By January 30, 2019 4 Comments Read More →

What Are YOUR Favorite Winter Novels?

With Chicago experiencing genuinely arctic weather (and the Arctic warmer than usual), most sensible citizens are waiting it out indoors. ALA’s offices are closed through tomorrow, and Booklist employees who have made it home from the Midwinter Meeting in Seattle are hunkered down at home. What to do with an unexpected reading day? Well, personally, I wouldn’t dream of picking up a book about surf, sun, and sand. When the weather outside is frightful, I like to experience the same thing on the page, so I can at least pretend I’m hardy enough to experience it firsthand. (I did take a five-minute walk this morning, just so I could know what frozen eyeballs feel like.)

Anyway, I’ve listed a few of my favorite winter-set crime novels below. This barely scratches the surface of the snowdrift, I know—I haven’t even touched on Nordic Noir, or literary fiction, or YA. Share your own favorite winter books in the comments below!


Badlands by CJ Box

 Badlands, by C. J. Box

Grimstad, North Dakota, in the heart of the Bakken shale oil fields, provides the perfect frozen hellscape for this story of a modern-day boomtown hearkening back to lawless days on the western frontier.


GBH by Ted Lewis

 GBH, by Ted Lewis

The swan song of the writer best known for Get Carter tells the story of blue-movie kingpin George Fowler, hiding out in the seaside town of Mablethorpe, which is all but closed for winter.


Shooting Star by Peter Temple

 Shooting Star, by Peter Temple

It may not snow in Melbourne, Australia, but the chill of winter provides a crucial atmospheric element for this tale of ex-soldier, ex-cop, “ex-everything” Frank Calder, who is hired to deliver the ransom when a wealthy family’s 15-year-old daughter is kidnapped.


A Simple Plan by Scott Smith

A Simple Plan, by Scott Smith

Three men in a small Ohio town chase a dog across a snowy field and discover a small plane crashed in a stand of trees. Inside is a dead pilot and a bag full of money. An amazing book that was turned into a pretty darn good movie, too.


Winter Range by Claire Davis

 Winter Range, by Claire Davis

This one hinges on a rancher in eastern Montana who goes broke and lets his cattle starve in the snow. The battle that tests sheriff Ike Parsons and the community is set against weather and landscape evoked by Davis with great lyrical power.


About the Author:

Keir Graff is Executive Editor of Booklist Publications and the author of six books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Phantom Tower (2018). Follow him on Twitter at @Booklist_Keir.

4 Comments on "What Are YOUR Favorite Winter Novels?"

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  1.' Comcast says:

    Devil’s Aspect by Craig Russell
    Out of the Dark by Greg Hurwitz
    The Current by Tim Johnston
    The Silent Patient
    The Root of Evil

  2.' Kim says:

    I am reading “Heartland” a non fiction written by Sarah Smarsh about life on a farm. There are no such things as snow days.

  3. Bill Ott says:

    Great list: nothing sets a noirish mood better than ice and snow. Here are a few more terrific winter crime novels: Peter Hoeg’s Smilla’s Sense of Snow, Martin Cruz Smith’s Gorky Park, John Farrow’s City of Ice, and Henning Mankell’s Faceless Killers.

  4. Keir Graff says:

    I never did read Smilla’s Sense of Snow (saw the movie!) but loved Gorky Park (the book AND the movie).

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