Crime

The Agatha Awards – 2020 Books

The winners for the Agatha Awards for 2020 Books (named for Agatha Christie) have been announced. The awards were given to mystery and crime writers during the virtual More than Malice conference in July, 2021. The nominated books were first published in the United States by a living author between January 1 and December 31, 2020.

 

The Agatha Awards recognize the “traditional mystery,” meaning that there is no graphic sex and no excessive violence in the writing. Thrillers or hard-boiled detectives cannot be found here, but instead, picture Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot at work.

 

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners (indicated in red)!

Best Contemporary Novel
Gift of the Magpie by Donna Andrews

Murder in the Bayou Boneyard by Ellen Byron
From Beer to Eternity by Sherry Harris
All the Devils are Here by Louise Penny
The Lucky One by Lori Rader-Day

 

Best Historical Novel
The Last Mrs. Summers by Rhys Bowen

Fate of a Flapper by Susanna Calkins
A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder by Dianne Freeman
Taken Too Soon by Edith Maxwell
The Turning Tide by Catriona McPherson

 

Best First Novel
A Spell for Trouble by Esme Addison

Winter Witness by Tina deBelgarde
Derailed by Mary Keliikoa
Murder at the Mena House by Erica Ruth Neubauer
Murder Most Sweet by Laura Jensen Walker

 

Best Short Story
“Dear Emily Etiquette” by Barb Goffman (Ellery Queen Mag)

“The Red Herrings at Killington Inn” by Shawn Reilly Simmons Masthead: Best New England Crime Stories (Level Best Books)
“The Boy Detective & The Summer of ‘74” by Art Taylor (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine Jan/Feb)
“Elysian Fields” by Gabriel Valjan California Schemin’: The 2020 Bouchercon Anthology (Wildside Press)
“The 25 Year Engagement” by James Ziskin In League with Sherlock Holmes: Stories Inspired by the Sherlock Holmes Canon (Pegasus Crime)
 
Best Children’s/YA Mystery
Midnight at the Barclay Hotel
by Fleur Bradley

Premeditated Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Bunce
Saltwater Secrets by Cindy Callaghan
From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks
Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco by Richard Narvaez

 

2021 – CrimeFest

Now in its 14th year, the awards honor the best crime books released in 2020 in the UK. From their site: “CRIMEFEST is a convention for people who like to read an occasional crime novel as well as for die-hard fanatics.” In most cases, eligible titles were submitted by publishers, and a team of British crime fiction reviewers voted to establish the shortlists.

Affected by Covid as so many other events have, the 2021 winners were announced online in May.

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners (Indicated in red)!

 

DEBUT CRIME NOVEL AWARD

Eva Bjorg Aegisdottir  “The Creak on the Stairs”

Marion Brunet “Summer of Reckoning”

Robin Morgan-Bentley “The Wreckage”

Richard Osman “The Thursday Murder Club”

Mara Timon “City of Spies”

Trevor Wood “The Man on the Street”

 

LAST LAUGH AWARD  (humorous crime fiction)

Ben Aaronovitch “False Value”

ChristopherFowler “Bryant & May-Oranges and Lemons”

Elly Griffiths “The Postscript Murders”

Carl Hiaasen “Squeeze Me”

RichardOsman “The Thursday Murder Club”

Malcolm Pryce “The Corpse in the Garden of Perfect Brightness”

Khurrum Rahman “Ride or Die”

OlgaWojtas “Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Vampire Menace”

 

eDUNNIT AWARD (ebooks)

Gabriel Bergmoser “The Hunted”

Sharon Bolton “The Split”

P. Carter “Little Boy Lost”

Steve Cavanagh “Fifty-Fifty”

Michael Connelly “Fair Warning”

James Lee Burke “A Private Cathedral”

Ian Rankin “A Song for the Dark Times”

Holly Watt “The Dead Line”

 

H.R.F. KEATING AWARD (critical or biography)

Mark Aldridge “Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Greatest Detective in the World”

MartinEdwards (editor) “Howdunit: A Masterclass in Crime Writing by Members of the Detection Club”

Colin Larkin “Cover Me: The Vintage Art of Pan Books: 1950-1965”

Andrew Lycett “Conan Doyle’s Wide World”

Heather Martin “The Reacher Guy”

Sheila Mitchell “HRF Keating: A Life of Crime”

Craig Sisterson “Southern Cross Crime: The Pocket Essential Guide to the Crime Fiction, Film & TV of Australia and New Zealand”

Peter Temple “The Red Hand: Stories, reflections and the last appearance of Jack Irish”

 

BEST CRIME NOVEL FOR CHILDREN (ages 8-12)

Sophie Deen “Agent Asha: Mission Shark Bytes”

Elly Griffiths “A Girl Called Justice -The Smugglers’ Secret”

Anthony Horowitz “Nightshade”

Jack Noel “My Headteacher is an Evil Genius”

Serena Patel “Anisha, Accidental Detective”

Serena Patel “School’s Cancelled”

Onjali Q. Rauf “The Night Bus Hero”

Dave Shelton “The Pencil Case”

 

 

2021 ThrillerFest Awards

Thriller writers bring us thrills and chills and keep us awake long into the wee hours of the morning. Check out the 2021 ITW Thriller Awards finalists and winners (indicated in red)!

BEST HARDCOVER NOVEL
S.A. Cosby – BLACKTOP WASTELAND
Joe Ide – HI FIVE
Richard Osman – THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB
Ivy Pochoda – THESE WOMEN
Lisa Unger – CONFESSIONS ON THE 7:45

BEST FIRST NOVEL
Jasmine Aimaq – THE OPIUM PRINCE
Don Bentley – WITHOUT SANCTION
Kyle Perry – THE BLUFFS
Francesca Serritella – GHOSTS OF HARVARD
David Heska Wanbli Weiden – WINTER COUNTS
 
BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL NOVEL
Alyssa Cole – WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING
Layton Green – UNKNOWN 9: GENESIS 
John Marrs – WHAT LIES BETWEEN US
Andrew Mayne – THE GIRL BENEATH THE SEA
Benjamin Stevenson – EITHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT
  
BEST E-BOOK ORIGINAL NOVEL
Sean Black – AVENUE OF THIEVES
Jeff Buick – A KILLING GAME
Diane Capri – FULL METAL JACK
Jake Needham – MONGKOK STATION
Kirk Russell – NO HESITATION

Congratulations to all!

 

2021 Left Coast Crime Awards

The pandemic continues to affect conferences. The 2021 Left Coast Crime convention was cancelled, but you’ll be happy to note that the Lefties were still awarded for the great mysteries  produced in 2020. Congratulations to all the nominees and the winners (indicated in red).

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

2021 – Irish Fiction & Mysteries

St. Patrick’s Day will be here soon! For those of you that focus your reading on holiday/cultural themed books, the list below features Irish writers, mysteries/suspense set in Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day murders, or titles with Irish characters central to the plot. Some are modern classics, some are newbies, but all are entertaining reads. You’re sure to find a story in the updated list of 40 Irish Fiction & Mysteries – 2021  that you will want to read again and again. (Links included for bold titles)

 

Lisa Alber: “Path into Darkness
Maeve Binchy:  “Chestnut Street
Furlong-Bollinger: “Paddy Whacked
Declan Burke: “The Lost and the Blind


Steve Cavanagh: “Th1rt3en
Sheila Connolly: “Fatal Roots
Kathy Cranston: “Apple Seeds and Murderous Deeds
Sinead Crowley: “One Bad Turn


Kathi Daley: “Shamrock Shenanigans
Frank Delaney: “The Last Storyteller

Nelson Demille: “Cathedral
Patricia Falvey: “The Yellow House
Lucy Foley: “The Guest List
Tana French: “The Searcher


Alexia Gordon: “Murder in G Major
Andrew Greeley: “The Bishop at the Lake


Jane Haddam: “A Great Day for the Deadly

Lyn Hamilton: “The Celtic Riddle
Lee Harris: “The St. Patrick’s Day Murder
Erin Hart: “The Book of Killowen

Jonathan Harrington: “A Great Day for Dying


Mary Anne Kelly: “Twillyweed

Amanda Lee: “The Long Stitch Good Night

Dan Mahoney: “Once in, Never Out
Caimh McDonnell: “A Man with One of Those Faces
Brian McGilloway: “The Last Crossing
Adrian McKinty: “The Chain
Ralph M. McInerny: “The Green Revolution

Leslie Meier: “Irish Parade Murder


Stuart Neville: “So Say the Fallen
Carlene O’Connor: “Murder in an Irish Bookshop
Sister Carol Anne O’Marie: “Death Takes Up a Collection”

Helen Page: “Equal of God”
Louise Phillips: “The Doll’s House
J.M. Poole “Case of the Shady Shamrock


Janet Elaine Smith: “In St. Patrick’s Custody
Jo Spain: “Beneath the Surface
Patrick Taylor: “An Irish Country Family
Peter Tremayne: “Blood in Eden

Kathy Hogan Trochek: “Irish Eyes

If your favorite Irish Fiction & Mysteries titles are not on the list, let me know and I’ll add them! Happy choosing and reading!

 

 

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!

 

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.

 

 

 

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