A new book launched this month enables unimpeded international travel with open borders. Readers can easily fly to destinations around the globe, as Keith Lyons finds out.
There are no pre-screening forms to fill out, no health tests required, and no quarantines to endure. You don’t even need to mask up. That’s right, you could instantly be transported to another world, another country, another place. That’s the unexpected bonus for borderless readers in the The Whole Wide World (Sweetycat Press), a unique crime fiction anthology co-authored by different 80 writers, with each chapter set in a new location.
Locations include Chennai, New Delhi, Bangalore, Kochin, and Kolkata, as well as the Maldives, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Japan. Through the wonderful medium of the printed word, access to exotic places can only happen virtually — through the imagination — rather than in real life.
The newly released detective book was written and produced during a time when most of the world’s 7.9 billion population have been under Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns, stay-at-home orders or cross-border travel restrictions. However, armchair travelers and avid sleuths can follow the twists and turns of a transnational manhunt crisscrossing the globe.
The plot centres around efforts to solve one of the greatest heists ever pulled off, with Detective Curly Knucklewad and his assistant Wanda Wowzer pursuing leads and clues in search of the thief who stole a secret recipe.
Authors selected for the anthology include award-winning detective writers, lawyers, TV news correspondents, and college English professors. There is even a Vietnam War Top Secret counter-insurgency writer and press agency photographer.
Sweetycat Press publisher and editor Steve Carr wanted the experimental project to highlight not just the 80 authors selected for inclusion in the book, but also diverse settings throughout the planet, ranging from Kolkata’s Chinatown to ‘Indian Switzerland’, Ooty. “The book is really a global initiative, with contributing authors from 18 countries around the world, including the United States, Australia, India, and Canada, as well as the Maldives, Nigeria, Israel, and Mexico. As a result, The Whole Wide World takes readers on a journey to nearly two dozen nations, as well as under-water, back to the 1970s, and to the final frontier: outer space.”
Mr Carr says although contributors were given a short brief with just two main characters and the master plot, and the book was compiled in the order the submissions were received, suspense is maintained throughout the novel. “Each chapter has a unique location, with every author bringing their own fresh perspective, voice and tone to the manhunt. The parts range from comic to chilling. Even though the locations jump around from one episode to the next, incredibly each instalment builds anticipation and follows on from the previous part, with the storyline remaining consistent.”
For some contributors, such as Myanmar’s San Lin Tun, English is not their first language: “With around two billion people speaking or reading English, I am pleased to have my work and my location represented in this global project. Many of the original Sherlock Holmes stories were adapted and translated into the Burmese language in the 1930s, so in placing my episode of the crime caper in Myanmar, I am following in the footsteps of that tradition. I have always wanted to write Yangon Noir, and this anthology gives me a chance to showcase it.”
The short action-packed episodes of ‘The Whole Wide World’ will have broad appeal, says Thailand-based travel writer Christopher Winnan, author of Around the World in Eighty Documentaries.”This new book about an international manhunt is a great idea, and in this post-pandemic world, it shows the value of co-operation and collaboration beyond borders, as well as the value of armchair travel in exploring the world in a more sustainable, zero-carbon way. The Whole Wide World joins the list of ‘must-reads’ for 2021 for any stay-at-home sleuth-hound, amateur private investigator or wannabe gumshoe. Ultimately The Whole Wide World is about re-discovering the joy of international travel and place, something almost all of us are missing right now.”
The Whole Wide World publisher Virginia-based Sweetycat Press (www.Sweetycatpress.com) was founded in 2020 to support and encourage new writers, and each year produces a Who’s Who of Emerging Writers.
With some of the biggest names in crime fiction failing to make the cut and new debut authors among those shortlisted for the Scottish McIlvanny Prize this week, Mr Carr believes readers might discover some exciting new talent in the pages of The Whole Wide World, even if they don’t solve the case with Detective Curly Knucklewad. “Readers are fascinated by the characters, the tension of their relationships, and the unresolved mystery, as well as the broader themes of intellectual property theft, the quest for answers, and ultimately, human nature.”
Keith Lyons (keithlyons.net) is an award-winning writer, author and creative writing mentor, who gave up learning to play bagpipes in a Scottish pipe band to focus on after-dark tabs of dark chocolate, early morning slow-lane swimming, and the perfect cup of masala chai tea. Find him@KeithLyonsNZ or blogging at Wandering in the World (http://wanderingintheworld.com).
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