Saturday, August 28, 2010

Top Ten Picks-- Favorite Literary Places

Once again Jillian of Random Ramblings has chosen a topic for her Top Ten Picks meme that I simply cannot resist: Favorite Literary Places.

I had to have a little "look-see" at some of the other responses, and I have to admit that they are choosing some wonderful places-- several that I would choose, that is, if I didn't have this need to be contrary. Did I say that? I really meant "different". Honestly!

Since I tend to read mostly crime fiction on this blog, I cast my mind to my favorite series locations. Places that are either real or could be. Most of them are in the Western Hemisphere, but hopefully I've managed to throw in a surprise or two. For regular readers of Kittling: Books, one location should be a Sure Thing. (And for those of you who may wonder, they're ranked according to the order in which they fluttered into my mind.)

Absaroka County, Wyoming as experienced in the books of Craig Johnson. The county itself may not exist, but the Big Horn Mountains do, and that's where Sheriff Walt Longmire enforces the law. Beautiful mountains, sparsely populated, it's just my cup of tea-- except for the winters. I'd definitely be in Longmire's neck of the woods in the summer!

Small town Toussaint, Montana as portrayed by Peter Bowen in his mysteries centered around a fiddle-playing Métis cattle brand inspector named Gabriel Du Pré. Mountains are available, but Toussaint is more in the high plains which have their own kind of beauty. Once again, I've chosen a sparsely populated area, and the few people who live there are extremely independent. I chose this picture because it makes me think of riding shotgun with Du Pré as he flies along the highway in his old police cruiser. Hopefully I'm brave enough to keep my eyes open....

Blight County Idaho is the territory of Sheriff Bo Tully in the mysteries of Patrick F. McManus. This makes three mountainous, sparsely populated areas in a row, which shows you I have an affinity for such places-- in the summer. Blight County is another area of great natural beauty and weird characters. Seems to me it's easier to appreciate eccentrics in small towns. They blend in too much in cities.

Checking in at #4 is "Booktown", New Hampshire, a setting used well by Lorna Barrett in her Booktown Mystery series. It's a small New England village that's been converted into a place filled with bookshops. That's my kind of place! When I wasn't scouting for books, I could check out the fall color, maybe drive over to Cape Cod.... What am I talking about? I'd never get out of the bookshops!

For regular readers of my blog, #5 is the Sure Thing: Bisbee, Arizona. Nestled in the Mule Mountains of Cochise County, Arizona, it's home to not one, but two, mystery series: the Sheriff Joanna Brady series written by J.A. Jance and the Chloe Newcomb series by Betsy Thornton. Jance grew up in Bisbee, and Thornton lives there now. For one small, old mining town to be home to two series shows just how special it is. The icing on the cake for me is that Denis and I visit at least twice a year.

Coming in at #6 is the small Canadian village of Three Pines so brilliantly portrayed by Louise Penny. Three Pines may be a picturesque place and deserving of many post cards sent home to show it off, but when I think of it, I think of the villagers themselves: their hopes, their dreams, their strengths, their flaws, their relationships to each other. Three Pines may exist only in Louise Penny's imagination, but her decorator is one of the most talented I've ever seen.

#7 may surprise you a bit, but it shouldn't. I'd love to hop into one of those ubiquitous time machines and travel back to the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, home of Simon Levack's mystery series featuring the slave, Yaotl. The city-- floating on a series of islands in a lake, home to temples and a fascinating culture. By all means, Scotty-- beam me to Tenochtitlan!

While I'm being transported, I may as well visit another favorite spot-- Swindon, England as seen through the eyes of Thursday Next and her creator, Jasper Fforde. I could picture myself in Fforde's world of terrible puns and book busts gone bad. I'd like to travel by dirigible and have a dodo and a mammoth as pets. I'd also like to be able to jump into the plots of books, and I think a career in Jurisfiction would suit me right down to the ground. (Can you tell I love Fforde's Swindon?)

#9 is the city of Morpeth, Northumberland, England as seen in the series of books written by Roy Lewis.  His main character, Arnold Landon, is on the planning commission and has a passion for old buildings. You'd be surprised how many murders someone like Landon can find around ancient architecture. Although I've been to many places in Northumberland, I haven't visited Morpeth yet. I'd like to change that.

I've wanted to visit alpine mountains, a village in New England, the Great Plains, a small Canadian village and a town in England. I've also wanted to pay my respects to Tenochtitlan, a radically different Swindon, and Morpeth as a base for old house hunting. When I mentally ran through my list, one type of place screamed out in its absence: the sea.

The very first place that came to my mind was the Sicily of Inspector Salvo Montalbano and author Andrea Camilleri. The beautiful Mediterranean and Italian food... bliss!

Those are my Top Ten Picks for favorite (mysterious) literary places. Did any of them surprise you?  I'd love to know what yours are!


  1. Love this post and thanks for the images!

  2. +JMJ+

    Whenever I read a post about the characters of Detective Stories, I wonder whether they have the most colourful casts of all. Now I think the authors who create such quirky personalities have a real gift for memorable settings as well. =)

  3. What a great post! I've driven through the Big Horn mountains (in the summer) - absolutely beautiful.

  4. I can't think of ten right off the bat, but I do love Sara Paretsky's Chicago and Robert B. Parker's Boston, both of which cities I know well. And I love some odd sites like Martha Grimes' pubs, Nevada Barr's National Parks, and Margaret Maron's Low Country.

  5. Thanks for bringing this Top Ten to my attention...I had a lot of fun coming up with my top ten mystery places.

    Great pictures to go with your list!

  6. Cathy, I loved this post! Very informative and it was fun to "see" the settings of some of my favorite mystery series. Love Three Pines, Walt's Wyoming, Sheriff Brady's Arizona....

  7. Although I have to admit I actually am not familiar with any of these, your photos and descriptions makes up for it. They sure do sound like awesome places to visit; especially #7. I would LOVE to visit that place!

  8. What a great post! I'll have to do a bit of thinking about what my favorite places would be.

  9. Mystica-- I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

    Enbrethiliel-- Some of them certainly do! Thanks for stopping by!

    Mary-- They are, and very different from the Big Horn Mountains that Denis and I have traveled through here in Arizona!

    Barbara-- I couldn't choose Nevada Barr because I wanted 10 series that are basically set in the same place, and Anna hops around. :)

    Bev-- Oooh... gotta see if you posted anything!

    Kay-- I'm glad you enjoyed it. I had a lot of fun tracking some of these places down and seeing if they matched up to my imagination.

    Jillian-- If I find that time machine, I'll let you know!

    Beth-- Hopefully you'll post about it because I'd certainly like to see your list!


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