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Six Mysteries Set in Luxurious Destinations

Six Mysteries Set in Luxurious Destinations

Armchair traveling is among my favorite pursuits. And little else surpasses the joy of diving into the most luxurious corners of the world via the pages of a delectable mystery. Give me all the books set in far-flung locales, especially ones exploring places I haven’t yet tread with my own feet—and for the cherry on top, add in a murder to solve. Sign me up for an exclusive members club off the English coast, a sunny, ritzy compound in Lagos, a glamorous river boat cruising the Nile, an imposing hotel high up in the Swiss Alps, a private Greek island retreat, and a secluded Scottish lodge. The juxtaposition of luxury, cultural intrigue, a stunning setting, and, of course, murder proves dangerously delicious, and is the perfect foundation for a riveting thriller. My latest locked-room mystery, The Main Character, spotlights the newly-refurbished Orient Express train as it rolls down the Western coast of Italy, featuring guests invited aboard by a mysterious, bestselling author. But is the author orchestrating a dream trip—or a nightmare? The glamorous carriages and sun-soaked Mediterranean hotspots play quite well with murder—and so do the luxe destinations in the following electrifying mysteries. 

The Club by Ellery Lloyd. This propulsive romp of a thriller revolves around Island Home, a closely-guarded, ultra-luxurious British island resort. The A-list have convened for the opening weekend—but behind-the-scenes, tensions among the staff swell to a breaking point. Everyone has something to hide, from the CEO to the personal assistant to the housekeeping staff, and so do all the famous, wealthy guests who descend for the event of the century. Lloyd utilizes the sprawling, enticing locale to its max—a Land Rover submerged in the sea becomes a watery grave for dead bodies, and another memorable murder takes place within a lavish suite. The Club is hugely entertaining, with a satisfying finale twist I didn’t see coming. 

The Lagos Wife by Vanessa Walters. I was immediately sucked into this atmospheric thriller that revolves around Nicole, the missing foreign-born wife of a wealthy Nigerian man, and Nicole’s devoted aunt who flies from England to Lagos to investigate what happened to her niece. Lagos is exquisitely rendered; the city’s heat and bustle contrast with Nicole’s cold husband and calculating in-laws at the sprawling compound that lies at the center of the tale. Cultural norms and clashes abound, adding layered motives and bringing the mystery to a boil. And I was gobsmacked in the best way by the ending—chef’s kiss! 

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie. The Queen of Mystery renders one of her finest in this thriller set on a river cruise down the Nile. Agatha Christie spent significant time in her beloved Egypt, both as a child and as an adult traveling with her archeologist second husband. (Her non-fiction account of those times in her memoir, Come, Tell Me How You Live, is not to be missed.) In Death on the Nile, Christie crafts a brilliant, riveting mystery with a most enticing backdrop. As a glamorous steamer boat filled with an array of intriguing passengers makes its way down the river, and excursions embark to pyramids and temples, it becomes clear that something sinister is afoot. Poirot’s little gray cells are in prime form in this, my personal favorite of the entire Christie oeuvre.

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse. Pearse is one of the best at the luxurious destination thriller, and her first foray revolves around an opulent hotel built upon the ruins of a creepy old sanitorium high in the Swiss Alps. Our protagonist, a detective, arrives to celebrate her brother’s engagement, but she is thrust into an investigative role when his fiancé disappears. The thread counts are high—and so is the body count. Boasting icy gothic vibes, an avalanche rolling in, and a ritzy hotel with underground tunnels where dark, secret experiments were once conducted, this thriller is twisty and transportive.  

The Fury by Alex Michaelides. This imaginative and highly original thriller takes place on Aura, a private island off the coast of Mykonos. Old friends gather for an Easter getaway at the home of a reclusive ex-movie-star. Cue a weekend of fun…and murder. Split into five acts, the murder unfolds in onion-like layers and ties in classical Greek tragedy themes. As wind batters the island, cutting off access to the mainland, the luxurious estate is the scene of a perplexing crime. Michaelides is a master of deception in this captivating mystery that whisks readers away to Grecian olive groves, ruins, and beaches where the uber-rich cavort.  

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley. This clever thriller takes place at a luxe lodge in the rugged Scottish Highlands. With a classic setup of a group of school friends reuniting for a destination trip, things quickly start to go off the rails. The property in the remote wilderness boasts small cabins, scenic mountain views, lush heather heaths, and a loch—how much more atmospheric can murder get? Add in a snowstorm whipping through the weekend to amp up the isolation and menace, and you have one tense, enjoyable read. I stand by this: Lucy Foley makes murder fun!