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Jakob Arjouni's books are fast-paced and grimly realistic thrillers that take their underworld setting seriously. Amsterdam Inspector Piet Van der Valk is a solid successor to Maigret, surfing the changes to Dutch culture from the early 1960s to 1972, when his author killed him off.
Nicolas Freeling was British, but his books couldn't be more European. Berlin No list of supersleuths would be complete with Emil Tischbein, the serious young hero of Erich Kästner's children's classic.
Oxford Inspector Morse is really the last of a type: the glum intellectual copper, happier solving murders over a pint than in a forensics lab. Read 'He Died With His Eyes Open' (Serpent's Tail) 13.
Colin Dexter's novels revel in their donnish Oxford setting. London Home to Sherlock Holmes, obviously – but why not try the Factory novels by Derek Raymond (aka Robin Cook, born just around the corner from Baker Street)? Brighton The South Coast has never been more sinister than in these novels featuring Detective Superintendent Roy Grace.
As well as series set in Spain and Africa, this stand-alone novel featuring an Inspector Zé Coelho tackles present-day Portugal and its dark Nazi past. Madrid You'll be hard pressed to find a stranger sleuth than Carlos Clot, but then nothing is simple in Rafael Reig's Madrid.
The dead investigate their own murders, Spain is part of America and a droll, warped surrealism rules. Marseille The sunlit Côte d'Azur gets a severe going over in Jean-Claude Izzo's books, which are full of gang warfare, racism and crime, both organised and disorganised.
Joensuu served in the Helsinki police for 35 years, and his unforced realism and sympathetic stance makes Harjunpaa one of the most appealing sleuths around. St Petersburg Another period piece, this time by the British author RN Morris, who cheekily borrows Dostoevsky's detective Porfiry Petrovich from Crime and Punishment.
Read 'The Last Llanelli Train' (Serpent's Tail) 11.
The Cetin Ikmen books by Barbara Nadel, a British writer, are full of local colour but are more soft- than hard-boiled. Detective Meyer Landsman is a policeman in an alternative reality where Alaska, not Israel, became the national home for the Jews after the Second World War. Honolulu He is one of the iconic sleuths, but there are only six Charlie Chan novels from the hand of his creator, Earl Derr Biggers.
The Chinese-American Chan holds the sleuth record for family size: he and his wife have 14 children. Seattle The rainy city finds its match in GM Ford's Frank Corso, a journalist-turned-writer with a heart of ice.
Peter James writes about Brighton as if it were some godforsaken American town. Normandy You might think that Maigret, Georges Simenon's gruff, obstinate detective – would be synonymous with Paris, but he did venture out of it.
One atmospheric excursion was to a quiet town on the Normandy coast. Paris For a contemporary police procedural that lives up to the legacy of Maigret, look no further than the dense, gripping Chief Inspector Adamsberg novels by Fred Vargas, two times winner of the International Dagger award. Galicia Domingo Villar's classy modern noir, featuring disillusioned cop Leo Caldas, starts with the gruesome murder of a young saxophonist. Jazz is the true soundtrack to the noir thriller, even when it is set in sunny northern Spain. Lisbon British author Robert Wilson astutely sets his crime books off the beaten track.
If you prefer some caper with your cadavers, try Ford's lighter, more goofy Leo Waterman books. San Francisco It's Los Angeles that Easy Rawlins calls home, of course, but in Cinnamon Kiss he's up the coast in San Francisco, smack bang in the middle of the Summer of Love. You could make a list of 80 sleuths who have trodden the mean streets of just this town alone.