Crime books to take away on holiday

08 July 2015

By Ayo Onatade

Match your perfect holiday destination with your perfect crime book.



If you are thinking of going to Amsterdam then why not take with you Jessie Burton’s brilliant book The Miniaturist, which is a beautiful evocation of the city in the 18th Century.

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways...

Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realizes the escalating dangers that await them all. Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands? And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall?

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If you are planning on going to New Orleans (a.k.a the Big Easy) to enjoy the creole culture, Mardi Gras and listen to jazz then take with you Ray Celestin’s The Axeman’s Jazz which introduces you to a young Louis Armstrong.

As a dark serial killer – The Axeman – stalks the city, three individuals set out to unmask him...

Though every citizen of the 'Big Easy' thinks they know who could be behind the terrifying murders, Detective Lieutenant Michael Talbot, heading up the official investigation, is struggling to find leads.

Former detective Luca d'Andrea has spent the last six years in Angola state penitentiary, after Michael, his protégée, blew the whistle on his corrupt behaviour. Now a newly freed man, Luca is back working with the mafia, whose need to solve the mystery of the Axeman is every bit as urgent as that of the authorities.

Meanwhile, Ida is a secretary at the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Obsessed with Sherlock Holmes and dreaming of a better life, Ida stumbles across a clue which lures her and her musician friend, Louis Armstrong, to the case – and into terrible danger...

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Going to Hollywood? John Banville’s take on 1950s LA featuring Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe in  The Black-Eyed Blonde will make you feel right at home and bring back memories of a golden era of film making.

It is the early 1950s. In Los Angeles, Private Detective Philip Marlowe is as restless and lonely as ever, and business is a little slow. Then a new client arrives: young, beautiful, and expensively dressed, Clare Cavendish wants Marlowe to find her former lover, a man named Nico Peterson.

Soon Marlowe will find himself not only under the spell of the Black-Eyed Blonde; but tangling with one of Bay City’s richest families – and developing a singular appreciation for how far they will go to protect their fortune...

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Russia makes one think of Faberge Eggs, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky (who wrote Crime and Punishment), Red Square and the famous Bolshoi Ballet. It is also where William Ryan sets his 1930s Captain Korolev series:

Moscow, 1937. Captain Korolev, a police investigator, is enjoying a long-overdue visit from his young son Yuri when an eminent scientist is shot dead within sight of the Kremlin and Korolev is ordered to find the killer.

It soon emerges that the victim, a man who it appears would stop at nothing to fulfil his ambitions, was engaged in research of great interest to those at the very top ranks of Soviet power. When another scientist is brutally murdered, and evidence of the professors' dark experiments is hastily removed, Korolev begins to realise that, along with having a difficult case to solve, he's caught in a dangerous battle between two warring factions of the NKVD. And then his son Yuri goes missing...

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The Investigation by J.M. Lee is certainly the book to take with you if you are going to Korea. Inspired by a true story and set in 1944 during a period where Korea was still under Japanese rule. Beautifully written it is both a captivating mystery and epic cry for freedom and humanity in the darkest of times.

Fukuoka Prison, 1944. Yuichi Watanabe, a young guard with a passion for reading, is ordered to investigate. The victim, Sugiyama – also a guard – was feared and despised throughout the prison and inquiries have barely begun when a powerful inmate confesses. But Watanabe is unconvinced; and as he interrogates both the suspect and Yun Dong-ju, a talented Korean poet, he begins to realise that the fearsome guard was not all he appeared to be...

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Whether you go to Italy or Sicily! The land of pasta, fine wine and of course Andrea Camilleri’s brilliant series featuring Inspector Montalbano:

Inspector Montalbano rises one morning to find the carcass of a horse on the beach in front of his seaside home. But no sooner do his men arrive, than the body has mysteriously vanished, leaving only a track in the sand. Before long Rachele, a beguiling equestrian champion, turns up at police headquarters to report her horse missing. The horse had been stabled at the grounds of a certain Saverio Lo Duca, one of the richest men in Sicily. Lo Duca has lost one of his own horses too.

Montalbano, his curiosity piqued, investigates, but before long things take a more disturbing turn... But who has Montalbano upset within this strange, unfamiliar world of horse-racing? And what has the Mafia to do with it all?

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You may also like

The Miniaturist
The Axeman's Jazz
The Black Eyed Blonde
The Twelfth Department
The Investigation
The Track of Sand