2018 Hammett Prize




The Hammett Prize is bestowed each year by The International Association of Crime Writers (North American Branch). This year the award will be given for a 2017 work of literary excellence in the field of crime writing by a US or Canadian author, in November. The winner receives the famous ‘Thin Man’ bronze trophy, and bragging rights.  🙂

Please click on the nominated book title to find out more about the novel.

The nominees are as follows: 

The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne (G. P. Putnam’s Sons)
The Tragedy of Brady Sims by Ernest J. Gaines (Vintage)
August Snow, by Stephen Mack Jones (Soho Crime)
Two Days Gone, by Randall Silvis (Sourcebooks Landmark)

Congratulations to all!

Past winners for books published in the year indicated include:

2016:  The White Devil by Domenic Stansberry

2015: The Do-Right by Lisa Sandlin

2014: Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

2013: Angel Baby by Richard Lange

2012: Oregon Hill by Howard Owen

2011: The Killer is Dying by James Sallis

2010: The Nearest Exit by Olen Steinhauer

2009: The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry

2008: The Turnaround by George Pelecanos


Have you read any of the 2017 nominated books? Or the Hammett Prize winners from previous years? Now’s your chance.  🙂





“One Murder More” by Kris Calvin


Book Cover - One Murder More

As Kris Calvin’s “One Murder More” opens, Sacramento lobbyist, Maren Kane, is having a really tough day. She's driving to a breakfast meeting at the governor’s office and sees a car go over the railing into the water-filled drainage ditch beyond. She and a Good Samaritan stranger are able to rescue two children from a rapidly submerging car, but the woman at the wheel, a famous investigative journalist, is dead on impact. After the accident, Maren continues on to work, and before going home, happens upon a bloodied colleague, Tamara Barnes, in the ladies’ room. And she is decidedly dead.

Two bodies in one 24-hour cycle? Wait. There are a few hours left to this day. Maren’s former intern, Sean Verston (and friend to Barnes) shows up at Maren’s doorstep at 2am to crash on her couch. When Sean is accused of Barnes’ murder, Maren doesn’t believe he could do it and can’t rest until she uncovers evidence that will clear him. It’s not easy to do, because Sean is hiding a secret he refuses to reveal, even to save himself.

Maren’s questions take her in surprising directions as the complex plot unfolds. The people involved and the connections between them could be ripped from the headlines. Who did what to whom, and most importantly, how did they get away with it for so long?

The people in “One Murder More” are well drawn, with intriguing, powerful men, and accomplished, multi-faceted women. Details about the California countryside and its restaurants, as well as the colorful outfits the characters wear, add to this entertaining read.

Kris Calvin’s political insider knowledge of how lobbying works in Sacramento is central to the effectiveness of “One Murder More.” She was an elected public official in California and was known for her work as an advocate for children. Maren Kane is an Ecobabe lobbyist working to pass legislation that would ban the complete use of cellphones while driving- not an easy or popular bill. The cell phone bill storyline is topical in real world discussions and in some States, highly controversial.

“One Murder More” won Silver Falchion awards for Best First Novel, and Best Political Thriller.


Please visit for more information about Ms. Calvin and her work.


“The Trapped Girl” by Robert Dugoni


Book Cover - The Trapped Girl

“The Trapped Girl” is the fourth book in Robert Dugoni’s engrossing Tracy Crosswhite series. A teenager, out before dawn for an illegal crab pot pickup in Puget Sound, almost tips the boat because of the pot’s weight. He sees a hand sticking up, freaks out, and returns to shore with the very dead, trapped girl.


Tracy Crosswaite and her partner, Kins, catch the call and a complicated case. The body hasn't been in the water all that long, but Jane Doe has had plastic surgery done to her face, which makes ID slower than usual. She is identified, but it seems that there is more going on than first appears.


The husband is a suspect, and seems deserving of that title. A 500K insurance policy was taken out just before the woman’s death, but why? The obvious answer may be too easy. And Dugoni never likes easy.


The characters in "The Trapped Girl" ring true, including the sleazy husband and the wife’s girlfriend. Dugoni writes each of the people with nuances and just enough good/suspicious behavior that I was certain that the deed(s) had been done by more than one person, and I kept changing my mind as Dugoni disproved my theory each time. And then tossed another ‘so-sure-this-time’ clue at us.


Tracy Crosswaite is evolving as a person and as a detective in the series and she is at the top of her game in this wildly tricky, intriguing case. Dugoni has allowed a more human side to be seen in some of the ensemble characters, and even Tracy admits to a flicker of surprise at a colleague’s actions. She remains steadfast in her support of women as cops, and we get to see more of the effect of that stance on her personal life.


The clever twists will keep you enthralled until the very last page. Jane Doe is not who she seems to be and the supposed bad guys are not the most evil in the book. Whom do we trust? Who is telling the truth? Whose story is this, really?


“The Trapped Girl” is a barnburner of a book, with a superb, multilayered storyline that never misses a beat. It was easy to place “The Trapped Girl” on my 2017 ‘Killer Thrillers for the Beach’ list. I’ve already read it twice.


“Close to Home,” fifth in the series, is next on my TBR list.


Please visit for more information about this award winning, bestselling, gifted writer.



“Cold Heart” by Karen Pullen


Book Cover - Cold Heart - Karen Pullen

“Cold Heart,” is the second in Karen Pullen’s traditional mystery series about the North Carolina SBI investigator, Stella Lavender. Instead of working undercover on tacky drug buys and dealer shutdowns, Stella wants to work fulltime at her dream job – in Homicide. But the boss hasn’t wanted to listen. He likes that she doesn’t look like a cop and that the guys in the back alleys won’t have a clue of her true identity until the cuffs are slapped on.

A couple days after working another annoying drug bust, Stella picks up a hitchhiker, a babysitter stranded without a ride, and takes her to the babysitting assignment. Thing is, the father is dead and the baby is missing. That drug bust? It overlaps the homicide. Life gets complicated very quickly.


Stella's own free- spirited grandmother, Fern, is an entertaining contrast to Stella’s more serious character, and plays a role in the case of the missing child. The search for the toddler gets knotty, and Stella gets shot – three times in one week. Like I said, complicated.


“Cold Heart” touches on the accepted procedure that is followed for evidence collection in NC, but knowing the rules and actually following them? Stella would be in lots of trouble if Command knew what she was really doing.


Make no mistake, Stella Lavender is bright, and edgy, and well-qualified for the job. Pullen has developed her assertiveness in natural ways in this second book. She is more comfortable with making decisions, and is good at whatever she’s assigned to do – and a bit better with the common-sense part of the work than her male counterparts. With some luck in tough situations, and creative problem solving, she gets results.


“Cold Heart” addresses questionable parenting and lifestyle choices, drugs, and the unexpected reveal that sometimes, nosy neighbors don’t always share what they see. There are plenty of suspects in this twisty family murder mystery. Not many of them like each other, but it's family in the South, so there is always lots of covering up, denial, and looking the other way. Nobody wants to give up a relative, even if that relative is up to no good.  Facing grandma’s stink eye at every family dinner is worse than the wrath of law enforcement. 


There are three guys in Stella's life – too bad that two of them are otherwise encumbered with spouses. That doesn’t prevent her from getting weak-kneed. Pullen provides us with smart dialogue in “Cold Heart,” a multi-faceted plot, a well-written cast of characters, and a leading gal we hope will be around for a long series.


Contains adult situations and occasional adult language.


Please visit for information about North Carolinian, Karen Pullen, her recent release of short stories, “Restless Dreams,” and her other work. 




Killer Thrillers for the Beach – 2017


There are two kinds of Beach Reads:


  • Action-packed adventure/thrillers that rev up your blood pressure and provide stay-awake reading (killer thrillers)
  • Completely relaxing, low-key, fun mystery books that tweak your brain cells, but allow you to nod off on time

None of the killer thriller titles below are relaxing or low-key. I defy you to nod off while reading any of them. Charge your e-reader, ‘cause you won’t want to take a break – except maybe to eat. Or, you might want to eat while reading.   🙂

Warning: most deal with adult topics and/or contain sporadic adult language.

(Listed in alphabetical order by author)


"The 7th Canon" by Robert Dugoni

Book Cover - The 7th Canon - Robert Dugoni




Standalone. Priest accused of terrible crimes.
Read review here.




"The Trapped Girl"  by Robert Dugoni

Book Cover - The Trapped Girl



Engrossing entry in the Tracy Crosswhite series. Fascinating case. Twists and turns galore. Read my review here.







"The Fixer" by Joseph Finder

Book Cover - The Fixer



Set in Boston. What a premise!
Read review here.





"The Switch" by Joseph Finder

Book Cover - The Switch - Joseph Finder



Michael Tanner picks up the wrong laptop computer in the airport. After he finds out who the owner is, does he do the right thing? HA!!! Great story!






"Phantom Instinct"  by Meg Gardiner

Book Cover - Phantom Instinct - Meg Gardiner


Gardiner always delivers edgy, complex plots. The lead character should have her own series.
Read review here.





"UnSub"  by Meg Gardiner

Book Cover - UnSub - Meg Gardiner



Stay awake reading at its best. Serial killer topic. Keep the lights on!









"The Second Life of Nick Mason"  by Steve Hamilton

Book Cover - The Second Life of Nick Mason



Astonishing new series. Adult topics. Pages fly by.








"Orphan X"  by Gregg Hurwitz

Book Cover - Orphan X




Excellent read. Adult topics. Another page-turner.









"Signal"  by Patrick Lee

Book Cover - Signal



Where does the signal originate? Slam dunk great!
Read review here.






"The Heist"  by Daniel Silva

Book Cover - The Heist by Daniel Silva



Intriguing international art heist. Spies included.
Read review here.






If you have a favorite thriller not listed above, let us know in the comments below.  🙂  Happy reading the killer thrillers for the beach!




2017 ITW Thriller Writers Awards



Thriller writers bring us thrills and chills, keep us awake long into the wee hours of the morning and leave us begging for more. You’re also likely to see many of them on top mystery writer lists all over the world. Once again, there are amazing finalists for the ITW Thriller Writers Awards. Take a look at the nominees and winners (indicated in red):



Megan Abbott – “You Will Know Me”
Reed Farrel Coleman – “Where It Hurts”
Noah Hawley – “Before the Fall”

Laura McHugh – “Arrowood”
Ben H. Winters – “Underground Airlines”



Bob Bickford – “Deadly Kiss”
J.L. Delozier – “Type and Cross”
David McCaleb – “Recall”
Nicholas Petrie – “The Drifter”
E.Z. Rinsky – “Palindrome”



Robert Dugoni – “In the Clearing”
Anne Frasier – “The Body Reader”
Paul Kemprecos – “The Minoan Cipher”
Jonathan Maberry – “Kill Switch” 
Stephen Maher – “Salvage”



James Scott Bell – “Romeo’s Way”
Sean Black – “The Edge of Alone”
Sibel Hodge – “Untouchable”    
J.F. Penn – “Destroyer of Worlds”
Richard Thomas – “Breaker”


Please visit for the nominees and winners in the YA and Short Story categories.


Congratulations to all the finalists and winners of the International Thriller Writer Awards! The 2017 winners were announced at the ThrillerFest XII banquet, held on July 15, 2017 in New York City.






Author Profile: Edith Maxwell



Edith Maxwell writes award-winning short stories, has several series of full-length mysteries out and has been nominated for Agatha Awards in both the Short Story and Historical Fiction categories for this year’s Malice Domestic mystery conference. At this writing, she has eleven published novels since 2012 under the names Tace Baker, Maddie Day, and Edith Maxwell, with #12 due out next month. She is working on three more to be published in the near future. She is the one of the most prolific traditionally published authors I know and she is loving all of it!


I first met Edith at a Writers Police Academy conference in the Fall of 2012. At the time, she had just published her first Lauren Rousseau title, “Speaking of Murder,” as Tace Baker. I was hooked by the intelligent, worldly, complex female lead character. She attended WPA in order to research police procedure, and also gathered tons of information about firefighters and EMS personnel that she might use in future novels.


While following her career the last few years, it’s become apparent that solid research underpins all her books. Happily, combined with her own personal experiences, the result is richly developed backgrounds and storylines.


For the Country Store series, Maxwell took a trip to Indiana in order to investigate the setting, special southern Indiana phrasing (“I can’t eat another bite ’cause I’m as full as a tick”), and foods specific to the region. As it happens, she was also returning to the area of her grad school days and the site of a university packed with her own Maxwell family history. Friends of hers in the grad program had restored an old country store and turned it into a restaurant and bed & breakfast, the basis for Robbie Jordan’s ‘Pans ‘N Pancakes’ establishment in the series. In addition, Maxwell loves to cook and there are virtual cooking lessons woven throughout the stories as well as yummy recipes to be found.


Fun fact: my mom had an amazing collection of antique cookware, so when Robbie chats about the vintage pieces in her store, I can see the tools in my mind’s eye. Maxwell/Day’s details? Wonderful!


The Local Foods series features an organic farmer as the lead character, and guess what? Edith ran her own small certified organic farm for a few years and that expertise infuses the series with effortless realism. Readers can pick up tips about what it takes to grow produce organically, both the pitfalls and the plusses, while enjoying the cleverly crafted mysteries.


The Quaker Midwife series is a project close to Edith’s heart. She is a Quaker herself and some of the history and the daily practices of the Society of Friends have found their way into this series. Maxwell now lives in Amesbury, Massachusetts where the books are set, and the local history influenced her short story writing. One of the short stories became the impetus for a 19th c. midwife character. Rose Carroll, the Quaker midwife, is perfectly placed to be a sleuth, since she gets to go where men (and the police) can’t in 1888, and hears all kinds of secrets that help solve the crimes. Beautifully written, “Delivering the Truthis well-deserving of the Agatha historical mystery nomination this year.


Click on the link to check out Maxwell’s YouTube video of a walking tour of Amesbury, Massachusetts. Maxwell is wearing an authentic self-made 1888 dress and bonnet while she conducts the tour and chats about the sites mentioned in “Delivering the Truth.” What a fun and terrific way to launch a series! 


Plus, as Maddie Day, Edith has a new cozy foodie mystery series, Cozy Capers Book Group, set on Cape Cod. “Murder on Cape Cod will be the first title launched in 2018. The lead character runs a bicycle repair and rental shop and hosts a weekly cozy mystery book group. My dad’s family came from the Cape, and I’m looking forward to reading Maxwell/Day’s take on the region.


So, how does she keep up this writing pace and still maintain the quality in her books? First, she is doing what she loves. She has a writing schedule for each day – mornings are the best for her – but when a deadline looms, she sometimes goes away for a few days on retreat. She turns off the internet so that there are no distractions at all and she can write from dawn ‘til midnight if she needs to. When slipping away to a retreat, Maxwell likes to take along comfy clothes, walking shoes, a laptop, a favorite pen, and an actual paper notebook. Oh, and of course, wine and dark chocolate.  🙂


Maxwell writes traditional mysteries with absorbing puzzles to solve, and appealing characters that engage us on every page. With strong female leads, fascinating details, and multi-layered plots, this is an author we want to follow, wherever (or whenever) she leads us.


Book Cover - A Tine to Live A Tine to Die


Read the review of “A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die,” (Local Foods series) here.






Book Cover - Grilled for Murder


Read the review of “Grilled for Murder,” (Country Store series) here (written as Maddie Day)










Book Cover - Delivering the Truth



Read review of “Delivering the Truth” (Quaker Midwife series) here.  🙂







"Delivering the Truth" has been nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Historical Mystery. And “The Mayor and the Midwife” has been nominated for an Agatha for Best Short Story. Read the short story here.

Edith Maxwell is a member of the Wicked Cozy Authors, the New England gals that share writing advice and their own experiences every week at She also writes with Killer Characters, and with the Midnight Ink authors.

For more information about Ms. Maxwell and her many projects, please visit


Edith MaxwellDeliveringtheTruth AgathaBanner


Photo "Writer" taken by Patti Phillips

Other photos provided by Edith Maxwell