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Customer Discussions > Mystery forum

Looking for novels set in Florida

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Showing 1-25 of 263 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 12, 2010 8:29:21 PM PDT
Pete D. says:
I know there are a lot of books that are set in Florida, but I'm having a hard time finding ones that do a good job of describing a real sense of place. The books might take place there, they might have sparkling dialog and intricate plots, but I don't have the feeling when I read that I am truly there. I want to feel the ocean breezes and smell the salt air when I read a novel set in Florida.

What are your recommendations for books with true Florida flavor?


Posted on Aug 12, 2010 8:46:05 PM PDT
B. Bell says:
Read right away the series by John D. McDonald. His character is Travis McGee who lives on a houseboat in Fort Lauderdale. The titles are easy to spot--they all have colors in them.

Posted on Aug 13, 2010 12:37:25 PM PDT
Minnie says:
I really love the Archie McNally series by Lawrence Sanders which are set in Palm Beach. Give them a try--you'll soon be wishing that you could hang out at the Pelican Club with him.

Posted on Aug 13, 2010 2:05:09 PM PDT
Hersheygirl says:
Carl Hiassen's novels are the reason I'm planning a Florida vacation. His myssteries are quirky, but his focus is on the environment. I am a HUGE fan!

Posted on Aug 13, 2010 2:19:16 PM PDT
My newest Mystery/Thriller-Key Lime Blues is set in Key West, Florida.

For some people working in the family business means suits, power lunches, and afternoon meetings. For Wes Darling it was guns, lies, and dead bodies.
The Darling Detective Agency was founded in 1876 by Aaron `Dusty' Darling. Now Wes's chain smoking, stressed out mother is grooming Wes to take over. How does he handle his mother's demands? He heads to Key West, moves onto a sailboat, and takes a job tending bar at a little joint called Dirty Alvin's.
Life is carefree until his mother's lover, a man who mentored Wes for years, is murdered on a Key West Beach. Reluctantly, Wes is drawn into a spinning web of murder, sex and deceit.
First there are his mother's pleas for help. Throw in a six-foot-tall red-headed stripper, a retired mobster who acts like it's the 1940's, a pair of dim-witted hit men, a phobic psychic named Elvis, a small fortune in stolen diamonds, and what do you have? Mayhem in Key West.

Also My historical Thriller, The Storm Killer goes from 1935 New York City to Key West where it concludes in the middle of a hurricane.

Mike Jastrzebski
Key Lime Blues
The Storm Killer

Posted on Aug 13, 2010 4:46:08 PM PDT
GPZ says:
Carl Hiassen is a given, also look at Randy Wayne White's DOC FORD mysteries
(excelent setting descriptions).
Stay away from Stuart Woods. In the one I read NO ONE sweats in the whole book.

Posted on Aug 14, 2010 12:29:42 PM PDT
kathleen says:
I recommend "Nine Florida Stories" by Marjory Stoneman Douglas. She grew up in Miami in the 1920's and writes some riveting tales about the Florida before Air Conditioning. The blistering omnipresent sun, the rapacious landgrabbers, the barren lonely pine flats, and the seductive but dangerous waters all make interesting contrast to the overpopulated, overbuilt Florida of today. Well, we do still have the rapacious landgrabbers.

Posted on Aug 16, 2010 4:58:33 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 16, 2010 5:48:01 AM PDT
Deborah Sharp's Mace Bauer series is set in Himmarshee, Florida. It's funny, very true to Southern women and to the culture of the small-town South. First in the series is Mama Does Time, then Mama Rides Shotgun (I've reviewed this one on Amazon), and Mama Gets Hitched, which I am about to begin. Mace is strong, maybe too much so for her own good. Mama is a much-married Southern matriarch. Mama Rides Shotgun is set on a cattle drive on the old Florida Cracker Trail, re-enacting the cattle drives that moved cattle across the state to market. Good series.

Edited to add: Himmarshee is based on Okeechobee, Florida. Central Florida is very different from coastal big cities.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 16, 2010 7:02:29 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 16, 2010 7:03:00 AM PDT
Glynn Marsh Alam has a series set in Florida and a new one coming out in Sept. Her protagonist is Luanne Fogarty and they are set in North Florida. Tide Water Talisman

Posted on Aug 16, 2010 7:05:29 AM PDT
Breeze says:
PJ Parrish has a series that is set in both Florida and Michigan. Interesting descriptions of the weather and mangroves. Great mystery series in general.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 16, 2010 7:10:22 AM PDT
Elmore Leonard sets lots of his books in FLA.

Posted on Aug 16, 2010 5:19:13 PM PDT
Amanda Peck says:
Zillions of people have written stories set in Florida, including one of the Anne George southern sisters series is set there--all I remember of it is a turtle laying eggs, with a park ranger or something giving a commentary.

There's a national park there out in the Keys, so Nevada Barr has a strange Anna Pigeon story set there (Dry Tortugas?) in which the action switches back and forth from her to a diary of a woman whose husband was stationed there just after the Civil War. I only heard this one, and the reader does a good job of separating out the voices. Not sure if they were separated by typography, but friends have complained about trying to keep the times and narrators separate..

Janet Evanovich has a good one--METRO GIRL--mostly in the Miami area. Now apparently only available in Audible. A friend of mine who'd lived there for years found it true. There was a sequel that I thought was pretty second rate.

Nancy Bartholomew has a series featuring Sierra Lavotini, exotic dancer in Panama City Florida. Earlier ones are better than the later. Her choice of detective is great. And I suspect that Panama City comes through.

Carolina Garcia-Aguilera's heroine is a Cuban-American princess turned private detective in the Miami area (except for the one where the whole family goes to Las Vegas NV). I liked that series a lot--life of the spoiled 2nd generation Cubans sounds good enough for me.

I remembered all these the books off the top of my head, although I had to check for spellings and authors and detectives. It's a great resource. Of course it doesn't tell you how they handle the sense of place. Or whether they can write or plot.

There's also a short (? I didn't like it) series featuring a woman in a retirement community somewhere on the gulf side. Partly because the humor left me cold (now that's definitely a YMMV--your mileage may vary--kind of statement. I have little tolerance for a lot of humor).

Posted on Aug 17, 2010 10:44:22 AM PDT
Pete D. says:
Hi everyone and thanks for your suggestions. Original poster here. I have read many books that are set in Florida including those by Carl Hiassen, Bob Morris, and John McDonald. They have all been fun reads with good plots and interesting characters. What I have found lacking are good location descriptions. As I said in the original post, I don't "feel" like I'm in Florida. That's what I'm looking for.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 17, 2010 1:06:13 PM PDT
I would like the same type of books. let me know if you find any.

Posted on Aug 17, 2010 1:33:11 PM PDT
Amanda Peck says:
Anne George's book may be an exception to the rule that "All books set somewhere you want to vacation so you can write it off as a tax deduction are terrible." There are a couple. Aaron Elkins' ICY CLUTCHES also comes to mind.

And the fact that I remember the beach walk and seeing the turtles may mean that even the resort community George set it in may come through as Florida. That's probably MURDER MAKES WAVES.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 17, 2010 1:43:07 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 20, 2010 7:53:55 AM PDT
ebooklover says:
I agree with Kathleen - Marjory Stoneman Douglas is a great one to read. I'll suggest THE EVERGLADES, River of Grass. (Essential Florida reading, though not a novel.)

Tim Dorsey is a lot of fun - and I have a mystery set on Florida's Gulf Coast.

Good luck!
Leave Me Gasping (A Del Jakes Mystery)

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 17, 2010 7:35:05 PM PDT
mysterywoman says:
Hi Peter,
You might like to try Cynthia Baxter's "Murder Packs a Suitcase". The protagonist is a travel writer is search of the Real Florida. This book even gives names and addresses of sights often missed which represent the "old Florida".

Hope this helps!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 18, 2010 8:48:37 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 18, 2010 8:49:40 AM PDT
janebbooks says:
Peter Ducklow, Dianne Fletcher-------try these authors

The Mango Opera (Alex Rutledge Mysteries) by TOM CORCORAN

Black Water (Tango Key Mysteries) by T. J. MacGregor

The Pardon (Jack Swyteck) by James Grippando

All three have written a bunch in their series. Corcoran has written six Alex Rutledge mysteries all with delicious sounding titles. Trish MacGregor has written under several names and has several series. I like her older McCleary P. I. series set in Miami but they may be hard to find. Grippando sets his legal thriller series in Miami.

Go to for their other titles and visit their websites!


In reply to an earlier post on Aug 18, 2010 9:46:18 AM PDT
MMcDonald says:
Glad you saw this post, Mike. I read the thread title, and immediately thought of your book.

Folks, I read the first chapter so far, and The Storm Killer is extremely well-written, with a great sense of place. Think of an old Bogart movie-- that's what I pictured when I read it.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 18, 2010 10:42:58 AM PDT
I am telling you, go for Elmore Leonard. He will make you feel like you are covered in sweat from the hot balmy weather.

Posted on Aug 18, 2010 4:53:31 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Mar 18, 2012 10:14:19 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 21, 2010 10:51:59 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 21, 2010 10:53:28 AM PDT
Hello, my name is Penny Langstaff. I'm trying to help my mom get the word out about her new mystery series. The title is Marlin, Darlin: Garnet Sullivan Live from Florida #1. The publisher is Cedar Hill Press. The reviews are awesome! Five stars! It's a lol hoot! It's only 99 cents till it catches on! Please check it out! Marlin, Darlin': Garnet Sullivan Live from Florida Thank you very much!

PS This is from one of the reviews "Her descriptions of life on the Florida coast are spot-on, and could only have been written by someone who has sunk their toes in the warm sand and foamy ebb tide, and picked sea oats off their clothing."

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 21, 2010 10:59:57 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Mar 17, 2012 11:45:19 PM PDT]

Posted on Aug 21, 2010 12:29:52 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 21, 2010 12:36:32 PM PDT
Last Island South
Out of Her Depth

A couple of Stuart Woods's potboilers are set in parts of Florida. As usual with his stuff, the earlier ones are best. I liked Choke, set in Key West, and Orchid Beach, in a "sort of" Vero Beach. Not lavish description, but decent depictions of how people live (at least of how they live in mystery novels).

One of the Scarpetta mysteries was set substantially in Key West. It's been a while; can't remember which one.

Self-interest dept: two of my more recent books (this runs counter to the theory noted above that stuff from twenty years ago is best) are set in Key West. A short story in Ellery Queen's was spun off from one of them, Last Island South, and got some nominations (but no bananas).

Posted on Aug 21, 2010 2:41:53 PM PDT
angiedanin says:
Jan Burke has a female crime reporter who lives and works in Miami. Good descriptions of locale and engaing heroine.
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Discussion in:  Mystery forum
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Total posts:  263
Initial post:  Aug 12, 2010
Latest post:  5 days ago

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