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25 Winter Thriller Books to Read

Looking for creepy books set in winter or thriller books set in the mountains? Our recommendations include a wide range of the best winter thriller books. 

From classics like Agatha Christie to the Nordic Noir genre, authors love using long winter nights and snowstorms to isolate characters. When it comes to the settings, our recommended reads range from frozen Minnesota to the French Alps. With sub-genres like locked room mystery books and true crime, there is something for everyone on this mystery reading list. 

As usual with our lists, we curated a mix of newer titles and highly rated backlist options. We hope those older titles are easier to get from your library without a long wait.

If you aren’t looking for thrillers but still want to read along with the seasons, we have another list of winter books to read across a wide range of other genres. 

Best Mystery & Thriller Books to Read in Winter

The Spy Coast book cover

Book Summary

Maggie Bird is a former CIA operative who retired early after a mission went tragically wrong. Her quiet chicken farm in Maine seems like the perfect place to put the past behind her, until a body turns up on her driveway. Maggie knows right away that it’s a message from her former enemies.

With the help of a circle of friends who are all former CIA (the “Martini Club”), she’s determined to uncover the truth about who is trying to kill her, and why. Maggie’s hunt for answers forces her to revisit her clandestine career that spanned the globe from Bangkok to Istanbul and London to Malta.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 01/04/2024
The Overnight Guest book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

95% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Wylie is a true crime writer who retreated to an isolated farmhouse to write her new book. She doesn’t mind being snowed in because the cozy fire and silence feel perfect. However, she doesn’t realize a storm is also brewing inside the farmhouse.

Decades earlier, two people were murdered, and a girl disappeared from the same house. As the storm rages on, Wylie is haunted by the secrets of the house, and the secrets of her past. When she discovers a small child outside in the snow, it becomes clear that the farmhouse isn’t as isolated as she thought.

The Book Girls Say…

While the cover of this book has strong winter vibes, the storyline alternates between a hot summer and a freezing winter. So if you’ve had enough of winter and are looking forward to books with warmer settings this month, this book could still fit the bill.

The Stroke of WInter book cover

Book Summary

Tess is busy renovating her old family home on the coast of Lake Superior into a Bed and Breakfast. The restoration is happening in the dead of winter before the busy tourist season.

As work continues, a shuttered art studio is revealed. Her late grandfather was a celebrated artist, but these paintings seem to be the work of a twisted mind. They don’t look anything like his other paintings.

Why were these evil canvases lingering in the home for so many years? As Tess investigates, she’s pulled further into nightmares and darkness.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 01/04/2024

Book Summary

When Cameron’s husband, John, disappeared while hunting off-grid in the wilderness, the assumption was that he was killed in a bear attack. However, after discovering her husband was hiding his involvement in a string of serial murders in Seattle, Cameron worries that he’s not really dead.

With her reputation and finances destroyed by the media, Cameron sets off to Alaska to hunt for the truth.

The Book Girls Say…

If you enjoy the Alaskan setting of this book, you may want to check out our full list of books set in Alaska.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

The Best Books About Alaska

HIdden in Snow book cover

Book Summary

As a treacherous blizzard sweeps toward the Swedish mountain town of Åre, a local teen girl vanishes. Stockholm police officer Hanna Ahlander is taking refuge from the storm at her sister’s ski lodge and she can’t help but get involved in the investigation. She teams up with the local detective, but their only lead is a scarf in the snow. With temperatures dropping time is running out to find the teen. They first suspect she might be lost, but each new clue is pointing to something far more sinister.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 01/04/2024
Frozen River book cover

Book Summary

In the late 1700s, women were expected to be seen and not heard. But, midwife Martha puts what is right over society’s expectations. When the Kennebec River freezes, a man is entombed in the ice. Martha is called to determine the cause of death.

Months earlier, the man had been accused of rape, and Martha believes he has now been murdered. But, the local physician disagrees and declares the death an accident.

Over the winter, Martha continues to investigate every angle as the trial approaches. The diary she uses to log every birth and death becomes a key component and soon implicates those she loves, leaving Martha with an impossible decision.

The Book Girls Say…

This GMA Book Club Pick and NPR Book of the Year is based on the real diary of midwife Martha Ballard, who defied the legal system.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Best Books to Read in Winter 2024

Rock Paper Scissors

Book Summary

Adam and Amelia Wright have hit some bumps in their marriage. So when they win a weekend trip to Scotland, they hope it’s just what they need to get back on the right track.

On each anniversary, the couple exchanges traditional gifts – paper, cotton, pottery, etc. And each year, Amelia also writes a letter she doesn’t let Adam read. Until now.

Ten years of secrets culminate into the biggest of all – they didn’t randomly win this trip to a snowy, isolated chapel turned B&B. One of them is lying.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 01/04/2024
Midnight book cover

Book Summary

Olivia is gifted a one-in-lifetime Antarctic cruise and has never seen anything so incredible, from the looming cliffs of ice to the sun sparkling in the sea 24/7. But then her amazing adventure vacation turns into a locked-room mystery when a murder happens aboard the ship. Now, Olivia must determine who she can trust.

The Book Girls Say…

Amy McCulloch is also the author of Breathless, another chilling winter thriller which is set in Nepal. There’s a killer among a group of mountaineers attempting to summit Manaslu.

Book Summary

Amelia, a research zoologist, ventures high into the Soviet Arctic in order to investigate the impacts of the Chornobyl reactor meltdown. When she stumbles upon evidence of a different sinister disaster on the Norway-Russia border, Russia will stop at anything to stop her from revealing what she’s found.

But when news reaches London that Amelia and her team are in danger, the British intelligence community turns to the one man they know can bring her back and find out the truth. Tom Fox is reluctant to take on the assignment, having tried to put his intelligence career behind him. As Tom works to protect Amelia, his own young son is put in peril back in England.

The Winter Guest book cover

Book Summary

This historical mystery takes you to the winter of 1921, when a new civil war raged in Ireland after the end of WWI. The formerly grand Kilcolgan House is crumbling, and the Prendeville family is trying to co-exist in a home of ghosts and secrets.

After an IRA ambush goes wrong, eldest daughter Maud is killed. When the IRA declines responsibility and says someone else is to blame, Maud’s former fiance is sent to investigate. As he works undercover to investigate inside the gloomy home, he must deal with the ghosts of his own past as well.

The Wife and the Widow book cover

Book Summary

This unsettling thriller is set on an isolated island in the midst of winter. The dual narrators are Kate, a widow who has discovered that her husband had a secret life before his death, and Abby, a local who must confront the truth about her own husband.

This unsettling thriller is set on an isolated island in the midst of winter. The dual narrators are Kate, a widow who has discovered that her husband had a secret life before his death, and Abby, a local who must confront the truth about her own husband.

The Man Burned by Winter book cover

Book Summary

Investigative journalist Rooker Lindström is the son of one of Minnesota’s most notorious serial killers. After a personal tragedy, he finds the dilapidated cabin on Deer Lake that he inherited from his father.

Detective Tess Harlow needs Rooker’s help finding the copycat killer that seems to be imitating Rooker’s dad. After agreeing to help as a consultant, he makes a terrifying discovery. Something about each of the five victims appears to be taunting him personally. Amidst the harsh Minnesota winter, Rooker must confront his past to help catch the killer before there is a 6th victim.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 01/04/2024
Freezing Order book cover

Book Summary

This true crime non-fiction read digs into Russian finances for a different kind of chilling and freezing. The author’s young Russian lawyer, Magnitsky, was beaten to death in jail, and Browder is determined to get to the bottom of his murder.

As Browder investigated to see who would benefit from the $230 million tax refund scheme related to Magnitsky’s death, the trail led his team to the Baltics, Cyprus, Western Europe, and the Americas before circling all the way back to Putin.

The Book Girls Say…

This book is a financial caper, and international adventure you’ll wish was fiction. It’s a follow-up to Browder’s Red Notice,

One by One Book Cover

Book Summary

Claire thought she was headed to a week filled with hiking and hot tubs. She was looking forward to a break from the stresses of everyday life as a mom of young children. The trip was planned with two other couples, and they couldn’t wait to have fun together.

But when her minivan breaks down on an isolated dirt road, the group is forced to hike the rest of the way to their hotel.

Hours later, they are hopelessly lost and have no cell phone reception. As they continue hiking into the woods, the group members are struck down one by one. Is it a wild animal, someone hunting them, or a member of their group?

The Book Girls Say…

There are two books on this list with the title One by One, so be sure to check the author if you’re interested in either of them.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 01/04/2024
An Unwanted Guest book cover

Book Summary

Michell’s Inn is nestled deep in the wooded Catskill Mountains. It’s the perfect place for a relaxing and romantic weekend with its spacious rooms, woodburning fireplaces, and well-stocked wine cellar. But when a blizzard cuts off the electricity and all contact with the outside world, one guest turns up dead… and then another.

The Hunting Party book cover

Book Summary

For ten years, a group of now 30-something friends have met to ring in the New Year together. This year, they’re traveling to an isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands.

The vacation begins on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard separates them from the rest of the world. However, by New Year’s Day, secret resentments will have reached a breaking point, and one of them will be dead.

The Book Girls Say…

This book is described as perfect for fans of Agatha Christie-style mysteries.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

25 Books About New Year’s Eve

Girl in Cabin 13

Book Summary

A mystery has haunted FBI agent Emma since childhood. Her mother died, her father disappeared, and she still doesn’t know what happened.

When she is sent to the small town of Feathered Nest, Virginia, to investigate a string of disappearances, she finds herself in the middle of her most significant case yet. Her cabin has an uneasy feeling, and worlds collide when a new clue is revealed. Emma’s name is found written on the hand of a dead body left on her porch.

The Book Girls Say…

While this book has high ratings overall, some readers are frustrated by Emma’s ineptness in investigations and her tendency to let her emotions get in the way of her job. If you’re also frustrated by weak female leads, skip this one!

Kindle Unlimited as of: 01/04/2024
One by One book cover Ruth Ware

Book Summary

Eight co-workers from a trendy London tech start-up are together for an impressive retreat in the French Alps. When they get snowed in, they’re okay with it. They have breathtaking views and a full-service chef, so they’re happy to stay in the chalet.

But when one of the shareholders begins pushing a contentious buyout offer, a storm starts brewing inside as well. However, there is no match for Mother Nature, and an avalanche cuts them even further off from the outside world. One employee hasn’t returned from the slopes after the avalanche, and one by one group dwindles even further.

The Book Girls Say…

There are two books on this list with the title One by One, so be sure to check the author if you’re interested in either of them.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Locked Room Mystery Books

See Her Die book cover

Book Summary

Sheriff Bree Taggert is called to a campground that has been closed for the winter. When she arrives, she’s perplexed. There is no shooter, no victim, and no blood. Instead, she finds a homeless teenager named Alyssa. Alyssa is certain she witnessed her friend being shot.

Bree calls in former deputy Matt, and his K-9, to search for Alyssa’s friend. But instead of Alyssa’s friend, they find a different corpse under the ice in Grey Lake. Soon, two more students go missing, and more bodies turn up. Bree must figure out the link between the victims before they lose another university student.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 01/04/2024
Shiver book cover

Book Summary

Ten years ago, ​​Milla was at the peak of her snowboarding career during a trip to the French Alps. When she’s invited back to Le Rocher by Curtis, she can’t resist returning, despite the disappearance of their beautiful friend Saskia during the last trip.

When Milla and the others from their friend group arrive, they quickly realize this won’t be the reunion they expected. The resort is deserted, the cable cars that dropped them off have stopped working, and an awkward icebreaker game was designed to reveal their secrets. The group is trapped, and Milla fears she may be the next to disappear.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Locked Room Mysteries You Shouldn’t Miss

Book Summary

A snowstorm stops the progress of the famous Orient Express train, trapping everyone on board overnight. In the morning, millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett is discovered dead in his suite, stabbed multiple times. However, his cabin door was locked from the inside, so how did this happen? And does this mean the murderer is still on the train?

The Book Girls Say…

While this is actually book #10 in the popular Hercule Poirot series, it’s the most recognized train mystery and a great introduction to Agatha Christie. Be warned; we hear that once you read one, you’ll want to quickly read more!

No Exit

Book Summary

College student Darby is driving to Utah to see her dying mother when she’s caught in a dangerous blizzard in the Colorado mountains. She pulls off the road to a remote rest stop and finds four other travelers have done the same.

There’s no phone signal inside, so Darby heads back into the cold, hoping she’ll be able to make a call. Instead, she’s horrified to see a little girl trapped in an animal crate in the van next to her car. With no telephone and no passable roads to drive on, she’s trapped at the rest stop.

Darby knows one of the strangers inside must be the kidnapper. How can she save the girl and herself?

Kindle Unlimited as of: 01/04/2024

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Locked Room Mysteries You Shouldn’t Miss

The Terror book cover

Book Summary

Do you look for long winter thrillers that fully envelop you in the cold? How about a novel that crosses horror, historical fiction, adventure, and even fantasy? If you are snowed in and need a 750+ page thriller, pick up The Terror.

As part of Franklin’s 1845 expedition to search for the Northwest Passage, the men on the HMS Terror are prepared for a long journey on their steam vessel. However, as they enter a second summer in the Arctic Circle without a thaw, both food and coal are dwindling. Even more frightening are the unseen predators outside the ship.

After the death of Captain Franklin, Captain Crozier leads the surviving crew members in an attempt to flee over the ice. They’re joined by an Inuit woman who doesn’t speak, and it’s unclear if they’ll be their savior or hasten their demise.

The Book Girls Say…

The Terror was also made into a 2 season TV series you may be able to stream on Hulu after you read.

For a shorter historical thriller also set in the Arctic Circle in the 1800s, try The North Water by Ian McGuire. It also has been made into a TV series on Amazon Prime.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 01/04/2024
The Snowman book cover

Book Summary

Norway is the perfect setting for winter thrillers. The Inspector Harry Hole series, written by the king of Nordic Noir, is ideal if you want to start a new crime series this season. We picked the most wintery option for the list since each book stands alone and is about a different case. Some of the books are set in international locations outside of Norway, so if you’re specifically looking for a winter book, be sure to read each synopsis to check the setting.

In The Snowman, Inspector Harry Hole of the Oslo Crime Squad is working on a new case after a boy’s mother disappears. Unfortunately, the only trace of her that remains is a pink scarf, which has been tied onto a snowman that appeared out of nowhere in the boy’s yard.

As Harry investigates, he discovers a tie to other disappearances over the past decade. Eleven women have vanished on the day of the first snow.

Catch Your Death book cover

Book Summary

Three girls – Lizzie, Devi, and Jayne – are stranded at a grand mansion in the middle of a snowstorm. Someone has poisoned wealthy Emily Vanforte in the middle of a family dinner, but who? There are knives under floorboards, vanishing guns, and secret passages in the walls. No one is safe in this house of liars.

The Book Girls Say…

This book is perfect for fans of One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus.

Join the Winter Books Mini Reading Challenge

Our free four-prompt mini-reading challenge is perfect for anyone who enjoys reading seasonally. Each prompt comes with a list of recommended books for you to choose from, making it a fun and easy way to enhance your winter reading.

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Angela & Melissa

The Book Girls are best friends who jointly read over 200 books per year. We started Book Girls' Guide in 2019 to help others de-stress and find joy through the power of a great book. We do in-depth research on thousands of novels and non-fiction titles each year to provide curated book lists covering a variety of genres.

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