Friday, January 31, 2020

Around the World in a Day

The crime and mystery fiction we tend to read can be very US and Europe centric. Where else in the world would you like to see a crime fiction novel set and why?

by Paul D. Marks

There’s mysteries and thrillers set pretty much everywhere, though maybe some places get more attention than others. But here’s some places I’d like to see more of:

There’s a movie with Jack Nicholson called The Passenger that, if I remember correctly, opens in Chad. We see the haunting desert environment. And there’s something about that desert landscape that appeals to me in some larger romantic way. It also reminds me of Camus’ The Stranger, something about that North African scenery that intrigues me. I’m sure it’s very difficult to live there and I’m not sure I’d want to, but one of the things I remember best from The Stranger is the environment. The hot sun. The light. And my favorite movie, Casablanca, is also set in the North African desert. So I’m thinking that might be a place ripe for some (more) mysteries and thrillers.

Another place that sounds interesting is India. My wife’s father was in the diplomatic service and she spent several of her childhood years there. My uncle was also an American consul there. So I’ve heard lots of stories about India from both of them over the years. I know Abir has this covered, but with its vast territory and rich cultural background it would make a good candidate for more crime stories.
Amy (in pink) and her sister at the Rashtrapati Bhavan — in New Delhi, India

Japan is another place that would make for a good mystery story. It has an interesting history. And it’s such a homogenous society, that is trying to stay that way, that I think there might be some opportunities for stories to explore that aspect in the context of a mystery or crime thriller.

Istanbul or is it Constantinople? Well, I’ll leave that for the song to decide (see video).


Istanbul is one of the top places on my bucket list (a term I really don’t like). It’s sort of a crossroads of that part of the world. I’m also really into Roman history, and Istanbul, as the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) definitely has that. It was also the last stop on the Orient Express—hard to beat that for mystery and intrigue. And according to Peter Kenyon on NPR, “Turkey's golden age of espionage was World War II, a period that continues to serves as a muse for writers of historical thrillers,” so maybe it’s a mine that hasn’t been played out yet.

Okay, now for an odd one. Odd only because instead of a trip to a foreign land it’s a trip to the past. So I guess we’ll need a time machine to get there. That place is Los Angeles in the 1940s. I love that era, the music, the movies, the city, though I know there were some major issues happening. And, oh wait. I did (or do) take a trip to that era in my upcoming novel The Blues Don’t Care—my time machine. I really enjoyed that trip to the past, the jazz clubs, old L.A. and intrigue. More on this in future posts.

And here’s an article at CrimeReads about just this thing that lists some good choices for crime and thriller novels in places other than the US and Europe:

And now for a little BSP:  I’m running a free promotion for people who subscribe to my newsletter. You can get a FREE e-copy of my novel Vortex. Just subscribe. And if you’re already a subscriber and want the novel contact me via my website or e-mail and I’ll send you the link for the download.

I'm also excited to announce that I've got a new book coming out in 2020: The Blues Don't Care. It's a little different for me. It's set in 1940s Los Angeles jazz scene during World War II. I hope you'll keep checking in for more news on this exciting new release.


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Madeline Gornell said...

Great post. Nice and interesting thought/question to start my morning. My heart is in Europe, especially Great Britain, but also love Italian mysteries, French, and more...

Mary Reed said...

May I step forward from the shadows and brazenly say I think you may find our John, Lord Chamberlain mystery series set in and around sixth century Constantinople (in particular Emperor Justinian's court) of interest?

Susan C Shea said...

Istambul - yes. I have a vague notion that a spy novel was set there? Good ideas, all.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

I love reading mysteries set in exotic places, but being an American, I enjoy mysteries set in our various locations as well. I set my mysteries mainly in NJ. However, my mystery thrillers Death Legacy and Death Promise were set in New York and Las Vegas because I know these cities so well.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thank you, Madeline. And there are so many great mysteries set in so many great places, aren’t there.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thank you for the suggestion, Mary. I’ll have to check that out.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Susan. Istanbul has always intrigued me in a variety of ways.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks for your comment, Jacqueline. I’m kind of like you in that what I write is largely set in L.A., though I have set things in other places that I either know or want to know better.

Lisa Ciarfella said...

Terrific topic Paul!
Japan for sure. And North/South Korea always fascinating. I lived in the south for a while and the place gets under your skin.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Lisa. And that's cool. Not wanting to tell you what to do but maybe you can do a story set there. I just recently finished up a story set partially in Viet Nam.

Will Zeilinger said...

Coincidentally, the next book (after my wife and I finish this one) takes the reader on a thrill ride through Istanbul in 1962. There are so many stories to be written about this place.
I lived in Turkey for five years as a teen, and specifically Istanbul for a year. It is one of my favorite cities in the world. Interestingly, my older sister traveled across the Bosphorus daily for school. I think the fact she went to a different continent every day was lost on her.