Malice Domestic

The Agatha Awards – 2019 Books


The winners of the Agatha Awards for 2019 Books (named for Agatha Christie) have been announced. The nominated books were first published in the United States by a living author between January 1 and December 31, 2019. Normally, the nominated titles would be voted upon by the attendees at the annual Malice Domestic conference for mystery and crime writers/fans in early May, 2020. But, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the conference was cancelled. The Malice Board  determined the voting protocol, with the winners announced on May 2, 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 (6 titles this year)
“Fatal Cajun Festival” by Ellen Byron
The Long Call” by Ann Cleeves
“Fair Game” by Annette Dashofy
“The Missing Ones” by Edwin Hill
“A Better Man” by Louise Penny
“The Murder List” by Hank Philippi Ryan

Best First Mystery Novel
“A Dream of Death” by Connie Berry
One Night Gone” by Tara Laskowski
“Murder Once Removed” by S. C. Perkins
“When It’s Time for Leaving” by Ang Pompano
“Staging for Murder” by Grace Topping

Best Historical Mystery
“Love and Death Among the Cheetahs” by Rhys Bowen
“Murder Knocks Twice” by Susanna Calkins
“The Pearl Dagger” by L. A. Chandlar
Charity’s Burden” by Edith Maxwell
“The Naming Game” by Gabriel Valjan

Best Nonfiction
“Frederic Dannay, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and the Art of the Detective Short Story” by Laird R. Blackwell
“Blonde Rattlesnake: Burmah Adams, Tom White, and the 1933 Crime Spree that Terrified Los Angeles” by Julia Bricklin
“Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee” by Casey Cep
“The Mutual Admiration Society: How Dorothy L. Sayers and her Oxford Circle Remade the World for Women” by Mo Moulton
“The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper” by Hallie Rubenhold

Best Children/Young Adult
“Kazu Jones and the Denver Dognappers” by Shauna Holyoak
“Two Can Keep a Secret” by Karen MacManus
“The Last Crystal” by Frances Schoonmaker
“Top Marks for Murder (A Most Unladylike Mystery)”
by Robin Stevens
“Jada Sly, Artist and Spy” by Sherri Winston

Best Short Story (links are highlighted)
Grist for the Mill” by Kaye George in A Murder of Crows (Darkhouse Books)
Alex’s Choice” by Barb Goffman in Crime Travel (Wildside Press)
The Blue Ribbon” by Cynthia Kuhn in Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible (Wildside Press)
The Last Word” by Shawn Reilly Simmons, Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible (Wildside Press)
Better Days” by Art Taylor in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

Happy Reading!




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“Simon Said” by Sarah R. Shaber


Book Cover - Simon Said

“Simon Said,” the first in Sarah Shaber’s Professor Simon Shaw Mystery series, is set in 1996 Raleigh, North Carolina. Simon Shaw is a history professor at an area college, and needing a distraction from his personal life, takes on a cold case investigation. The body of a woman, possibly someone who has been missing for 70 years, is discovered during an archeological dig on the campus. And, it is a body with a bullet hole in her skull.


Shaw is called in to help the police with possible clues as to her identity, but because of his previous study of the famous local family, he knows immediately who she is. Heiress Anne Bloodworth was thought to have run away in 1926, but Shaw isn’t so sure that the old rumors fit the facts. His determined search for the truth behind the Bloodworth girl’s death uncovers details about the disappearance that were kept hidden at the time by those who knew her. Those revelations have far-reaching consequences affecting the present in startling ways.


Shaber has written Shaw as a flawed, but tenderhearted and gifted man, stunned by his wife’s departure from his life, and unconcerned about rivalry within his own department. Shaw’s position at the college, his continuous presence in the limelight, his academic success (a Pulitzer Prize) have all combined to make him a target of gossip and threats. He dismisses the internal college politics with alarming results and we wonder if he will stay alive long enough to solve the absorbing Bloodworth mystery.


There are fascinating characters in “Simon Said,” engaging dialogue, a possible new love interest, a good friend who has Simon’s back, and outstanding research into the 1926 era in Raleigh and the historic neighborhood surrounding Cameron Village. Against this wonderful backdrop, the beautifully developed, multi-layered plot is a treat.


In 1996, Sarah Shaber won a Malice Domestic/St. Martin’s Press Award for “Simon Said” (in manuscript form) as the Best First Traditional Mystery. It’s been in print ever since and this year is its 20th anniversary. There are five titles in the series.


For more information about Sarah Shaber and her other series, please visit her Amazon author page.



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