Among the valid rejoinders is “So what?” A story can do worse than introduce a reader to an unfamiliar location. An author can do worse than explore a strange, new land and let the reader experience vicariously the strange newness. Once upon a time, that was one of the things stories were supposed to do.
I suspect that for most readers, setting will not come much stranger or newer than Michael Walters' Mongolia. In The Shadow Walker, a visiting investigator glimpses traditional nomadic camps as his plane descends over Ulan Bataar's airport. Minutes later, he is jarred by the contrast with the customs formalities and baggage carousels in the terminal.
Later, two Mongolian detectives meet in one of Ulan Bataar's new American-style coffee houses, and:
Sure, the opening chapters may contain more exposition than some crime novels, but why not? Walters is exploring interesting territory, so I don't mind that he stops now and then to tell me about it. Besides, he breaks the telling into small, unobtrusive chunks.
The killings have just begun, and the major complications have not yet started. So far, though, I like what Walters is showing me.
I said that Mongolia would likely be a new and strange setting for most crime-fiction readers. What new, unexpected, surprising or exotic crime-fiction settings have caught your attention? And why?
© Peter Rozovsky 2007
Mongolia crime fiction
Asia crime fiction
Nergui looked with some displeasure at the large foaming cup that Doripalam placed in front of him. “This isn't coffee,” he said. “It's a nursery drink.”
Doripalam shrugged. “It's what the Americans drink. Apparently.”
“So we must get used to it.” Nergui took a mouthful and grimaced. “Though that may take some time, I think. But thank you anyway."