“I am a killing machine but a happy one — I get all my resentments out in my books,” Louise Penny told The Times earlier this year. Her latest novel, “Kingdom of the Blind,” once again stars Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec, Canada’s provincial police force. Gamache lives in the postcard-pretty outpost of Three Pines, which — Penny has always made clear — is based on the village in Canada’s Eastern Townships where she lives.
A guide to the Eastern Townships includes a map highlighting real-life locations in Penny’s novels, so people can visit the bookshop from “How the Light Gets In” or the boulangerie in “The Cruelest Month.” And they can find places that inspired Penny, too, like the house that unnerves Gamache in “Dead Cold”: “Buildings, he told himself, were just everyday materials. There’s nothing special about this place. But still the house seemed to moan and shiver.”
Penny fans, of course, aren’t the only ones who like to visit places featured in their favorite novels.
The town of New Bern, N.C., recently drew up a walking tour for visitors who wanted to visit sites — parks, movie theaters, cemeteries — featured in Nicholas Sparks’s novels. And so many people came to Louisiana’s New Iberia Parish looking for places from James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux books that the parish created a guide to the detective’s favorite real-life haunts, like the Bon Creole lunch counter, Victor’s Cafeteria, even the local streets. “I drove down East Main under the arched live oaks that spanned the street, toward the Shadows, a red brick and white-columned antebellum home built in 1831 on Bayou Teche,” Robicheaux says in “Cadillac Jukebox.” There are also dozens of maps for novels set in Salem, Mass., including the 2006 cult favorite “The Lace Reader,” by Brunonia Barry.
Michael Connelly doesn’t have a map on his website, but he maintains a photo gallery there, directing fans to over 100 actual locations in his Los Angeles novels, from chili-dog stands to doughnut shops. The Eastside Luv, “a corner bar with a mural on the outside wall showing an old mariachi with white whiskers and a wide-brim hat” that his famous detective, Bosch, visits in “The Crossing”? It’s real. So is the Chinese Friends Restaurant in “The Closers,” “a small place on Broadway at the end of Chinatown where they knew they could still get a table. … If you didn’t get there by noon you ordered takeout and you had to sit and eat on the bus benches out front in the sun.”
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