10 authors pick their perfect road trip reads
Heading off on an adventure this month? Make sure you hit the open road with a suitcase overflowing with brilliant books!
Whether you’re looking to crack the spine on a novel that will transport you to a different country or simply want an absorbing mystery that will make the hours zoom by, then you’ve come to the right place – as we’ve asked some top crime writers to give us their recommendations.
Which reads take your fancy?
Actually I did a road trip this year, through the western United States, reading around 20 novels along the way. The standout crime novel of my trip was Ryan Gattis’ heart-pounding heist thriller, Safe, set in Los Angeles, about a safe-cracker in search of redemption.
I can’t read in cars or coaches, so I’m choosing to interpret the question as your favourite thriller ABOUT a road trip – in which case it has to be Haylen Beck’s tense and terrifying Here and Gone, which starts with a woman in a car on a long haul trip, her kids whining gently in the back. So far, so familiar, but when a policeman stops her in a routine check, she gets back to the car to find her kids are gone. From there events unravel. Buckle up for the ride…
I think the perfect book for a road trip is James Crumley’s The Last Good Kiss. Not just one of the finest examples of noir fiction ever committed to paper, but a kind of unholy mixture of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas with The Long Goodbye. That is to say, a drink and drug-fuelled journey into the lie of the American dream. The best opening and closing lines in crime fiction.
One of the best parts about vacation is catching up on all the books I’ve been dying to read. I’m hitting the road, lots of planes, trains and automobiles and I can’t wait to devour Michael Connelly’s The Late Show and Holly Seddon’s Don’t Close Your Eyes. I’m also obsessed with Final Girls by Riley Sager and The One by John Marrs. I’ve been telling everyone I meet they must read these two books. But be warned – nothing is getting done until you turn the last page!
A book that I read and loved recently and have been recommending everywhere is Fierce Kingdom, by Gin Phillips – a riveting thriller about a mother and her young son trapped and hunted by gun-toting killers in a zoo. For myself – I can’t wait to crack open something I’ve been looking forward to reading: A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles, about an old aristocrat held captive by the Bolsheviks and then the Soviets under house arrest in the Metropol Hotel for thirty years.
Funny you should ask this. I’m packing my case at the moment for a family week in Menorca and I’ve already put in a proof copy of Kate Furnivall’s The Betrayal which I’ve just started. It’s a tale of two sisters set in Paris, 1938. The two women are very different but are bound together by a terrible secret from the past. I’m desperately hoping that they don’t get found out but if they do, I know which sister I want to be saved! Nail biting.
Travelling is all about adjusting to different landscapes that often seem alien to us, so what better book to help ease into that mindset than The Dry by Jane Harper? A tense, evocative murder mystery set in a small remote town in the Australian outback where it hasn’t rained in years, you can almost hear the flies buzzing, feel the relentless white hot sun on your skin and the cracking of the parched ground underfoot as you read. Guaranteed that by the time you finish, you’ll have left damp, overcrowded England far, far behind.
I’m a massive Michael Marshall fan and The Straw Men is one of my all-time favourite thrillers. I’ve often packed it to re-read even though I know all the twists – it’s that good. Pretty much any book by Harlan Coben is guaranteed to make a journey pass faster. And I’m looking forward to Force of Nature by Jane Harper coming in Sept, as I loved The Dry. I might have to book a trip somewhere just to read that one!
For my money, Lisa Lutz’s The Passenger is the ultimate road trip thriller. The main character escapes her current life on the first page and is travelling throughout the entire book, shedding identities and taking on new ones more often than most of us fill up our tanks. The best part is, even know you don’t know until the end exactly why she’s on the run, it’s written in such a way that you’re emotionally invested in her journey.
Currently, I am listening to Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh on Audible. I only discovered it because it was chosen for my book group and I’m so glad. This is a hypnotically dark account of a repressed young woman’s escape from her miserable job in a children’s prison, her drunken father and life in small town America. Moshfegh ramps up the tension page by page. Eileen proves triumphantly that an unattractive, often downright repellent female character can be engaged with and even loved. I love her! I haven’t finished it yet, but I doubt the end will disappoint. The writing is exceptionally good. I am really looking forward to some reading time on the sun-lounger at home, because it will be a staycation this year, and at the top of my to-read list is T A Cotterell’s What Alice Knew. I love a suspense rooted in domesticity.
What are your favourite books for road trips? Let us know in the comments below – and then check out our perfect summer reads!