Armchair Travel: Macau Bookshelf

If you’re looking for books about, or set in Macau, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll be honest, this has been a tough list to pull together as relatively little has been written about Macau in English. Nevertheless, here are our top recommendations.

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Macau Fiction

As you’ll see from the list, the majority of books are thrillers with storylines featuring gambling, gangsters and prostitution. There is of course more to Macau than this, but with casinos being the main draw it’s not surprising that most books fall into the thriller/noir genres .

The King of Macau

Jake Needham’s The King of Macau is book 4 in the Jack Shepherd series. From his Hong Kong base the main character heads to neighbouring Macau to investigate possible money laundering at one of the many casinos.

It turns into a thrilling fast-paced adventure as he realises that he has become entangled in something far more sinister and dangerous than he imaged with North Korean hitman and a defector added into the mix. 

Each book in the series is a standalone novel, so you could read this with or without reading the others which are set in various locations including Hong Kong. 



City of Broken Promises

Published in the late 60’s, you could be forgiven for thinking it’s a little dated. However, as one Amazon reviewer (N.Madsen) put it, City of Broken Promises by Austin Coates is: “The Best (only?) attempt to portray old Macau in fiction…” This rags to riches tale is set in the late 1700’s and follows Martha Merop, a baby abandoned at birth, who is later sold into prostitution before eventually becoming tremendously weathly.

Martha da Silva Merop was a real person, but the story woven about her in City of Broken Promises is mostly fiction.




The Red Pole of Macau

In the Red Pole of Macau by Ian Hamilton, a multimillion-dollar real-estate deal in Macau goes South, it gets even worse when it turns out the developers are gangsters.

Ava Lee is a dauntless forensic accountant. She steps in to try and untangle the subsequent mess that her half-brother and his business partner find themselves in.

The stakes are raised even higher, when her brother’s business partner is kidnapped.

There are several other ‘Ava Lee’ books in the series.


Heart of Glass

Heart of Glass by Malaysian author Ivy Ngeow is set in the 1980’s. Con artist Li-An is ready to move on from her shady existance where she lingers in bars with her partner in crime, first drugging and subsequently robbing wealthy men that they meet.  She is also a talented musician and when she is offered the opportunity to relocate to Macau to work as a piano-player she grabs the opportunity.

However, things don’t go smoothly when she meets compulsive gambler Ben, who hatches a plan to kill her boss….



The Ballad of a Small Player

Lawrence Osborne’s The Ballad of a Small Player is described as “A riveting tale of risk and obsession set in the alluring world of Macau’s casinos, by the author of the critically acclaimed The Forgiven.”

Although this is a slim novel, Osborne expertly employs his background in travel writing to bring Macau to life.

Main character Doyle is in self-exile in Macau. He’s there to avoid prosecution for embezzlement and is burning the candle at both ends. As he steadily gambles away his ill-gotten gains at the baccarat tables his past returns to haunt him.


The Living Room of the Dead

This is the first book in the Ray Sharp series, by Eric Stone. Essentially,  The Living Room of the Dead is a detective thriller and seemingly is based on real events.  American detective Ray Sharp gets caught up in murky underworld of the Russian white slave trade, so much more than he bargained for when trying to do a good deed and help someone out. The story starts in Hong Kong, before moving to Macau and finally to Vladivostok. 



Macau Guide Books

As Macau is so small, a little over 115 square kilometers with a population of around 650,000 souls, it has been a challenge to find a dedicated Macau guide book.

Generally, Macau guides are included in Hong Kong Guide Books as a small chapter towards the back, nevertheless we’ve found two options for you.

Explore Macau: A Walking Guide and History


Happily, after much searching, we’ve discovered Explore Macau: A Walking Guide and History by Todd Crowell. Although the title sounds a little dry, the reviews are quite encouraging.

If you are looking for a guide book that exclusively covers Macau, this is a solid contender.

Published in 2011, it’s still recent enough to be relevant.


Strolling in Macau: A Visitor’s Guide to Macau, Taipa and Colane

Alternatively, you could try Strolling in Macau: A Visitor’s Guide to Macau, Taipa and Colane by Stephen K. Bailey. Reviews are mixed. This book provides several walking routes, primarily in the World Heritage area, but is seemingly light on instruction detailing how to get to the start point.



Discover our favourite Hong Kong Coffee Table Books and Hong Kong Children’s Books.

Book a private tour of Macau or Hong Kong.

Understand the difference between Hong Kong Egg Tarts and Macau Egg Tarts.


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