tried for her murder. This true story has all the elements of a Victorian sensation novel — secret families, laudanum, marital strife — and Dean Ruxton goes back to contemporary sources in an attempt to find out what really happened.

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

HarperCollins, £14.99

When Jess arrives in Paris for a spontaneous visit to her brother Ben, she’s unsettled to find that despite leaving her a voicemail just hours earlier, he seems to have vanished from his apartment. Someone in his building must know what happened to Ben but who holds the key to his disappearance? With a narrative that moves between the perspectives of Jess and the other apartment dwellers, this is a brilliantly twisty thriller that keeps the reader guessing right to the end.

London With Love by Sarra Manning

Hodder & Stoughton, £16.99

Marian Keyes has described Sarra Manning’s new novel as one of her favourite books of 2022, and it’s easy to see why. As teenagers in the 1980s London suburbs, Jennifer was secretly madly in love with her friend Nick but after he accidentally broke her heart, they went their separate ways. And yet, despite the vastness of the city, every few years over the following three decades Nick and Jen bump into each other in the tube, rekindling the old flames. But will they ever make it work? Witty, heartfelt and incredibly evocative.

Booth by Karen Joy Fowler

Serpent’s Tail, £18.99

John Wilkes Booth has gone down in history as the man who murdered US president Abraham Lincoln. In her absorbing and expansive new novel, Booker Prize-shortlisted author Karen Joy Fowler is less interested in this racist killer than in his extraordinary family. The family patriarch, Junius Booth, was a famous Shakespearean actor, and several of the children followed in his footsteps. Booth tells their story through the eyes of three of John’s siblings, and in doing so gives the reader an insightful look at both a unique family and the dark roots of modern America.

The Premonitions Bureau by Sam Knight

Faber, £14.99

In 1966, after the Aberfan disaster in which 116 children and 28 adults died in a Welsh mining village, a psychiatrist called John Barker was struck by the number of people who claimed to have had premonitions of the horrific incident. With the Evening Standard journalist Peter Fairley, he set up the Premonitions Bureau, asking the public to send in their visions of potential tragedies in hope that they might be prevented. They were shocked by the accuracy of some contributions — and disturbed by others. But what could they, and we, learn from the experiment? A beautifully written, utterly fascinating book.

Her Majesty’s Royal Coven by Juno Dawson

Harper Voyager, £14.99

Niamh, Leonie, Helena and Elle have been friends ever since they were formally initiated as witches in their early teens. Twenty-five years later, Helena is the high priestess of Her Majesty’s Royal Coven, a secret branch of the British government dedicated to fighting supernatural threats. But when the coven’s oracles predict an apocalyptic disaster, Niamh, Leonie and Elle find themselves at odds with their former ally. Juno Dawson’s first novel for adults is a brilliantly realised and totally gripping witchy delight.

Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins Valdez

Phoenix, £14.99

It’s 1973 in Montgomery, Alabama, and nurse Civil Townsend is proud to work in a family planning clinic. She thinks she’s enabling her fellow black women to control their own fertility but then she’s told to give long-term contraception injections to two sisters, aged just 11 and 13. Concerned for the girls’ welfare, Civil is determined to help the family and discovers that the sisters have been unwittingly sterilised. Inspired by real events, Take My Hand is a compelling novel about class, race and the importance of bodily autonomy.

The Man Who Invented Motion Pictures: A True Tale of Obsession, Murder and the Movies by Paul Fischer

Faber, £20

Leeds in Yorkshire isn’t well known as the birthplace of film, but it was in that UK city’s suburbs in 1888 that a French man called Louis Le Prince shot the first motion picture. Two years later, having patented his camera and projection system, Le Prince got on a train in France and was never seen again. His widow, Lizzie, was convinced he had been murdered and that the guilty party was Thomas Eddison, who unveiled his own film camera in 1891. This enthralling book tells the story of Le Prince’s world-changing invention, and of Lizzie’s fight against the famous man she believed stole both her husband’s work and his life.

A Lady’s Guide to Fortune Hunting by Sophie Irwin

HarperCollins, £14.99

Bridgerton has proved that there’s a huge appetite for swoon-worthy romance set in Regency England, but Sophie Irwin’s hugely entertaining debut novel owes more to Georgette Heyer than contemporary historical romance. When her parents die, leaving her and her sisters penniless, Kitty Talbot heads to London to save their futures by bagging a rich husband. But handsome Lord Richmond is determined to thwart her plans. Smart, witty and, yes, romantic, this is a perfect deckchair book.

The Belladonna Maze by Sinead Crowley

Head of Zeus, £13.99

Hollowpark in Co Roscommon has been the home of the Fitzmahon family for many years, and it always looks after its own. That’s what Grace hears when she comes to work there in 2007 as a nanny for Patrick Fitzmahon, who has moved back to his ancestral home with his wife and daughter. But the old house and its twisting garden maze have held many secrets over the years, and when Grace starts seeing ghosts from the past, it seems that some of the darkest secrets are about to come to light. With a narrative that moves smoothly between 2007 and the middle of the 19th century, The Belladonna Maze is both a delicious ghost story and a gripping whodunnit.

Ireland’s Secret War by Marc McMenamin

Gill Books, €16.99

We all know that Ireland was neutral during the second World War but as Marc McMenamin’s engrossing book reminds us, Irish military intelligence frequently worked with the Allies. While dissident republicans hoped to collaborate with the Nazis against their common enemy Britain, and Germany hoped to exploit both the IRA and Irish neutrality for their own ends, Dan Bryan of Irish military intelligence was tracking down Nazi spies operating in Ireland. McMenamin uses archive interviews with Bryan and others to tell a ripping yarn.

Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband? by Lizzia Damilola Blackburn

Viking, £14.99

Thirtysomething Yinka Oladeji has an Oxford degree, her own flat and a good job in finance but as far as her mother and aunties are concerned, she still needs one thing: a “huzband”. After they publicly pray for her to find a man, a mortified Yinka decides she has to get a date for her cousin’s wedding. She comes up with a foolproof plan but it seems that finding romance might involve changing what makes Yinka uniquely herself. A grown-up coming of age story with a very appealing protagonist.

Duffy and Son by Damien Owens

HarperCollins Ireland, £14.99

Eugene Duffy (70) is worried about his 40-year-old son Joseph. Eugene brought up Joe and his sister on his own, but while she has flown the family nest, Joseph is still living at home, running the family hardware shop. Eugene is determined to help Joseph find romance but along the way he has to confront his own choices and regrets. A funny, humane book about getting older and family ties.

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Doubleday, £12.99

Research chemist Elizabeth Zott is a genius, but in the US in the 1950s her work isn’t taken seriously. Nobel-nominated scientist Calvin Evans is the only person who respects her mind, and romantic chemistry ensues. But when Calvin dies suddenly, Elizabeth, now a single mother, has to turn her scientific skills to a new field and becomes a famous TV cook. A whip smart debut novel.

The Game: A Journey into the Heart of Sport by Tadhg Coakley

Merrion Press, €16.95

In this multifaceted book of essays Tadhg Coakley explores what it is about sport, from hurling to cricket, that brings joy and a sense of community to millions of people around the world. He draws on both his own personal experience and the writings of others as he thoughtfully examines everything from the absence of sport in fiction and the experience of losing a game, to the toxicity and corruption that can blight sporting organisations and communities.

Hide by Kiersten White

Cornerstone, £14.99

When Mackenzie Black is invited to participate in a hide and seek competition for adults with a big cash prize, she feels she has nothing to lose. And so she joins 13 other competitors in an abandoned amusement park in a picture-perfect town. But as her fellow competitors start to disappear, she quickly realises that whatever’s looking for them doesn’t sound human. A supernatural cross between Squid Game and the Wicker Man, and just as entertainingly creepy as that sounds.

Breaking Point by Edel Coffey

Sphere, £14.99

Set in New York, Breaking Point is the story of successful paediatrician Dr Susannah Rice, whose world is shattered when her baby dies after a frazzled Susannah leaves her in the car on a hot day. When she is put on trial, the media has a field day but journalist Adelaide, herself grieving a terrible loss, finds the case brings up old wounds. Journalist Edel Coffey’s first foray into fiction is so gripping you might read it in a single sitting.

Rogues: True Stories of Grifters, Killers, Rebels and Crooks by Patrick Radden Keefe

Picador, £20

In his books Say Nothing and Empire of Pain, Patrick Radden Keefe showed his ability to tell complex, thoroughly researched stories about big social issues. His new book collects 12 of his articles from the New Yorker, mostly focusing on bad behaviour, from mass shootings to drug empires. Whether he’s writing about cheerful arms dealers or vintage wine forgers, Radden Keefe’s writing is always worth reading.

The Amusements by Aingeala Flannery

Sandycove, £12.99

Every summer, holiday makers and day trippers flock to the Waterford seaside town of Tramore. But teenager Helen Grant can’t wait to get out of there, if only her mother will let her go to art college. She’s in love with her oblivious best friend Stella Swaine, but life will take both girls — and their families — in very different directions. Moving nimbly between the perspectives of both the Grants, the Swaines and their neighbours, The Amusements is a vivid, witty and humane portrait of small town Ireland.