Road Trips to Die For
There’s something about a road trip that lends itself to murder.
Perhaps it’s because being stuck in a car with your nearest and dearest can turn anyone into a homicidal maniac. Maybe it’s the disconnection of the open road or the claustrophobia of being confined in a vehicle. Or maybe it’s finding yourself untethered from familiar things, in a strange place with strange people.
Whatever the reason, there are some journeys that can only end one way . . .
Paper Ghosts by Julia Heaberlin
A young woman takes her dementia-stricken father on a road trip to Texas. Except she’s not his daughter and her ‘father’ is a once-celebrated photographer, Carl Louis Feldman, who was tried and acquitted of murder.
The young woman believes Carl is guilty of multiple crimes including the murder of her sister, Rachel and she’s determined to make him confess. Now they’re following the only clues she has. His photographs. Eerie images shot in a string of places where other girls were killed.
Is she taking a trip with a pathological con-artist? Is he really just an old man with no memory of what he did? Is he a completely innocent victim of our main character’s obsession?
In Paper Ghosts you’re never sure what or who to believe until the last mile.
Under the Skin by Michael Faber
Isserley, a tiny bespectacled woman with a striking face and odd anatomy, drives the empty roads of northern Scotland searching for hitchhikers, specifically muscular men without families.
The men are a mixture of personalities – from thugs to philosophers – and with each new passenger/victim she picks up we learn a little more about the strange and sinister Isserley and her real purpose.
Suffice to say that Isserley’s travelling companions all reach their final destinations, if not their intended ones, and Isserley herself is not exactly from around these parts.
He Started It by Samantha Downing
A slight cheat as you’re going to have to wait for this one. Out next year, He Started It follows four siblings and two spouses on a road trip with their grandfather’s ashes.
The siblings haven’t seen each other in years (for good reason) and they’re not re-uniting out of love or grief. In order to secure a million-dollar inheritance, they must honour their grandfather’s final wish and take the same road trip they took as children; reliving some not so fond memories.
If you think your family are dysfunctional, try spending time with this bunch: a motley bunch of psychos who would do anything to get their hands on the cash. Add in a missing person, an act of revenge and a mysterious black truck following the family’s car, and this is one road trip that is never going to end well.
The Passenger by Lisa Lutz
Tanya didn’t kill her husband, or so she says. So, why does she leave his lifeless body on the floor instead of calling 911, clear out his bank account, assume a new identity and run?
Turns out Tanya was never Tanya. Her new identity is not her fist, nor her last. Tanya flees from city to city, by car, train or bus, shedding names and personas as she goes.
She meets a female bartender who offers her a place to stay and the pair form an uneasy―and dangerous―alliance. We don’t find out why our main character is on the run until pretty late on in the book and the whole time you keep wondering what ‘Tanya’ could have done that is so bad, and also just how difficult it would really be to disappear and live off the grid.
Perfect Days by Raphael Montes
An odd young loner whose closest relationship is with his medical school cadaver becomes obsessed with Clarice, an aspiring screenwriter. Clarice is writing a screenplay called Perfect Days about a group of three friends who go on a road trip across Brazil.
Ted begins to stalk Clarice and then, when she rejects him, he decides to kidnap her and take her on his own twisted odyssey across Brazil following the route in her screenplay.
Ted believes that all he needs to make Clarice fall in love with him is time spent together. But as the journey progresses Ted finds himself driven to ever more desperate measures to ensure no one get in the way of their lives together.
Lurid and chilling, this is deliciously dark journey in more ways than one.
Desperation by Stephen King
Desperation features a cast of nine characters who are travelling separately across Nevada, but all find themselves drawn by some mysterious power to the small desolate mining town of Desperation.
Amongst them are the Carver family and their son, David and pompous novelist John Edward Marinville, who is on a motorcycle trip across the country to get back in touch with himself (while being followed by a support crew).
The motley gang find themselves imprisoned in Desperation by a sheriff named Collie Entragian who is growing ever more insane and – insanely – bigger and bigger by the hour.
Breaking out of jail, the gang do battle with an army of scorpions, coyotes, and rattlesnakes before discovering that Entragian is possessed by an extradimensional entity named Tak, who was released from an old mine and wants to destroy the world. Obviously.
Just your average road trip in Stephen King land.