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.  :-)





“Louise’s War” and “Louise’s Dilemma” by Sarah R. Shaber


Book Cover - Louise's War


“Louise’s War,” by Sarah Shaber, introduces us to widowed Louise Pearlie, a file clerk in World War II Washington, DC. Louise is not just any file clerk. She has college training, is smart and resourceful, and is a bit of a risk taker. She works in the Office of Strategic Services (aka spy agency) where all the work is classified and government regulations dictate that she can’t even reveal where she works. Louise’s job is to look for information that will help the Allies win the war, perfect for this woman who has escaped her dead-end life on the Carolina coast.  


France is increasingly coming under German control at this stage of the war and it’s been a while since Louise has heard from a close college friend who lives there. Her husband is important to the war effort, and Louise searches for a way to get this Jewish family out of France before they are taken to internment camps.


When papers that would save her friend go missing and a murder is committed, Louise realizes that she can’t trust anyone. She must make alliances she would not have made in less desperate circumstances, and time is not her friend. Shaber creates a tension filled atmosphere of subterfuge and betrayal that keeps us guessing and swept up in the story.


In “Louise’s War,” Shaber demonstrates the gravity of the events of the war through her well-researched picture of life in WWII America, with its details of domestic sacrifices, and the effects of gas and food rationing. Louise’s time at a D.C. boarding house shows the reality of the jammed housing situation in wartime Washington. Massive amounts of food were needed by the troops, so the backyard gardens and chicken coops that Louise tended at the boarding house were true to the period, necessary supplements to rationed civilian food supplies.


Book Cover - Louise's Dilemma



In “Louise’s Dilemma,” Louise’s job focus has shifted to acquiring and cataloguing intelligence about Nazi U-boats in the North Atlantic. Louise and an FBI agent travel to nearby Maryland after a suspicious postcard is forwarded to the OSS. Their investigation takes alarming twists and turns and puts Louise in danger from a surprising villain. Her clever mind and dogged determination uncover something incredible, yet completely believable, given the real-world terrain in that area. “Louise’s Dilemma,” the third book in the series, delivers an engaging historical mystery and a compelling read. I had read it first, then picked up “Louise’s War,” to see how Louise Pearlie’s journey began. I’m glad I did.


Please click here for more information about award-winning Mrs. Shaber and her other books.


Barry Awards – 2018



Established in 1997, the Barry Awards are presented at the annual Bouchercon World Mystery Convention, this year held in Florida, in the USA. 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 – 2018, will be announced September 6, 2018 during the Bouchercon Opening Ceremonies.

Congratulations to all the nominees for the Barry Awards!

Best Novel 
THE LATE SHOW, Michael Connelly
EXIT STRATEGY, Steve Hamilton
THE FORCE, Don Winslow
MAGPIE MURDERS, Anthony Horowitz


Best First Novel 
THE DRY, Jane Harper
THE LOST ONES, Sheena Kamal
A RISING MAN, Abir Mukherjee


Best Paperback Original 
THE DAY I DIED, Lori Rader-Day
SUPER CON, James Swain


Best Thriller 
THE OLD MAN, Thomas Perry
UNSUB, Meg Gardiner


Happy Reading!  :-)


“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.



Top Eleven Reviews – 2017


Book Cover - What She Knew

Tons of great books, soooo many talented authors, and oodles of dedicated booklovers, all combined to make 2017 a great year of reading entertainment. Whether discovering a new author, or returning to a tried and true favorite, the NBR community interest was over 30% greater than the previous most popular year.


Although not included in the 'Top Eleven Reviews – 2017' book list, the 2017 author profiles (Edith Maxwell, Liz Mugavero, Barbara Ross, Lynn C. Willis) were extremely popular and we’ll have more during 2018. Click on their names – links to books included.


Why Top Eleven? There is a debut magazine in the list, very well received by the NBR audience.  :-)


Listed in alphabetical order by author (except for the magazine and the ‘Killer Thrillers’), click on the links to read the reviews for the first time, or to enjoy them again.


“Black Cat Mystery Magazine” debut issue short mystery fiction


“Killer Thrillers for the Beach”  (seven thriller authors, ten titles)


“Cat About Town” by Cate Conte


“Grilled for Murder” by Maddie Day


“The 7th Canon” by Robert Dugoni


“I like You Just Fine When You’re Not Around” by Ann Garvin


“A Good Day to Buy” by Sherry Harris


“Dry Bones” by Craig Johnson


“What She Knew” by Gilly Macmillan


“Custom Baked Murder” by Liz Mugavero


“Relic” by Fiona Quinn


Many thanks everyone! May 2018 bring you lots of love and laughter, along with some thumpin’ great new reads.  :-)


Shamus Awards – 2017


PWA logo

Bouchercon, the largest international mystery lovers convention, held in October this year, is a natural platform for several writing awards. In addition to the Anthony, Barry, and Macavity Awards for excellence in mysteries, the PWA’s Shamus Awards-2017 were given for deserving Private Eye titles published in 2016. (The winners were announced before the convention.)


The Private Eye Writers of America, focuses on Private Eye fiction alone. PWA’s definition of a Private Eye: a person paid to investigate crimes who is not employed by a government agency.


The winners are noted in red, with the other finalists immediately after. Congratulations to all!   :-)

Best Original Private Eye Paperback
Vaseem Khan, The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown. Red Hook Books 

Michael Craven, The Detective and the Chinese High-Fin. Harper Collins
O'Neil De Noux,  Hold Me, Babe. Big Kiss Publications
Erle Stanley Gardner,  The Knife Slipped. Hard Case Crime
Manuel Ramos, My Bad. Arte Publico Press


Best First Private Eye Novel
Joe Ide, IQ.  Little, Brown

Tim Baker, Fever City. Europa Editions
D. P. Lyle, Deep Six.  Oceanview Publishing
David Swinson, The Second Girl. Little, Brown
Richard Vine, Soho Sins. Hard Case Crime


Best Private Eye Short Story
Brendan DuBois, “A Battlefield Reunion” in AHMM, June
Lawrence Block, “Keller’s Fedora” (e-publication)
Ake Edwardson, “Stairway From Heaven” in Stockholm Noir, Akashic
Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins, “A Dangerous Cat” in The Strand. Feb-May
Dave Zeltserman, “Archie On Loan” in EQMM, Sept.-Oct.


Best Private Eye Novel
Reed Farrel Coleman, Where It Hurts. Putnam
Lindsey Davis, The Graveyard of the Hesperides. Minotaur
Timothy Hallinan, Fields Where They Lay. Soho Crime
Al Lamanda, With 6 You Get Wally. Gale Cengage
Robert S. Levinson, The Stardom Affair.  Five Star




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!