Some people like to drink hot coffee in July, on the counterintuitive understanding that it keeps them cool. But we prefer to read books so creepy they make our temperature (and the hair on our necks) rise. Here are four recent releases that will have you looking over your shoulder, checking the other side of the shower curtain, and peeking behind the closed closet door for a week:
Blood Will Out, by Walter Kirn
Have you ever had an acquaintance who seemed too good, too lucky, too interesting to be true? Walter Kirn did, and here he tells the story in a dual memoir that doubles as a work of investigative reporting, covering his 15-year friendship with one “Clark Rockefeller” (even the name rings an alarm bell, doesn’t it?). Born Christian Gerhartsreiter in Germany in 1961, “Rockefeller” traveled to the U.S. under false pretenses in the late 1970s, where he lied about his name, identity, pedigree, and occupation right up until his arrest in 2008 for kidnapping his daughter. He was later found guilty of the 1985 murder of Jonathan Sohus, another victim of his tenacious masquerade. Kirn’s account of being swept up in a tale of true crime will make you want to fact-check all those humblebrags filling your Facebook feed.
A Spy Among Friends, by Ben Macintyre
All things considered, Kim Philby could give Gerhartsreiter/Rockefeller a run for his money in the terrible friend department. He and his old school chum, Nicholas Elliott, were elite members of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, for years, with Philby heading up counterintelligence operations during the Cold War. But this stone-cold charmer had a secret: during his decades-long career, he was feeding information to the Soviet Union, which he eventually defected to after Elliott, his last and staunchest defender, finally cottoned on to the truth. Macintyre’s book tells a true story that’s stranger than fiction.
Summer House With Swimming Pool, by Herman Koch
As anyone who has read The Dinner, Koch’s first novel to be translated into English, can attest, his work is populated with despicable, self-interested characters, whose motivations rarely hold up under the light. In this seasonally appropriate read, a famous actor dies under the care of our protagonist, a celebrity doctor who’s now under investigation. Readers learn the miserable tale behind the events that unfolded prior to the death, in the titular summer house.
Mind of Winter, by Laura Kasischke
In an icy blizzard, in a snowbound house, a dissatisfied mother and stalled writer goes quietly insane. Or does she? In Kasischke’s bone-cold thriller, Holly Judge begins to suspect, then believe, that her angsty 15-year-old daughter, adopted from Siberia 13 years ago, isn’t the girl they were promised—and is, in fact, a more sinister “something” that has “followed them home from Russia.” Read this one before the sun goes down.