We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy.

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.

 

NEW ORLEANS:

LOS ANGELES:

 

HIGH ARCTIC: