Need something to read this winter? Looking for some snowy mysteries that will make your blood run cold? Check out my list of Chilling Winter Mysteries to Read!
Chilling Winter Mysteries to Read
I don’t mind the cold, though I’m not a fan of snow. But winter makes a cozy time to read, and a great time to pick up a mystery that takes place in the cold weather. Winter offers so many opportunities for creating a chilling, claustrophobic setting, putting characters in icy peril, and sending a chill up the reader’s spine!
Why are Jen Ryland Reviews book lists better than most? I have actually read the books!
Here are some recent reads I read with a thrilling winter setting, and some old favorites. If you have any books to add to my list, please let me know in comments.
City Under One Roof by Iris Yamashita
January 3, 2023 by Berkley
Plot Summary for City Under One Roof by Iris Yamashita
When a local teenager discovers a severed hand and foot washed up on the shore of the small town of Point Mettier, Alaska, Cara Kennedy is on the case. A detective from Anchorage, she has her own motives for investigating the possible murder in this isolated place, which can be accessed only by a tunnel.
After a blizzard causes the tunnel to close indefinitely, Cara is stuck among the odd and suspicious residents of the town—all 205 of whom live in the same high-rise building and are as icy as the weather. Cara teams up with Point Mettier police officer Joe Barkowski, but before long the investigation is upended by fearsome gang members from a nearby native village.
Haunted by her past, Cara soon discovers that everyone in this town has something to hide
How Chilling Was City Under One Roof?
I really loved the setting of City Under One Roof, which was very unique: a huge apartment complex in a small Alaska town where everyone lives.
I thought this one might be a locked room mystery, but not really, as even with the storm there are people who can come and go.
The book had three narrators, each with a fair amount of backstory, which slowed down the suspense for me.
For me, the middle of the book got a bit draggy, but the end had a lot of action. Recommend for the setting alone! You can check out my full Review of City Under One Roof!
The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf
January 25, 2022, Park Row Books
Plot Summary for The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf
True crime writer Wylie Lark doesn’t mind being snowed in at an isolated farmhouse. She needs the peace and quiet to finish her new book.
She doesn’t even mind that that decades earlier, at this very house, two people were murdered in cold blood and a girl disappeared without a trace.
As the storm worsens, Wylie finds herself trapped inside the house, haunted by the secrets contained within its walls, and secrets of her own.
When she discovers a small child in the snow just outside, she’s concerned and confused. After bringing the child inside for warmth and safety, she begins to search for answers.
But soon it becomes clear that the farmhouse isn’t as isolated as she thought, and someone is willing to do anything to find them.
How Chilling Was The Overnight Guest?
I found The Overnight Guest to be a bit of a slow burn.
Yes, Wylie is trapped in a storm, and weird things happen, but there’s also a storyline in the past, which decreased the tension for me a bit.
BUT, if you are a patient reader, the set up for this one really paid off in the end!
March 1, 2022. Gallery Books
Plot Summary for Girl in Ice by Erica Ferencik
Val Chesterfield is a linguist trained in dead Nordic languages.
Despite her successful career, she leads a sheltered life and languishes in the shadow of her twin brother Andy, an accomplished climate scientist stationed on a remote island off Greenland’s barren coast. But Andy is gone: a victim of suicide. Val suspects foul play.
When Andy’s fellow researcher in the Arctic discovers a scientific impossibility—a young girl frozen in the ice who thaws out alive, speaking a language no one understands—he asks Val travel to the frozen North and meet this girl, try to comprehend what she is so passionately trying to communicate?
Under the auspices of helping Wyatt interpret the girl’s speech, Val musters every ounce of her courage and journeys to the Artic to solve the mystery of her brother’s death.
How Chilling Was Girl on Ice?
I give Girl In Ice a 10/10 on the creepy claustrophobic vibes.
The main character has anxiety and I got terrible anxiety reading about the forbidding climate, the small research station, the mix of personalities in the small group that’s basically trapped together.
I loved the focus on communication as main character Val is summoned to the research station where her twin brother recently died to try to communicate with a young girl that the researchers found nearly frozen to death in the snow.
I know a bit about linguistics but learned more about Norse/Scandinavian languages. The plot went into some really strange/out-there directions that I had a few qualms about and I felt the ending fizzled a bit.
If you like thrillers with a strong science/nature vibe you should definitely check this one out.
October 12, 2021. William Morrow
Plot Summary for a Solitude of Wolverines by Alice Henderson
In a wildlife sanctuary at a former ski resort in Montana, biologist Alex Carter tracks wolverines on foot and by cameras positioned in remote regions of the preserve.
But when she reviews the photos, she discovers disturbing images of an animal of a different kind: a severely injured man seemingly lost and wandering in the wilds. Local law enforcement is strangely set on dismissing the case altogether, raising Alex’s suspicions.
Then another invasive predator trespasses onto the preserve. The hunter turns out to be another human—and the prey is the wildlife biologist herself. Alex realizes too late that she has seen too much—she’s stumbled onto a far-reaching illegal operation and now has become the biggest threat.
How Chilling was A Solitude of Wilderness?
This was an out-of-my comfort zone read, but I enjoyed it.
A Solitude of Wolverines features biologist Alex Carter, who accepts a job at a nature conservancy in Montana to study their population of wolverines.
Alex finds not only wolverines, but a small town suspicious of her big city environmentalism, mysterious messages, an injured man who disappears, the vandalism of her wolverine photo booths (lol) and, ultimately, a LOT of danger.
This one was intense and on the violent side, and did feature some mistreatment of animals, though Alex’s fierce advocacy for animal welfare did help balance it out.
A great book if you want to learn more about animal conservation and the Montana wilderness. And wolverines! Read my review of A Solitude of Wolverines!
July 21, 2021. Mulholland Books
Plot Summary for The Retreat by Elisabeth de Mariaffi
Maeve arrives at a gorgeous lodge nestled deep in the Rocky Mountains, determined to do one thing: begin her own dance company.
A retired performer, time is running out for her to find her feet again after the collapse of her disastrous—and violent—marriage. Isolated in the snowy beauty of the retreat, Maeve can forget the ghost of her past for an hour, for a day.
When an avalanche strikes, Maeve finds herself trapped with six other guests. They’ve lost all power, phone service, heat, and the road back to town.
At first, there’s a sense of camaraderie—the fire is warm, the freezer well-stocked. But as the days pass and the storm rages on outside, tensions start to run high. Help is coming, so they just have to hold on, right?
Then the first guest meets an unspeakable death. Followed by another. Soon Maeve must admit how little she knows about these strangers . . . and how useless a locked door is if the darkness is already inside.
How Chilling Was The Retreat?
The Retreat did a good job of using an isolated setting and harsh weather to create a lot of suspense.
A handful of creatives (a journalist, a filmmaker, a dancer, an artist and two administrators) are gathered at one of those exclusive artist retreats.
Maeve, the main character, is still a little mistrustful after getting out of an abusive relationship and looks forward to using the time away from her young children to get her career as director of a dance troupe on more solid footing.
But then there’s an avalanche. And a death.
For me, the star of this book was the Rocky Mountain setting. After an avalanche cuts the retreat off from the world (no electricity or phone or internet) things start spiraling.
The ending of this was a little crazy (and felt a bit unresolved).
If you don’t mind a book with a slower pace and like a lot of atmosphere, definitely check The Retreat out!
February 2, 2021. Pamela Dorman Books.
Plot Summary for The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearce
Le Sommet has always been a sinister place. Long plagued by troubling rumors, the former abandoned sanatorium has since been renovated into a five-star minimalist hotel.
Arriving at Le Sommet in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge–there’s something about the hotel that makes her nervous. And when they wake the following morning to discover her brother’s fiancé is missing, Elin must trust her instincts if they hope to find her.
With the storm closing off all access to the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.
How Chilling Was The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse?
I give this book ALL the props for a chilling and spooky setting. Former sanatorium? Dead bodies popping up all over? A huge storm?
However, a lot of people had issues with this one. Many didn’t like the protagonist, others thought the ending made no sense.
This book has sparked SO much discussion on my blog. My review of The Sanatorium is here. If you’ve read this chilling mystery with a prickly (unlikeable?) protagonist, creepy setting, and WTF ending, come join us at my Spoiler Discussion for The Sanatorium.
September 8, 2020. Scout Press
Plot Summary for One by One by Ruth Ware
Getting snowed in at a beautiful, rustic mountain chalet doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world, especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a cozy fire, and company to keep you warm.
But what happens when that company is eight of your coworkers…and you can’t trust any of them?
When an off-site company retreat meant to promote mindfulness and collaboration goes utterly wrong when an avalanche hits, the corporate food chain becomes irrelevant and survival trumps togetherness.
Come Monday morning, how many members short will the team be?
How Chilling Was One by One by Ruth Ware?
My full review of One by One is here, but in short:
Whoa that was a wild ride and I don’t mean the ski slopes either.
One by One has a creepy “and then there were none” kind of mystery in which a group of work colleagues is trapped in a ski chalet after an avalanche.
There’s a tragic death, and then another, making it clear that someone in this group is a killer! Then it turns to a cat and mouse game!
Have you read this and want to talk spoilers? Come over to my SPOILER REVIEW of One by One!
January 11, 2021. Putnam Books.
Plot Summary for Shiver by Allie Reynolds
Milla accepts an off-season invitation to a cozy ski resort in the French Alps to catch up with four old friends. She’s never forgotten the bond they forged on this very mountain during a winter spent fiercely training for an elite snowboarding competition.
But soon Milla sees that something is horribly wrong. The cable cars that delivered them to the mountaintop have stopped working. Their cell phones have gone missing. And inside the hotel an icebreaker game awaits them.
A game meant to remind them of the enigmatic sixth member of their group, who vanished the morning of the competition years before and has long been presumed dead.
Stranded in the resort, Milla’s not sure what’s worse: the increasingly sinister things happening around her or the looming snowstorm that’s making escape even more impossible. All she knows is that there’s no one on the mountain she can trust.
Because someone has gathered them there to find out the truth about Saskia…someone who will stop at nothing to get answers. And if Milla’s not careful, she could be the next to disappear…
How Chilling Was Shiver by Allie Reynolds?
I really enjoyed this one. I don’t know that much about elite snowboarding and found that aspect of the book really interesting.
I’ve read a lot of trapped in the snow mysteries recently, and I guessed one major plot twist, but this was a fun read overall.
If you like books about friend groups with secrets, definitely check this one out!
Tell me what you think of my list! Do you have any chilling winter mysteries to add? Talk to me in comments and hope you enjoy your Chilling Winter Reading!