7 Thrillers About Vacations Gone Wrong

Andrea Bartz, author of "We Were Never Here," recommends stories about Americans abroad who end up in trouble

Photo by Alan Chen on Unsplash

So often, trips bring out our boldest, most adventurous selves, infusing every experience with a what-happens-in-Vegas vibe. That’s what makes vacations such fertile soil for suspense authors: When we’re enjoying ourselves on the trip of a lifetime, we might become a little too trusting of strangers or stumble into scenarios we wouldn’t dream of back home. 

We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz

My new thriller, We Were Never Here, begins in Chile’s Elqui Valley, where two globe-trotting best friends are enjoying their annual reunion trip: exploring bone-white churches and sweeping vineyards and jungly patios where they dance to local tunes and mingle with cute strangers. When a vacation hookup goes south, my tourists have no choice but to kill a backpacker in self-defense and bury his body in a remote patch of farmland, setting off a sequence of consequences that threatens to destroy their friendship, their freedom–maybe even their lives. 

These seven fantastic thrillers also feature Americans who head abroad expecting pleasure or relaxation—but who get far more than they bargained for: 

They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall

When Miriam Macy receives a surprise invitation to join six strangers on a luxe private island off the coast of Mexico, she can’t believe her luck. Surrounded by miles of open water, though, she watches as a series of accidents takes down her fellow visitors one by one. This creepy, clever thriller is a brilliant modern send-up to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.

The Perfect Escape by Leah Konen

The Perfect Escape by Leah Konen

Three newly single friends plan a girls’ trip after bonding over their difficult splits. The perfect weekend sputters to a stop when their car breaks down, stranding them in a mountain town that forces them to reckon with the pain they hoped to leave behind. When one of them vanishes after a wild night out, they realize a sinister force might be pulling the strings of their “unplanned” detour. With intricate plotting and truly shocking reveals, this thriller is both an addictive page-turner and a brilliant examination of female friendship, shame, and betrayals.

Tangerine by Christine Mangan

In this tale of twisted female friendship, Alice Shipley’s settling into life in Tangier when Lucy, her frenemy and former college roommate, arrives unannounced. At first, Lucy seems intent on rekindling their relationship as they explore their exotic new locale. But soon, Alice begins to question Lucy’s intent—and everything about the life she left behind.

Nine Perfect Strangers

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Ten days at a luxurious health resort sounds like the perfect retreat, right? For nine strangers, the Tranquillum House offers the potential to reboot their lives. But as romance novelist Frances Welty gets to know her fellow guests, including the house’s enigmatic owner, she wonders if she should leave the resort before it’s too late.

The Wedding Night by Harriet Walker

The Wedding Night by Harriet Walker

Lizzie cancels her destination wedding only a week before the big day—too late for a refund, so she opts to bring a group of friends to the venue for a distracting getaway. As soon as they arrive, though, it’s clear someone’s out to mess with her: the wedding decorations are waiting for them. And while she sleeps, her friends partake in drunken debauchery that’s far from benign. A juicy, beautifully written thriller brimming with secrets, lies, and betrayal.

The Flight Attendant (Television Tie-In Edition) by Chris Bohjalian

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

Cassandra Bowden’s job in the airline industry makes adventure easy to come by, and with the combination of her binge-drinking habits, she’s used to the occasional blackout. After a wild one night stand, she wakes in a Dubai hotel room to find her suitor dead beside her. Afraid to call the police, she lies and lies until it’s too late to come clean and face the truth of whether she killed him—or, if she didn’t, who did.

Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok

In this twisty, powerful literary thriller, Sylvie travels to the Netherlands to visit her grandmother one last time. But when she vanishes, it’s up to her younger sister, Amy, to track her down—and uncover the haunting secrets that reveal as much about their family as Sylvie herself.

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