Unbelievably, summer is upon us. Could it be that flood waters, endless gray days, high winds, and dirty snow piles have finally been replaced by sweat running down your neck, a backpack filled with hiking gear, a water bottle (or flask) and a quick summer read? In this year’s Book Guide, we supply you with both classic summer page-turners and contemporary, local favorites.
Modern Psychological Thriller
“Compound Fractures,” Stephen White
For 22 years Boulder’s favorite therapist-detective Dr. Alan Gregory solved crimes and struggled with his conscience while strolling the Pearl Street Mall, eating Tex Mex and being accused of murder. But no more. Local author Stephen White slams the book shut on his psychological thriller series this summer with a bang and a death from Gregory’s past, all under the shadow of the Flatirons. It’s another Elitch’s thrill ride as cases past and present collide and a deadly conspiracy comes to light. Like many of Gregory’s patients and cases, it’s difficult. Not all fans are pleased with the series’ surprise epilogue, but Colorado folks will enjoy the local flavor and history.
Classic Psychological Thriller
“The Talented Mr. Ripley,”
Patricia Highsmith (1955)
Sociopath Tom Ripley laid the groundwork for future charming serial killers like Dexter Morgan and Hannibal Lecter. Patricia Highsmith’s five book series, beginning with “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” introduced the world to a young man escaping his unsophisticated past. Who could blame this likeable, highly intelligent con artist as he takes on the life of an entitled, shallow American expatriate? Over the years Ripley plays the part so well—while also struggling with his own identity (and unspoken homosexuality)—that we forgive every lie and every murder must commit.
“The Abominable,” Dan Simmons
Keep chilly this summer with Front Range author Dan Simmon’s latest fear fest, “The Abominable”. It’s 1924 and a trio of friends search Mt. Everest for a missing climber. But they are not alone in their search. Others want the body—but why? And what abominable things must each do to discover the truth? You don’t have to be into straight up horror to enjoy this tale.
Simmons goes into great detail about the trials of early mountaineering and the dangers involved. He vividly recreates the feel of racing to conquer Everest, to conquer your own fears, and the sheer beauty of climbing.
“At the Mountains of Madness,”
H.P. Lovecraft (1936)
Nobody tingles the spine quite like Lovecraft. His is the dread you feel the moment before you discover what’s under the bed, be it a monster or your rotten little brother. His is the scream building up in your throat before its release. His is the voice that will leave you cold even as the sun burns your skin.
In 1931 a group of scientists investigates ancient ruins unlike any seen before. Both Alien and The Thing owe their inspiration to this story. “I am forced into speech because men of science have refused to follow my advice without knowing why,” begins the tale of an Antarctic expedition gone horribly, indescribably awry.
Trashy Beach Read
“Tumbleweed,” Julia Bremer
“Two men were infinitely better than one, an intoxicating combination if I could find it, and my greedy self-indulgence was boundless, my sexuality unleashed those many years ago with him. His shadow haunted me and shaped my obsession, the depth of my depravity deep and forged in the cafes and nightclubs and back alleys in a dozen countries with dozens of men. Once I’d started down that road, I couldn’t stop and couldn’t go back…”
“Scruples,” Judith Krantz (1978)
Frumpy, overlooked, poor little rich girl Honey Winthrop remakes herself in Paris and returns as “Billie” a chic, slender, yet still lonely, young woman. Deceit, heartbreak, and a whole lot of sexual discovery follows as Billie fights her way up the ruthless ladder of luxury boutiques on Rodeo Drive. For years “Scruples” was the quintessential Trashy Beach Read. Don’t tell me you can’t smell the Bain de Soleil and feel the rubbery texture of the lounge chair on your supple back as you sip your Tab while reading this!