This post may contain affiliate links for books we recommend. Read the full disclosure here.
Book: “Bad Summer People” by Emma Rosenblum
Publishing Info: Flatiron Books, May 2023
Where Did I Get This Book: I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley.
Where You Can Get This Book: WorldCat | Amazon | Indiebound
Book Description: A whip-smart, propulsive debut about infidelity, backstabbing, and murderous intrigue, set against an exclusive summer haven on Fire Island. None of them would claim to be a particularly good person. But who among them is actually capable of murder?
Jen Weinstein and Lauren Parker rule the town of Salcombe, Fire Island every summer. They hold sway on the beach and the tennis court, and are adept at manipulating people to get what they want. Their husbands, Sam and Jason, have summered together on the island since childhood, despite lifelong grudges and numerous secrets. Their one single friend, Rachel Woolf, is looking to meet her match, whether he’s the tennis pro-or someone else’s husband. But even with plenty to gossip about, this season starts out as quietly as any other.
Until a body is discovered, face down off the side of the boardwalk.
Stylish, subversive and darkly comedic, this is a story of what’s lurking under the surface of picture-perfect lives in a place where everyone has something to hide.
Review: Thank you to Flatiron Books and NetGalley for sending me an eARC of this novel!
Summer is finally here, and for some people that means getting to the beach and reveling in the sand, sun, and surf. While my summer travels aren’t taking me to such a place, I do know a few people who may be going to Fire Island this summer, though more in the capacity that many people think of Fire Island. Honestly, before “Bad Summer People” by Emma Rosenblum ended up in my hands I, too, thought of Fire Island as predominantly a place for the LGBTQIA+ community to party hard. But apparently it’s also a spot where the wealthy and entitled elites also like to spend the summer months. And in this book, those wealthy and entitled elites might just end up murdered amongst all their secrets and lies. And you know what? SIGN ME UP TO READ ALL ABOUT IT!
The mystery is presented right away at the top of the book. A body is found in the sand in a posh Fire Island community called Salcombe. We don’t know who they are, we don’t know how they got there, and we immediately jump back to the start of summer and start to meet our cast of characters, all of whom could be victims or suspects based on the secrets, backstabbing, and resentment and malice that they all feel towards each other. I liked the set up of having different third person perspective chapters of the various players, as they all have unique insights into not only how the mystery is slowly going to come together, but also into their own parts to play in the overall question as to what happened. Like so many suds filled thrillers before it, we get twists, we get turns, some are revealed more deftly than others, and the red herrings and clues pile up at breakneck pace. You add in a bunch of poisonous people who we could either take or leave in terms of their survivability and it’s the kind of book that reads super fast and keeps the reader mostly engaged. It’s at times a little predictable, and at times it’s pretty familiar with it’s tropes and plot reveals, and that these reveals mean for the identity of the victim found at the top of the narrative.
And to be fair, this is definitely more focused on the interpersonal drama and backstabbing than it is the mystery. But that didn’t stop me from having a hell of a fun time whilst reading it. I love me soap opera drama nonsense, and “Bad Summer People” delivered a whole lot of it. We get into the minds of a number of people in Salcombe, from the nasty queen bees of the summer community to outsiders desperate to be insiders to more seasoned residents who are more removed from the dramatics, and they all have a nasty bite that reads like guilty pleasure fun. Whether it’s Lauren, the most popular mom in a dying marriage who starts to seek out attention elsewhere, or Jen, the well loved wife of the community’s golden boy who has some darkness she’s always hidden, or Robert, the new tennis instructor who is desperate to be a part of the wealthy elites, all of our characters are kind of assholes, but it’s really entertaining seeing them all spiral as the summer goes on. Sure, there’s the question of whose body is found on the beach at the start and how it got there, but that sometimes feels a bit incidental. Because of that this may not be the BEST fit for people who are in it for the thriller aspects of the mystery. But for people like me, who also love watching people be dicks to each other on the page, it’s a quick, breezy jaunt, and the perfect beach read.
“Bad Summer People” was lots of fun and would be a great book to take on a beachy trip this summer! Hopefully you won’t be getting into the shenanigans that these characters stumble into, however.
Rating 7: Sudsy and indulgent with some good twists and turns, “Bad Summer People” is a fun and wicked whodunnit that revels in its soap and drama.
“Bad Summer People” is pretty new and not on many Goodreads lists right now, but it would definitely fit in on “Beachy Reads”.