Are there good crime novels set on farms or based around agriculture?
January 14, 2013 7:18 AM   Subscribe

I was wondering if there are good examples of crime novels set on farms or based around agriculture. Novels like In True Blood, or Gillian Flynn's Dark Places or the new Image Comics series Revival. I'm interested in discovering if there's more crime fiction not set in cities, but more rural and based around farming.
posted by Peemster to Media & Arts (29 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:27 AM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

The Sherlock Holmes story "Silver Blaze" mostly takes place on a farm. (That's the one which gave us "the curious incident of the dog in the night time".)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:30 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

All That I Have, by Castle Freeman, is narrated by a small-town sheriff up in Vermont and includes some crime. Not sure it's a "Crime novel" per se, but it is a great read.
posted by gauche at 7:42 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Hamish Macbeth novels are set in rural Scotland.

The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency novels take place in Gaborone, but have a strong rural theme.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:42 AM on January 14, 2013

Daniel Woodrell has written terrific "country noir" novels set in Appalachia, not exactly farm stuff but definitely boondock stuff. A good film, "Winter's Bone," I think it was called, is based on one of them.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 7:44 AM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Tony Hillerman's tribal police novels.
posted by drlith at 7:56 AM on January 14, 2013

Winter's Bone
posted by Artw at 7:56 AM on January 14, 2013

Author C. J. Box's series features Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett. Open Season is the first of many in the series.

Author Nevada Barr has many mysteries featuring National Park Service ranger Anna Pigeon.
posted by stampsgal at 7:59 AM on January 14, 2013

This Margaret Maron series is set in rural North Carolina.
posted by fuse theorem at 8:25 AM on January 14, 2013

Lowcountry Bribe by Hope Clark is set in rural South Carolina -- the heroine is a state Department of Agriculture agent.
posted by Shoggoth at 8:27 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

The best Nero Wolfe book, Some Buried Caesar, is set on a farm in upstate NY.
posted by selfmedicating at 8:41 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

There's also Death of Dude, in rural Montana.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:46 AM on January 14, 2013

Linda Castillo's Kate Burkholder series is definitely rural and may fit the bill. They all take place in Amish country, and Kate is a police captain who grew up Amish and rejected it. A lot of the action centers around the juxtapositon of Amish life and the violence of the world around it, which I quite like, but I will warn you that the depictions of the violence are quite graphic.

Another of my favorites is Don Harstad. Sadly, it seems he only wrote 5 books or so, and some are out of print - a real shame because I think they're excellent and just what you're looking for. The books are set in rural Iowa. If you want slower-paced and less sensational depictions of rural settings and police work, you can't go wrong with Harstad. Eleven Days was his first book.

Also second Nevada Barr, Tony Hillerman and CJ Box.
posted by widdershins at 8:54 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I forgot to mention that agriculture features prominently in both Castillo and Harstad's books, with parts of the plots intricately linked to farming practices and tools.

Barr, Hillerman and Box are rural but not necessarily agriculture/farming based.
posted by widdershins at 9:01 AM on January 14, 2013

Rural setting, yes (extremely!); farming, no – but trapping, yes: The Tenderness of Wolves is a densely atmospheric mystery set in the 19th century Canadian frontier. I totally loved it.
posted by taz at 9:05 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Peter Bowen's Montana mysteries feature Gabriel Du Pré, who is a brand inspector. Ranches aren't exactly farms, but running cattle is certainly a form of agriculture. And the books are fairly entertaining to boot.
posted by dersins at 9:12 AM on January 14, 2013

Donald Harstad has a terrific series set in rural Iowa.
posted by OolooKitty at 9:24 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ooops. What widdershins said. Let this be a strong second recommendation for his books, which I loved. I really wish he were still writing them.
posted by OolooKitty at 9:26 AM on January 14, 2013

Elmore Leonard's "Mr Majestyk" is about a watermelon farmer. Read the book, skip the Charles Bronson movie.
posted by cosmicbandito at 9:49 AM on January 14, 2013

Lee Child's "Echo Burning" is set in Texas ranch land. (It's the best Jack Reacher book, in my opinion.)
posted by Carol Anne at 10:05 AM on January 14, 2013

Large parts of Elizabeth George's This Body of Death take place on farms.
posted by dizziest at 11:03 AM on January 14, 2013

Response by poster: These are all fantastic! Thanks much to everyone.
posted by Peemster at 11:35 AM on January 14, 2013

Mördare utan ansikte (aka Faceless Killers) by Henning Mankell. Besides the murder happenning at a very isolated farm, there were other rural aspects to the story such as the detective's father.
posted by 99percentfake at 11:55 AM on January 14, 2013

If horse farms and racing stables count, Dick Francis is your guy.
posted by Daily Alice at 12:00 PM on January 14, 2013

Seconding Faceless Killers/Mördare utan ansikte. It's the first publication to feature Kurt Wallander, Mankell's most famous detective. Wallander is a police detective in Ystad, a port city on the south coast of Sweden, and deals with rural crime as much as urban, broadly speaking.
posted by Sunburnt at 1:01 PM on January 14, 2013

Rita Mae Brown's Hunt series is set in rural Virginia, and has a lot of neat agricultural/farming references sprinkled throughout.
posted by PlantGoddess at 3:59 PM on January 14, 2013

Spell-checking Bibirose here not to be a jerk but because it seems important for looking-up purposes: Sharyn McCrumb, not Shayn McCrumb. Seconding this recommendation.
posted by srs airbag at 4:47 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ellen Crosby's Wine Country Mysteries are actually set in rural Virginia, not one of the obvious guesses like Napa or some region of France. She goes into a lot of detail about the grapes, the stages of the growing seasons, the mechanisms of the aging process, all that, as well as all of the people involved.

(I've never resurrected a thread like this before! Exciting!)
posted by Madamina at 11:10 AM on June 3, 2013

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