Judith D Collins
Bath Haus: A Thriller
By: P. J. Vernon
Publication Date: 06/15/21
My Rating: 5 Stars ++
“Bath Haus is riveting: a gripping thriller about how quickly a life can unravel after a single bad decision. P. J. Vernon deftly reminds us that the terrifying traumas from childhood are often but a prelude to the nightmares we will walk into as adults. This book is stylish, smart, and scary as hell.”
—Chris Bohjalian, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Flight Attendant and Hour of the Witch
Bath Haus follows a young gay man in a perfect marriage who will do anything to keep a dangerous indiscretion from his loving husband.
Oliver Park, a young recovering addict from Indiana, finally has everything he ever wanted: sobriety and a loving, wealthy partner in Nathan, a prominent DC trauma surgeon. Despite their difference in age and disparate backgrounds, they've made a perfect life together.
With everything to lose, Oliver shouldn't be visiting Haus, a gay bathhouse. But through the entrance he goes, and it's a line crossed. Inside, he follows a man into a private room, and it's the final line. Whatever happens next, Nathan can never know. But then, everything goes wrong, terribly wrong, and Oliver barely escapes with his life.
He races home in full-blown terror as the hand-shaped bruise grows dark on his neck. The truth will destroy Nathan and everything they have together, so Oliver does the thing he used to do so well: he lies.
What follows is a classic runaway-train narrative, full of the exquisite escalations, edge-of-your-seat thrills, and oh-my-god twists. P. J. Vernon's Bath Haus is a scintillating thriller with an emotional punch, perfect for readers curious for their next must-read novel.
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Recommended by The New York Times, The Washington Post, O, The Oprah Magazine, LGBTQ Reads, Oprah Daily, Library Journal, Crime by the Book, and CrimeReads
"[An] adrenaline-soaked pulse-pounder." —The New York Times
“A nightmarish white-knuckler about the tenuous relationship between stability and control.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
"Cunning lies and premeditated schemes, from gaslighting to murder, lead to the unraveling of Oliver and Nathan’s increasingly shaky relationship. Vernon keeps the suspense high as the plot twists and turns to the satisfying resolution. This is a no-brainer for Patricia Highsmith fans."
"A sleek, sexy queer thriller for fans of B. A. Paris’s Behind Closed Doors."
"What makes the book compelling is the way author Vernon uses a deranged killer as a catalyst for revealing the hidden dimensions of the main characters' inner lives... A gripping story."
"This is the perfect novel for those looking for the proverbial 'beach read.' Suspenseful, sensual, and exceedingly clever, this thriller is the literary equivalent of sipping a glass of white wine while listening to your neighbors have a lovers’ spat . . . before one of them picks up a knife. Vernon has an electric style that leaps off the page."
—The Washington Post
“Bath Haus is riveting: a gripping thriller about how quickly a life can unravel after a single bad decision. P. J. Vernon deftly reminds us that the terrifying traumas from childhood are often but a prelude to the nightmares we will walk into as adults. This book is stylish, smart, and scary as hell.” —Chris Bohjalian, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Flight Attendant and Hour of the Witch
“Bath Haus is utterly brilliant. It’s perfectly paced, gripping from go, and its clean, elegant prose goes down like scotch on the rocks. Once I picked it up, I couldn’t stop. It’s one of the best thrillers I’ve read in a very long time.”
— Cristina Alger, New York Times bestselling author of Girls Like Us
"P. J. Vernon has crafted a thriller that is dark, gripping, and addictive. Reading Bath Haus is like eavesdropping on the disintegration of a beautiful lie. You think you know how it's going to end but you have NO IDEA."
—S. A. Cosby, author of Blacktop Wasteland
"Bath Haus is an electrifying, addictive, and terrifying thriller that lodged my heart in my throat from the first line. The gorgeous writing and masterful, enthralling plot dug into my skin, not letting go until the explosive ending. P. J. Vernon is a spectacular talent with a brilliant voice that will hypnotize you."
—Samantha M. Bailey, USA Today bestselling author of Woman on the Edge
“What a ride! Taut as piano wire prose, propulsive plotting. Breathlessly twisty. Brilliantly addictive.”
—C. J. Tudor, author of The Burning Girls
"Sexy, twisted and sharp—reading Bath Haus is like reaching for a man's fly and discovering it's made of razor wire."
—John Fram, author of The Bright Lands
Elevator Q&A Ride with the Author
“Bath Haus is a highly unique, taut, thrill ride with relatable characters, stunning twists, and startling depth. I was absolutely riveted from the first to the final shocking page. A tour de force!” —Robyn Harding, international bestselling author of The Swap
“PJ Vernon’s Bath Haus grabbed me by the throat (pun intended) from the opening lines. Dark, gritty, not to mention completely terrifying, the tension builds chapter after chapter, to the point where you can’t help but gasp out loud. You know bad things are coming. You know people will get hurt. But you can’t stop yourself from greedily binge-reading the pages until you reach the epic conclusion. Booklist may have called P. J. Vernon “a name to watch in the thriller genre” but I say, “Look out, world” – because he has arrived, and I, for one, am riveted. Sinister, explosive and utterly addictive, Bath Haus is a thriller on steroids.”
—Hannah Mary McKinnon, bestselling author of Sister Dear
"I read Bath Haus in one sitting and I absolutely loved, loved, loved it! I stayed up until 2am to finish it and skipped my home workout also, so that tells you everything you need to know. The best aspect for me is that Bath Haus feels completely authentic. Both as a thriller and as a gay story."
—North Morgan, author of Into?: A Novel
“This book stole my breath. With edgy narration and exquisite—almost painful—suspense, Bath Haus will hit your bloodstream like a tumbler of fine bourbon. A masterpiece among thrillers.” ——Kimmery Martin, author of The Queen of Hearts and The Antidote for Everything.
“Bath Haus gave me non-stop anxiety and thrills, and I unraveled while watching Oliver weave webs of lies and deceit. There’s a new domestic suspense thriller joining the pantheon of all time greats. You won’t be able to stop reading, but you’ll also be terrified of what comes next. Utterly brilliant.”
—Amina Akhtar, author of #FashionVictim
"Clear your schedule and mute your phone. Bath Haus is a sexy-turns-sadistic fun house that will grab you by the throat and keep you in its clutches till its delicious, twisty end."
—Kelly J. Ford, author of Cottonmouths
Evocative. bold. taut. sexy, twisty, edgy.
Prime for the big screen or TV series. Buckle up and get ready for the THRILL ride of your life! This one is a barn-burner.
P.J. Vernon delivers a stellar psychological thriller; BATH HAUS unravels a deliciously dangerous game of cat-and-mouse. The wicked secrets and lies of a gay couple will keep you on the edge of your seat from page one to the explosive ending.
Oliver and Nathan are partners. Not legally married; however, they do wear wedding rings.
Oliver is a recovering addict from Indiana, and Nathan, the older prominent DC trauma surgeon, rescued him. Hint: Nathan is controlling and has Oliver (younger) on a short leash, and this little puppy wants to break free with a bit of side action.
It seems like a good time to pull the trigger for a game of exotic pleasure at Bath Haus, since the dog keeper (master daddy) is away on a medical conference business trip. No one will ever know, and who could blame him for a bit of escape from the clutches of his controlling partner.
Oh, in addition, Nathan's parent's Victor and Kathy, are wealthy and controlling as well, and they do not like Oliver and think he is not good enough for their son and would like nothing more than Nathan to end the relationship. (you see where the control comes from)
Nathan's century-old dream home in DC, where they reside, is immaculate, and Oliver is always on pins and needles not to screw up or mess up. They do not have a child together, no marriage license, and no mortgage.
After Oliver spends time mulling over an app, MeetLockr, he decides to go for it. He owes Nathan his life, and he will feel guilty, but he decides to take the plunge. He never feels entirely up to par when they are around Nathan's friends or family.
The anticipation is overwhelming. Oliver is nervous, giddy, and feels a bit naughty and sinister. Can he go through with it?
Haus caters to consequence-free expression, and he is going to give in.
When he arrives at Bath Haus, the gay bathhouse, he is told to go to #903. He slides in his key. He meets Kristian. He is intoxicating, and this little Wonderland is about to start. He has pulled the trigger. He is about to cheat. This cannot be undone.
However, things do NOT go as he planned.
Things turn kinky and dangerous. This little puppy does NOT get what he came for (double darn). Instead, the man with the ocean-deep eyes is trying to KILL him. He must get air, and he must escape. He has to get out.
Wow, that was INTENSE!
OK, now what? He manages to escape. Was there evidence? However, there is undeniable proof—evidence beyond all doubt. The bruises on his throat are of human fingers.
As he is trying to cover his tracks, he creates a little problem at home with the bathroom water and calls Darryl their contractor. Now more worries and expenses. What will Nathan say?
He has only a little time to figure out what he will tell Nathan. He will call and expect him to Facetime. How will he hide the dark bruises on his neck? He decides he will say he was mugged.
"When it comes to lying, there's a golden rule; tell as much truth as you can. The truth is, after all, the easiest to remember. It's the most consistent with inarguable fact. There are two inarguable facts in my situation. The bruises on my throat and the flooded bathroom. A traumatic event, the catalyst of both."
Now the last part needs to change. He was not at Haus. He was not the victim of attempted homicide. He was mugged on his run. The reaction is the same. He is distraught, panicked, and afraid. He then has to take care of the wallet but does not think it entirely thru.
He dodges one bullet, then the police to work around and a report. Keeping all the lies in order. Then Nathan wants a police report filed.
Then things get complex. Kristin found him. He knows his name. He knows who he is. Now he is stalking him. Then the texts come. An envelope. The threats. Then Kristian shows up at the house as a worker! This must stop. Then Nathan's dog goes missing.
Oliver is worried about Nathan finding out the truth and kicking him to the curb. Nathan was not like Hector, his past lover, and partner in Indiana; however, he lives in fear every day Nathan will find out.
It is a spiderweb and it expands. However, Nathan has secrets of his own.
Then Oliver decides to meet Kristian to have a showdown. However, once again there is a claustrophobic heart-pounding scene in the elevator.
Then the cat and mouse game leaves DC and moves to South Carolina to Nathan's family island. Hopefully, this little weekend away, he can fix the relationship between him and Nathan.
There is also Tom (disgusting) Nathan's friend who loves to date his boy toys, and you must read to find out all the deliciously wicked and sinister details. Nathan invites Tom and his boy toy (which turns out to be someone from Oliver's past), and the parents show up.
However, it is now showtime. This high-adrenaline action packed showdown has Oliver trapped once again on this stupid island (like at the Bath Haus, the elevator, and now the room). His worst nightmare.
A text comes in. All the horror Oliver has been running from is right in front of him! The past comes back to haunt him. Nothing or no one is as they appear. Truth & lies.
Hot Dang! The showdown scene in SC was INTENSE. Heart-pounding suspense! This book is unputdownable, and if I could give it 10 stars I would. Gaslighting at its finest.
OK, this was off-the-charts EPIC! I read PJ Vernon's first book and loved it and was busy stalking to see if he had any other books, and WOW - here was BATH HAUS! I could not wait to get my hands on it. Like no other, this is a psychological thriller on steroids, and loved every minute of reading.
What makes this such a stand-out novel is the fact the characters are gay. This would not have been half as much fun if it had been a regular husband and wife. There are so many more juicy stories to tell, and man does PJ get his characters into a tangled sinister web.
From alternating points of view: Nathan and Oliver, the author never misses a beat. Rich in detail, place, and both character-driven and plot-driven, this action-packed sizzler will have you turning the pages obsessively, and when it ends, you are dying to see what is coming next from this super-star author!
ELECTRIFYING! PJ Vernon nailed it. Killed it. Brilliant. And this cover . . . dynamite! Fans of Robyn Harding and BA Paris will devour BATH HAUS.
Stay tuned for my Elevator Ride with the Author on June 15th where we will go behind the scenes of the book and this stand-out author. We want more of this. Keep them coming, PLEASE! #TopBooks2021 #June2021Books
A special thank you to Doubleday and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy.
About the Author
Photo by Jodi O.
P. J. Vernon was born in South Carolina. A "rising star thriller writer" (Library Journal), Vernon's debut, When You Find Me, was both an Audible Plus #1 Listen and Top Ten U.S. Audiobook (Associated Press). His next novel, Bath Haus, pitched as "Gone Girl with gays and Grindr", releases June 15, 2021 from Doubleday. He lives in Calgary with his husband and two wily dogs.