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6 crime fiction locations where we’d never want to live

If you’re as big a crime freak as we are, you’ve probably been tempted to go the whole hog and set up shop in some mythical area frequented by your favourite detective.

But before you start bookmarking properties on Zoopla, take a quick peek at our cautionary guide to just a few high crime locations that are riddled with mystery, recidivists and some sort of sleuth.

Perhaps then you might decide to think twice…

6 Crime Fiction Locations Where We’d Never Want To Live

Midsomer

I live in a great big horrible city. Why? Because the glorious English countryside is crammed full of vengeful farmers, disgruntled spouses and wandering lunatics just waiting to feed you into a nearby thresher. Just look at Midsomer. A typical fictional British county that, according to experts, has a higher crime rate than London. Anything can be used to slaughter in Midsomer, from pitchforks to large wheels of cheese and suspected meteorites to vats of poisoned cider. All the local villages are prone to criminal misdeeds; everywhere from Badger’s Drift to Great Pelfe has been witness to some grisly occurrence. So why do property prices in the area remain so stubbornly high?

Crime fiction locations

Fortitude

The fictional community of Fortitude in the Arctic Circle is allegedly one of the safest places on the planet. In Fortitude, you have to have a roof over your head and you have to be able to provide for yourself. Everyone’s got a job, no one is poor, so there’s no crime and everybody’s always happy – until a gruesome murder is committed, and suddenly everyone has something to hide. There’s no doubt that the landscape is beautiful, but it’s also cruel and savage, and who wants to feel isolated when you number an unknown, cold-hearted killer amongst your friends? A chilling location in more ways than one.

Copenhagen

A million miles away from the sun-dappled, cream tea consuming violence of the English countryside is the tundra-crusted, knitwear-infested streets of the Danish capital. And there aren’t just the gloomy, glacially-paced investigations of Sara Lund and Martin Rohde from The Killing and The Bridge to contend with. There’s a wealth of Scandi-Noir which designates Copenhagen as a crime hub that would have Hans Christian Andersen weeping with fear. Though Smilla followed her Sense of Snow to Greenland, it was in Copenhagen that the original murder took place. Jussi Adler-Olsen’s Department Q series features another sad, sardonic detective while Elsebeth Egholm’s Those Who Kill ensures that Copenhagen is less than wonderful, wonderful (as the song goes).

Los Angeles

Two names in particular have insured that the City of Angels comes across as a land of viciously played out grudges, mentally unstable deviants and freaks with a penchant for the grisly: Chandler and Ellroy. Between them they have saddled the city with a reputation for a glitzy, gregarious exterior and a dark heart beating beneath. But it’s not just Ray and Jay who have besmirched the LA personality. Pick up any book by Ross MacDonald and you’ll get a face-full of fascinating plots and desperately complicated characters. Sue Grafton carried on MacDonald’s cause (both set their stories in the fictional Santa Teresa, nestling somewhere in Southern California) while Nathaniel West, Charles Bukowski and Walter Mosley were determined to expose about the city’s seamy side. Oh, and then there’s pretty much every Film Noir ever created.

The South West

No, not the American South West of Breaking Bad and True Detective. I’m talking about a truly hideous hotbed of murder and intrigue – that trio of terror that is Dorset, Devon and Cornwall. All the greats have dropped their legendary detectives in the tri-county area. Christie, Wallace, Conan Doyle, Sayers and many more have used the locale as a backdrop for some unmitigated mystery. And in the television realm you have Wycliffe down in Cornwall, the Baskervilles in Devon and The Ice House, The Sculptress and The Scold’s Bridle in Dorset. The books of Graham Hurley make Portsmouth look like Wire-era Baltimore with less frills – and then there’s Broadchurch. Now I’m not saying that the entire Jurassic Coast is a compendium of repressed secrets, violent consequences and corpses-a-go-go, but I’m not taking any chances and plan to steer well clear of the place.

Maine

Remarkably, one man has ensured that the entire state of Maine is a no-go area for any sensible individual who likes to stay alive and that man is Dan Brown. No, obviously I’m talking about Stephen King, who has done for Maine what Picasso did for Guernica. Giant domes, rampant Its and infuriated Carries have all resided close to the Canadian border, as well as killer dogs, killer cars and killer pet cemeteries. But other writers have tried to make their mark on Maine. Like Richard Bachman. Oh wait, that’s Stephen King as well. But there’s Paul Doiron, Elizabeth Hand, John Connelly and KN Shields who have all used the climate and environment of Maine to add a Scandi-Noir atmosphere to New England.


Have we missed any high crime areas, fictional or otherwise, off the list? Let us know where you refuse to visit for reasons of safety.

Dale Shaw
Dale Shaw
Dale Shaw

Dale Shaw is a television and radio writer, journalist, screenwriter, performer and musician. His first book, Letters of Not, was published by The Friday Project in 2014, with his second, F**k This Journal, published by Headline in 2015. He has written for The Now Show, The News Quiz, Russell Howard’s Good News, The Impressions Show, That Mitchell and Webb Sound, One, School of Comedy, as well as for The GuardianIndex, Huffington Post, BBC Online, Washington City Paper and many more.

Follow Dale on Twitter.

6 Comments

    I’ve lived in Cornwall my whole life and it’s always been more like The Shire than anything…..

    then again maybe that’s what the locals want me to think!

    San Celina. Being a quilter I like Earlene Fowlers stories of crime in San Celina (fictional, of course). Maybe you could feature her sometime as she’s not very well known here in the UK. Benni Harper the main character in the books is married to the Chief of Police so there is always a murder or two to be solved.

    Great post. I’ve often thought of this myself, i.e. where would life insurance premiums be so high because of location!

    Here are a few of mine:

    St Mary Mead – Agatha Christie (Miss Marple),
    Pretty much anywhere that Hercule Poirot turns up.If you see this Belgian, it’s probably time to run in the opposite direction!
    Oslo, Norway – Jo Nesbo (Harry Hole)
    Ystadt, Sweden – Henning Mankell (Kurt Wallander)
    Los Angeles, USA – As above but also for Robert Crais and Michael Connelly
    The New York of Elementary.

    I’m sure there are many more.

    St Mary Mead should really be up there somewhere, surely?

    And don’t forget Cabot Cove, the quiet hometown of Jessica Fletcher, is in Maine as well. I think it’s twinned with Midsomer Worthy.

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