Despite the fact I live in the North we have had nary a snowstorm this winter. Not even a couple of inches — a small coating is about all we’ve had.
Now maybe you’d rejoice in this fact (and at one point I would have also as a former winter hater) but it just doesn’t feel like winter without at least a little bit of snow and Riley is itching to go build a snowman and sled.
So, yesterday I picked up one of my library holds from the library (I’ll tell you what it is later) which is a winter thriller book with a bit of horror and, aside from it giving me the snowy vibes I’ve been craving, it made me remember how much I love the winter thriller book sub-genre/snowed-in thriller books.
Atmospheric settings, along with pulse-bounding thrills or a perfectly unraveling mystery, are one of the things that will make me pick up a thriller faster than anything.
And thriller books set in winter (especially snowy thriller books) ALWAYS seem to transport me.
Maybe you also are craving some snow or just want to be transported to the pages of an atmospheric wintry thriller — in that case, I’ve decided to share my favorite winter thriller & mystery books to read year round (hey sometimes we need to cool off in summer). These books are full of chilly settings, snowy vibes and even some snowed-in settings.
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P.S. the book I just started is The Drift by C.J. Tudor.
Don’t forget to check out this year’s newest thrillers and mysteries!
Best Snowy/Winter Thriller Books & Mysteries
The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf
At A Glance: locked room mystery thriller, secluded farmhouse, snowstorm
This was the most recent snowed-in, wintry thriller I finished and made me absolutely nix any plans I had to do a solo writing weekend in a cabin (okay I was being a baby at the thought before this book but it definitely put the nail in the coffin on that idea).
This one is about a true crime writer who goes to a secluded farmhouse to finish writing her book. There’s an impending wintry storm and she finds out that that very house she is in is a murder house and the site of a young girl’s disappearance. (Note to self: make sure I research all rentals so I don’t stay in a murder house).
Cool, cool — no big deal, right? Electricity goes out and then she hears and finds a young child out in the snow and brings him in — a decision that sets off the rest of this creepy and suspenseful novel. This story mixes in with another story line about what happened at the farmhouse in 2000.
The claustrophobia and atmosphere makes this a perfect winter thriller read!
One By One by Ruth Ware
At A Glance: French Alps, ski chalet, locked door murder mystery, work retreat, avalanche
Honestly the premise is my worst nightmare — being at a work retreat for any of my previous jobs. Now that I work for myself — please, yes, send me on a work retreat to the a ski chalet in the French Alps.
Anyways, I was absolutely transported to the setting here and felt absolutely trapped alongside the characters in this work retreat turns murder fest as you watch people from the group being picked off one by one. Oh did I mention that they are trapped thanks to an avalanche?
It was a touch predictable but I was furiously turning the pages and it was a perfect pick if you are looking for a snowy thriller that is claustrophobic.
No Exit by Taylor Adams
At A Glance: blizzard, stranded, Colorado setting, abduction
Probably my favorite winter thriller out of this whole list – a true twisty thrill ride that had me holding my breath nearly the whole time in suspense!
A young college student, on her way home to see her dying mom, gets stranded at a Colorado rest stop with four other strangers to wait the storm out. When she discovers a little girl being held captive in the back of the van, she tries to put together a plan to save the girl and figure out which one of the strangers is her captor and who can be trusted while the blizzard rages on and they wait for the roads to clear.
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Breathless by Amy McCulloch
At A Glance: high octane, survival thriller, high altitude mountain climbing (set in Himalayas on Mount Manaslu), murder mystery
More a survival thriller on a snowy mountain than a snowed in thriller, it’s about a journalist and novice climber who is only granted an interview with a world-acclaimed mountaineer if she accompanies him, as part of his climbing party, on his record-breaking summit.
As they begin to summit the mountain, she realizes the elements and dangerous climb aren’t the only thing she has to survive when climbers start dying and a murder might be among them.
You definitely feel transported right to that mountain (the closest I will ever come to climbing a mountain like that) and feel the dangerous of the elements and the climb and then a murder as the stakes get even higher. The author herself is experienced in this extreme sport and it definitely shines through!
Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney
At A Glance: remote Scottish Highlands setting, snowstorm, marriage in jeopardy, anniversary trip
This psychological domestic thriller really nailed the creepy isolated setting set amidst a howling snowstorm that keeps them stuck even if they wanted to leave.
It’s about a husband and wife who take a weekend trip, a trip the wife won, to the remote Scottish Highlands as an anniversary trip and a last ditch attempt to salvage their marriage. When they get there they find their lodgings aren’t quite what they expected (way more remote!) and that’s where things go wrong as the snowstorm traps them there. I don’t want to say too much!
Shiver by Allie Reynolds
At A Glance: locked room suspense, French Alps, remote ski resort, snowstorm, elite snowboarders
I actually read this one before I read One by One so I kind of laughed when I read that one and was like “what’s up with these snowy thrillers set in the French Alps??”
This premise was fun though — a woman accepts an invitation to go to a mountainside resort for a reunion with four friends, who she hasn’t seen in a decade, but who she bonded with over a whole winter while they trained for an elite snowboarding competition at the same resort.
But quickly they realize something is off with the reunion — the place is empty, they’ve been cut off from leaving or contacting anyone and there is a mysterious game set up that is intended to draw the truth about another girl in their snowboarding group who disappeared that winter 10 years ago.
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An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena
At A Glance: set in winter, Catskills, mountain lodge, blizzard, murder mystery
I’ve been very hit or miss with this author but I really liked this murder mystery a lot and couldn’t rest until the killer was revealed.
A weekend getaway in a cozy mountain lodge turns deadly when a blizzard rages outside and guests start turning up dead or missing. An unputdownable whodunit!
The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon
At A Glance: literary mystery/thriller with a supernatural edge, dual timelines, creepy winter read
This suspenseful read is so spooky and makes you filled with palpable dread so reader beware if you get scared easily or don’t like supernatural stuff involved in your thrillers.
A 19 year old girl, living off the grid with her sister and mother in a farmhouse, wakes up one morning to find her mother is missing. Trying to find clues for where her mother could have went, she finds the diary of a woman (found dead in a field after the death of her daughter) who is a bit of a town legend from the early 1900’s and realizes the past may have more to do with her mother’s disappearance than she could have ever imagined.
Next Up On My Wintry Thriller List
Haven’t read this one yet but it is next up for me — I love Lucy Foley and this one always gets recommended to me when I ask for winter-themed thrillers!
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
“For fans of Ruth Ware and Tana French, a shivery, atmospheric, page-turning novel of psychological suspense in the tradition of Agatha Christie, in which a group of old college friends are snowed in at a hunting lodge . . . and murder and mayhem ensue.”
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2023 Winter Thrillers To Read
Full disclosure I haven’t finished any of these 2023 releases YET but they are all on my reading list for this year or I am currently reading.
Check this list if you want to see an extensive list of new thriller books coming out in 2023!
The Resort by Sarah Goodwin
Bad directions and a dead car engine has a married couple, on their way to a mountainside wedding, stranded. Soon to be nightfall, they decide to take shelter in a cabin at a creepy abandoned ski resort they saw while driving. When morning falls one of them will be missing.
The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz
When a famous author invites a group of up and coming female writers to her home in the Adirondacks for a month-long writing retreat, the stakes become higher when the opportunity becomes something potentially life-changing. As the competition heats up, so does the fact something sinister is at play when women start disappearing and a snowstorm traps them there.
(I’ve heard this snowy thriller is a bit strange — can’t wait to find out for myself!)
The Drift by C.J. Tudor
This is the one I’m reading now and it’s more of a post-apocalyptic survival thriller so be mindful of that if it’s not your thing. I am really enjoying it so far — very genre-bending and a great sense of setting honestly.
Set after a contagious virus sets civilization into shambles, a snowstorm hits as people are trying to reach a place of safety called The Retreat where hope for a cure is being tested. The lives of three strangers, all in precarious situations, converge in their fight for immediate survival from danger and for the future of humanity.
Tell me your favorite winter thriller books — especially if they are of the snowy/snowed-in thriller variety!
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