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9 Beach Reads That'll Give You Chills on a Hot Day

Explore the dark side while you're lying in the sun.

Imagine: It’s a gorgeous day, and you’re lounging by the pool or spread out on a beach towel. Reapplying sunscreen has totally slipped your mind—and you haven’t even thought about finding a shady spot—because you simply can't put your book down.

That’s exactly what happened to us (and will happen to you) when you pick up one the following gripping beach reads. From stories of nightmarish vacations to nannies from hell, their twists and turns will add so many chills to your day, you’ll forget all about the heat.

Buy Last Summer at Amazon

Last Summer

By Evan Hunter

Sandy, David, and Peter were enjoying their summer love triangle until Rhoda showed up. Awkward and plain, Rhoda is an easy target, and Sandy uses her vulnerability to test the boys' loyalty. But what starts out as a game of typical teenage bullying quickly escalates to cruel, destructive heights. Published in 1968 and adapted into an Oscar nominated film, Evan Hunter's novel is a classic summer read that’ll appeal to fans of books like The Secret History. 

Last Summer

By Evan Hunter

Buy Holiday with Violence at Amazon

Holiday with Violence

By Ellis Peters

While traveling towards their epic Italian getaway, four English friends meet fellow train passenger Signora Galassi. But by the time they reach their destination, the elderly man is dead—lying murdered on his seat. Now, the friends must swap their vacation plans for a homicide investigation that will put their lives—and friendships—in peril.

Related: 9 Books for Fans of Murder on the Orient Express 

Holiday with Violence

By Ellis Peters

Buy Bon Bini Beach at Amazon

Bon Bini Beach

By Suzanne Vermeer

From one of the Netherlands' most popular mystery writers comes Bon Bini Beach—the story of a girl’s trip gone horribly wrong. When the wealthy Dominique invites her friend Lilian to accompany her to Aruba, Lilian jumps at the chance. But it’s obvious from the first knock at their door that this vacation isn’t going to be smooth sailing. Things take an even more disturbing turn when Dominique vanishes, sending Lilian into the darkest corners of the Caribbean to find her missing friend.

Bon Bini Beach

By Suzanne Vermeer

Buy Killed in Paradise at Amazon

Killed in Paradise

By William L. DeAndrea

As the vice president of a TV network, Matt Cobb has the exhausting responsibility of ensuring his writers, actors, and executives all get along. Even his mystery cruise vacation must be spent wrangling two radio contest winners—though that’s the least of Matt's worries. Now that dead bodies keep turning up, he must save face and find the high-seas murderer before they strike again. But with DeAndrea’s eccentric cast of characters, the killer could be just about anyone…

Killed in Paradise

By William L. DeAndrea

Buy You Should Have Left at Amazon

You Should Have Left

By Daniel Kehlmann

This translated German novel may look slim—but don’t let its size fool you. You Should Have Left packs the sort of punches you’d expect from a much bigger tome (except this book is only 128 pages). The screenwriter protagonist rents a summer house in the mountains with his wife and daughter, though they’re immediately welcomed with an ominous warning: “You should have left.” According to the locals, there’s something not right about their temporary home—and soon, strange happenings prove their theories. The book’s imagery is so chilling, it’ll leave a mark on the most cynical of readers.

You Should Have Left

By Daniel Kehlmann

Buy See What I Have Done at Amazon

See What I Have Done

By Sarah Schmidt

Historical fiction and true crime fanatics should be all over Sarah Schmidt’s debut novel, which offers a unique take on the Lizzie Borden case. Borden was accused of killing her parents with an axe in 1892. Though she was eventually acquitted, time seems to have convicted her in retrospect (think of it as the 19th-century O.J. Simpson trial). Schmidt also blends in the narratives of Lizzie’s sister, maid, and a stranger to present a multifaceted retelling of America’s one of most infamous crimes.

See What I Have Done

By Sarah Schmidt

Buy The Perfect Nanny at Amazon

The Perfect Nanny

By Leila Slimani

In 2012, a New York nanny brutally stabbed the two children under her care. The horrifying crime was the stuff of every parent’s nightmare—and the inspiration behind Leila Slimani’s international sensation. Translated from its original French, the bestseller chronicles a similar scenario: When Myriam and her husband find Louise, they think they’ve found “the perfect nanny.” But as the family and Louise’s lives become more entangled, tension—and violence—erupt with devastating consequences.

Related: 10 Killer Mysteries and Thrillers You Need to Read This Summer 2018 

The Perfect Nanny

By Leila Slimani

Buy The Dinner at Amazon

The Dinner

By Herman Koch

Two couples meet at an ultra-popular restaurant for a seemingly benign date night. But as this novel unfolds, Herman Koch reveals the true reason behind their meeting—and let’s just say it doesn’t make for pleasant dinner conversation. Deeply disturbing and horrifyingly modern, this “European Gone Girl” is the very definition of a thrilling beach read (The Wall Street Journal).

The Dinner

By Herman Koch

Buy The Talented Mr. Ripley at Amazon

The Talented Mr. Ripley

By Patricia Highsmith

If you want an intelligent, subtly sinister thriller, you go to Patricia Highsmith. The Talented Mr. Ripley is her masterpiece, and it stars a dashing, sexually ambiguous conman in 1950s Manhattan. He befriends a wealthy businessman, who then tasks him with retrieving his womanizing, party-boy son, Dickie. So begins an adventure full of money, lust, deception, and murder that Highsmith continues in five other Ripley novels. If that’s not enough, you can also watch the excellent 1999 film adaptation, which stars Matt Damon and Jude Law.

Related: Poet of Apprehension: The 9 Best Patricia Highsmith Books  

The Talented Mr. Ripley

By Patricia Highsmith

This post is sponsored by Open Road Media. Thank you for supporting our partners, who make it possible for Murder & Mayhem to continue publishing the thrilling stories you love.

Featured photo: Daniel Jensen/Unsplash 

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Published on 02 Aug 2018

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