Set between a high-end ski resort, the plush principality of Monaco, and a super-yacht in the Maldives, the gripping, recently-published Queen K got us thinking about the world of the super-rich, and novels that explore its darker side. 

Where did the money come from? What motivates the rich to acquire more and more wealth? What will they do to those who stand in their way? What extremes will the old money elite implement to maintain their status quo? These kinds of questions have long provided tasty pickings for novelists, making for stories that leave readers enthralled and, quite possibly, aghast, whether we’re reading a contemporary crime novel set in an oligarchical underworld, or step back in time with the likes of The Great Gatsby.

All these stories often also offer the escapist allure of reading about how the other half live, evoking how it might feel, for example, to live an existence that involves slipping from the softest of sheets to sipping champagne on a super-yacht moored off a sun-drenched island. All too often, though, sharks are circling…

For a darkly funny, contemporary take on the super-rich theme, try How To Kill Men and Get Away With It. In this case, the wealthy party is a young influencer whose money comes courtesy of her family and lucrative sponsorship deals. This outrageous serial killer story turns the tables on male predators in twisted, twisty style.

Then there’s The Island of Lost Girls, another recent favourite. Set on a Greek island, this showstopping page-turner reveals, in the words of one of its characters, how “wealth is so seductive. Its glittering beams can blind one to the ugliest realities”. See below to discover a diversity of novels that explore the seductive “all that glitters” theme with thrilling panache.