I’ve always had the urge to travel. When I was in elementary school, I would decide what city or country I wanted to visit and then go to the library and look for fiction set in that country. Victoria Holt was great – her books are set in several different locations. If I wanted to learn about Japan, I searched out Dorothy Eden‘s books. Phyllis Whitney was great for books set in the US outside of my college town home. And then there was Mary Stewart. She also wrote titles set in differing locations. Anne Worboys was great for exotic locations I’d never even heard of before like Delos. These books are definitely dated now – but they were and are still great reading.
I’m still doing the virtual travel thing. Not having the funds to jump on a plane on a whim (and not being sure I would these days even if I could) I read books with locations where I’d like to be or see or visit.
I’m on my eighth or ninth Barbara Nadel Inspector Ikmen mystery. These are set in Istanbul which isn’t really a place I think I’d like to visit, but it’s a damn good read! Nadel’s prose is interesting, lively and there is always a great plot that keeps me guessing. I’m not bored reading her mysteries. As a bonus, they’re not gross and disgusting. I’m sorry American writers, but you guys are getting just a bit too explicit in your gore descriptions. I want to be entertained, not disgusted.
Anne Zouroudi‘s Hermes Diaktoros mysteries are equally a great read and if you’ve ever dreamed of visiting Greece, these are highly recommended. You can smell the Mediterranean and the wild thyme. The conclusion of these books are so satisfying they leave a smile on your face for days.
Of course, high on my list, is the Brunetti mysteries by Donna Leon. I love reading these not only because of the setting in Venice, but because they too have great plots without a lot of boring background that repeats itself over and over.
I’ve read the heck out of books set in Britain in the Golden Age. And I have enjoyed the three Cornish mysteries written by Carola Dunn. I find that British titles aren’t so heavy on disgusting gore either – although there are a few authors I would give a miss. They happen to be Americans writing books set in England. Not a great combination I find. Agatha Christie (of course), Dorothy L. Sayers, Michael Innes, Ngaio Marsh, and even Anthony Berkley who must be a rather obscure author from the 1930s, have held my attention for long periods of time.
Lately I’ve sampled a few new to me authors – Max Byrd for one. The book was centered on a bookseller on the Left Bank in Paris which was a super draw for me. Unfortunately there was a whole lot of chatting and a whole lack of plot. And the ending was full of huh? for me. I’m skipping the next ones.
Likewise for Peter Steiner. I liked the first book – A French Country Murder (notice the France location) with reservations. When I picked up the second one though and found out that the protagonist is the very same protagonist in the first book, I put it down. Really you need more than one bad guy to whip a whole series around. He might as well be the main character ……………….
All in all, not a bad way to spend a night – traveling who knows where ………………..