London 2012: Five Olympic books of death

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With the final preparations for London 2012 nearing completion – and all those confusing flags being sorted out – we thought it might be fun to take a look at this global sporting occasion from a darker angle. So if you’re likely to be need a distraction from the butterfly stroking and heptathalating, how about a gold medal mystery featuring murderers most foul and world-beating sleuths? Here are five Olympic-inspired pieces of crime fiction for London 2012…

See Delphi and Die by Lindsey Davis
Although not strictly death at the Olympics, it seemed rather appropriate to kick things off with a trip back to the ancient world, and more specifically, the birthplace of the games themselves. Who better to be our guide than Marcus Didius Falco? Falco and girlfriend Helena are on the tourist trail in Greece when they hear of the murders of a young girl and a newly married woman at Olympia. With the authorities failing to conduct a proper investigation, Falco decides he has no option but to step in but things soon become dangerous, and are further complicated when the bridegroom and Helena’s brother disappear.
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If The Dead Rise Not by Philip Kerr
We move forward to the controversial Berlin Olympics of 1936 for our second book and the fourth outing for now ex-homicide detective Bernie Gunther. Now working as a hotel detective in the exclusive Adlon Hotel, his expertise is called upon when the bodies of a businessman and a Jewish boxer are discovered. Guther finds himself investigating the hotel guests. But what he finds lurking beneath the surface is a corrupt network of criminal racketeers who are hoping to tap into some of the wealth that the ruling Nazis have amassed in order to showcase Germany to the rest of the world.
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The Blue Fence by Jonathan Hales
Hales brings us back up to date with the first of two crime novels that are centred around the London Games, and a trip into the city’s criminal underworld for a tale of conspiracy, murder, corruption and the international drugs trade. Danny Ballard was a musical prodigy as a child, but she also just happens to be the daughter of London’s most notorious gangster. Now grown up, Danny has made a career for herself playing piano in a West End nightclub, but the past she has been trying to escape is about to catch up with her in a chance encounter that will not only force her to face up to her past, but also some more modern dangers of the lethal variety.
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A Private Business by Barbara Nadel
Amid the glamour of the Olympic Park, there’s a darker, more deprived side to East London, and these are the streets where PI Lee Arnold and his assistant Mumtaz Hakim embark on their investigations. Arnold has been hired by a controversial female comedian who believes she’s being followed, but are her fears justified? As the pair dig deeper they start to find that there’s something more complex and sinister going on than a simple case of stalking.
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Private Games by James Patterson
Our final offering is yet another mystery that finds the games themselves coming under attack by persons unknown. Final preparations are under way and London is preparing to take centre stage, but somewhere a killer is also readying to exact vengeance. The brutal murder of Sir Denton Marshall, a key member of the Olympic organising committee, sparks an investigation by its private security team led by Peter Knight. It soon becomes clear that Marshall’s death was far from an isolated incident and with the world’s elite athletes preparing to gather, Knight realises he must track down Denton’s killer – thousands of lives may be at stake.
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