[Note from Frolic: We’re so excited to welcome author Jennifer Ashley to the site today. She’s talking all things mysteries. Take it away, Jennifer!]
As a mystery author, I adore mystery novels, and throughout my life I’ve read hundreds of them.
I find myself gravitating toward those set outside the US / UK, written mostly by authors who live in those settings. I’ve come up with a short list of series starters for those who wish to explore the world through novels. (Note: All these books are English-language, either originally or in translation.)
Ovidia Yu writes two series set in Singapore, one in the 1930s and one in the present day. The historical, beginning with The Frangipani Tree Mystery, tells of a young Singaporean woman who defies convention by refusing an arranged marriage and insisting on working for a living. She finds herself helping a police detective as she solves intriguing murders. An interesting and in-depth look at colonial Singapore.
The present-day series features the delightful Aunty Lee, who runs a restaurant and food shop, solving people’s problems as she cooks for them. The first book is Aunty Lee’s Delights. There are three so far, and I hope for more. An excellent series!
Vaseem Khan likewise has two series, one present-day and one historical. I love the present-day Baby Ganesh Agency mysteries. A retired inspector in Mumbai can’t seem to cease working, and now he’s been gifted a baby elephant—Ganesh—by his eccentric uncle, who promises that Ganesh is something special. Inspector Chopra discovers just how special as Ganesh helps him track criminals through the streets of Mumbai. Book one is The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra.
Vaseem Kahn’s historical series, Malabar House, features India’s first female police detective, who is shunted into the midnight shift with a unit of untrustworthy police officers. The date is 1949-1950, just as India gains its independence, but Persis Wadia is unable to celebrate as she finds herself thrust unexpectedly into a high-profile case. Book one is Midnight at Malabar House.
I lived in Japan for a time, and any books set there catch my interest. One of the best series, in my opinion, is by Keigo Higashino, the Detective Galileo series, set in present-day Tokyo.
When Detective Kusanagi finds himself solving the most baffling of crimes, he turns to his old school friend, Manuba Yukawa, a genius physicist, referred to as Detective Galileo, for his brilliant insights on Kusanagi’s cases. Book one, The Devotion of Suspect X, is less a “whodunit” than a “howdunit” with many twists and turns that test Kusanagi’s patience and Yukawa’s brainpower. The author is a master at these kinds of stories. I thoroughly enjoy them and hope that more are translated!
Republic of Ireland
Alexia Gordon writes a funny and entertaining series about an African American brilliant violinist and music teacher who takes a post in rural Ireland to try to reinvigorate the orchestra in a boys’ school (she has her work cut out for her). She boards in the cottage of a famous musician who’d been her inspiration, and soon finds it occupied by his ghost. The Gesthsemane Brown series is hilarious, but the books are also great mysteries filled with quirky characters plus the overarching problem of the murder of her resident ghost and his wife. The series begins with Murder in G Major.
Back to Japan for Susan Spann’s historical mysteries (the Shinobi Mysteries), set in the sixteenth century, and featuring a Jesuit priest, Father Matteo, and his Japanese interpreter and bodyguard, Hiro. Hiro, is in truth a ninja on a mission, secret from all. These whodunit mysteries are woven with the history of Japan in a volatile period, where power shifts could swiftly change lives and loyalties. Book one is Claws of the Cat.
There are plenty more mystery series set around the world, in France, Greece, Egypt, Rome, China, both historical and present-day … I hope this short list helps you find a great location for a virtual journey.
About the Author:
New York Times bestselling author has written more than 100 novels and novellas in mystery, romance, and historical fiction. Her latest historical mystery is Death at the Crystal Palace.
Death at the Crystal Palace by Jennifer Ashley, out now!
While attending an exhibition at the Crystal Palace, young cook Kat Holloway is approached by a woman in distress. Lady Covington is a wealthy widow convinced that her entire family is trying to kill her. Kat feels compelled to help, and she escorts the lady home to discover whether she is delusional or in true danger.
It is quickly apparent that the threat is all too real, and Kat promises aid. Her charming confidant Daniel McAdam is busy infiltrating a plot against the Crown, and she worries he will not have time to lend his sleuthing expertise. This might be for the best, as Kat fears her growing emotional entanglement with Daniel can only lead to disaster. But soon, Kat faces a more serious threat when her involvement in both investigations plunges her into peril.