In the words of Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell, winter is coming. . .
Is there anything better than settling into your favorite reading chair with a great book, while sipping hot chocolate by the fireplace as the snow falls outside? Uh, the answer to that question is a hard no, there is nothing better. So, to help you find the right books to enjoy this winter, we’ve compiled a list of the best thrillers that feature chilling mysteries, snowy scenes, and ice-filled action sequences.
Browse the full list below, including several titles that we’ve highlighted as our personal favorites. For more info, or to order your copy, click the book’s title!
“On the snow-covered slopes of Utah, the unthinkable has just become a nightmarish reality: thirty Secret Service agents have been viciously executed and the vacationing president of the United States is kidnapped by one of the most lethal terrorist organizations in the Middle East – the dreaded Fatah Revolutionary Council.
But one man, surviving agent and ex-Navy SEAL Scot Harvath, doesn’t believe the Fatah is responsible for the attack. Driven by his professional code of duty and honor – and a solemn vow to avenge his fallen comrades – Harvath creates his own rules to get some answers. But his search for the truth raises the blood pressure of his superiors…and casts his own life in mortal jeopardy. The deadly machinations have been set in motion by a shadowy coalition, comprising some of the highest-ranking officials in government and businessmen who operate above the law, men who realize the threat Harvath poses to their hidden agenda…men who will do anything to stop him.
Now framed for murder and on the run, Harvath goes for broke and takes his own brand of justice to the unlikeliest place of all – the towering mountains of Switzerland. It is there that he finds an improbable ally in the beautiful Claudia Mueller of the Swiss Federal Attorney’s Office. Together they must brave the subzero temperatures and sheer heights of treacherous Mount Pilatus – and enter the den of the most notorious team of professional killers the world has ever known.”
Why it’s awesome: This is the book that introduced a legend. Scot Harvath is one of the most beloved thriller characters the genre has ever known, and one of the last guys bad guys want to mess with. This book opens with Harvath trying to prevent a terrorist attack on ski slopes in Utah, and features tons of snowy sequences as Harvath battles harsh elements from start to finish.
“Mitch Rapp is used to winning.
But in this follow-up to #1 New York Times bestselling The Survivor, the CIA operative finds himself chasing false leads from continent to continent in an effort to keep Pakistani nukes from falling into the hands of terrorists. Together with friend and colleague Scott Coleman, Rapp struggles to prevent the loss of these lethal weapons, particularly because Russia is also interested in the nukes, though not for the same reason as Rapp and Coleman.
Soon, it becomes alarmingly clear that the forces in Moscow are bent on fomenting even more chaos and turmoil in the Middle East, and Rapp must go deep into Russian territory, posing as an American ISIS recruit. There, he uncovers a plan much more dangerous and insidious than he ever expected, one that could have far-reaching and catastrophic consequences.
Written with breathless tension and heart-pounding action, Mitch Rapp’s latest adventure is as timely and provocative as ever.”
Why it’s awesome: Mitch Rapp has done it all over the course of fourteen previous novels. But in this one, the fifteenth book in Vince Flynn’s bestselling series, Kyle Mills takes Rapp someplace readers have never seen him before: snow-covered Russia. For the first time, we get to see Mitch operate in winter weather. . . spoiler alert, the bad guys don’t stand a chance in the cold either.
“Sixty-one hours. Not a minute to spare.
A tour bus crashes in a savage snowstorm and lands Jack Reacher in the middle of a deadly confrontation. In nearby Bolton, South Dakota, one brave woman is standing up for justice in a small town threatened by sinister forces. If she’s going to live long enough to testify, she’ll need help. Because a killer is coming to Bolton, a coldly proficient assassin who never misses.
Reacher’s original plan was to keep on moving. But the next 61 hours will change everything. The secrets are deadlier and his enemies are stronger than he could have guessed—but so is the woman whose life he’ll risk his own to save.
In 61 Hours, Lee Child has written a showdown thriller with an explosive ending that readers will talk about for a long time to come.”
Why it’s awesome: Child opens this story with the bus crashing, stranding its riders in the middle of a huge snow storm that’s falling over South Dakota. Reacher happens to be on the bus when it crashes, and goes to work trying to help protect everyone else. This leads to him braving the blizzard, which Lee Child describes in chilling detail. . . literally.
“All Denny Malone wants is to be a good cop.
He is “the King of Manhattan North,” a, highly decorated NYPD detective sergeant and the real leader of “Da Force.” Malone and his crew are the smartest, the toughest, the quickest, the bravest, and the baddest, an elite special unit given unrestricted authority to wage war on gangs, drugs and guns. Every day and every night for the eighteen years he’s spent on the Job, Malone has served on the front lines, witnessing the hurt, the dead, the victims, the perps. He’s done whatever it takes to serve and protect in a city built by ambition and corruption, where no one is clean—including Malone himself.
What only a few know is that Denny Malone is dirty: he and his partners have stolen millions of dollars in drugs and cash in the wake of the biggest heroin bust in the city’s history. Now Malone is caught in a trap and being squeezed by the Feds, and he must walk the thin line between betraying his brothers and partners, the Job, his family, and the woman he loves, trying to survive, body and soul, while the city teeters on the brink of a racial conflagration that could destroy them all.”
Why it’s awesome: For starters, it’s the best book I’ve ever read. . . ever! Winslow’s epic police procedural is so much more than that, it’s a once-in-a-generation type of book that absolutely must be read. It opens during Christmas Eve on the snowy streets of New York City and follows Denny Malone, a good cop who does bad things.
“Everything about the man is a mystery: the massive ranch in the remote Black Hills of Wyoming that nobody ever visits, the women who live with him, the secret philanthropies, the private airstrip, the sudden disappearances. And especially the persistent rumors that the man’s wealth comes from killing people.
Joe Pickett, still officially a game warden but now mostly a troubleshooter for the governor, is assigned to find out what the truth is, but he discovers a lot more than he’d bargained for. There are two other men living up at that ranch. One is a stone-cold killer who takes an instant dislike to Joe. The other is new—but Joe knows him all too well. The first man doesn’t frighten Joe. The second is another story entirely.”
Why it’s awesome: Everything C.J. Box writes is must-read material, and, fun fact, a lot of his books take place during the harsh Wyoming winters. Winterkill, Force of Nature, Cold Wind, and Endangered are just a few of the books where game warden Joe Pickett battles the deep snow, freezing temperatures, and icy conditions. In Stone Cold, Joe is sent by the governor to look into a murder-for-hire business that’s set up shop in Wyoming. A raging snow storm makes matters even more dangerous and plays a critical role throughout the story.
“A group of some of the most powerful people in the government, the military, and the private sector has begun a brutal plan to quietly take over the reins of the U.S. government. They’ve begun to remove the people who stand in their way―and replace them with their own sympathizers and puppets. They’ve already taken out the Speaker of the House―whose death was made to look like an accidental drowning―and the president and vice president are next. Once they have their own people in place, they plan to start a bloody, brutal war on an unimaginable scale.
On restricted duty, while he recovers from injuries incurred on a previous mission, Dewey Andreas is sent to Paris by CIA Director Hector Calibrisi. The Secretary of State is going there for secret talks, and Dewey is to be an extra layer of security above the State Department team. But what should be an easy mission couldn’t go more wrong. The cabal has sent in a hit man to take out the Secretary of State and lay the blame for this murder at the feet of Dewey himself.
With the Secretary of State dead, shot by Dewey’s weapon, Dewey is on the run and out in the cold, desperately trying to unravel the plot before the conspirators succeed in killing millions of innocents.”
Why it’s awesome: Ben Coes is one of the best in the business, and Trap the Devil is his best work yet. The whole book is awesome, but the final act–which features a heart-pounding sequence on board a moving train through the Swiss Alps–is the perfect ending. Other books in the series also feature winter sequences, including Coes’ debut, Power Down. The fifth book, Independence Day, has a really great scene set in Maine, where Dewey and others from his hometown compete in an annual snowy race through the town.
“Spoken about only in whispers, the Nowhere Man can only be reached by the truly desperate, he can ―He will do anything to save them.
Evan Smoak is the Nowhere Man.
Taken from a group home at twelve, Evan was raised and trained as part of the Orphan Program, an off-the-books operation designed to create deniable intelligence assets―i.e. assassins. Evan was Orphan X. He broke with the Program, using everything he learned to disappear and reinvent himself as the Nowhere Man.
But his new life is interrupted when a surprise attack comes from an unlikely angle and Evan is caught unaware. Captured, drugged, and spirited off to a remote location, he finds himself heavily guarded and cut off from everything he knows. His captors think they have him trapped and helpless in a virtual cage but they don’t know who they’re dealing with―or that they’ve trapped themselves inside that cage with one of the deadliest and most resourceful men on earth.
Continuing his electrifying series featuring Evan Smoak, Gregg Hurwitz delivers a blistering, compelling new novel in the series launched with the instant international bestseller, Orphan X.”
Why it’s awesome: The reason why Evan Smoak, perhaps the best new character since Jason Bourne, cannot escape from the remote mansion he’s taken to is because it’s in the middle of nowhere. . . surrounded by deep snow and frigid temperatures. The weather is the main reason why Evan cannot make a run for it, and it plays a major role throughout the first two-thirds of the book.
“Six master assassins — each a legend in the dark corners of international espionage — band together to steal a fortune from the middle of a war zone. But the mission goes tragically wrong, and they retreat into the shadows.
Now THE ASSASSINS are back.
Former military spy Judd Ryder is walking to his D.C. home when he spots a man coming out of his row house who looks like Ryder and is wearing his clothes. As Ryder slows to follow, the imposter is killed in a hit-and-run that’s no accident. Was the man the intended victim, or was it Ryder himself?
Soon Ryder learns that the key to the mysterious events of the past and to his double’s murder is an infamous Cold War assassin, the Carnivore. Two of the last people to see the Carnivore were Ryder and CIA trainee Eva Blake, and someone is using them to lure him out.
From Washington D.C. to Marrakech and Baghdad, the assassins wage a final battle — this time against one another — fighting for their reputations and Saddam Hussein’s long-missing billion-dollar fortune. In the end, only one can be left standing. Caught in the crossfire, Judd and Eva go on the run while desperately unraveling the tangled past and battling not only for their lives, but for their destinies.”
Why it’s awesome: Gayle Lynds is the reigning queen of espionage, and one of the true spymasters writing in the thriller genre today. In her most recent novel, former spy Judd Ryder comes home from a mission to find someone who looks suspiciously like him in front of his house. Judd follows the imposter, but a hit-and-run involving a snowmobile throws a wrench in his plans–kicking off a high-stakes plot that sizzles even in its cold setting.
“Since the violent deaths of his wife, father, and best friend all occurred in previous Novembers, Cork O’Connor has always considered it to be the cruelest of months. Yet, his daughter has chosen this dismal time of year in which to marry, and Cork is understandably uneasy.
His concern comes to a head when a man camping in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness goes missing. As the official search ends with no recovery in sight, Cork is asked by the man’s family to stay on the case. Although the wedding is fast approaching and the weather looks threatening, he accepts and returns to that vast wilderness on his own.
As the sky darkens and the days pass, Cork’s family anxiously awaits his return. Finally certain that something has gone terribly wrong, they fly by floatplane to the lake where the missing man was last seen. Locating Cork’s campsite, they find no sign of their father. They do find blood, however. A lot of it.
With an early winter storm on the horizon, it’s a race against time as Cork’s family struggles to uncover the mystery behind these disappearances. Little do they know, not only is Cork’s life on the line, but so are the lives of hundreds of others.”
Why it’s awesome: Like C.J. Box’s series, many of William Kent Kruger’s Cork O’Connor books take place during the winter months. In this one, Cork is approached by siblings who want his help locating their grandfather, who’d previously gone missing. Now it’s winter, which means harsh storms and sub-zero temperatures. Cork sets out to try and find the missing man but ends up vanishing himself. . . during a freezing, blizzard-like white-out.