On July 19, John Dalton will follow his literary debut, "Heaven Lake," by delving into a creepy and dangerous Ozark summer camp. "The Inverted Forest," which shares a title with a J.D. Salinger story, tells a tale of suspense and intricate characters.
"I wanted to write a literary novel that didn't bore the reader," Dalton says.
That said, there is a reason summer books have their reputation for fun: Fewer seem to be about foreign diplomacy and more are geared toward robots (or dragons) trying to take over the world.
This season's new books go both to the bright beach and into shadowy woods. Here is a selection of upcoming titles (publication dates are subject to change).
Favorite series"Bloodmoney," by David Ignatius (Norton, Monday): A CIA-type group tries to buy off enemies in Pakistan, but it isn't quite working as U.S. spies continue getting bumped off.
"The Devil Colony," by James Rollins (William Morrow, June 21). A skull marked with a five-pointed star and a sickle-shape moon sends a covert investigator toward secrets about the founding of America.
"Carte Blanche," by Jeffrey Deaver (Simon and Schuster, June 14): Deaver's own books do well, but now he's stepped in to contribute to a legacy spy series — that of James Bond.
"Iron House," by John Hart (Thomas Dunne, July 12): A hit man tries to get away from New York, but he finds plenty of bad guys in his home state of North Carolina.
"The Silent Girl, " by Tess Gerritsen (Ballantine, July 5): Rizzoli and Isles solve a chilling murder in Boston's Chinatown.
"Smokin' Seventeen," by Janet Evanovich (Bantam, June 21): Stephanie Plum still hasn't solved her guy problems, but the mystery she must solve is why corpses are showing up in a construction lot.
"Trespasser," by Paul Doiron (Minotaur, June 21): A Maine game warden is drawn into the case of a brutalized woman that seems to echo a previous killing. Is the wrong man in jail?
Sisters and girlfriends"Sisterhood Everlasting," by Ann Brashares (Random House, June 14): The sisters of the traveling pants are in their late 20s now, and Bra-shares gears the newest in the series for adult readers.
"Then Came You," by Jennifer Weiner (Atria, July 12): A decade after her debut novel "Good in Bed," the popular author offers a story of four women and a baby.
Fantasy, horror and science fiction
"Flashback," by Dan Simmons (Little, Brown, July 1): The U.S. has reduced its nuclear arsenal, and Muslim terrorists attack Israel. The present is depressing, so Americans take drugs to relive the past instead of preparing for the future.
"Hit List," by Laurell K. Hamilton (Berkley, Tuesday): Can vampire hunter Anita Blake still be alive after 20 books? You bet, but hit men are headed for St. Louis.
"Robopocalypse," by Daniel H. Wilson (Doubleday/June 7): In Frankenstein-meets-Jurassic Park, robots decide they want to be in charge.
"A Dance With Dragons," by George R.R. Martin (Bantam, July 12): The Seven Kingdoms still aren't getting along in the 1,000-page fifth volume in the "A Song of Fire and Ice" series.
Literary leanings"The Adjustment," by Scott Phillips (Counterpoint, Aug. 1): In 1950s Kansas, not every resident feels the postwar boom. Phillips offers a noir novel of blackmail and murder.
"The Astral," by Kate Christensen (Doubleday, June 14): Brooklyn poet Harry Quirk's name alone seems to signal the novel's focus on a group of oddball characters he deals with after his suspicious wife kicks him to the curb.
"The Girl in the Blue Beret," by Bobbie Ann Mason (Random House, June 28): A World War II airman is shot down over France and hides in safe houses. He returns years later to find some of the people who helped him survive.
"The Kid," by Sapphire (Penguin, July 5): If you felt for Precious, the sexually abused teen heroine of "Push," you'll find it tough to learn about her orphaned son Abdul Jones.
"Once Upon a River," by Bonnie Jo Campbell (Norton, July 5): An impoverished teen, abandoned by her mother, leaves her Michigan home with a gun and struggles to survive on her own.
"Something for Nothing," by David Anthony (Algonquin, Tues- day): Satirical debut novel about a businessman who has bought a few too many things (like a Tahoe cabin and a racehorse). He takes the "I'll just sell drugs for a while" route, which, as we know from "Breaking Bad" and "Weeds," is not usually an easy way out.
"The Storm at the Door," by Stefan Merrill Block (Random House, June 21): Block, praised for his debut novel "The Story of Forgetting," again finds inspiration in his family's past in a wrenching 1960s-era story about a depressed father who is sent to a mental hospital.
"A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion," by Ron Hansen (Scribner, June 14): Erotic tension marks a 1920s love affair that leads to the murder of a woman's husband. Like Hansen's "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," this new novel is based on a real-life scandal.
Bios and memoirs"A Stolen Life," by Jaycee Dugard (Simon & Schuster, July 12): Held captive for 18 years, Dugard tells the story of her kidnapping at age 11, bearing two children during captivity and her life with her abductors, Phillip and Nancy Garrido.
"Machiavelli," by Miles J. Unger (Simon and Schuster, June 14): The ruthless political strategist has been misunderstood, according to prepublication information.
BY JANE HENDERSON