Crime

2021 Valentine’s Day Mysteries and Fiction

Are you a fan of holiday themed reading? Published between 2016 and 2021, here is an updated  list of twenty-six novels, novellas, and short stories centered around Valentine’s Day. Be prepared to swoon, or laugh, or be delighted by the selection. Click on the titles to discover more about the books and enjoy!

 

Jennifer S. Alderson  Death by Baguette

Carolyn Arnold  Valentine’s Day is Murder

Patti Benning  Tall, Dark, and Deadly

Bellamy Bloom & Addison Moore  Murder Bites

Franky A. Brown  What Happened to Romance?

Susan Carroll The Valentine’s Day Ball

Cherry Christensen  Secret Valentine

Sylvia Damsell  A Valentine Wish

Steve Demaree A Valentine Murder

Liz Dodwell Valentine’s Day: a Polly Parrett Pet-Sitter Cozy

Jessica L. Elliott Operation: Romance

Tammy Falkner A Valentine’s Day Miracle

Deborah Garner  A Flair for Truffles

Patricia Gligor Marnie Malone

Holly Hepburn Valentine’s Day at the Star and Sixpence

Liwen Y. Ho Romantically Ever After

June McCrary Jacobs Handmade Hearts

Libby Klein  Theater Nights Are Murder

Jackie Lau  A Big Surprise for Valentine’s Day

Lia London Love from A to Z

Ava Mallory & nine more authors Stirring Up Love & Mystery

Leslie Meier  Valentine Candy Murder

Mobile Writers Guild Valentine’s Day Pieces (Anthology)

Addison Moore & Bellamy Bloom  Sealed with a Hiss

Summer Prescott A Blossom of Murder

Amy M. Reade  Be My Valencrime

 

Happy Reading!

 

2021 Left Coast Crime Awards

The pandemic continues to affect conferences. The 2021 Left Coast Crime convention has been cancelled, but you’ll be happy to note that the Lefties will still be awarded for the great mysteries  produced in 2020. Congratulations to all the nominees.

Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery Novel
  °  Ellen Byron, Murder in the Bayou Boneyard
  °  Jennifer J. Chow, Mimi Lee Gets a Clue
  °  Carl Hiaasen, Squeeze Me
  °  Cynthia Kuhn, The Study of Secrets
  °  J. Michael Orenduff, The Pot Thief Who Studied the Woman at Otowi Crossing
  °  Sung J. Woo, Skin Deep

 

Lefty for Best Historical Mystery Novel (events before 1970)
  °  Susanna Calkins, The Fate of a Flapper
  °  Dianne Freeman, A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder
  °  Laurie R. King, Riviera Gold
  °  Catriona McPherson, The Turning Tide
  °  Ann Parker, Mortal Music
  °  James W. Ziskin, Turn to Stone

 

Lefty for Best Debut Mystery Novel
  °  Daisy Bateman, Murder Goes to Market
  °  Mary Keliikoa, Derailed
  °  Erica Ruth Neubauer, Murder at the Mena House
  °  Richard Osman, The Thursday Murder Club
  °  Halley Sutton, The Lady Upstairs
  °  David Heska Wanbli Weiden, Winter Counts

 

Lefty for Best Mystery Novel
  °  Tracy Clark, What You Don’t See
  °  S.A. Cosby, Blacktop Wasteland
  °  Matt Coyle, Blind Vigil
  °  Rachel Howzell Hall, And Now She’s Gone
  °  Louise Penny, All the Devils Are Here

January Reviews – Four Genres

COZY

“Tilling the Truth” by Julia Henry

The feisty Garden Squad is back with a new set of projects, some aboveboard, some clandestine, and always chosen with the intent to spruce up the town and bring smiles to both residents and visitors. I opened “Tilling the Truth” to check a detail for the review, got caught up in the storyline again, and re-read the book because of its delightfully dedicated crew and their mission.

 

Small towns are a microcosm of society, with nice and not-so-nice residents living next door to one another. Everybody knows what you’re up to, or will find out as soon as the nosy neighbor texts her friends. Henry captures that perfectly with her charming mix of senior citizens and assorted helpful younger generation characters. The main characters are well-rounded, each with their own quirks and endearing qualities, and oh, my word, the unpleasant ones should be stripped of their gardening tools and run out of town in a wheelbarrow.

“Tilling the Truth” has a tightly layered plot, with our heroine, Lilly Jayne, dealing with the estate of a good friend, disgruntled beneficiaries, her best friend accused of murder, zoning laws, a bird sanctuary, and an impending lifestyle change for Lilly. Henry weaves it all together in a way that sounds just like a story you could tell to spellbound dinner guests if it happened in your own neighborhood.

 

THRILLER

“Dead Man Running” by Steve Hamilton

This is the ninth book in the top-notch Alex McKnight series. A serial killer has been arrested, but will talk to no one except retired police officer, Alex McKnight. Except that McKnight knows nothing about the man and has no idea why the killer thinks there is a connection between them.

 

What’s at stake is a missing woman that may still be alive. The FBI will do anything to save the woman and stop the murders, including hauling McKnight cross country to meet with the depraved Livermore. The story is told through McKnight’s point-of-view as well as the serial killer’s twisted mind. There are graphic discussions about the killer’s crimes, so if you’re looking for a light read, this is not for you. Instead, it will give some insight into an evil, manipulative thought process. There are surprises at every turn that keep McKnight pushing forward and the FBI in pursuit – each matching wits with Livermore. Chilling to the core, Hamilton has delivered another masterfully plotted page-turner in “Dead Man Running.”

 

PSYCHOLOGICAL SUSPENSE

The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides

“Silent Patient” is an intense read, centered around a successful artist who shoots her husband in the face and never says a word after the deed, not to explain herself, not to save herself from prosecution. The criminal psychotherapist who tells the tale is obsessed by the case and works his way onto the staff at her psychiatric institute so that he can solve the mystery of her silence. Michaelides delivers shocking revelations, clever twists in the plot, and characters so well-drawn that they could be people we know. Don’t read “The Silent Patient” before bed, because you won’t get a wink of sleep as the pages fly by.

 

NONFICTION

“The Hot Zone” by Richard Preston

I wish “The Hot Zone” was a thriller, a work of fiction, but it is completely true. An ordinary guy in 1970s Africa dies several days after spending time off trekking through a jungle. He ends life  horribly in a Nairobi hospital, infecting and killing others splattered by his blood; his companion on the outing with him doesn’t get sick. Blood samples are sent to the CDC in Atlanta, GA for testing, confirming the Ebola virus as the cause of death, and then are locked away in their secure facility. A few years later, the deadly Ebola virus arrives in a suburb of Washington, D.C. via monkeys tagged for research. The monkeys already in residence at this top-secret building set in an unsuspecting neighborhood, quickly start dying.

 

This hair-raising tale written in the 1990s, describes the rigorous protocols to keep the military personnel safe, the race to dispose of the infected monkey bodies while keeping the public from learning the truth, and the high personal cost of working in the field of infectious diseases. Preston includes a telling look at how the military and the world perceived a dedicated woman’s role in both the military and her ability to work with a killer virus in the 1980s. A television series based on “The Hot Zone” aired in 2020 and scared me silly, but the thoroughly researched book even more so.

 

 

 

2020 Anthony Awards

 

Bouchercon is an annual conference named after Anthony Boucher, a mystery author and critic who helped found the Mystery Writers of America. This event honors various segments of the mystery and crime fiction community.

The nominees for the coveted Anthony Award were announced in June and because of Covid19, voting took place online in mid October. The awards were presented as part of an online ceremony on October 17 and the winners indicated in red.


2020 Anthony Award Nominees

BEST NOVEL
Your House Will Pay, by Steph Cha
They All Fall Down, by Rachel Howzell Hall
Lady in the Lake, by Laura Lippman
The Murder List, by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Miami Midnight, by Alex Segura


BEST FIRST NOVEL

The Ninja Daughter, by Tori Eldridge
Miracle Creek, by Angie Kim
One Night Gone, by Tara Laskowski
Three-Fifths, by John Vercher
American Spy, by Lauren Wilkinson


BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL

The Unrepentant, by E.A. Aymar
Murder Knocks Twice, by Susanna Calkins
The Pearl Dagger, by L.A. Chandlar
Scot & Soda, by Catriona McPherson
The Alchemist’s Illusion, by Gigi Pandian
Drowned Under, by Wendall Thomas
The Naming Game, by Gabriel Valjan


BEST CRITICAL NON-FICTION WORK

Hitchcock and the Censors, by John Billheimer
The Hooded Gunman: An Illustrated History of the Collins Crime Club, by John Curran
The Mutual Admiration Society: How Dorothy L. Sayers and her Oxford Circle Remade the World for Women, by Mo Moulton

The Trail of Lizzie Borden: A True Story, by Cara Robertson
The Five: The Untold Stories of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper, by Hallie Rubenhold


BEST SHORT STORY

“Turistas,” by Hector Acosta (appearing in ¡Pa’que Tu Lo Sepas!: Stories to Benefit the People of Puerto Rico)

“Unforgiven,” by Hilary Davidson (appearing in Murder a-Go-Gos: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Music of the Go-Gos)

“The Red Zone,” by Alex Segura (appearing in ¡Pa’que Tu Lo Sepas!: Stories to Benefit the People of Puerto Rico)

“Better Days,” by Art Taylor (appearing in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, May/June 2019)

“Hard Return,” by Art Taylor (appearing in Crime Travel)


BEST ANTHOLOGY OR COLLECTION

The Eyes of Texas: Private Investigators from the Panhandle to the Piney Woods, edited by Michael Bracken
¡Pa’que Tu Lo Sepas!: Stories to Benefit the People of Puerto Rico, edited by Angel Luis Colón
Crime Travel, edited by Barb Goffman
Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible, edited by Verena Rose, Rita Owen, and Shawn Reilly Simmons
Murder A-Go-Go’s: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Music of the Go-Gos, edited by Holly West


BEST YOUNG ADULT
Seven Ways to Get Rid of Harry
, by Jen Conley

Catfishing on CatNet, by Naomi Kritzer
Killing November, by Adriana Mather
Patron Saints of Nothing, by Randy Ribay
The Deceivers, by Kristen Simmons
Wild and Crooked, by Leah Thomas


Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!!!

 

 

Barry Awards (Crime Fiction) – 2020

 

Established in 1997, the Barry Awards are presented at the annual Bouchercon World Mystery Convention, virtually held this year in Sacramento, California. Voted on by readers of the Deadly Pleasures mystery magazine, the award was named in honor of Barry Gardner, an American critic and lover of great crime fiction. The winners of the Barry Awards-2020 were announced in October during Bouchercon and are indicated in red.

Best Mystery/Crime Novel
THIRTEEN, Steve Cavanagh
YOUR HOUSE WILL PAY, Steph Cha

THE LOST MAN, Jane Harper
METROPOLIS, Philip Kerr
IF SHE WAKES, Michael Koryta
THE BORDER, Don Winslow

 

Best First Mystery/Crime Novel
SCRUBLANDS, Chris Hammer
SAVE ME FROM DANGEROUS MEN, S. A. Lelchuk
THE SILENT PATIENT, Alex Michaelides
THE CHESTNUT MAN, Soren Sveistrup
TO THE LIONS, Holly Watt
AMERICAN SPY, Lauren Wilkinson


Best Paperback Original Mystery/Crime Novel

WINNER KILLS ALL, R. J. Bailey
THE GODMOTHER, Hannelore Cayre
KILLING QUARRY, Max Allan Collins
FATE, Ian Hamilton
MISSING DAUGHTER, Rick Mofina
NO GOOD DEED, James Swain


Best Thriller

TRUE BELIEVER, Jack Carr
MISSION CRITICAL, Mark Greaney
THE CHAIN, Adrian McKinty
THE BURGLAR, Thomas Perry
WHITE HOT SILENCE, Henry Porter
BACKLASH, Brad Thor


Best Mystery/Crime Novel of the Decade

NOVEMBER ROAD, Lou Berney
SUSPECT, Robert Crais
GONE GIRL, Gillian Flynn
THE DRY,  Jane Harper
THE BLACK HOUSE, Peter May
THE CARTEL, Don Winslow

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Macavity Awards – 2020

Each year the members of Mystery Readers International, subscribers of Mystery Readers Journal (and friends of MRI) nominate their favorite mysteries in five categories from the previous year for the Macavity Awards. The winners of this coveted award were announced at opening ceremonies at the Virtual Sacramento Bouchercon, in October, 2020, and are indicated in red.

Mystery Readers International, Mystery Readers Journal, and the Macavity Awards, were created by Anthony Award winner, Janet Rudolph.

 

Best Mystery Novel 
Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha
This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger
Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman
The Chain by Adrian McKinty
The Murder List by Hank Philippi Ryan
Sarah Jane by James Sallis

 

Best First Mystery 
The Ninja Daughter by Tori Eldridge
My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing
Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski
Call Me Evie by J.P. Pomare
American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson

 

Best Mystery Short Story 
“West Texas Barbecue” by Michael Chandos (The Eyes of Texas, edited by Michael Bracken—Down & Out Books)
“Alex’s Choice” by Barb Goffman (Crime Travel, edited by Barb Goffman—Wildside Press)
“The Cardboard Box” by Terence Faherty (EQMM, Jan/Feb 2019)
“Whiteout” by G.M. Malliet (EQMM, Jan/Feb 2019)
“Brother’s Keeper” by Dave Zeltserman (EQMM, May/June 2019)
“Better Days,” by Art Taylor (EQMM, May/June 2019)

 

Best Mystery Nonfiction/Critical
Hitchcock and the Censors by John Billheimer
Frederic Dannay, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and the Art of the Detective Short Story by Laird R. Blackwell
Beyond the Thirty-Nine Steps: A Life of John Buchan by Ursula Buchan
Norco ’80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History by Peter Houlahan
The Mutual Admiration Society: How Dorothy L. Sayers and Her Oxford Circle Remade the World for Women, by Mo Moulton
Indecent Advances: A Hidden History of True Crime and Prejudice Before Stonewall by James Polchin

 

Sue Feder Memorial Award for Best Historical Mystery
Murder Knocks Twice by Susanna Calkins
The Pearl Dagger by L.A. Chandlar
A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder by Dianne Freeman
Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey
Charity’s Burden by Edith Maxwell
The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott

 

Congratulations to all for writing such a marvelous group of works from which to choose!

 

Bloody Scotland Crime Book of the Year 2020 – McIlvanney Prize

Covid19 has caused another mighty crime fiction conference to cancel its gathering. But the writers did the amazing work and the prizes will still be awarded. The Bloody Scotland organizers have announced the shortlist for the Bloody Scotland Debut Crime Book of the Year and the longlist for the McIlvanney Prize for the Scottish Crime Book of the Year. The McIlvanney Prize recognizes excellence in Scottish crime writing, and includes a prize of £1,000 and nationwide promotion in Waterstones. This time, I’ve indicated the winners in red, as well as sharing the Bloody Scotland photos of the prizes.  🙂

 

Debut Short List

Deborah Masson, Hold Your Tongue

 

 

 

 

Stephen O’Rourke, The Crown Agent
Marion Todd, See Them Run
Francine Toon, Pine

 

 McIlvanney Prize Shortlist for the Scottish Crime Book of the Year
Andrew James Greig, Whirligig
Doug Johnstone, A Dark Matter
Ambrose Parry, The Art of Dying  aka Chris Broomyre and Marisa Haetzman
Francine Toon, Pine

 

 

 

 

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

 

 

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