1. The Birthday Girl, by Sarah Ward

The fictional island of Eldey – on which we meet three women, all with a motive for murder – is based on Caldey Island off the coast of Pembrokeshire. The Cistercian monastery on the island is open to visitors in the summer; something which inspired the author to create a fictional convent as a key element of this suspenseful read.

2. Her Last Holiday, by CL Taylor

Fran signs up for a wellness retreat in rural north Wales, hoping to discover what happened to her sister Jenna, who disappeared from a retreat run by the same company in Gozo, two years previously. Firmly rooted in Eryri (Snowdonia), the retreat guests take a trip to a whitewater rafting centre, so readers can enjoy a vicarious adventure without getting wet…

3. None So Blind, by Alis Hawkins

The first in the Teifi Valley Coroner series, set in Victorian Wales and featuring blind coroner Harry Probert-Lloyd. The series takes place in an area between Aberaeron and Eglwyswrw, and showcases Newcastle Emlyn, Cardigan, Tregaron, Lampeter, Llanddewi Brefi and more. Many of the buildings described in the books are still to be seen now, and readers can even walk through the very woods where a victim’s remains are unearthed in None So Blind.

Front cover of The Birthday Girl book by Sarah Ward
Front cover of Her Last Holiday by CL Taylor
Front cover of None So Blind by Alis Hawkins
The Birthday Girl by Sarah Ward, Her Last Holiday, by CL Taylor and None So Blind by Alis Hawkins

4. Do Not Disturb, by Claire Douglas

Kirsty jumps at the chance of a fresh start away from traumatic events in London, but will running a guesthouse in the Welsh mountains be as idyllic as it sounds? Spoiler alert: it will not. Take a trip to Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) in this tense and claustrophobic thriller, set in a fictitious town the author tells me was inspired by Crickhowell.

5. Talking to the Dead, by Harry Bingham

The first of six novels in this popular series based around the South Wales Major Crimes Unit, featuring Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths. In this tautly plotted police procedural, DC Griffiths investigates the brutal killings of a woman and her six-year-old daughter. The only clue: the platinum bank card of a long-dead tycoon.

6. The Wrexham Killings, by Simon McCleave

If you can’t make it up to north Wales in person, there’s no better way to explore the area than through the Snowdonia Murder Mystery Series, starring Detective Inspector Ruth Hunter, formerly of the Metropolitan Police. McCleave’s novels feature several locations in the area, including Portmeirion, Lake Vyrnwy, Anglesey… and now Wrexham.

Front cover of Do Not Disturb by Clare Douglas
Front cover of Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham
Front cover of The Wrexham Killings by Simon McCleave
Do Not Disturb by Clare Douglas, Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham and The Wrexham Killings by Simon McCleave

7. Rubbernecker, by Belinda Bauer

Medical student Patrick Fort is drawn into danger when the body he is examining in class reveals more than the anatomy he’s supposed to be studying. The author, Belinda Bauer, began her career as a court reporter in Cardiff, and she returns to the city for this exceptional thriller, which won crime novel of the year in 2014.

8. The Hotel, by Louise Mumford

Four students travel to Ravencliffe, an abandoned hotel perched on a Welsh clifftop. One of them never leaves. Ten years later, the remaining three reunite at the hotel to establish once and for all what happened. The setting was inspired by real-life The Cliff Hotel and Spa in Cardigan Bay, West Wales, which was built as part of a grand plan in the late 1800s to create a ‘New Brighton’ on the stunning Pembrokeshire coast.

9. The Beach House, by Beverley Jones

A former media manager for South Wales Police, Beverley Jones channels her experience of true crime into this fast-paced thriller, which begins with Grace returning to her Oregon home to find a body in a pool of blood. The murder is a consequence of events that took place seventeen years previously in her home of south Wales. Readers familiar with the area might recognise Ogmore Castle, with its famous stepping stones; as well as the gruesome folk legend, ‘The Cap Goch’.

10. The Last Party, by Clare Mackintosh

With so many brilliant crime novels set in Wales, how could I not write one of my own? The Last Party is the first in a series featuring Welsh detective DC Ffion Morgan. It takes place in a fictional location in Eryri (Snowdonia), where the border between England and Wales runs through the middle of a lake. When a body is found floating in the icy water on New Year’s Day, Ffion is paired with an English detective, Leo Brady, to investigate the murder.

Front cover of Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer
Front cover of The Hotel by Louise Mumford
Front cover of The Last Party by Clare Mackintosh
Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer, The Hotel by Louise Mumford and The Last Party by Clare Mackintosh  

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