A place, a city, a country aren't just backdrops to a story but are vital characters in any novel. Tony Park, author of Red Earth, picks his favourite crime books from around the world. Travel to Namibia, medieval Japan and beyond in these international whodunnits.


Blood Rose by Margie Orford

Orford returns to the country of her birth, Namibia, for this episode of her serial killer profiler series featuring Clare Hart. I love Namibia and set my last book, An Empty Coast, there. Margie captures the beautiful emptiness of the country perfectly.

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Gold Coast by Nelson DeMille

DeMille is one of my favourite authors and this book, slightly quirkier than his other thrillers, is about what happens when a mafia family moves in next to a blue-blood rich American lawyer and his wife – a fascinating look at how crime can seduce..

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The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly

For my money, this is probably Connelly’s best, introducing a fast-talking legal eagle who works out of his town car. It’s also a great example of how a successful author can take a dramatic change of tack and gain, rather than lose, devoted readers.

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The Concubine’s Tattoo by Laura Joh Rowland

Korean-American Rowland writes beautifully descriptive whodunnits set in medieval Japan with samurai detective Sano Ichiro as her leading man. This offering is intriguing, demurely sexy and, like all her books, well-told.

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Savages by Don Winslow

Former TV script writer Don Winslow is, I reckon, one of the best crime writers in the world. He managed to make me fall in love with a trio of drug dealers in this book – and his stark, confronting writing style is inspirational.

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13 Hours by Deon Meyer

South Africa has some great crime writers and Meyer is the king. His recovering alcoholic detective Benny Griessel is Africa’s Harry Bosch, but better. In this book, Griessel is trying to find a missing American back-packer in Cape Town. I wish I’d written this.

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Red Earth by Tony Park

On the outskirts of Durban, Suzanne Fessey fights back during a vicious carjacking. She kills one thief but the other, wounded, escapes with her baby strapped into the back seat.

Called in to pursue the missing vehicle are helicopter pilot Nia Carras from the air, and nearby wildlife researcher Mike Dunn from the ground. But South Africa's police have even bigger problems: a suicide bomber has killed the visiting American ambassador, and chaos has descended on KwaZulu-Natal.

As Mike and Nia track the missing baby through wild-game reserves from Zululand to Zimbabwe, they come to realize that the war on terror has well and truly arrived...

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