My previous recommendations all fit into the fantasy mystery category and were written by women. This post moves onto the mysteries I’ve read recently, and can be summed up as Book for the Beach written by Boys (men!)
The Cloud by Matt Richtel. Richtel draws on his experience as a NY Times technology reporter in his novels, combining the ethical dilemmas presented by computer technology with good old fashioned suspense and intrigue. The Cloud is his latest novel. I’d read reviews on Amazon that suggested reading the previous tales featuring his protagonist Nat Idle, but I can tell you that this is not necessary to enjoy the novel. Twisty turny with all sorts of surprises, it’s fun to follow along with Nat as he figures things out. Highly recommended for your beach reading. Fun fact: years ago, when I worked at Cyber Patrol, Matt interviewed me about something, probably the Communications Decency Act or online privacy, two issues with which I was very involved at the time. Funny that — I remember him but not the specific story.
Inferno by Robert Langdon. Perfect airplane reading. Because it really doesn’t bother you when the flight attendant announces that it is time to turn off electronic devices. Yeah. The book doesn’t suck. I just found that I didn’t really care all that much. About the characters or the mystery. The ending is quite rushed, as though Brown suddenly realizes that he has boxed his characters into an impossible corner and needs a hefty dose of deus ex machina to extract them. But you probably won’t want the few hours back. Definitely beach reading.
Bad Monkey by Carl Hiassen Classic Hiassen. Protagonists Andrew Yancy and Neville are two of Hiassen’s most likeable characters. They are why you just can’t stop reading Bad Monkey. Hiassen is always funny, but sometimes I just haven’t liked the “hero” all that much. Not in Bad Monkey. The mystery that purports to be the plot isn’t that hard to figure out, but it doesn’t matter in the slightest. Following the threads of how Neville and Andrew’s stories come together is what makes the book. I can’t say much more without giving away the real spoilers in the novel, so just go buy it.
Bonus Carl Hiassen read– If you have never read Team Rodent: How Disney Devours the World, it’s a perfect quick read. I admire the Disney franchise, and definitely love me some Steamboat Willy, but the repackaged reality of the Disney Parks is more than a little creepy. Think about how many trees were cut down for Animal Kingdom’s plastic centerpiece “Tree of Life.” Hiassen captures the contradictions of “the happiest place on earth” perfectly.