The latest Emerging Issues column in Nation’s Cities Weekly explores the topic of detection fiction novels that are set in in American cities.
Decades ago, American detective novels were mainly set in New York City or Los Angeles. One observer puts the proportion at fifty percent. Ellery Queen and Nero Wolfe and Raymond Chandler and Ross MacDonald dominated the detecting field.
Not anymore. Now, murder mystery stories are set in lots of places, reflecting the vitality of local cultures, growing interest among readers in the varieties of American life, and the ingenuity of writers who are rooted in distinct places.
Local color matters and the color in a lot more places matters. For fans of this sort of entertainment, this is a great boon.
For example, Sara Paretsky’s altogether wonderful V.I Warshawski sleuths her way around some seedy parts of the city of Chicago. Phoebe Atwood Taylor‘s Asey Mayo mysteries are set on Cape Cod. The detecting among the Old Order Amish in Wayne County, Ohio is handled by a college history professor in P.L. Gaus’ novels. Walter Mosley opened a new perspective on Los Angeles with the Easy Rawlins series.
Share your favorite city or town murder mystery— or the ways your city is capitalizing on locally-set detective stories to create a sense of place or events — by entering a “Comment.”