It’s been a while since I’ve done a post with a new list of books for intrepid travelers. Over the past couple of years I’ve been reading a few new series (new to me anyway) and more books in existing series, all with a travel oriented theme.
I love reading books set in Italy (obviously!) and in France where I have also spent an enormous amount of time over the years. I was explaining to a friend recently that for the most part I tend to read two types of books. When my brain has down time I like to read complex, fast paced thrillers (like Mark Dawson’s John Milton series and L.T Ryan’s Jack Noble series. I also enjoy Patricia Cornwall’s and Kathy Reichs’ books, and anything that moves quickly and requires more thinking to follow what’s going on.
But when I am super busy, which this year has been most of the time, I use books to quiet my mind and relax, so look for a different type of book. Mostly books set in Italy and France and other euro-locales. I am a voracious reader and blow through books quickly, so love reading on a Kindle (I have the Kindle Paperwhite). You can borrow library books on Kindle, you can access prime reading (free books from the Amazon library), and with no manufacture and shipping costs you can access books very inexpensively too. Often authors with big series will make the first in series free, and from there the books run anywhere from 99cents on promotion to an average price of $4.99. Heads up: as an author I can tell you I make the same amount of money if someone buys my books in paperback or as a kindle eBook, so don’t be thinking an author loses out if you buy eBooks!
Anyway, in no specific order the following are book series I’ve been reading over the past couple of years. They make great holiday/anytime reading for you too, and also make fantastic end of year gift ideas. Enjoy!
The Department Q Series
The Department Q series is a police series with a twist, set in Denmark. A course of unfortunate events leads the police department to create a one man cold case squad in order to get this trouble maker (Carl Mørck, our protagonist) out of their hair. They then give him a quirky Syrian immigrant and a schizophrenic girl as assistants, and somehow the three of them build their department into a brilliant case solving unit.
The main characters are diverse and quite nutty, but incredibly compelling. These books are so clever and so well written, with intriguing subplots. I’m about to start book 7 on 9 and am dreading finishing the series. Book one is The Keeper of Lost Causes, pictured above. See the series here on Amazon. It is also available as a library book on Kindle.
Philip Gwynne Jones Venice Series
The Philip Gwynne Jones Venice Murder Series is a murder mystery series with a twist. Nathan Sutherland is a slightly bumbling British fellow living with his temperamental attack cat in an upstairs apartment on the Street of Assassins in Venice. He works as a translator of boring DIY manuals, and is the British Honorary Consul of Venice, an unpaid and only marginally interesting position that at least gets him into some interesting cocktail parties. Throughout the series he stumbles into one murder mystery after another, somehow managing to solve them in the end. These books are hard to put down and have the added advantage of being set in the most unique city on earth, Venice
The Murder In Tuscany Series
T.A Williams’ Murder In Tuscany series falls into the cozy mystery category. These are fun, breezy murder mysteries that are easy to read and superbly enjoyable. In book one, Murder in Tuscany, we meet Dan Armstrong, a recently retired British detective who has come to Tuscany on a creative writing retreat for Brits. A murder transpires and as an English speaking ex-cop he is able to help the local homicide detective. The two form a friendship and Dan decides to stay in Tuscany, setting up the rest of the series.
If you enjoy books set in and around gorgeous Tuscany you’ll love this fun series. At the time of writing this post there are 6 books in series with book number 7 on pre-order. Check them out here on Amazon.
The Tuscan Vineyard Series
34 year old Chicago ad exec Olivia Glass finds her life crumbling around her so takes her best friend up on the idea of spending the summer in Tuscany. While there she gets a job in a local winery, buys a round down farmhouse, and finds herself in the middle of a murder mystery.
The Tuscan Vineyard Series makes for fun, breezy reading with the backdrop of beautiful Tuscany adding to the splendor. These books are enjoyable reading for anyone who has ever fallen in love with Tuscany, dreamt about moving there or has wished they could fix up a rundown stone house in the Tuscan hills. The first book in the series, Aged For Murder, is free on Kindle, or 7.99 in paperback. Check it out here on Amazon. Author Fiona Grace has several other series including one set in Sicily which I have downloaded but not yet read.
Camilla Trinchieri Tuscan Mysteries
I recently started reading Camilla Trinchieri’s Tuscan Mysteries series and have been throughly enjoying them. Her protagonist is an ex NYPD homocide cop who relocates to Chianti to be with her family after his Italian wife dies. Of course he stumbles upon a murder, and then ends up helping the local carabinieri to solve it.
I am midway through this series and am thoroughly enjoying it. The first in series is Murder in Chianti, and is available on Kindle for 2.99. The series does seem to be available to borrow from the library on Kindle too. See the Tuscan Mysteries series here on Amazon.
Bruno, Chief of Police
Zipping over to my other great European love – France, we now get to meet Bruno, Chief of Police. This 16 book series is a glorious romp through southern France where our hero, Bruno, a small town policeman, solves murders while juggling village life, cooking French food and enjoying local wines. Bruno lives in a remodeled shepherd’s cottage in the hills, grows his own vegetables, and lives a simple but pleasurable life. This is a lovely balance to the complexity of the murders he solves. This is a fabulous series and I am hoping author Martin Walker will keep Bruno’s adventures going for many more books!
The MAGGIE NEWBERRY Mysteries
I couldn’t really get into the first book in this series, but you need to read it in order for the rest of the series to make sense. And once it gets going it is fabulous!
Maggie Newberry is an Atlanta based ad exec (I think she was in advertising?) who comes to the South of France to bring her murdered sister’s body home. While there she discovers her sister had a child the family knew nothing about. With the help of a local conman she works to track down the missing child and figure out a more complex and dark mystery along the way.
The first book in series, Murder in the South of France, combines murder, mystery, and romance, setting up the entire series to follow. This is a tremendous series, 24 books deep at the time of writing this post, with more books on the way. Check them out here on Amazon.
The Stranded In Provence Series
Before I discovered the Maggie Newberry books I read Susan Kiernan Lewis’s Stranded in Provence series, and then her American in Paris books. All three series are highly addictive!
All three protagonists in these separate series hail from Atlanta and wind up living in France. This time the initially ditzy Jules Hooker has booked a trip to Provence with her boyfriend, thinking he will propose to her. When he backs out at the last minute she decides to come alone anyway. She then discovers she has booked herself into a remote Provençal village, far from the glamor she had envisaged. She is about to give up and head back to Atlanta when a dirty bomb is dropped in the Mediterranean, knocking out all electrics and communications for the foreseeable future. Now she is trapped in a village where she knows no one, in a country where she doesn’t speak the language, where cars and phones and microwaves no longer work. To top it off she finds a dead body and has to solve the murder in order to save herself.
Parlez Vous Murder is the first book in this series. From the beginning the premise is quite clever, and sets up endless complications for Jules as the series progresses. These books are lots of fun and are wonderful for anyone who loves the South of France
The American In Paris/Claire Baskerville Series
This series is also by Susan Kierman Lewis with another clever premise. Claire Baskerville is a 60 something American woman with a genetic brain anomaly that makes it impossible for her to remember faces. She travels to Paris with her husband, who is then brutally murdered. Alone in the City of Light Claire now has to not only figure her way around the city, but also figure out who killed her husband. Making matters worse, the local police are hopeless. Claire then discovers her husband had a whole secret life, a financial crisis is looming, and she is going to have to hide out in Paris for the foreseeable future.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable series especially if you enjoy Paris. It’s fun to have a protagonist in her 60s too! The first book in this series, Dejà Dead is free on Kindle or $10.99 in paperback. Check the series out here on Amazon. There are 12 books in the series, with book 13 on pre-order for 2024.