For the month of September we have been crisscrossing the nation, visiting Los Angeles, New Orleans, Chicago, and Seattle talking about the uniqueness of Crime Fiction from each of these places, and learning about the fictional detectives who work those streets.
Most Seattleites will agree that while Seattle is a wonderful world-class city in its own right, one of the best parts of living here is the access to the magnificent outdoors. Surrounded by mountains, rain forest, and water (and water and more water), the city is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream just a short drive from some of the most breathtaking mountain hikes in the world, surfing, kayaking, camping, skiing, and any number of other activities.
From the lush greenery of the Cascade and Olympic mountains to the forests of evergreens, the Emerald City has earned its moniker. While many think of Seattle’s wonderful activities, let’s face it, most people immediately think of the weather – dark, gray, and rainy – or its location – isolated, distant, and remote. The truth is that Seattle is all these things. Maybe it’s this dark remoteness, or the thick forest and quiet moving rivers, or isolated sheds in the mountains that stir the imaginations of a few real monsters. From Ted Bundy to Gary Ridgway, some of the most notorious serial killers in our nation's history committed their crimes in the Northwest.
Some of the best fiction written about Seattle and surrounding areas features a darker perspective. Perhaps it’s the history of heinous crime, or maybe it’s just the sinister possibilities lurking in the remote outdoors backing right up to residents’ s yards. Over the years Seattle crime fiction and detectives featured on the page and screen have become notorious in their own right.
Here are a few of our editors’ favorite Seattle area detectives:
Mark Frost and David Lynch’s Dale Cooper: Based in Seattle, FBI agent Cooper travels to the fictional Washington state town of Twin Peaks in the classic cult show of the same name. Who killed Laura Palmer? This question haunts his often bizarre dreams as a deranged serial killer hunts in the tiny town.
G.M Ford’s Leo Waterman: Some of the best detectives are the ones with that tough, grumpy shell just waiting to be cracked open to reveal the sweet heart-of-gold center. Leo is just this kind of detective, at times brutal, but always smart and funny, and his cases run the gamut from dangerous thrills to thoughtful issues. His first case even deals with environmental politics, and if that’s not “Seattle crime” what is?
Robert Dugoni’s Tracy Crosswhite: On the road to being married and settling down to a quiet life, Tracy’s life takes an abrupt left turn when her sister is brutally murdered. In that moment her life changes forever. Tracy joins the Seattle PD and makes her life about the pursuit of justice. As a homicide detective she does just that in a series of cold cases and current serial killers, never forgetting the victims and their anxious families
JA Jance’s JP Beaumont: Jonas Piedmont Beaumont is not your average detective – not with his unlimited bank account and red Porsche. Despite having enough money to spend the rest of his life on permanent vacation, Beau continues to work because putting away the bad guy and seeking justice for the good are what give his life meaning.
Veena Sud’s Det. Sarah Linden: It really doesn’t rain that hard in Seattle, but that aside the recent television series The Killing is a satisfying bite of life here, complete with layered clothing and house boats. When Rosie Larsen is found on Linden’s last day on the job before moving to California, she can’t let go. Driven to find the truth, her struggle to keep her son on track while managing her growing paranoia and possible madness set the stage for a crime solver who is both so human and impossible.