Recently Discovered Excellent “Place” Mysteries


Every few months I have decided to share with my readers my suggestions and opinions about mystery authors I have recently read and found to be exceedingly “place” sensitive. Some of these may be familiar to you and some not but they are favorites of mine that I have not yet placed in my section of Great Geographical Mystery Writers. Below is the first installment of this new enterprise.


Some time ago I blundered into the books of Caroline Roe, a Canadian writer, who has created a marvelous crime solver in the form of a blind Jewish physician in 14th Century Girona, Spain. The stories are superb and capture the time and place magnificently. This is a special time when Christians, Jews and Muslims in this part of the world co-existed quite well, adding to the wonderful interaction of the well-developed characters, Remedy for Treason is the first of the series and, like all her books, the settings are magnificent and draw the reader into a fascinating place and time.


Barbara Nadel, an English writer, has created a series set in Istanbul, Turkey that merits attention. Her Turkish police inspector and Armenian forensic pathologist make an unlikely but likeable couple of crime solvers and Istanbul provides a wonderful setting for some excellent stories. Her inspector Cetin Ikmen is an endearing individual who is beset with family and everyday problems as he deduces and frets over very unique crimes. One can learn a great deal about this exotic city and its neighborhoods, ethnic enclaves and culture. Having visited Istanbul a number of times I now know that I should have read Nadel’s books before I arrived there! One of my favorite books of hers is Belshazzar’s Daughter.


Eliot Pattison is the author of a series of mysteries set in Tibet. The hero is a Han Chinese former Beijing policeman who was imprisoned in Tibet on fraudulent charges and wins his release by solving a vexing and politically sensitive murder. Shan Tao Yun, the hero, has been captivated by Tibetan culture, particularly the Buddhist rituals and lore. The initial novel, Skull Mantra, is truly engaging and filled with information about Tibetan culture, and wraps the reader in the majestic if forbidding landscape of Tibet. This tome is by far the best of the series and even adorned with maps!


May all your places excite you and bring you joy. Until next time.


George Demko  July 8, 2006


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