Tote bag, suitcase, backpack or duffle, it’s time to pack for a summer of intrigue…
Some people stay all summer long on the idyllic island of Belle Isle, North Carolina. Others come only for the weekends, and the mix between the regulars and “the weekenders” can sometimes make the sparks fly. Riley Griggs has a season of good times with friends and family ahead of her on Belle Isle when things take an unexpected turn. While waiting for her husband to arrive on the ferry one Friday afternoon, Riley is confronted by a process server who thrusts papers into her hand. And her husband is nowhere to be found.
So she turns to her island friends for help and support, but it becomes clear that each of them has their own secrets, and the clock is ticking as the mystery deepens...in a murderous way. Now Riley must find a way to investigate the secrets of Belle Island, the husband she might not really know, and the summer that could change everything.
“Andrews blends romance, intrigue, and soap-opera-like twists in this entertaining novel about a gossipy beach town.” Booklist
|Publisher:||St. Martin''s Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
Date of Birth:July 27, 1954
Place of Birth:Tampa, Florida
Education:B.A. in newspaper journalism, University of Georgia, 1976
Read an Excerpt
By Mary Kay Andrews
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2016 Whodunnit, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Wendell Griggs was big on promises. Always had been. On their first date, he'd promised Riley Nolan she'd never want to date anybody else. When he'd presented her with her engagement ring — a three-carat diamond bigger than any of her girlfriends had — he'd promised it was the start of a life that would be big and rich and exciting. No doubt about it, her husband was a dreamer. And a schemer.
But lately, Wendell's promises meant nothing. Just talk. Hollow words meant to placate or stall. Nothing more. What was it her grandfather used to say?
"All hat, no cattle."
Like today. Wendell had promised — sworn — he'd meet them at the ferry dock at Southpoint in time to make the last boat over to Belle Isle.
It was Memorial Day weekend, a tradition they'd established even before they'd gotten married, kicking off the season on the island where Riley's family had summered for the past hundred years.
And yet, here she stood. She brushed a stray lock of dark brown hair from her eyes and squinted down at the screen of her smartphone. Still nothing.
Her fingertips raced over the keys.
WHERE R U?
All caps. It was the texting equivalent of screaming. And that's how she felt, like screaming.
The late afternoon sun shimmered off the water's surface, and the light breeze whipping the surface of the river carried the faint scent of honeysuckle. It was the prettiest day in weeks, but Riley Nolan Griggs was oblivious to all of that.
She glanced again in the direction of the parking lot, willing his car to appear. The black Jeep CJ. What a stupid car for a grown man. Vehicles were streaming into the lot now, station wagons, big SUVs, all of them carrying people intent on making the last ferry of the day. All of them with the distinctive oval BI sticker connoting membership in the tribe of Belle Isle. Vehicles pulled to the curb in front of the ferry terminal to unload everything needed for another summer on the island. Passengers spilled from the cars, lugging coolers, wheeled suitcases, bicycles, leashed dogs, and fishing gear. Deckhands, most of them deeply tanned college boys in navy blue BI-logo golf shirts and baggy cargo shorts, scurried around the baggage area, loading all the freight into aluminum carts that would be rolled onto the ferry.
Women greeted each other with that peculiar high-pitched Southern squeal of delight. "Heeeeyyy!" What did Wendell call it? Oh, yes. "The mating call of the ivory-breasted Tri-Delt."
It was six thirty. The boat would leave at seven on the dot. He knew that, knew how crazy it made her when he cut things this close. But there was no sign of the black Jeep. She checked to make sure she hadn't missed a call, and checked her e-mail too, but there was still no word from him.
Selfish bastard. He was doing this to torture her, she was sure. Waiting until the last possible minute to make an appearance. She could already picture the moment. He'd stroll across the pavement, just as the Carolina Queen was blasting the "last call" horn, maybe make a quick dash before the deckhands pulled up the metal gangplank.
Her face reddened, her stomach twisted, and she felt the familiar acid taste in her mouth.
He'd promised. Sworn to her he would make the last ferry today, no matter what. Most importantly, he'd sworn it to Maggy. Even with things as crappy as they were between them, he didn't usually break a promise to their daughter.
She turned. The woman was bearing down on her with laser-like intensity. She wore a pink-and-lime-green cotton Lilly Pulitzer shift and pink Jack Rogers sandals. Riley, trapped, managed a weak greeting in return.
"Oh, hey, Andrea."
"It's so great to see you!" Andrea Payne gushed. "You look terrific. I swear, I wish I had your metabolism. Have you lost a ton of weight over the winter?"
Without waiting for a reply, Andrea wrapped her slender arms around Riley's neck and hugged her close. Too close. Riley was already tense and overheated, and the last thing she needed right now was a volley of nosy questions.
Riley managed to subtly loosen herself from Andrea's grasp. She took a step backward.
Andrea turned to her companion. "Melody, doesn't Riley look fantastic?"
Andrea's friend Melody Zimmerman dutifully nodded her head in agreement. "Fantastic." She gestured at the handbag slung casually across Riley's shoulder. "Is that a Michael Kors? OMG, I love it so much."
"Um, maybe," Riley said, glancing at her bag. It was an oversize leather number in trendy turquoise, with a large, dangling gold-monogram charm that Riley secretly found just the tiniest bit gaudy. But she knew the gift had been expensive, and besides, it did hold a lot of stuff. "I mean, I'm not sure. Wendell gave it to me for my birthday last year."
"It's adorbs!" Andrea pronounced. "Are y'all going to the full-moon party tonight? Is Maggy here, or did she decide to do summer camp this year? Where's Wendell?"
Riley deliberately sidestepped the issue of Wendell's whereabouts. "I haven't really been dieting. Maybe just eating healthy. And yes, Maggy's here. For now, anyway." She looked around for an escape route and conveniently spotted her daughter weighted down with tote bags and a backpack, struggling to keep Mr. Banks, their unruly pug puppy, under control.
"Maggy, hold on. I'm coming!" Riley called out. "We'll catch up later, ladies."
"You and Wendell have to come over for drinks, before the party," Andrea burbled. "Right, Melody?"
"Absolutely!" Melody agreed, bobbing her head.
"I can't wait for you to see my new kitchen tonight," Andrea said.
"OMG — she got an eight-burner Wolf range," Melody said. "And a Sub-Zero fridge. It's my dream kitchen!"
"Oh geez," Riley said, looking in the direction of the parking lot. "Sounds great. But I really need to go give Maggy a hand with that crazy dog of hers."
Andrea tapped Riley's arm. "So, I won't take no for an answer. You're coming for drinks. Right?"
"We'd love to."
* * *
"Said nobody, ever," Riley muttered under her breath. She hurried away from the ferry dock, the soles of her rubber flip-flops slapping against the furnace-hot asphalt.
Her daughter had come to a dead stop in the middle of the parking lot and was tapping furiously on her cell phone, oblivious to the oncoming stream of cars, her mother, and Banks, who was squatting down on one of the carefully manicured landscape islands, amidst the grass and pink Knock Out roses, doing what puppies liked to do.
"Maggy! Don't let him ..."
But it was too late. Banks finished his toilette and came scampering toward his mistress, his plump little body wriggling with happiness and relief.
Now Maggy looked up. "Huh?"
Riley picked up the pair of overstuffed totes and nudged her daughter out of the path of a looming white Mercedes SUV. "Sweetie, pay attention! While you were busy Snapchatting with your girlfriends just now, you nearly got run down. And Banks managed to drop a deuce on those rosebushes over there." Riley rummaged around among the groceries in the tote bag until she found a roll of paper towels. She tore off a sheet and handed it to her twelve-year-old daughter.
Maggy recoiled. "Gross. No way."
Riley took her daughter's hand, deftly removed the phone, and replaced it with a paper towel. "Way. He's your dog. Your responsibility. Your poop. Now go clean it up before somebody rats us out and we get issued a littering citation."
Maggy rolled her eyes but handed the dog's leash to her mother before stomping off in the direction of the landscaped island.
Riley was struck by how much her daughter had grown over the past year. Micro short shorts showed off Maggy's long, tanned legs, and the tank top that left bare a two-inch strip of her abdomen also revealed a modestly developing bustline. She'd let her taffy-colored hair grow out over the spring, and although she wore it now in carelessly fashioned pigtails, Maggy was already starting to raid Riley's bathroom for her expensive salon shampoo, conditioner, and styling products.
No more sweet-smelling baby shampoo for Maggy. No more baby anything, for that matter, Riley thought ruefully. In October, Maggy would officially be a teenager.
Despite the heat, a shiver ran down Riley's spine. Banks pressed his muzzle between Riley's sweaty calves. She absentmindedly scratched the dog's ears and glanced down at her daughter's phone.
It was the latest model iPhone, of course, ensconced in a neon purple case with a florid monogram on the back, and the screen was littered with a dizzying array of unfamiliar app icons. Riley's own phone was at least two years old. She'd told Wendell it was ridiculous to buy such an expensive cell for a kid who'd already managed to lose two phones in one year, but Wendell, being Wendell, had overruled Riley's objections.
"I want her to have a good phone. What if her blood sugar gets low? Or she needs to get in contact with me?"
Maggy's diagnosis earlier in the year with juvenile onset type 1 diabetes had thrown them both for a loop.
Riley remembered that particular "discussion" with crystal clarity. She'd stared back at Wendell, startled by what she was suddenly seeing.
Her husband had changed in the past two years. His thick black hair was streaked with silver. He'd started wearing it longer, letting it brush his shirt collar. He'd stopped wearing the business suits she'd always enjoyed picking out for him, instead buying his own skinny designer jeans and Armani designer shirts. His blue eyes, made brighter by new contact lenses, narrowed.
"What if I need to get in contact with you?" Riley asked.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Wendell demanded. "Are you going to start in on this again? I call you every night. I talk to Maggy every morning. I'm working, Riley. I'm trying to save Belle Isle. Trying to make a living for my family. For us. You think I want to work all these crazy hours? Think I don't miss spending time with my kid?"
Snippets of those tense conversations over the past year played in an endless loop in Riley's mind.
Maggy was back. "Hey! No snooping." She snatched the phone out of Riley's hand.
"I wasn't snooping," Riley said. "Who were you Snapchatting with?"
Riley raised one eyebrow.
"Okay," she relented. "I was texting Daddy, letting him know we're here at the ferry dock."
"Did he text you back?"
"Not yet," Maggy admitted. "But the ferry doesn't leave for another twenty minutes. He'll be here."
Riley squeezed her daughter's narrow shoulder. "I wouldn't get your hopes up. You know how busy he's been. He'll probably have to catch the morning boat."
"He's coming tonight," Maggy insisted. "He promised. For the full moon party."
"I just don't want you to be disappointed if he doesn't make it...."
But Maggy wasn't listening. "Parrish!"
The leggy redhead in a white tank top and black capri pants darted across the parking lot toward them, teetering dangerously atop stylish, red, alligator-skin, three-inch, cork-soled, platform sandals.
Maggy flung herself into Parrish's outstretched arms. "You dyed your hair! I love, love, love it!"
"Thank Gawd somebody does," Parrish drawled. "Your uncle Ed detests it. He says I look like a hoochie mama."
She grinned at her best friend over the top of the child's head. "What's your verdict?"
Riley lifted a lock of hair and considered. "It's different."
"Always the diplomat," Parrish said, laughing. "Tell the truth. You hate it, too."
They started to make their way back toward the ferry dock, arm in arm, with Maggy and Banks bringing up the rear.
"No, really. It's cute. You just took me by surprise, that's all," Riley said. "This is definitely not a hoochie-mama shade. I think it suits you. What made you decide to go red?"
"No special reason. I was bored with being blond."
"You're the only woman I know who could get tired of being a blond bombshell."
"More like a cherry bomb than a bombshell," Parrish corrected. "Hey. I spotted you chatting with Belle Isle Barbie when I pulled into the lot. What did your new best friend want?"
Riley didn't want her daughter to overhear the two of them dishing up a serving of snark on Andrea Payne.
"Mags, it's too hot out here on the asphalt for Mr. Banks. Why don't you take him over to the shade of the loading area and pour some cool water into his bowl? It's in that tote with the blue handles."
Parrish watched the girl and her dog lope toward the dock. "My Lord. She's grown another inch just since I saw her at Grayton on Easter. And did she just now sprout boobs, or is that my imagination?"
"She's growing like a weed and already wearing an A-cup bra, although she'd kill me if she knew I'd told you that. She's so self-conscious about her body right now. I think she's going to take after Wendell's side of the family."
"Let's hope she's not a hundred-percent Griggs," Parrish said, rolling her eyes. "How's that going, by the way? Is Wendell coming, or do you think he'll be a total no-show?"
"He promised both me and his daughter that he'd be on the ferry with us this afternoon. But so far, no sign of him. He hasn't returned any of our calls or texts or e-mails. Not even Maggy's, which isn't like him."
"He'd never break a promise to Maggy," Parrish agreed. "But to his wife? Different story. Right?"
Riley wiped a bead of sweat from her brow. "All too true."
"Typical passive-aggressive bullshit. He doesn't want to be the one to break his kid's heart."CHAPTER 2
"Shitheel," Parrish said. She shook her head. "I know. You don't have to remind me. It's all my fault, right?"
Riley shrugged. "If you hadn't made me go to that stupid barbecue ..."
It was the summer of '97. Riley was working as a reporter for the local CBS affiliate in Raleigh, living in a tiny, bug-infested garage apartment in Cameron Park, while Parrish had gotten a job clerking at a local law firm.
After a messy breakup with her senior-year boyfriend and a series of laughable one-night stands and blind dates, Riley had sworn off men — at least for the summer. But Parrish had insisted on dragging Riley to a law-firm party at the managing partner's country house.
At first, Riley had flatly refused to go. "No way," she'd told Parrish. "No offense, but your work friends are either boring, stuck-up, or ancient. I'd rather stay home and give myself a facial."
"This party is different," Parrish said. "It's a pig-picking, and it's at Boomer Grayson's farm. He's having a bluegrass band play, and besides, it definitely won't be all lawyers. Boomer's son, Bryan, played shortstop at Wake Forest and he even played a season in the minor leagues for the Boston Red Sox farm team until he hurt his throwing arm. He's moved back home and is in his third year of med school at Duke. So there'll be plenty of hunky baseball players and hot doctor types. You gotta come!"
"Why do you need me?" Riley had asked, her suspicions aroused by Parrish's insistence. "Why not save all the hunky medics and jocks for yourself?"
"Okay, well, I might have a little crush on Bryan. But I don't want to go to the farm for the weekend by myself, because that would look too obvious."
"So I'm your wingwoman?" asked Riley.
"You got it."
"I'll go. But you're driving, and if you take off with this guy to go play doctor and leave me alone with a bunch of boring lawyers, I'll never speak to you again."
Despite Riley's threats, Parrish had totally snuck off with the jock-doc almost the moment they'd arrived at the pig-picking.
But the band was great and, left to her own devices, Riley found herself drawn into a circle of partygoers clustered around the fire, tapping her toes to "Little Liza Jane."
He'd materialized by her side, seemingly from nowhere. Tall, preppy looking, singing along to all the verses. He was sunburnt, which made his blue eyes look bluer, sipping on a red Solo cup of what he swore was moonshine.
"I say we name our first kid Little Liza Jane. That okay with you?"
She'd turned to this brash stranger and frowned. "What if it's a boy?"
He had an easy answer, of course. "Liza James?"
His breath on her cheek was warm and boozy.
"Do I know you?" she'd asked, amused.
"Not yet. My name's Wendell Griggs, but I already know yours," he confided, leaning in. "You're Riley Nolan."
"And how do you know me?" Riley asked.
"I see you every night on channel nine," he replied. "You're the girl who did all the stories about that puppy mill over in Kinston, right?"
Excerpted from The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews. Copyright © 2016 Whodunnit, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It was no blue christmas! Maybe it was the serious mood of the book - hope the next one is better!
Read this book in 2 days. Loved the characters, the story line and especially the ending.
I had to suffer through the entire book- The characters are unlikable, the plot drags, and it is stale and predictable-Very disappointed because i have enjoyed this author in the past
Easy read, didn't put it down
I loved and enjoyed reading the entertaining and engaging, story full of mystery, intrigue, and romance written by the awesome author, Mary Kay Andrews. I received an ARC from Goodreads Giveaway. Riley Griggs and her daughter, Maggy, are on their way to Belle Isle for the summer. Riley's husband is suppose to meet them at the island and Riley and her husband, Wendell, are going to break the news to their daughter, Maggy, that they are getting a divorce. Riley finds her beach house is foreclosed, Wendell is missing, his body is found in the water, everyone becomes a suspect, and Riley wants to find out the truth. Read the highly recommended, wonderfully written, must read novel by Mary Kay Andrews.
All of the characters are a caricatures of typical southern stereotypes. None of them come across as likeable. A complete waste of time and money
Love all of her books. Easy, enjoyable reading.
I really enjoyed this book. True southern characters with a good storyline. A little bit of romance and a little bit of mystery. Just a good all around book.
The story line is all wrong. The lady in the clerk's office should have researched the title change,. Deeds are required to be notarized. Thr notary would be void and she should that gotten a z real z estate lawyer who would have stopped the foreclosure. But, then I guess there wouldn't be a story .
Don't get me wrong, I love Mary Kay Andrews.. I've read every book she's written under that name and her given name. But this was by far my least favorite book. The main character, Riley, was an uninteresting woman with no backbone, who was guided through the whole book by her 12 yr old spoiled brat daughter and even at the end required her permission to go back to the man she loved. Come on Mary Kay Andrews you are better than this book!!
This is a great book by Mary Kay Andrews. Riley Griggs and her family spends their summers on the idyllic island of Belle Isle, North Carolina. Riley’s marriage has been on the rocks and she is planning on telling her moody twelve year old daughter that they are getting divorced. When her husband’s body washes up on the shore of Belle Isle with a blow to the head, it looks as if he has been murdered. Riley promises her daughter that she will try and find out what happened to her dad. The problem is the more Riley looks around the more secrets of Belle Island she uncovers. This book has a wonderful story and well developed characters. This book will keep you reading long into the night. This was such a great read and full of surprises. I am looking forward to reading the next book by this great author. A Review copy was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. The free book held no determination on my personal review.
Mary Kay Andrews is getting back to her mystery roots in this book. When the main character's husband ends up dead, there are a lot of suspects, but Riley, his wife is suspect number 1. As usual, I totally enjoyed this book. Mary Kay never fails to let me down and I know when I pick up her books, I'm going to have an entertaining few hours ahead of me. Along with the mystery, there were certainly lots of chuckles and a secret romance that no one could ever have guessed. While I did miss Weezie and the gang, I enjoyed these new characters from the very beginning and was glad to go along their journey with them. Yep, I guess you could say I would recommend this book. Mary Kay was my very first book signing ever, I won't forget that or quit reading her books! Thanks St. Martins Press and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review this free e-galley. I LOVED IT!
An absolutely wonderful read!! As expected from this author, the book is very well written with some of the most intriguing characters around. Her writing is so very descriptive you are able to picture yourself sitting on the porch with a glass of sweet tea. The story is filled with humor, mystery and intrigue. In this one we meet long time Belle Isle summer resident, Riley Griggs, her daughter and the rest of her family. This summer won't be like any other she's had on the island. Before she can even unpack, she is faced with the murder of her husband and financial upheaval including foreclosure on her family island home. Come along for the journey as Riley starts digging to find out exactly what happened and why. I definitely recommend you do!
The Weekenders was an okay read. Lots of stuff going on and you are left wondering who dunnit...all the way until the end of the book. But I have to say that the main character's daughter was irritating as snot! She was so over the top snooty and disrespectful. I know her mom was concerned because she had been diagnosed with Type I diabetes, but she was allowed too much freedom. I have to say that I love the books Mary Kay Andrews writes that have a little more humor thrown in. that was not the case with this book. This story was about the well-to-do and their obnoxious whining. It's a good thing I have read other books by Ms. Andrews or this might be my last one. I will give her another chance, but not too many more!
I never read this author before but really enjoyed this book. I didn't want to put it down. I enjoyed the suspense of not knowing what was going to happen next. Perfect read for a week at the lake.
My first book by this author. I've heard good things about her books and was in the mood for someting "light" and breezy. But I really can't say I liked this book. I didn't find the main characters very likable, and I think the story could have used some major editing to cut it down. Guess it just wasn't the book for me.
Nice easy read and some very interesting turns and twists.
I am not sure how to classify this book. I guess it is chick-lit, but it is also family drama as well as a murder mystery. Riley Griggs has her life turned upside down. In the past year her daughter was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes and she and her husband are getting a divorce. She has sold her house as she knows finances are tough, but she has no idea. When she and her daughter Maggy arrive at the Summer Home, it is locked up tight with a foreclosure notice on the door. That is just the tip of the iceburg. When her husband, Wendell, does not show up on Belle Isle as promised, she assumes her is ducking his responsibilities once again. When he does not answer Maggy's calls or texts, they grow a bit concerned. When Wendell's body is found in the marina and it is determined that he was murdered, the story gets interesting. Who killed him and why? What does Riley's family have to do with everything? Who else was involved in the bad investments? Was Wendell having an affair? We meet Riley's family, her mother Evelyn, her Aunt Roo, and her brother Billy. Billy is married to Scott and has always been a bit of an outsider. He is a musician and an alcoholic. The family is basically living off trust funds that were left by Riley's father and grandfather. When she finds out that she is broke, she is not sure what to do. Maggy is a bit much even with what she is going through. She says some terrible things to her mother that should not have been tolerated, I don't care if her father just died. Thankfully, she changes by the end of the story. Billy is a typical alcoholic some of the time. He knows it, but doesn't seem to have the willpower to end it. He is usually pretty good around his niece, but as the story progresses, he seems to not care anymore. Nate Milas, an old friend of Riley's seems to be a saint. He is patient and understanding and puts up with a lot of crap. I don't know how he does it, but seems to win the family over, even though he did not come from "old money". This was one of the most dysfunctional families I have read about in a long time. I was glad to see the bright spots in their relationships. Riley's friend Parrish was a hoot. She did not want to get involved in Riley's schemes, but usually was convinced. She stuck by her side like a loyal friend should and pulled her butt out of the fire a few times. Overall, I enjoyed this book. The beginning was a bit slow for me, but once I got into it, I flew through it, if only to find out who actually killed Wendell and why. If you enjoy family drama geared to women, this is a book for you.
The Weekenders ... Kept my attention the whole way through. I always love Mary Kay Andrews' books. Would definitely recommend it!
THE WEEKENDERS was an entertaining read. Mary Kay Andrews is at the top of her game and delivers as a gifted storyteller, and pens some of the best beach books that are thoroughly engaging. THE WEEKENDERS has a one of the greatest locations, good character development and story lines. Sometimes the only love that matters the most is found in family and in true friendships. THE WEEKENDERS keeps you riveted throughout the story, wanting more and more to the very end.
Absolutely loved this book. It was a lot of fun. Every single one of the characters reminded me of someone I know, including the evil ones. They were well defined. I couldn't put the book down and read into the night. Good story. Good fun and more than a bit of suspense. Best summertime page turner that I've read in a while.