7 Frosty Thrillers to Cool You Down on Sweltering Summer Days

Justin Cook
July 8 2022
Share 7 Frosty Thrillers to Cool You Down on Sweltering Summer Days

Every winter, like a fool, I convince myself that I’m looking forward to the summer. I long for the days where I can trade my snow boots for flip-flops, turn my New York apartment’s heating off and A/C on, and swap my hot coffee for a cold brew. And every summer, like a fool, I lounge on the beach on an aggressively hot day, Bahama Breeze in one hand, a good summer read in the other and think to myself, “Boy, I sure miss winter.”

Instead of getting caught up in a never-ending existential purgatory like myself, I’m here today *clears throat* to make the case for meeting in the middle and bringing a little cool to the heat. Here are seven frosty thrillers, set in locations ranging from the French Alps to Antarctica, that will (hopefully) make you reconsider your definition of a “beach read.”

All the White Spaces
by Ally Wilkes

In an alternate-history take on the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, Ally Wilkes takes us on a polar expedition to a terrifying terrain: as expansive and open as it is claustrophobic and isolating. After a fire ends their seafaring adventures, a ragtag crew of shipwrecked explorers must brave punishing environmental conditions . . . and a deadly, potentially supernatural beast preying on their worst fears. ALL THE WHITE SPACES grabs hold of you, immerses you in the most unsettling of landscapes, and leaves you to breathlessly find a path to survival. There is a certain excitement and tension in any novel that turns its focus to the unexplored corners of our world, which Wilkes captures with such unnerving bewilderment. Even more impressive, the author manages to weave it together with an intimate portrait of self-discovery and exploration of identity. Trek through the crunchy snow of the Antarctic as you feel the warm sands of the beach beneath your feet.

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All the White Spaces
Ally Wilkes

Something deadly and mysterious stalks the members of an isolated polar expedition in this haunting and spellbinding historical horror novel, perfect for fans of Dan Simmons’s The Terror and Alma Katsu’s The Hunger.

In the wake of the First World War, Jonathan Morgan stows away on an Antarctic expedition, determined to find his rightful place in the world of men. Aboard the expeditionary ship of his hero, the world-famous explorer James “Australis” Randall, Jonathan may live as his true self—and true gender—and have the adventures he has always been denied. But not all is smooth sailing: the war casts its long shadow over them all, and grief, guilt, and mistrust skulk among the explorers.

When disaster strikes in Antarctica’s frozen Weddell Sea, the men must take to the land and overwinter somewhere which immediately seems both eerie and wrong; a place not marked on any of their part-drawn maps of the vast white continent. Now completely isolated, Randall’s expedition has no ability to contact the outside world. And no one is coming to rescue them.

In the freezing darkness of the Polar night, where the aurora creeps across the sky, something terrible has been waiting to lure them out into its deadly landscape…

As the harsh Antarctic winter descends, this supernatural force will prey on their deepest desires and deepest fears to pick them off one by one. It is up to Jonathan to overcome his own ghosts before he and the expedition are utterly destroyed.

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One by One
by Ruth Ware

In mystery novels, setting is everything—and what makes for a more perfect setting than a luxurious, rustic ski chalet high in the French Alps? When eight coworkers on a corporate retreat get snowed in by a devastating avalanche, chaos ensues as members of the group start dropping dead “one by one,” like icicles falling from the gutters. It’s a tense, twisty whodunit that could stump the likes of Hercule Poirot and sees Ruth Ware cementing her status as a modern-day mystery maestro. Sit back and relax on a hot day with a book that has tensions simmering as strong as the sun bearing down from above.

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One by One
Ruth Ware

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A claustrophobic spine-tingler.” —People
Not only do Ware’s novels wink at [Agatha] Christie in a saucy way, but Ware herself is turning out to be as ingenious and indefatigable as the Queen of Crime.” —The Washington Post

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Turn of the Key and In a Dark Dark Wood returns with another suspenseful thriller set on a snow-covered mountain.

Getting snowed in at a luxurious, rustic ski chalet high in the French Alps doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world. Especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a full-service chef and housekeeper, a cozy fire to keep you warm, and others to keep you company. Unless that company happens to be eight coworkers…each with something to gain, something to lose, and something to hide.

When the cofounder of Snoop, a trendy London-based tech start-up, organizes a weeklong trip for the team in the French Alps, it starts out as a corporate retreat like any other: PowerPoint presentations and strategy sessions broken up by mandatory bonding on the slopes. But as soon as one shareholder upends the agenda by pushing a lucrative but contentious buyout offer, tensions simmer and loyalties are tested. The storm brewing inside the chalet is no match for the one outside, however, and a devastating avalanche leaves the group cut off from all access to the outside world. Even worse, one Snooper hadn’t made it back from the slopes when the avalanche hit.

As each hour passes without any sign of rescue, panic mounts, the chalet grows colder, and the group dwindles further…one by one.

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Cold, Cold Bones
by Kathy Reichs

It’s winter in North Carolina, but for the first time in months, Temperance “Bones” Brennan is in from the cold . . . or so she thinks. Just as the forensic anthropologist is beginning to settle into a normal life with her daughter again, who has returned from the army, they receive a totally normal package in the mail. Inside? A fresh out-of-the-socket human eyeball. It becomes clear that a killer is on the loose, reenacting a gnarly “greatest hits” of cases from Tempe’s twenty-one-book career. In this engrossing mystery from the legendary Kathy Reichs, Tempe finds herself thrust into a twisted investigation, stuck between the present she seeks to preserve and the past she can’t quite leave behind. It may be summer on your skin, but this book will help you relive winter in your bones.

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Cold, Cold Bones
Kathy Reichs

#1 New York Times bestselling thriller writer Kathy Reichs returns with her twenty-first novel of suspense featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan who, after receiving a box containing a human eyeball, uncovers a series of gruesome killings eerily reenacting the most shocking of her prior cases.

Winter has come to North Carolina and, with it, a drop in crime. Freed from a heavy work schedule, Tempe Brennan is content to dote on her daughter Katy, finally returned to civilian life from the army. But when mother and daughter meet at Tempe’s place one night, they find a box on the back porch. Inside: a very fresh human eyeball.

GPS coordinates etched into the eyeball lead to a Benedictine monastery where an equally macabre discovery awaits. Soon after, Tempe examines a mummified corpse in a state park, and her anxiety deepens.

There seems to be no pattern to the subsequent killings uncovered, except that each mimics in some way a homicide that a younger Tempe had been called in to analyze. Who or what is targeting her, and why?

Helping Tempe search for answers is detective Erskine “Skinny” Slidell, retired but still volunteering with the CMPD cold case unit—and still displaying his gallows humor. Also pulled into the mystery: Andrew Ryan, Tempe’s Montreal-based beau, now working as a private detective.

Could this elaborately staged skein of mayhem be the prelude to a twist that is even more shocking? Tempe is at a loss to establish the motive for what is going on…and then her daughter disappears.

At its core, Cold, Cold Bones is a novel of revenge—one in which revisiting the past may prove the only way to unravel the present.

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Girl in Ice
by Erica Ferencik

While floating comfortably in your pool donut, how about undertaking an odyssey to a frozen tundra? Entrenched in grief after losing her twin brother to an apparent suicide, brilliant linguist Val receives a call from her sibling’s fellow researcher for a special assignment: communicating with a young girl who has been thawed out alive from ice. She journeys to the Arctic Circle to investigate the mystery of her brother’s death, decipher the girl’s speech, and discover how the two may be connected. For Val, survival is twofold—braving the very literal, tangible externalities of the unforgiving landscape and conquering her perhaps even more punishing internal demons. As the ice melts in your mojito, experience this atmospheric, beguiling thriller that will keep you cool.

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Girl in Ice
Erica Ferencik

From the author of The River at Night and Into the Jungle comes a harrowing new thriller set in the unforgiving landscape of the Arctic Circle, as a brilliant linguist struggling to understand the apparent suicide of her twin brother ventures hundreds of miles north to try to communicate with a young girl who has been thawed from the ice alive.

Valerie “Val” Chesterfield is a linguist trained in the most esoteric of disciplines: 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, having willfully ventured unprotected into 50 degree below zero weather. Val is inconsolable—and disbelieving. She suspects foul play.

When Wyatt, 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—Val is his first call. Will she travel to the frozen North to meet this girl, and 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.

The moment she steps off the plane, her fear threatens to overwhelm her. The landscape is fierce, and Wyatt, brilliant but difficult, is an enigma. But the girl is special, and Val’s connection with her is profound. Only something is terribly wrong; the child is sick, maybe dying, and the key to saving her lies in discovering the truth about Wyatt’s research. Can his data be trusted? And does it have anything to do with how and why Val’s brother died? With time running out, Val embarks on an incredible frozen odyssey—led by the unlikeliest of guides—to rescue the new family she has found in the most unexpected of places.

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Sleeping Bear
by Connor Sullivan

Seeking a few days of solitude in the Alaskan wilderness, Army veteran Cassie Gale’s trip is cut short when she becomes the next victim in a string of disappearances in the area. Awakening in a Russian prison, she realizes that her survival will require every bit of strength she can muster; no one escapes from the prison alive, but she’s determined to be the first. Meanwhile, her father, Jim, follows the clues and confronts the secrets he hoped to suppress on his journey to bring Cassie home that takes him from the isolated Alaskan region to his own complicated past. Connor Sullivan’s icy debut thriller is nonstop from the word “go”—compellingly written with a ticking clock at the heart of its brutish narrative. Just remember to loosen that grip on your cocktail glass while you read it!

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Sleeping Bear
Connor Sullivan

Sleeping Bear is…one of those rare novels that keeps getting better and better and better. Remember the author’s name—Connor Sullivan.” —James Patterson

A former Army veteran seeking solitude in the Alaskan wilderness after her husband’s death finds herself a pawn in a deadly game with Russia in this white-knuckled and “heart-stopping thrill ride” (Chris Hauty, author of Deep State).

After her young husband’s untimely death, Army veteran Cassie Gale decides to take a few days of solitude in the Alaskan wilderness before she starts her new job. But when she fails to show up on her first day and her dog is discovered injured at her wrecked campsite, her father knows that this is much more than a camping trip gone awry.

As it turns out, Cassie’s not the first person to disappear without a trace in Alaska’s northern interior. Bears. Wolves. Avalanches. Frostbite. Starvation. There are many ways to die in here. But not all disappearances can be explained. Cassie’s is one of them, along with a number of other outdoor enthusiasts who have vanished in recent years.

Regaining consciousness in a Russian prison, Cassie finds herself trapped in a system designed to ensure that no one ever escapes alive. It will require all her grit and skills to survive. Meanwhile, her father rushes to outrun the clock, scouring thousands of acres, only to realize she’s been taken by a nefarious adversary—one with the power of the Eastern Bloc behind it. Ties to his past life, one full of secrets, threaten to surface. He knows there’s a price to be paid, but he’s determined it won’t be his daughter.

Timely, electrifying, and perfect for fans of Vince Flynn and Brad Thor, “Sleeping Bear clamps you in its jaws and doesn’t let go. A fierce, relentless beast of a novel” (Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author).

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The Wolves of Winter
by Tyrell Johnson

This next book drops us in a world where summer is a bygone concept. Nuclear annihilation and a superflu have brought society to its knees, although Lynn McBride and her family aren’t devoid of hope just yet. They find refuge in the Canadian Yukon, but their existence is threatened by a mysterious figure, looking to sow chaos. THE WOLVES OF WINTER is a must-read for fans of postapocalyptic fiction like THE HUNGER GAMES and STATION ELEVEN; it’s a quickly paced, nerve-shredding read about finding your purpose and chartering a course forward in uncertain times. Something I’m sure none of us can relate to in any way, right? Right?

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The Wolves of Winter
Tyrell Johnson

A post-apocalyptic debut novel in a tradition that includes The Hunger Games and Station Eleven, this vision of a possible future shows humanity pushed beyond its breaking point, the forging of vital bonds when everything is lost, and, most centrally, a heroic young woman who crosses a frozen landscape to find her destiny.

Lynn McBride has learned much since society collapsed in the face of nuclear war and the relentless spread of disease. As the memories of her old life continue to surface, she’s forced to forge ahead in the snow-drifted Canadian Yukon, learning how to hunt and trap and slaughter. Forget the old days. Forget summer. Forget warmth. Forget anything that doesn’t help you survive in the endless white wilderness beyond the edges of a fallen world.

Shadows of the world before have found her tiny community—most prominently in the enigmatic figure of Jax, who brings with him dark secrets of the past and sets in motion a chain of events that will call Lynn to a role she never imagined.

“With elements of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and TV’s The Walking Dead, (Kirkus Reviews) The Wolves of Winter is both a heartbreaking, sympathetic portrait of a young woman searching for the answer to who she's meant to be and a frightening vision of a merciless new world in which desperation rules. It is enthralling, propulsive, and poignant.

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Misery
by Stephen King

In short, MISERY is a stone-cold classic. A book that, thirty-five years after its initial publication, has never lost its potency as a nasty, bare-bones thriller that gets your heart pounding and page-turning fingers sweating. It’s so simple. It’s so effortless. It’s so effective. A car crash lands Paul Sheldon, a bestselling novelist, in the most unfortunate of unfortunate situations: held hostage in the log cabin of a deranged fan, Annie Wilkes. Wilkes commands this novel like few literary villains have—a monster in caretaker’s clothing, who’s capable of just about anything. She will pull you in close with her warm, disquieting hospitality and bludgeon your leg with an axe when you start getting any bright ideas. It’s an especially good read for a bedridden, rainy summer day.

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Misery
Stephen King

The #1 New York Times bestseller about a famous novelist held hostage in a remote location by his “number one fan.” One of “Stephen King’s best…genuinely scary” (USA TODAY).

Bestselling novelist Paul Sheldon thinks he’s finally free of Misery Chastain. In a controversial career move, he’s just killed off the popular protagonist of his beloved romance series in favor of expanding his creative horizons. But such a change doesn’t come without consequences. After a near-fatal car accident in rural Colorado leaves his body broken, Paul finds himself at the mercy of the terrifying rescuer who’s nursing him back to health—his self-proclaimed number one fan, Annie Wilkes. Annie is very upset over what Paul did to Misery and demands that he find a way to bring her back by writing a new novel—his best yet, and one that’s all for her. After all, Paul has all the time in the world to do so as a prisoner in her isolated house...and Annie has some very persuasive and violent methods to get exactly what she wants...

“King at his best…a winner!” —The New York Times
“Unadulteratedly terrifying…frightening.” —Publishers Weekly
“Classic King…full of twists and turns and mounting suspense.” —The Boston Globe

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Photo credit: iStock / beralinka

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