Books To Wait By

When sticky summer finally arrives, there is a certain amount of hype over those books considered "beach reads", a little book shorthand for what I refer to as "airport books" - the light, fast-paced mysteries that will see you through the long waits. You know the ones ... where you arrive at Heathrow 45 minutes ahead of schedule thanks to a tailwind and then are kept waiting in line at immigration for two hours as three officers wait on a couple of thousand people. Or, conversely, you arrive back at Toronto Pearson airport into the ultramodern international flight arrival area and are whisked through immigration, only to wait for an hour and a half for your luggage. I can only people-watch for so long before getting dizzy so I'm grateful for the airport bookshops, even if they do try to fob off reprints of Sidney Sheldon's old novels as new releases. Two books I read over the weekend are safe bets for either airplane travel or beach reading: Loitering with Intent by Stuart Woods, and Still Life by Joy Fielding. (There is an equally-deserving mystery by Louise Penny called Still Life. In case you're wondering, authors are able to use each other's titles because there is no copyright on book titles.)

Both of these books concern rich families and children with big trust funds. Loitering with Intent is one that would happily fit into the "waiting for the plane, visa stamp, or luggage" slot, because it's the quicker read of the two. In it, lawyer and ex-cop, Stone Barrington is enlisted to go to the Florida Keys to find the son of a rich businessman who needs him to sign off on the sale of the business. It briskly evolves into a case of mistaken identity and who's trying to kill whom, with a little romance thrown in.

Joy Fielding's Still Life is going to take a few more hours to read but you'll still be able to catch the inflight movie and eat your soggy meal. A woman who has the perfect job and husband and has inherited a lot of money from her father, is the victim of a hit-and-run. Lying in the hospital in a coma, with practically every bone in her body broken, she cannot move, blink, see, eat, or breathe on her own in the beginning, but she can hear everything going on around her. There is some suspicion that the hit-and-run was not an accident. Assuming that she can't hear anything, the people who come to visit her talk freely and she starts speculating, as do we, as to who would have tried to kill her. There are several potential candidates and the real horror begins when she discovers who it is and that this person has every intention of finishing the job. Like me, you might be flipping pages so fast you won't care about the inflight movie.