Thriller

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

NBR March Reviews – Four Genres

AMISH MYSTERY

“A Killer Carol” by Laura Bradford

Bradford’s beautifully written Amish mystery series stars Claire Weatherly, an Englisher, and Jakob Fisher, a former member of the Amish community. Claire chose to come to Heavenly, Pennsylvania to live with her aunt, rebuild her life, and open a store filled with Amish crafts. Jakob is a police detective in the town, who chose police work over life with the Amish.

 

In “A Killer Carol,” the seventh in the series, two of Claire’s Amish friends are suspected of a double murder and Jakob seems to have the evidence to prove it. Nobody’s talking, and with Claire and Jakob on opposite sides of the investigation, the holiday season may have lost its glow. With several surprising ‘wow’ moments, and Bradford’s wonderful characters to share the storyline, “Killer Carol” is a gift, no matter what time of year you read it. 

 

MILITARY FICTION

“The Last Platoon” by Bing West

In order to increase his chances at advancement, a career-stalled Marine accepts a short assignment to Afghanistan. West presents a realistic ‘boots on the ground’ viewpoint, with dedicated Marines adjusting to the leadership change. Self-serving orders given by the base C.O. result in a badly handled campaign, despite our hero’s best efforts to do his job. We come to realize that (with few exceptions) chain-of-command decisions are inviolate in the armed services.


The friendly Afghans are unpredictable, the base is under-manned, and the C.O. seems unhinged. With deadly consequences, “The Last Platoon” brings all the players together during a devastating sandstorm. West was an Assistant Secretary of Defense as well as a combat Marine and brings a great deal of authenticity to “The Last Platoon.”

 

THRILLER

 

“Backlash” by Brad Thor is a pulse-pounding page-turner in the Scot Harvath series. Harvath is betrayed, people close to him are murdered, and he is captured from U.S. soil by Russians. He is tortured and put on a plane to be handed over to an enemy who wants him dead. But the plane crashes in a remote part of Russia during a massive snowstorm and several of his guards are killed. That’s in the first thirteen pages of stay-up-all-night reading.

 

What follows is a harrowing tale of Harvath’s journey to evade the Russians without his usual support system in place. He knows that his captors will stop at nothing to get him back, but he is out for revenge. He must dig deep to stay alive in the face of hunger, brutal conditions, and the few resources he can steal. The twists are many, the perils are real, and the action superbly written.

 

NONFICTION

 

“No Time Like the Future” by Michael J. Fox, is exceptional. I laughed and cried as the beloved actor, Michael J. Fox, recounted his daily life with Parkinson’s via experiences with his career, his cherished family, and dear friends. He fully acknowledges the sacrifices others have made on his behalf while revealing some of his own missteps and ‘negotiations’ with the disease. Ever optimistic, Fox inspires all of us with his attitude and marvelous sense of humor in the midst of astonishing challenges. Wow!

Hint, hint: book sales raise money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, the leading Parkinson’s organization in the world.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

2020 Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Awards

From the Killer Nashville site: “We believe all engaging stories have three elements: mystery, thriller, and suspense. Since 2008, the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Awards have recognized the best stories from the previous year told through various media utilizing the elements of mystery, thriller, and/or suspense. Judges are professional writers, book reviewers, librarians, academics, and—in specialized cases—specific industry peers. Focus is on quality, not popularity.”

 

Due to the Covid19 Pandemic, the conference was cancelled for this year, but voting was conducted with the registered expected attendees. The winners were announced on August 22 and are indicated in red.

 

Best Mystery
Connie Berry A Dream of Death

Carl & Jane Bock The White Heron
Iris Chacon The Mammoth Murders
Richard Conrath Blood Moon Rising
John DeDakis Fake
Jeanine Englert Lovely Digits
Henry Hack The Marsh Mallows
Karen McCarthy Murder at the Candlelight Vigil
Jane Suen Murder Creek
June Trop The Deadliest Thief

 

Best Thriller
Brian Andrews & Jeffrey Wilson Red Specter

Simeon Courtie All Hollow
Shirley B. Garrett Deadly Obsession
James R. Hannibal The Gryphon Heist
Sue Hinkin Low Country Blood
Thomas Kelso Hyperion’s Fracture
Leslie McCauley Rise
Caroline Mitchell The Secret Child
Dana Perry The Silent Victim
Dana J. Summers Downhill Fast

 

Best Suspense
Kathryn J. Bain Fade to the Edge

R.G. Belsky Below the Fold
K.P. Gresham Murder on the Third Try
Bradley Harper Queen’s Gambit
J.E. Irvin The Strange Disappearance of Rose Stone
Kathryn Lane Revenge in Barcelona
Dianne McCartney The Daughter of Death
Kelly Oliver VIPER, A Jessica James Mystery
Dana J. Summers Downhill Fast
Claudia Turner The Scions of Atlantis

 

Best Action or Adventure
Paul A. Barra Westfarrow Island

Toni Bird Jones The Measure of Ella
Jenna Kernan Dangerous Conditions
Jim Nesbitt The Best Lousy Choice
Tj Turner Angel in the Fog

 

Best Cozy
Debra H. Goldstein Two Bites Too Many

Gemma Halliday A Sip Before Dying
Linda Lovely Bad Pick
Susan McCormick The Fog Ladies
Bonita McCoy Twisted Plots

 

Best Procedural or P.I.
Carmen Amato Russian Mojito

Mark Bergin Apprehension
Peter W.J. Hayes The Things That Are Different
Richard Helms Paid in Spades
Jean Rabe The Dead of Summer

 

Best Juvenile or Y.A.
Susan K. Flach Daughter Undisclosed

Liana Gardner Speak No Evil
James R. Hannibal The Clockwork Dragon
Kelly Oliver Kassy O’Roarke, Cub Reporter
Lori Roberts This Dark and Bloody Ground

 

Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Horror
Tosca Lee The Line Between

Tosca Lee A Single Light
Valerie Nieman To the Bones
Palmer Pickering Moon Deeds
Maggie Toussaint Dreamed It

 

Book of the Year
Bradley Harper Queen’s Gambit

Congratulations to all the finalists and winners!

 

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