The Last Party by Clare Mackintosh
Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six by Lisa Unger
Desert Star by Michael Connelly
The Collector by Anne Mette Hancock

What makes a luxury getaway so alluring to the stressed out and wealthy? Is it the cushy robes, personal chefs, meditation coaches, aromatherapy rooms, stunning views? It depends on the whim of the self-care seeker, but for the mystery novelist, all that overfluffed privilege can provide the perfect setting for murder, an idea two new books take on with a certain amount of Schadenfreude.

A passing cloud can turn Mirror Lake, on the border of North Wales and England, from dazzling to ominous in the blink of an eye. Adorning its shore is the Shore, a high-end vacation-home development owned by singer Rhys Lloyd, a local boy made good from the village of Cwm Coed. Though the lodges have attracted some semi-famous residents, the villagers aren’t fans of the ostentatious vacation paradise or the rumors about Lloyd’s unsavory personal life. Anyone who wanted him dead had better take a number.

So when he’s found floating in the frigid lake after a rip-roaring New Year’s Eve celebration at the Shore, to which the townies were invited, it’s up to two detectives, one Welsh and one English (due to the combined jurisdictions), to sort through the possibilities. The relationship between local D.C. Ffion Morgan and her English counterpart is as complicated as their murder investigation, which becomes a struggle as Ffion tries to keep her partner from uncovering the many secrets of Cwm Coed—and Ffion herself.

While laying the groundwork for the village-vs.-resort conflict, Clare Mackintosh can’t resist lampooning the English interlopers, among them Lloyd’s insufferable interior-designer wife; a serial reality star and influencer who’s all about the likes; and Lloyd’s business partner, whose catchphrase “Ding dong!” (meaning “Sexy!”) sums him up nicely. Who wouldn’t want the person who brought these narcissistic jerks to their doorstep punished? As it turns out, that’s just one of Lloyd’s many malfeasances, and The Last Party grows ever more discomfiting as Mackintosh reveals the full extent of his awfulness.

There is more entitlement on display among the three well-to-do young Floridian couples who gather for a hedonistic getaway in the woods of Georgia in Lisa Unger’s Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six.

A passing cloud can turn Mirror Lake, on the border of North Wales and England—the setting of Clare Mackintosh’s The Last Party—from dazzling to ominous in the blink of an eye.

A cabin it’s not—more like a palace in the pines—but secluded it definitely is. This sets off alarms for the sensible Hannah Maroni, who’s nervous about leaving her baby for the weekend and senses something off about the extravagant vacation, which is hosted by her amped-up brother Mako, formerly known as Mickey. The guy renamed himself for a shark, and runs a hot video-game company, so it’s not shocking that he might attract trouble. In fact, all three of the men work in tech, which hasn’t done wonders for their personalities.

As a storm approaches and things go frighteningly awry, Unger tightens the screws like the seasoned pro she is, though she isn’t interested in scare tactics for their own sake. To flesh out the familiar setup, Unger has woven in a complex backstory that explores the Pandora’s-box effect of unregulated DNA-ancestry-test kits and genealogy searches. In the wrong hands, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

There is more entitlement on display among the three well-to-do young Floridian couples who gather for a hedonistic getaway in the woods of Georgia in Lisa Unger’s Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six.

But in the right hands, it turns out to be a good thing, as is the case in the haunting Desert Star, the latest addition to the Harry Bosch canon. (More on why later.)

At the end of Michael Connelly’s last Ballard-Bosch book, Renée Ballard had walked away from the misogynistic, bureaucratic L.A.P.D. in disgust. But as Desert Star begins, she has returned to the department to head up a new cold-case unit. Her prize recruit is Bosch, who’s still haunted by a 30-year-old case in which a family of six was wiped out and buried in the Mojave Desert. Though he had a strong suspect, Bosch was never able to prove the man’s guilt. This is the one that got away, Bosch’s white whale, and Ballard uses it as bait to lure Bosch into her group.

The unit’s raison d’être is the 90s rape and murder of a teenage girl whose brother is now a powerful L.A. city councilman with a strong interest in bringing his sister’s killer to justice. It’s Ballard’s top priority, and when there’s a breakthrough involving a suspect’s DNA—the upside of DNA evidence, mentioned above—the hunt intensifies.

Bosch does his bit for that case, but the Gallagher-family massacre is never far from his mind. He decides to follow up on a lead on his own, which seems dangerous, especially for a 70-plus-year-old man. But as anyone who has seen Jeff Bridges crack heads in The Old Man knows, you underestimate one of these geezers at your own risk.

There’s a lot of procedural detail here, which, as ever, feels authentic and absorbing, and Connelly masterfully conveys the full weight of Bosch’s long-held outrage. Such a lonely, single-minded pursuit is quintessential Bosch; it’s what has made this series so good for so long.

In Desert Star, Michael Connelly masterfully conveys the full weight of Bosch’s long-held outrage.

Relatively new on the scene is Danish writer Anne Mette Hancock, whose accomplished debut novel, The Corpse Flower, caught my attention last year. Like that book, The Collector features journalist Heloise Kaldan and D.S. Erik Schäfer, whose friendship can result in tricky ethical situations. Their fitful collaboration is activated when Lukas, a 10-year-old boy, disappears from his school, in Copenhagen, and Heloise is asked to set aside a story about PTSD to focus on the abduction, while Schäfer leads the police investigation.

Lukas is a beautiful, exceptional child, and the reader’s fears about his kidnapping lean in the usual direction. When Schäfer discovers that Lukas has a condition known as pareidolia—seeing human faces in inanimate places and things—the police zero in on a barn he’s posted on social media that resembles a face. Heloise is convinced she’s seen the barn somewhere but can’t quite place it.

Though we may think we know where this is headed, Hancock subverts any knee-jerk responses with questions about how prejudices can affect perceptions, including Heloise’s own. The theme of PTSD and the violence that can result from it runs through the book, but its relevance may feel just out of reach until the surprising, satisfying conclusion. If you’ve been craving some fresh Scandi noir, look no further than these two books by the gifted Ms. Hancock.

Lisa Henricksson reviews mystery books for AIR MAIL. She lives in New York City