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The Best World Building in Crime Fiction

By Malcolm Mackay, author of Saviors: Two Novels

World building is a tricky thing. Get it wrong and you bog people down, spending more time describing a street than it would take a person to walk down it. Get it right and the reader can absorb the culture, history, look and feel of a place without skipping a beat.

Some, like Robin Robertson’s noir poem The Long Take, invoke place and culture in fresh and unexpected ways. Some, like Chris Brookmyre’s cri-fi sci-fi crossover Places in the Darkness take us to unearthly places and yet still create a clear sense of identity that by the end of the book feel utterly natural. Proof that any place, no matter how far-flung, can be made a convincing character when written well.

Here are four crime novels that took me places.