The Independent’s 50 Best Summer reads

The Independent 50 Summer Reads

June 13, 2011

The Independent has launched its 50 Best Summer Reads for 2011 and the list features Patrick Barkham, Jeffery Deaver, Jane Harris, John le Carré, Brian Moore and Tom Rob Smith. The list was compiled by Arifa Akbar, deputy literary editor of The Independent, Rebecca Armstrong, the paper’s deputy features editor and crime novel aficionado, literary agent David Miller and Greg Eden, online content editor at Waterstone’s.

The Butterfly Isles charts Patrick Barkham’s quest to find each of the 59 species of butterfly in the British Isles over one summer, and marks the extraordinary physical beauty and amusingly diverse character of the butterflies, landscape and people of Britain. Greg Eden calls it a “quintessential summer read…Informed, inspirational and occasionally deeply personal, this is a lovely piece of natural history writing.”


The new James Bond novel Carte Blanche, by Jeffery Deaver, catapults Agent 007 into the 21st century in a thrilling chase through Eastern Europe, Dubai and Cape Town in which Bond has been given carte blanche to protect the Realm, by any means necessary. Rebecca Armstrong says Fleming fans will be pleased to see that 007 is recognisable despite a few Deaver-ish twists.

Jane Harris’
Gillespie and I, set in 1930s London and Victorian Glasgow, “is haunting, and loud with laughter in the dark, as a cultured octogenarian harks back to her life in another country 50 years before,” says Greg Eden. When tragedy strikes the bohemian Gillespie family, leading to a notorious criminal trial, the promise and certainties of this world all too rapidly disintegrate into mystery and deception in the follow up to Harris’ critically acclaimed The Observations.

The Russia House is John le Carré’s first post-Glasnost novel and brilliantly captures the slow thaw of the Cold War. When Barley Blair, a derelict, saxophone-playing publisher, visits the Moscow Book Fair he stumbles across the hottest Soviet defence secret in years. Recruited by British Intelligence he is sent to liaise with a go-between, the beautiful Katya. Each is increasingly certain that if the human race is to have any future, all must betray their countries…

Brian Moore’s Cold Heaven features a bored, unfaithful wife who discovers that her husband has inexplicably risen from the dead. Nothing seems to help solve the mystery. Not the power of reason in which she believes, or the answers of religion in which she has no faith. Not the medical knowledge of her doctor lover, who is as bewildered as she, or the investigations of Father Niles, a skeptical spiritual detective in clerical garb. Cold Heaven is “eerily suspenseful, compelling and brilliant,” says David Miller.

Agent 6
is the final book in Tom Rob Smith’s trilogy featuring former secret service agent Leo Demidov. When Leo’s family is targeted by the Soviet state that he once upheld and a tragic murder destroys everything he loves, he demands only one thing: that he is allowed to investigate and find the killer who has struck at the heart of his family. In a thrilling story that spans decades and continents – from the backstreets of 1960s New York to the mountains of Afghanistan in the 1980s – Leo will stop at nothing as he hunts the one person who knows the truth: Agent 6.

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