Chum Noir: Thrillers about Friends

August 19, 2019 | M. Elwood

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There seem to be a lot of books about friends who find themselves tangled up with something sinister. In a recent article published in the Telegraph, Jake Kerridge dubbed this thriller subgenre Chum Noir. I've also seen it called Friendship Noir, but Chum Noir is my preferred term. It reminds me of Enid Blyton's Famous Five books but with more sex and murder. 

If, like me, you enjoy books about friends in trouble, give these titles a try:

French girl

The French Girl by Lexie Elliott

Six Oxford students on holiday in French farmhouse find their vacation disrupted by the presence of Severine, a beautiful young French woman staying next door. Long time friendships and developing romances are tested by her presence. A decade later, Severine who had gone missing after an altercation at the house, disrupts the group again – this time when her body is discovered at the farmhouse. Someone in the group knows what happened that night. Is one of the friends a killer?

Girl's night out

Girls' Night Out by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Ashley, Natalie and Lauren have been friends since college but lately they've drifted apart. Ashley and Natalie have a business together but a have disagreed about its future. Lauren was close to Ashley until something came between them about a year ago. She doesn't really have a relationship with Natalie at all. Nevertheless the women decide that a trip to Mexico will help them reconcile. The vacation is a little bumpy...and then Ashley goes missing. 

Guilty party

Guilty Party by Meg McGrath

Friends who met while students witness a possible sexual assault while attending a music festival but decide not to intervene. Later they discover the woman they'd seen is dead and try to piece together what happened and their own responsibility. 

Hunting party

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

Old friends from university decide to celebrate the New Year at a remote Scottish hunting lodge. Unfortunately, there are news reports of a serial killer in the area,  the lodge employees act suspiciously and the Icelandic backpackers staying there are definitely creepy. Then a corpse is discovered just as the weather turns and the group is snowed in with no chance of help from the outside world.  

If we were villains

If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio

Seven students from around the world come to Ohio to study theatre at an elite college. By their final year they are devoted to each other and obsessed with Shakespeare. One night, however, something happens that changes all of their lives. Ten years later one member of the group, Oliver, is released from prison where he has been serving time for murder. Detective Colborne who investigated the crime is retiring and he wants Oliver to finally tell the truth about that fateful night. 

In a dark dark wood

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Note to self: if an old friend I haven't seen in years suddenly invites me to weekend party in a remote country house, it's best to just say no. Nora's friendship with Clare has been over since she left school. When she unexpectedly receives an invitation to Clare's hen party – a weekend in a remote country house she accepts hoping to reconnect with her old friend. Instead she finds misery and terror. 


The Island by Ragnar Jónasson

It's another remote hunting lodge, this time in Iceland. Ten years after Dagur's sister was murdered, he invites 3 school friends to a remote island for a memorial weekend. This seems like a really bad idea to me. Sure enough, soon one of the friends is dead and Detective Inspector Hulda Hermansdóttir is sent to investigate. This is the second book in Ragnar's Hidden Iceland series. The first one, The Darkness, was excellent. 

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