September 8 – 14: “What are some surprise cities that might take center stage in the future of thrillers?”

thriller-roundtable-logo5The Cold War ended in the late 1980s, yet Russia still plays a key role in many modern-day thrillers. This week ITW Members Sharon Linnea, David Swatling, Todd Moss, Robert Boeder and Alex Shaw discuss some surprise cities that might take center stage in the future?


Cold Black ENDEAVOURAlex Shaw spent the second half of the 1990s in Kyiv, Ukraine, teaching Drama and running his own business consultancy before being head-hunted for Siemens. The next few years saw him travelling across the former USSR, the Middle East and Africa. He is the author of the Aidan Snow SAS thrillers HETMAN & COLD BLACK and the DELTA FORCE VAMPIRE series. DANGEROUS, DEADLY, ELITE – the new Aidan Snow thriller will be available late 2014.


Plagues of Eden by Sharon Linnea and B.K. ShererSharon Linnéa is the co-author of the bestselling Eden thrillers (CHASING EDEN, BEYOND EDEN, and TREASURE OF EDEN), as well as the mystery THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS and award-winning biographies. She lives outside of New York City with her family.


Calvin's Head by David SwatlingDavid Swatling grew up in New York, studied theatre, and moved to Amsterdam in 1985. He produced arts and culture programs for Radio Netherlands and is three-time winner of the NLGJA Excellence in Journalism Award. CALVIN’S HEAD is his first novel.


Moss_THE-GOLDEN-HOUR-678x1024Todd Moss, formerly the top American diplomat in West Africa, draws on his real-world experiences inside the U.S. Government to bring to life the exhilaration—and frustrations—of modern-day diplomacy. THE GOLDEN HOUR was originally inspired by the August 2008 coup d’état in Mauritania when Todd was dispatched by Secretary Condoleezza Rice to negotiate with the junta leader. Todd is also the author of several non-fiction books on Africa. He is now Senior Fellow and COO at the Center for Global Development, a think-tank in Washington DC and lives in Maryland with his family.

coverRobert Boeder is the author of two thrillers, Red Star Over Pattaya set in Thailand,  and Zambezi River Bridge that takes place in Southern Africa.  He has also published the prize winning historical novel The Chinese Laundry and Silverton Burning, both set in Southwestern Colorado as well as two non-fiction works on long distance trail running, Beyond the Marathon and Hardrock Fever.  Boeder divides his time between Colorado and Thailand.



  1. I’m sure we’ll continue to see lots of thrillers based in Russia and the Middle East, but I expect new locations will become more popular as the nature of the national security threats facing the United States evolve. Some of the wildest and least familiar places (or what the US military calls “ungoverned spaces”) are becoming more important than ever. The US has a base in Djibouti to conduct counterterrorism operations in places like Yemen and Somalia. The US military just added a new drone base in Niger to patrol the Sahara Desert. Thrillers will catch up to these changes too. My first novel, THE GOLDEN HOUR takes place in Mali in West Africa. Other recent thrillers include Tom Young’s SAND AND FIRE (Libya), Alex Berenson’s NIGHTRANGER (Somalia), and Matt Palmer’s THE AMERICAN MISSION (Congo).

    In addition to the new-threat hotspots, I think we’ll see more thrillers about countries that should be undergoing political upheaval at some point soon: Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, Cuba. My second book MINUTE ZERO (fall 2015) takes place in Zimbabwe, another country ripe for political turmoil. My third book (2016) is set in Cuba. We’ll soon also see Clive Cussler’s HAVANA STORM (Oct 2014) and Randy Wayne White’s CUBA STRAIGHTS (Mar 2015).

  2. Amsterdam sometimes pops up in international thrillers as a stopover location on the way to somewhere else. But that could be changing. In the past few months, two new crime series set in the Dutch capital have been introduced: David Hewson’s The House of Dolls and Lonely Graves by Britta Bolt (both from UK publishers.) The city’s reputation for tolerating usually illicit activities, such as drugs and prostitution, is beginning to clash with increasingly conservative local attitudes. The charming Old World facades provide a backdrop behind which past and present secrets may be hidden. With its heady mix of historical, political, cultural, and criminal elements, Amsterdam is rich with possibility for thrillers. And I hear Dan Brown has spent some time there recently.

  3. In 2011 flooding drove my wife and I out of her house in Pathum Thani, a Bangkok suburb. We moved south to Pattaya, a resort city on the Gulf of Thailand with a richly deserved reputation as a sex tourism destination. I was prepared for Walking Street, the main red light (some would say huge blinking red beacon) district, but I wasn’t ready for the thousands of Russian tourists, mainly Siberians, who buy cheap package tours to spend a few weeks in Pattaya during the winter. Cyrillac alphabet signs adorn many Thai-owned businesses, Pegas Touristick buses full of Russians prowl the streets, and there is even a Russian Orthodox church, All Saints, in Pattaya to save the souls of Russians who have settled in the city. Russian criminals have also answered the call of tropical beaches and engage in prostitution, murder, robbery, extortion, gambling among other activities. This mix of desperation, sleaze, colorful characters, and perfect weather set my imagination on fire and Red Star Over Pattaya was the result. The heroes of my thriller are an aging American private investigator and his Thai partner. Russian thugs are the villains, and, for the most part, Russian women are the victims. John Burdett’s fans are familiar with Bangkok as a thriller setting in Southeast Asia. For me, Pattaya was irresistible.

  4. Wow, some interesting locales. I am also thinking that the vast continent of Africa, with all its upheaval and unrest can provide fascinating covers for mega-villains manipulating world events. Who is going into Al-Fashir to find them?

    In PLAGUES OF EDEN, “water to blood” happened in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Again, the political landscape of South American countries is rife with opportunities of the most nefarious kinds.

    It’s also likely that China will turn up more often. “China,” of course isn’t just a huge, singular society, but large patchwork of very different ethnicities. We set a large part of PLAGUES in China’s remote Ningxia Autonomous Region because of its entry into the world wine growers market, and the international webs that necessitates.

  5. My thrillers are primarily set in Ukraine and with Russian unfortunately invading Ukraine at the moment my adopted home has been thrust into the international arena.

    I initially started writing about Ukraine as I lived there at the time and found that as a location it had been overlooked by international authors. Indeed many references to places in Ukraine were attributed to being Russian for example one book I read repeatedly said Kiev, Russia! I constantly find Kyiv referred to as Kiev. The capital of Ukraine is ‘KYIV’ not ‘KIEV’, Kiev is the translation from Russian into English.

  6. As Todd Moss points out, Africa is an up and coming thriller setting. Thirty-eight years of my work life was devoted to Africa, first as a Peace Corps Volunteer English teacher in Malawi, then as an academic at various U.S. and African universities including the University of Zambia, and finally as an intelligence analyst for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Ft. Bragg, N.C. So it’s no surprise that my thriller, ZAMBEZI RIVER BRIDGE, takes place in Southern Africa during the volatile decade of the 1970’s when Zimbabwe freedom fighters were battling the Rhodesian government for their independence. I lived through some of the events in ZAMBEZI RIVER BRIDGE which mixes fact with fiction and features guest appearances by Henry Kissinger and Riohard Nixon while Vietnam vet, Steve Fuller, battles Soviet agents intent on disrupting Victoria Falls peace talks between the liberation groups and Ian Smith’s white minority government.

    1. Thanks Robert. Rhodesian history is fascinating so I’m looking forward to reading ZAMBEZI RIVER BRIDGE.

  7. My next thriller (which I’ve got to get to my publisher for the 1st of November) is in part set in and around Ukraine, action taking place in Kyiv, Moscow, Odessa and Russian occupied Sevastopol. These are cities that are now in the headlines. If we are thinking of how the current Russian situation will influence future thriller writing then of course Tallinn, Vilnius and Riga will appear in more published works. The surprise cities will be the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad and Tiraspol the capital city of Transdniester (the disputed autonomous region of Moldova).
    If we are looking further afield then I’d place my bets of North Africa and Saudi Arabia.

MATCH UP: In stores now!


ThrillerFest XVI: Register Today!



One of the most successful anthologies in the history of publishing!