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A Sunny Place For Shady People

The car bomb assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia shocked the European Union and put the world’s spotlight on an island so small that few knew it was an independent country, and even fewer could find it on the map. But Daphne’s death didn’t come as a surprise to those who lived there.

Ryan Murdock spent six years in Malta, where he watched an organized criminal network take over the government of a European Union member state with the widespread support of its citizens.

They built a kleptocracy mired in alleged six-figure kickbacks, money laundering, human trafficking, fuel smuggling, and the sale of EU passports to Russian and Middle Eastern oligarchs.

Daphne was exposing this plan when she was killed. The Office of the Prime Minister was implicated in her murder, but no politicians have been arrested or charged.

A Sunny Place For Shady People blends travel writing and political reportage to show why a journalist could be killed in broad daylight in such a small place, and why those who ordered the hit have gotten away with it. The roots of it all are deeply embedded in the culture.

“Murdock writes with a biting wit that shades into somber lyricism. It’s a potent portrayal of a society mired in corruption.” — Publishers Weekly 

“True crime in the sun! In this gripping and thoughtful book, Ryan Murdock lifts the lid on an island he made home, uncovering ‘virtual’ piracy and an astonishing story of skulduggery and menace. A great read.” — Sara Wheeler, author of Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica

“A meticulously researched and gripping portrait of Malta’s decades of corruption and the assassination of its foremost journalist. It is a terrifying story, and Ryan Murdock tells it extremely well.”  — Caroline Moorehead, author of Mussolini’s Daughter: The Most Dangerous Woman in Europe

“Malta was always eccentric, insular (in every sense), and vaguely roguish. But between 2011 and 2017, the state’s corruption turned homicidal . . . Ryan Murdock was there to witness the decline, and his account is exquisitely researched, deftly rendered, painfully revealing, and important.” — John Gimlette, author of The Gardens of Mars: Madagascar, an Island Story

“Ryan Murdock depicts the tiny island of Malta as a veritable carnival of high crime, low crime, misdemeanor, and rude behavior. Shift the perspective ever so slightly and you’ll find yourself thinking of other parts of the world. A compelling read!” — Lawrence Millman, author of The Last Speaker of Bear: My Encounters in the North

“I was deeply engrossed by this book. It is vivid, sobering, enraging, funny in a throw-up-in-your-mouth kind of way, and a first-class read. Malta will richly deserve it if it produces a tourist boycott for the next decade.” — Julian Evans, author of Semi-Invisible Man: A Life of Norman Lewis

“Carefully written and thought-provoking . . . a real page-turner that is a little like a blend of A Year in Provence and The Godfather, but it’s six years in Malta and the criminality is not fictional.” — Eamonn Gearon, author of The Sahara: A Cultural History

“If you did not know this was a true story, you would think you had picked up a crime thriller—and the gangsters here were a sovereign government in the EU. A terrible and frightening story, brilliantly told.” — Barney White-Spunner, author of Berlin: The Story of a City

“Ryan Murdock’s A Sunny Place for Shady People is at once the story of a shocking crime and a fascinating, personal interpretation of a unique island society beset by corruption and fractured by clannish allegiances. Recommended.” — Tom Parfitt, author of High Caucasus: A Mountain Quest in Russia’s Haunted Hinterland

Ryan Murdock looks past the beaches and the ruins to paint a startling portrait of life in one of Europe’s smallest and least-understood countries. What starts as a comic fish-out-of-water tale in the great tradition of Bill Bryson and Redmond O’Hanlon quickly transforms into a gripping crime story, as Murdock reckons with Malta’s culture of corruption and the assassination of crusading journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.” — Jacob Mikanowski, author of Goodbye, Eastern Europe: An Intimate History of a Divided Land 

Available April 2024


Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America

How much of your life is true, and how much do you accept only because it’s easy?

What if you could leave that old life behind? Just burn it down, drop off the map and live among strangers who know nothing about the person you’re supposed to be? Do you have any idea what you’d discover?

Vagabond Dreams explores the process of psychological and emotional change experienced by the traveller on their first long solo journey.

BUY THE BOOK

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“…a powerful new voice in creative nonfiction.” — Publisher’s Weekly, starred review

“An engaging tough-guy lyricist, he has full command of the telling sensuous detail. The people he meets along the way are captured on the page with a novelist’s eye.”  — Deborah Lawrenson, author of The Lantern and Songs of Blue and Gold

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