Hankering to end your summer with an international voyage? Author Christine Evelyn Volker rounded up five mysteries and thrillers set on foreign soil. There’s seduction in Seville, intrigue in Istanbul, murder in Moscow and villainy in Venice. What do they have in common? Enthralling locations, treachery, and hints of love, like in her book, Venetian Blood.
The pope’s computer is hacked, and Father Lorenzo Quart is sent to Seville to investigate. This talented, dashing emissary soon finds himself tested when he must make sense of a run-down local church “defending itself” from demolition by killing off the would-be developers. Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s intricate whodunit builds with the pulsating rhythm of a flamenco dance. As bodies pile up, Quart tries to put the pieces together and his vow of chastity is in peril when he’s waylaid by the alluring Macarena. For many reasons, he’ll always remember Seville.
This was my first Joseph Kanon book, and now I’m hooked. He draws you into the thrilling world of espionage, like the tempting fragrance of Istanbul’s spice bazaar. It’s the end of 1945, in an Istanbul divided between loyalties as it straddles east and west, land and sea. Leon, an agent and a victim of betrayal, must decide who is friend and foe. He adjusts quickly to his predicament but is faced with agonizing choices ranging from bad to worse. Just how far is he willing to go to shield a man with the blood of innocents on his hands?
Martin Cruz Smith put the Moscow police procedural on the map with this classic. Arkady Renko, an honest chief investigator, smokes to block out the stench of corpses and vent his frustration with KGB interference. He must solve a triple murder once mutilated bodies are found in the dark, frozen landscape that permeates the book. His pursuit of the case plunges him into expanding circles of corruption and treachery, even perhaps, by someone very close to him.
Julia, an American violinist, wanders into an antiquarian’s store in Rome and is mesmerized by the waltz Incendio, meaning fire. Once she plays the captivating music, her world is upended by a brutal force. Shifting to pre-WWII Venice, we observe the tender story of two young people in love: He’s Jewish, she’s Christian. With magical incandescence, they bring the Incendio waltz to life against the gathering clouds of war. As Julia searches for clues in modern-day Venice, we must ask ourselves: What evil has been stirred up by this music?
It’s the early sixties and Moscow looks dim and tired—a graveyard for spent spies, like Frank Weeks. An American defector, now watched by the KGB, he and his ilk carve out a half-life existence. Russia grips them in a fierce bear hug from which they can never escape. When Frank’s American publisher sends younger brother Simon to edit his KGB-approved memoir, change glints on the horizon. As Simon succumbs to the lure of Frank’s smooth talk of brotherly love, you wonder if instead he’ll crash upon its rocks. This scorpion’s nest of spies is perfectly portrayed by Kanon. You’ll be on edge till the end reveals which scorpion wins.
Christine Evelyn Volker has lived on both U.S. coasts and traveled in between. She was born in the melting pot of New York City and grew up on Long Island. After studying in Albany, New York, for her undergraduate degree from University at Albany–SUNY, in Spanish Language and Literature, and securing an MLS, she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. She retooled herself with an MBA in Finance from UC Berkeley and worked in corporate and international lending. Her career brought her to live in Milan and London. An intrepid traveler, she is writing full time, thanks to the support of her husband, Stephan, a public interest environmental lawyer. She’s grateful for two accomplished stepsons and their wives. In addition to Venetian Blood, she is writing a second international mystery, taking place in the Peruvian Amazon, and has completed a children’s picture book.