Five crime novels set in exotic locations (and one in London)

19 March 2015

By Pan Macmillan

Death in the Rainy Season by Anna Jaquiery, set in Phnom Penh

The second novel in Anna Jaqueiry's Commandant Serge Morel series is set in Cambodia, late September, when the heavy monsoon rains lash down. It is hot and sultry, the dense traffic fumes lift off the pages and the wildlife chatters away incessantly in the background.

Morel is on holiday in the country, enjoying some time off in Siem Reap, when he is called to investigate the death of a fellow French National in the capital. Morel has to straddle the pressure from two cultures and the deeper he delves into the victim’s life, the more he discovers about what life in Cambodia can truly be like.

Read the first chapter

The Murder Bag by Tony Parsons, set in London

Meet DC Max Wolfe, single parent to his daughter, dog owner, and triple espresso drinker. His home base is near Smithfield Market, his work base at Saville Row. This is a novel, where the ‘majestic sites of London’ mingle with an edgy and robust storyline, a great book for exploring the seamier side of the capital through the pages of a gripping story.

Wolfe is soon caught up in unravelling a series of murders, all carried out with the expert use of a commando knife. The focus soon settles on Potter’s Field, a historic Public School. But how do the murders ultimately link back to this prestigious establishment?

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The Helper by David Jackson, set in New York

Detective Callum Doyle is unbelievably human and touchingly heroic at the same time, the perfect combination as the protagonist in this contemporary crime novel. The reader walks with him through the darkness of an unsettling New York, the city that never sleeps; but just behind the glitz and glamour exists a very different and disturbing metropolis.

Doyle is called to a grisly murder in a shabby New York bookstore, and as he begins his investigations, the phone calls start. The caller tells him of more murders to come, but that the detective will be given clues – on the condition that he shares them with no-one.

Read the first chapter

The Ghost Runner by Parker Bilal, set in Egypt

Private Investigator Makana looks into the mysterious murder of a teenage girl. In Egypt, honour killings are commonplace and the authorities seem not to care, but Makanahe is determined to track down the perpetrator and bring him to justice.

The book opens in Cairo – a bustling, overcrowded city – and then moves to Siwa, an oasis town on the edge of the Sahara. The sand blown streets and sheer heat of Siwa are captured beautifully, and the atmosphere truly makes the book, in which Egypt is a star.

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Death in Sardinia by Marco Vichi, set in Florence and Sardinia

Inspector Bordelli is investigating a murder in Florence while his sidekick, Sergeant Piras, is hot on the trail of another in Sardinia, where he is supposed to be recuperating from an injury. Both Florence and small town Sardinia are brought wonderfully to life in the book with local detail and an emphasis on food and restaurants. The action is not fast paced, but it is extremely well thought through and convincing.

The book gives a real insight into Italian customs (especially over the Christmas period) in a way that blends seamlessly with the crux of the story.

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This list was compiled by Tina at Tripfiction, THE blog to read if you want to choose your next book based on where it's set. 

Photo credit: ND Stupler


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