Vacations are a chance to relax, unwind and re-set, but in the thriller genre, things don’t ever go as planned. In my novel, The Retreat, a former child star, her best friends and soon-to-be sister-in-law travel to upstate New York to attend a wellness retreat. While they start the weekend seeking inner peace and relaxation, they soon find themselves wondering if they’ll survive it.
Here are five must-read crime novels about getaways that go dangerously awry and will make you want to cancel your next vacation.
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
Lo Blacklock is a journalist at a travel magazine. The novel opens with Lo being the victim of a home invasion. When, following the attack she gets the opportunity to take an assignment on a luxury cruise with only a handful of other wealthy travellers, she jumps at the chance. Soon after the cruise sets sail, Lo witnesses a murder on board, yet all the guests are accounted for and no body is found. Now Lo must not only try to solve the crime but also convince others that a crime even occurred. This is a well-paced, satisfying thriller that made me glad I can’t afford luxury cruises.
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
Like my own book, Nine Perfect Strangers is set on a wellness retreat. Each person is there to lose weight, deal with past trauma and generally undergo a spiritual transformation. The proprietress of the retreat, Masha, was once an over-stressed, over-worked corporate devotee until she suffered a heart attack. Now her mission to help others achieve their ‘best’ selves, but there’s a dark side to her cool, Zen-like surface much to the detriment of her guests.
Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman
While on their luxurious honeymoon in Bora Bora, Erin and Mark discover something in the water during a scuba diving excursion. Suddenly, the newlyweds must make a decision: do they keep their secret or turn it over to the police? Their decision will trigger a shocking chain of events.
They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall
Miriam Macy receives a surprise invitation to a luxurious private island off the coast of Mexico. Along with six other strangers, she finds herself in a mansion in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by miles of forest and open water. Cell service is spotty. Soon strange things start happening and one by one, the strangers are killed off, leaving the survivors to wonder who’s responsible and who’s next.
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
A group of thirty-something friends from Oxford gather to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students. For this vacation, they chose an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands. Soon after their arrival, a blizzard hits and seals the lodge off from the outside world. The roads become impassable and claustrophobia quickly sets in. When New Year’s Day rolls around, one of the guests turns up dead. Tensions rise, past resentments and grudges surface. Which of the friends is the killer?
The Retreat by Sherri Smith (Titan Books) Out Now
Katie Manning was a beloved child star until her mid-teens when her manager attacked and permanently scarred her face, effectively ending her career and sending her on a path of all-too-familiar post-Hollywood self-destruction. Now twenty-seven, Katie wants a better answer to those click bait "Where Are They Now?" articles that float around online. An answer she hopes to find when her brother's too-good-to-be-true fiancée invites her to a wellness retreat upstate. Together with Katie's two best friends-one struggling with crippling debt and family obligations, one running away from a failed job and relationship-Katie will try to find the inner peace promised at the tranquil retreat. But finding oneself just might drudge up more memories than Katie is prepared to deal with. Each woman has come to the retreat for different reasons. Each has her secrets to hide. And at the end of this weekend, only one will be left standing.