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8 Unsettling Thriller Books About Friends Turned Bad

Keep your friends close…

bad friends thrillers
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  • Photo Credit: Pawel Czerwinski/Unsplash

If you thought the spousal or familial betrayal of domestic thrillers was bad, you haven't seen anything yet. While the lies of a lover may sting, friends are the ones you turn to when your home life is falling apart. Friends see the worst of you, the bad sides you're scared to show anyone else. But what if your rock is just another villain in disguise? Who do you turn to when your confidant becomes a culprit?

Whether they've landed a protagonist in hot water or they've got a heap of buried secrets, these friends aren't ranking “best” by anyone's definition. Here are eight nail-biting thrillers about friends turned bad.

the guest

The Guest

By B. A. Paris

Iris and Gabriel come home from vacation to find an unexpected surprise: Laure, one of their closest friends, is in their house. Laure has left her husband, their friend Pierre, after learning of an affair that left him with a secret child. Iris and Gabriel assume there's no harm in being supportive for a while. But a while seems to stretch on longer than they thought, and her behavior becomes unsettling.

Laure is sleeping in their bed, wearing Iris' clothes, and rearranging their furniture. On top of all her inappropriate overstepping, her mood becomes increasingly erratic.

The tension eases a bit when a new couple, Esme and Hugh, move into the neighborhood. Unfortunately, they've got some baggage of their own in the form of a gardener with a shady past. Soon secrets from all corners of the past are unraveling, setting in motion a dangerous domino effect.

Come Winter

Come Winter

By Evan Hunter

Friends Sandy, David, and Peter first met when they were teenagers accompanying their parents to a resort island. Their bond was forged in the fires of the horrific crime they carried out together, and ever since they have trudged forward on a destructive, nihilistic path.

Their cursed friendship is still going strong five years later when they come together at a luxurious ski resort a few days before Christmas. The three of them are desperate for a taste of danger, and interloper Mary Margaret may just deliver in ways they never could have imagined. Seemingly hellbent on tearing the group apart at the seams, Mary Margaret is as mischievous as she is brilliant.

As a snowy cat and mouse game ensues on the slopes, have the devilish trio finally met their match?

Best Friends Forever

Best Friends Forever

By Margot Hunt

Like any good friendship, Kat Grant and Alice Campbell have grown close over shared secrets and shared wine. Though Kat is an artsy socialite and Alice seems to be treading water in suburbia, their differences don't seem to matter. They hold each other up… until they can't.

When Kat's husband, Howard, dies after a fall from the balcony of their South Florida mansion, the police rule his death to be a murder. But why, in the wake of all this, has Kat stopped calling and texting Alice? Why won't Kat's rich family allow Alice to see her? And why is Alice suddenly the focus of the police investigation?

One thing is clear: a master manipulator is at work. But who is it?


The Hunting Party

By Lucy Foley

A group of Oxford friends—now in their 30s—gather to celebrate the New Year together. It's a tradition they've been upholding for a decade. But this year has something special in store…

They've decided to host the reunion at a remote estate in the Scottish Highlands—a peaceful place to unwind. The stunning scenery gets the affair off to a good start, and the champagne certainly doesn't hurt. But nostalgic reminiscences soon give way to ten-year-old resentments. As the party gets wild, their fragile friendships begin to fray, and a blizzard keeps them from any hope of escaping one another.

On New Year's Day, one of their own is found dead. Murdered. Which of them is responsible?



By Kirstin Chen

Ava Wong is used to walking the straight and narrow path. Enjoying life on the safe side, she's a Chinese American lawyer with everything one could dream of: a surgeon husband, a son, a gorgeous home. But what seems perfect on the surface isn't so shiny underneath. Her marriage is falling apart, she hasn't seen court in years, and the trials of motherhood are wearing her thin.

Winnie Fang was Ava's college roommate—until she dropped out under mysterious circumstances. Two decades later, Winnie pops back into Ava's life looking nothing like the reserved, awkward girl she once knew. This Winnie is confident and decked out in luxury. This Winnie has a secret.

With a brilliant counterfeit designer handbag scheme under her belt, Winnie needs a little help. That's where Ava comes in: Winnie needs someone with a U.S. passport. Bonus points if they have a squeaky-clean reputation. The arrangement goes well for a while, until their booming success lands them in trouble and Winnie disappears to leave Ava with the fallout.

With Friends Like These

With Friends Like These

By Keri Beevis

Billy Maguire is on his way to Scotland to reunite with some university friends when he runs into some trouble. Literally. After hitting a man with his car, he helps him into the back to speed to the hospital. When the stranger dies in transit, Billy panics.

Driving to the reunion with the dead body in tow, Billy begs his friends for help. As disagreements stir up at the uncomfortable situation, they discover the corpse's identity: Dougie McCool, a notable criminal. The friends agree to dispose of the body, but some sketchy characters are invested in tracking McCool down. And the dead man's own brother is willing to do whatever it takes to get what he wants.

The Hunters

The Hunters

By Clark Howard

Four suburban men set out on what is supposed to be a simple hunting trip—but their lives are anything but. Wes is an architect harboring a secret. Leo's success in advertising pales in comparison to the misery his ulcers inflict. Milt is a pharmaceutical salesman with a wife who hates him. Lamar toils his days away in insurance, finding passion in Milt's wife.

None of them may seem particularly spectacular, but you'd be wrong. One of them is a killer. After an LAPD detective is murdered, their friendly trip turns into a predatory manhunt.

Rush of Blood

Rush of Blood

By Mark Billingham

While on vacation in Florida, three British couples become quick friends. Unfortunately, the last day of their trip sees a devastating tragedy. The teenage daughter of an American goes missing, only for her to be found dead in the mangroves.

The rattled couples return to the UK, but make a point of keeping in touch. Meeting up for a series of dinner parties, things become increasingly tense the more they learn about each other. Simmering under a pedestrian surface is a well of kinks and vices.

When a second girl goes missing not too far from where the couples live, it seems that one of these six friends has a secret worse than they're letting on.

Featured image: Pawel Czerwinski/Unsplash