Fiction

2021 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. Take a look at the nominees for the coveted Anthony Award. The winners will be announced during BoucherCon in New Orleans in August.

Best Hardcover Novel

  • What You Don’t See – Tracy Clark
  • Blacktop Wasteland – S.A. Cosby
  • Little Secrets – Jennifer Hillier
  • And Now She’s Gone – Rachel Howzell Hall
  • The First to Lie – Hank Phillippi Ryan
     

Best First Novel

  • Derailed – Mary Keliikoa
  • Murder in Old Bombay – Nev March
  • Murder at the Mena House – Erica Ruth Neubauer
  • The Thursday Murder Club – Richard Osman
  • Winter Counts – David Heska Wanbli Weiden

Best Paperback Original/E-Book/Audiobook Original Novel

  • ​The Fate of a Flapper – Susanna Calkins
  • When No One is Watching – Alyssa Cole
  • Unspeakable Things – Jess Lourey
  • The Lucky One – Lori Rader-Day
  • Dirty Old Town – Gabriel Valjan

Best Short Story

  • “Dear Emily Etiquette” – Barb Goffman – EQMM – Dell Magazines
  • “90 Miles” – Alex Segura – Both Sides: Stories From the Border – Agora Books
  • “The Boy Detective & The Summer of ’74” – Art Taylor – AHMM (Jan-Feb) – Dell Magazines
  • “Elysian Fields” – Gabriel Valjan – California Schemin’ – Wildside Press
  • “The Twenty-Five Year Engagement” – James W. Ziskin – In League with Sherlock Holmes – Pegasus Crime

Best Juvenile/Young Adult

  • Midnight at the Barclay Hotel – Fleur Bradley
  • Premeditated Myrtle – Elizabeth C. Bunce
  • From the Desk of Zoe Washington – Janae Marks
  • Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco – Richie Narvaez
  • Star Wars Poe Dameron: Free Fall – Alex Segura

Best Anthology or Collection

  • Shattering Glass: A Nasty Woman Press Anthology – Heather Graham, ed.
  • Both Sides: Stories from the Border – Gabino Iglesias, ed.
  • Noiryorican – Richie Narvaez
  • The Beat of Black Wings: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Joni Mitchell – Josh Pachter, ed.
  • California Schemin’ – Art Taylor. ed.
  • Lockdown: Stories of Crime, Terror, and Hope During a Pandemic – Nick Kolakowski and Steve Weddle, eds.

 

Congratulations to all the nominees!

 

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 enjoy the reads! Winners will be announced in July.

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 the finalists!

 

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

Book List: Author Craig Johnson

Craig Allen Johnson’s writing career has centered around his iconic lead character, Walt Longmire, a modern American sheriff from Wyoming. What makes Sheriff Walt Longmire so immediately likable? Middle-aged, experienced at his job, widower of a woman he loved more than life itself, an attorney daughter of whom he is so very proud, and a Cheyenne best friend/sidekick whom he has known since childhood. Longmire mostly follows the rules, but when justice is in question, the rules are sometimes open to interpretation.

 

The stories are full of wonderful dialogue, intriguing mysteries, life and death situations, and a core set of characters with whom you’d like to spend as much time as possible. Johnson’s obvious love of the wide-open spaces of Wyoming spills onto the pages when the landscape becomes a character, as suddenly dangerous as any killer could be or as mesmerizing as a beautiful painting.


Read the first in the series, “The Cold Dish,” and you’ll want to follow this lawman throughout the rugged Wyoming hills.
Here is the list of the Longmire books, in order of publication.

 

“The Cold Dish”  review here

“Death Without Company”

“Kindness Goes Unpunished” review here

 “Another Man’s Moccasins”

“The Dark Horse”

“Junkyard Dogs”

“Hell Is Empty”

“As the Crow Flies”

“A Serpent’s Tooth”

“Any Other Name”

“Dry Bones”  review here

“An Obvious Fact”

“The Western Star”

“Depth of Winter”

“Land of Wolves”

“Next to Last Stand”

Please visit https://www.craigallenjohnson.com for the ‘buy’ links for each of the books and to see the list of novellas that fill the gaps between the novels. Discover what he is doing virtually and in a few months, in person. There is a goodies store on the site, as well as a portal for ordering the DVDs from the TV series. Enjoy!

 

 

*Photos of Craig Johnson taken at Quail Ridge Bookstore in Raleigh, NC, by Patti Phillips.

 

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!

 

 

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.

 

 

 

“New York Times Best Fiction & Nonfiction of 2020”

The editors of The Times Book Review chose the best fiction and nonfiction titles of 2020, from among the titles they had reviewed. The titles are a mix of bestsellers and wannabes, from debut and/or international writers, but more importantly, the NYT Book Review editors fell in love with the story or the writing.

 

Listed in alphabetical order by author. Click on the titles to read the reviews and learn more about the books.

 

FICTION

Homeland Elegies”  by Ayad Akhtar 

The Vanishing Half”  by Brit Bennett

Deacon King Kong”  by James McBride

A Children’s Bible”  by Lydia Millet

 

 

Hamnet” by Maggie O’Farrell

 

 

NONFICTION

Hidden Valley Road” by Robert Kolker

War” by Margaret MacMillan

A Promised Land”  by Barack Obama

Shakespeare in a Divided America”  by James Shapiro

Uncanny Valley” by Anna Wiener

 

 

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