Setting is key to any suspense novel. The element of suspense turns a regular run of the mill house by day into a creepy haunted thrill ride by night. Brahm Stoker’s Dracula put Transylvania on the map, but what if the dark story about a vampire were set in New York City? Would we have the same story? Suspense writers have a unique way of picking the right setting to create tensions and drama for their characters.
Here are some favorite backdrops for suspense novels. Please add your own to the list in the comments!
#5 – Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express
The setting for Murder on the Orient Express isn’t so much a city, but a train. The entire story revolves around a train ride. When a murder happens, the reader knows it has to be someone on the train. No one gets on or off, so everyone is a suspect.
#4 – Rhys Bowen’s The Tuscan Child
This book made me want to visit Italy! The backdrop to a Tuscan Child is a remote Tuscan village of San Salvatore. Filled with colorful characters and vivid scenery, this novel gives you a slice of life in Tuscany while adding plenty of suspense and drama.
#3 Terri Blackstock’s Cape Refuge
The story is set off the coast of Savanah (think Tybee Island) in the town of Cape Refuge. The nautical small-town vibe is the perfect setting to solve a murder.
#2 Colleen Coble’s Without a Trace
The unique setting for Without a Trace is the upper peninsula of Michigan in a town called Rock Harbor. Bree Nicholls operates a search and rescue team with her dog Sampson through the forests and snow-covered region. The story takes readers to the UP to experience the unique Finnish heritage of the fictional town of Rock Harbor.
#1 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet
Who hasn’t wished 221B Baker Street was a real location to visit? The home of the great Sherlock Holmes creates the setting for many great mysteries. From the streets of London to inside the apartment, readers get to see the inner workings of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.
This list is merely a start. There are so many wonderful and even terrifying settings that keep readers on edge. Let me know your favorite locations and settings in the comments.