Visit Missouri in Fiction and Reality

Book PhotosI recently saw Janet Evanovich, NY Times Best-Selling author, on a morning news show talking up her new book, co-authored with Lee Goldberg. I’ve read some of her other stuff, and this new book sounded like something I would enjoy.

She was promoting the second book in the series, and I’m rather obsessive about reading books in order, so I filed it away in the back of my mind.

Fast forward a week or so, and I noticed the first book, The Heist, in paperback while shopping, so I threw it in the cart.

It’s a fun read, and the lead characters had traveled through LA, Vegas and Greece by chapter eight. They were in Berlin being chased by bad guys when they agreed to meet up in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, in four days. Say what?

It’s always fun to see someplace you know show up in popular fiction. The characters meet in a hotel where I have stayed, though it has been given a different name.  And you certainly can’t fly direct from JFK to Cape Girardeau the way the heroine did. Still, it’s exciting to recognize places and it’s even more so when you promote those places for a living.

This got me thinking of other Missouri locations showing up in fiction. Probably the most well-known is “Gone Girl,” which is set in the fictional North Carthage, Missouri, near Hannibal on the Mississippi River. We don’t have a North Carthage. We have a Carthage in southwest Missouri, more than five hours away. Call it poetic license.

Gone Girl Close Up Police Station Sign II

“Gone Girl” is going to bring even more attention to Missouri with the release of the movie in about six months. And it was filmed in Cape Girardeau, which was remade into North Carthage. How cool is that?

There is a cozy mystery series by Rett MacPherson that features a genealogist named Torie O’Shea, who lives in New Kassel, a small river town south of St. Louis. We don’t have a New Kassel, but I have a few ideas of towns that it could be.

There’s another series by Suzan Ledbetter set in the Missouri Ozarks. These books, called the Hannah Garvey Mysteries,  feature a retirement community live-in manager and are set in Sanity, Missouri. It’s another fictional town that still gives you the flavor of the area, this time the Missouri Ozarks. It’s light, funny, escapist reading.

In all these cases, the books paint a picture of Missouri that’s a blend of fiction and reality. It’s worth visiting these areas to see for yourself.


Two new books that take place in Missouri:

The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

A Good American by Alex George.

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