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Five Series With A Great Sense of Place to Tide You Over Until We Can All Travel Again


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I am a person who has to travel. It’s in my blood. So the last year of isolation was especially hard for me. Fortunately I have books by brilliant writers who can take me to exotic places from the comfort of my arm chair.  This is exactly what I try to do when I write my own books: allow the reader to travel vicariously. It’s especially true of my new novel The Venice Sketchbook. Venice is one of my favorite places on Earth and I’ve been re-reading my own book just to imagine myself back there again.

But here are some of my favorite books that transport the reader and immerse him or her in another culture. I hope you enjoy this tour around the world until we can all travel again.

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Donna Leon’s Inspector Brunetti Series

The inspector Brunetti series that take place in Venice. I have reread them all recently with great satisfaction. Donna has lived in Venice for many years and really has a feel for the city. When I read these books I have my map beside me and retrace my steps over familiar bridges, pausing to smile when Brunetti buys a coffee at a bar I know.  For the purposes of this I have chosen Aqua Alta, because the high water is such a fact of Venetian life.

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Cara Black’s Aimée Leduc Series

If you love Paris you surely know Aimee Leduc and her pink Vespa. Cara brings tiny details of Paris to life in all her books as her detective battles crooks and terrorists in the City of Light. But the book I am highlighting today is Three Hours in Paris, Cara’s stand-alone thriller of WWII, a gripping masterpiece with a plot to assassinate Hitler. I can’t recommend highly enough!

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Sujata Massey’s Perveen Mistry Series

I have been to Bombay several times so I find these books delightful—the scents and dazzling colors of India during the Raj are all brought vividly to life with Perveen Mistry, Bombay’s only female lawyer and a case of three widows living in purdah.

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Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache Series

Readers love these books not for their clever plots, or even for the very human and compassionate Inspector Gamache, but because of Three Pines, the idyllic, quirky village in French Canada that Louise has created. She has made it so real and peopled it with such vivid personalities that there are actually bus tours to her similar village of Knowlton, hoping to spot Ruth or Oliver.

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Tony Hillerman’s Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn Series

 No list like this would be complete without my mentor, Tony Hillerman. It was only when I discovered his books that I knew I wanted to write mysteries that took the reader somewhere. In his Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn mysteries he brings Navajo country so vividly to life that when we first drove there I was the tour guide, pointing out every single  custom and geographic feature. I’ve chosen The Blessing Way because it is my favorite, with the gentle rituals of the Navajo at odds with the violence of the outside world.

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Michael Neff
Algonkian Producer
New York Pitch Director
Author, Development Exec, Editor

We are the makers of novels, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

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