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Agatha Awards
2012
The beautiful mystery : a Chief Inspector Gamache novel
Click to search this book in our catalog   Louise Penny.
2012
Lowcountry boil : a Liz Talbot mystery
Click to search this book in our catalog   Susan M. Boyer.

Library Journal When PI Liz Talbot learns that her grandmother has been murdered at her South Carolina island home, she returns to Stella Maris, where she will stay until she can help solve the shocking homicide. Two other factors sway this decision: the ghost of her late best friend from high school is talking to her, and she inherited Gram's house. Her big brother, Blake, who is also chief of police, doesn't want her meddling-as if his hardheaded sister is giving him a choice. Plenty of secrets, long--simmering feuds, and greedy ventures make for a captivating read. VERDICT Boyer's chick lit PI debut charmingly showcases South Carolina island culture. Her light paranormal garnered nominations for the 2012 RITA Golden Heart Award and the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. A nice pairing with Sue Ann Jaffarian's "Ghost of Granny Apples" series. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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2012
Books to Die For: The World's Greatest Mystery Writers on the World's Greatest Mystery Novels
Click to search this book in our catalog   by John Connolly/Declan Burke
 
2013
The haunted lighthouse
 Penny Warner.
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2011(Best Novel)
Three-Day Town
 Margaret Maron

Book list In her seventeenth Deborah Knott mystery, Maron's two series protagonists the warm North Carolina judge, Knott, and the cool NYPD lieutenant, Sigrid Harald (last seen in Fugitive Colors, 1995) meet for the first time. A year after their marriage, Deborah and Deputy Sheriff Dwight Bryant are off to New York for a weeklong honeymoon, staying at Dwight's sister-in-law's Manhattan apartment. They are asked to deliver a package to Sigrid's mother. When Sigrid comes to get the package for her vacationing mother, during a party in a neighboring apartment, the building superintendent is found dead and the risque and potentially valuable statue from the package is missing. Then the body of one of the building's elevator men is found in a garbage bag, and the teenage son of the chair of the co-op board goes missing. Maron tosses in plenty of red herrings before Deborah's intuition and curiosity combine to break the case. A reliably entertaining addition to an always enjoyable series, though, by the end, it's clear that, for Deborah and Dwight, home proves a lot more enticing than Broadway glitter.--Leber, Michele Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Bestseller Maron's charming 17th Deborah Knott mystery (after 2010's Christmas Mourning) takes the North Carolina judge and her husband of one year, Dwight Bryant, to New York City for a belated honeymoon. They bear an unusual gift, a small bronze sculpture, for photojournalist Anne Lattimore Harald from Anne's dying mother, wealthy Jane Lattimore, who's a distant cousin of Deborah's. Deborah arranges to meet Anne's daughter, NYPD Lt. Sigrid Harald, who will pick up the gift, at a large party next door to the Manhattan apartment that an absent friend is letting the couple use. When Sigrid and Deborah return to the borrowed apartment, the sculpture is missing from the kitchen counter; worse, the dead body of the building's super is lying on the balcony. Could someone from the party be responsible for the theft and the murder? Deborah, with her inveterate curiosity, assists Sigrid, last seen in her own series in 1995's Fugitive Colors, in the official investigation. This is a strong addition to a series that's won Edgar, Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Judge Deborah Knott's (Christmas Mourning) honeymoon in New York City is tainted by murder. It's always good to see our favorites in new venues, even if it turns out to be a busman's holiday. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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2011(Best First Novel)
Learning To Swim
 Sara J. Henry

Publishers Weekly Freelance writer Troy Chance, the protagonist of Henry's impressive first novel, impulsively, and literally, dives into trouble when she sees a youngster fall from a ferry boat on Lake Champlain. Troy manages to rescue the boy, discovers that his fall was no accident, and after brief, anonymous reports to the police, embarks on an ill-conceived attempt to become the boy's protector. Bonding with the boy, she eventually learns his name, Paul Dumond; his age, six; and that he and his mother had been kidnapped and his mother later shot and killed. Troy locates Paul's Canadian father, Philippe, and reunites father and son, but she is unwilling to end her involvement. When the police can't find the kidnappers, Troy starts to probe more deeply into the lives of Philippe, his abducted wife, and Paul's captivity. Henry adroitly handles Troy's exposure to new emotions as she re-examines her life and relationships. An inconclusive ending may signal that Chance's journey is not yet over. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list When Troy Chance spots what she thinks is a small boy being tossed off the back of a passing ferry, she instinctively jumps into the icy waters of Lake Champlain. She rescues the youngster and discovers that his arms were bound with an adult sweatshirt. He's incredibly frightened, speaks only French, and won't tell her what happened. Troy determines that she will keep him safe rather than turn him over to the police. When he finally begins to confide in her, he tells a bizarre tale of being kidnapped, hearing his mother murdered by gunshot, and then being held for months. As Troy tracks down the boy's father, she begins to question whether she will be able to let him go, since he has unleashed within her a maternal instinct she had no idea she possessed. In her debut, the first in a projected series, Henry proves herself to be a smooth and compelling storyteller. And her lead is highly appealing: an athletic, fiercely independent young woman who, like crime-fiction author Gillian Flynn's feisty females, is capable of making delightfully acerbic observations.--Wilkinson, Joanne Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Library Journal Freelance writer Troy Chance sees a child thrown from a ferry and jumps into the water to save him. Haunted by a past experience with an abandoned child, she decides to be sure that his parents weren't responsible before she notifies the police. She travels to Canada to meet with Paul's divorced father and realizes that she has become more attached to the child than she wanted to be. Accepting an invitation to stay with the family for a few days while Paul recovers from the trauma of his kidnapping, Troy finds herself falling for his father. At the same time, she is unable to leave the investigation in the hands of the police, still fearing that one of the parents could have been involved. Verdict Fans of both mystery and romantic suspense will welcome this promising new author; the unsettled ending hints at a follow-up mystery.-Linda Oliver, MLIS, Colorado Springs (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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2011(Best Non-fiction)
Books, Crooks and Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure
Click to search this book in our catalog   Leslie Budewitz

Library Journal Budewitz, an attorney-at-law who has been published in mystery magazines, wrote this book to help crime writers wade through the time-consuming and often confusing process of legal research. She provides an insider's perspective on often overlooked legal concepts and pinpoints common errors writers make when incorporating criminal and civil law into their fiction. The book covers 160 topics, including proper legal terminology, realistic courtroom behavior and dialog, proper procedure (both at the state and at the federal level), and the legal system as a whole. The frequently asked questions featured in each chapter are also arranged by topic within the table of contents, enabling readers to pick and choose the legal aspects most relevant to their writing. The final chapter offers guidance on conducting legal research, and the "Book Links" section references useful URLs listed throughout. VERDICT Budewitz's material is straightforward and user-friendly. Her content will help shave off hours of research time and enable writers to focus more energy on craft, plot, and character development. Highly recommended for aspiring writers of crime fiction. [Quill Driver also published Carolyn Kaufman's The Writer's Guide to Psychology.-Ed.]-Karen McCoy, Northern Arizona Univ. Lib., Flagstaff (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list Lawyer and crime-fiction writer Budewitz has put together an essential guide to getting it right when writing about the law. Starting with the basics (the difference between criminal and civil action; the difference between a judge and a justice) and proceeding in a logical fashion to more complicated stuff (how prosecutors decide whether to proceed with a case; the difference between direct and circumstantial evidence; the facts about diplomatic immunity), the author explains how crime writers can make sure to use the correct terminology and proper procedures, thus ensuring that they will not, well, embarrass themselves. Budewitz also makes intelligible to the layperson some of those baffling legal terms Res ipsa loquitor, that sort of thing and she dips into such potentially murky waters as legal ethics and the death penalty (from a writerly standpoint rather than a philosophical one). Written in clear, simple prose and drawing on examples from crime fiction and the author's own career as a lawyer, this book belongs on the shelf of every crime writer.--Pitt, David Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

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2011(Best Children's/Young Adult)
The Black Heart Crypt: A Haunted Mystery
Click to search this book in our catalog   Chris Grabenstein

Book list Gruesome, hilarious, and truly scary, the latest entry in the prizewinning Haunted Mysteries series about Zack, 11, is a great read-aloud for Halloween. In fact, that is when it is set, on the night when ghosts gets special powers and the veil between the living and the dead is thinnest. Zack and his friends dress up as killer bees, and from the school bus to a family crypt in the cemetery ( totally creepy but totally cool ), they encounter demons, including ghosts of gangsters with scores to settle. Zack, who loves his stepmom, is terrified when his dead birth mother returns as a dybbuk demon: Does she want to harm him or make amends? The story is set in contemporary New England, and the characters rely on cell phones and texting to communicate, but the horror is timeless. Caught up in the fast-paced action, kids will want to share the irreverent commentary, including the occasional gross-out rhyme: There's one little worm that's very shy / Crawls in your stomach and out your eye. --Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 4-7-Zack, 13, is still seeing spirits. and they see him. He has more or less come to terms with them, though, and he thinks that he has defeated the worst the spirit world could throw at him. But that was before the spell was broken, releasing 13 ghosts, the entire Ickleby clan. Zack's family moved the Icklebys' coffins and imprisoned their spirits decades ago. Now, with the curse broken and their ancestor offering up his body for possession, they have the ability to exact their revenge on Zack for his family's deeds. This novel speeds along at a breakneck pace, hauling readers along as Zack and his friends (and his dog, Zipper) attempt to dodge and defeat the vengeful, rather inept, spirits. The action-packed short chapters and vivid imagery will make this book an easy sell to young teens and reluctant readers, even if they haven't read the previous books in the series.-Heather Miller Cover, Homewood Public Library, AL (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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2010 (Best Novel)
Bury Your Dead
Click to search this book in our catalog   Louise Penny
 
2010 (Best First Novel)
The Long Quiche Goodbye
 Avery Aames
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2010 (Best Non-fiction)
Agatha Christies Secret Notebooks: 50 Years of Mysteries in the Making
 John Curran
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2010 (Best Children's/Young Adult)
The Other Side of Dark
 Sarah Smith
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2009 (Best Novel)
The Brutal Telling
Click to search this book in our catalog   Louise Penny
2009 (Best First Novel)
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Click to search this book in our catalog   Alan Bradley
2009 (Best Non-fiction)
Dame Agathas Shorts
Click to search this book in our catalog   Elena Santangelo
 
2009 (Best Children's/Young Adult)
The Hanging Hill
 Chris Grabenstein
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2008 (Best Novel)
The cruelest month : a Three Pines mystery
 Louise Penny.
Library Journal: Starred Review. The Quebecois village of Three Pines (first introduced in Still Life and Fatal Grace) is once again the scene of a perplexing murder, and Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his team have caught the case. Madeleine Favreau, a cheerful and well-liked village resident, collapsed and died at an impromptu séance at a local house thought to be haunted. The cause of death is pronounced a high dose of ephedrine and fright. But Madeleine wasn't dieting, so who slipped her the ephedrine? Gamache is an engaging, modern-day Poirot who gently teases out information from his suspects while enjoying marvelous bistro meals and cozy walks on the village common. His team is an unlikely troupe of departmental misfits who blossom under his deft tutelage, turning up just the right clues. Penny is an award-winning writer whose cozies go beyond traditional boundaries, providing entertaining characters, a picturesque locale, and thought-provoking plots. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 11/1/07.]—Susan Clifford Braun, Aerospace Corp., El Segundo, CA

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Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. Chief Insp. Armand Gamache and his team investigate another bizarre crime in the tiny Québec village of Three Pines in Penny's expertly plotted third cozy (after 2007's A Fatal Grace). As the townspeople gather in the abandoned and perhaps haunted Hadley house for a séance with a visiting psychic, Madeleine Favreau collapses, apparently dead of fright. No one has a harsh word to say about Madeleine, but Gamache knows there's more to the case than meets the eye. Complicating his inquiry are the repercussions of Gamache having accused his popular superior at the Sûreté du Québec of heinous crimes in a previous case. Fearing there might be a mole on his team, Gamache works not only to solve the murder but to clear his name. Arthur Ellis Award–winner Penny paints a vivid picture of the French-Canadian village, its inhabitants and a determined detective who will strike many Agatha Christie fans as a 21st-century version of Hercule Poirot. (Mar.)

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2008 (Best First Novel)
Death of a cozy writer
 G.M. Malliet.
Library Journal : When millionaire and mystery author Adrian Beauclerk-Fisk sends out wedding announcements to his ex-wife and children, the family descends on Waverly Court, their father's large estate in Cambridgeshire. Family tensions soon break out into murder, and Detective Chief Inspector St. Just and Sergeant Fear are called in. In her series debut, Malliet, who won a Malice Domestic Grant to write this novel, lays the foundation for an Agatha Christie-like murder mystery, although the plot lacks direction and could have used a few more red herrings. Traces of humor add to a story enhanced by the detection skills of St. Just and Fear. This will appeal to Christie fans and readers who enjoy British cozies.

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Publishers Weekly : Fans of stylish English detective work will welcome Malliet's droll debut, the first in a new series. When Sir Adrian Beauclerk-Fisk, a pompous cozy author, invites his four grown children to his Yuletide wedding to Violet Winthrop at his 18th-century manor outside Cambridge, none of the four is pleased at the prospect of a young stepmother who could inherit their father's vast fortune. Besides, Violet's considered a black widow who did in her first husband. Soon after Sir Adrian announces during a family dinner that he and Violet are already wed, eldest son Ruthven turns up dead in the wine cellar. Sir Adrian's subsequent murder in his office doesn't inspire tears from either his bride or his first wife. Detective Chief Inspector St. Just and Detective Sergeant Fear of the Cambridgeshire constabulary conduct a lively investigation that underscores how the lack and the love of money might be at the root of society's ills. (July)

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2008 (Best Non-fiction)
How to write killer historical mysteries : the art and adventure of sleuthing through the past
Click to search this book in our catalog   Kathy Lynn Emerson.
2008 (Best Children's/Young Adult)
The crossroads
Click to search this book in our catalog   Chris Grabenstein.
School Library Journal : Gr 5–8—A well-told ghost story with plenty of twists and chills. Eleven-year-old Zack believes that his mother, who died from cancer, haunts his New York City apartment, continually disapproving of his behavior. He is immensely relieved when Dad marries Judy, a kind woman, and they move to Connecticut. Unfortunately, Zack cannot seem to escape the dead. Shortly after arriving in North Chester, they meet Gerda Spratling, the last survivor of the town's founding family. The abrasive woman mourns the loss of her fiancé, making a weekly pilgrimage to the crossroads outside Zack's yard where a massive oak marks the spot where Clint died almost 50 years ago. When Zack sees this tree, he fears that something evil is trapped within, and after the oak is split open by lightning, it soon becomes apparent that a malevolent spirit has been set free. With the help of Judy and a new friend, Zack takes on the menace that is plaguing their town and riling up a plethora of ghosts. This riveting tale is written in short, easy-to-read chapters, making it a good choice for reluctant readers. Throughout the story, the main characters grow closer to one another and gain heroic traits while the "bad guys" reveal greater depths of wickedness and insanity. Readers will relate to Zack and enjoy the book's scare factor and adventure.—Jessica Miller, New Britain Public Library, CT

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2007 (Best First Novel)
Prime Time
Click to search this book in our catalog   Hank Phillippi Ryan
 
2007 (Best Nonfiction)
Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters
 Jon Lellenberg, Daniel Stashower and Charles Foley
Publishers Weekly : Starred Review. This fascinating collection of previously unpublished letters from the creator of Sherlock Holmes offers a revealing glimpse of a Renaissance man fated to be overshadowed by his most famous character. Beginning with correspondence from Doyle as an eight-year-old in 1867, the editors offer a warts-and-all picture of his life until 1920, 10 years before his death, covering the author's frank accounts of life at a boarding school, his struggles as a young doctor and aspiring writer, and his political advocacy. Those seeking insights into the creation of Holmes may be disappointed; while Doyle's ambivalence toward Holmes is well known, this collection reveals the extent to which he viewed his character principally as a source of income rather than a lasting legacy. The editors—Doyle experts Lellenberg and Stashower, and Doyle's great-nephew Foley—have nicely balanced the content: the letters reveal Doyle's stiff upper lip when he lost a son during the Great War, and his sense of humor, as in a hilarious report to his mother on the birth of his daughter Mary. This will be essential reading for all fans of Conan Doyle and his sleuth. (Andrew Lycett's biography of Conan Doyle, The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes, is due from the Free Press this fall.) Illus. (Nov. 1)

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2007 (Best Novel)
A Fatal Grace
 Louise Penny
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2006 (Best First Novel)
The Heat of the Moon
 Sandra Parshall
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2006 (Best Nonfiction)
Dont Murder your Mystery
Click to search this book in our catalog   Chris Roerden
2006 (Best Novel)
The Virgin of Small Plains
Click to search this book in our catalog   Nancy Pickard
2005 (Best First Novel)
Better off Wed
Click to search this book in our catalog   Laura Durham
 
2005 (Best Non-Fiction)
Girl Sleuth
 Melanie Rehak
Publishers Weekly: The intrepid Nancy Drew has given girls a sense of their own power since she was born, Athena-like, from the mind of Edward Stratemeyer in 1929 and raised after his death in 1930 by his daughter Harriet Stratemeyer Adams and Mildred Wirt Benson, a journalist who was the first to write the novels under the pen name Carolyn Keene. Poet and critic Rehak invigorates all the players in the Drew story, and it's truly fun to see behind the scenes of the girl sleuth's creation, her transformation as different writers took on the series, and the publishing phenomenon—the highly productive Stratemeyer Syndicate machine—that made her possible. Rehak's most ambitious choice is to reflect on how Nancy Drew mirrors girls' lives and the ups and downs of the women's movement. This approach is compelling, but not particularly well executed. Rehak's breathless prose doesn't do justice to the complexity of the large social trends she describes, and tangents into Feminism 101 derail the story that really works—the life of a publishing juggernaut. All the same, Stratemeyer himself would undoubtedly say that the story is worth telling. Drew fans are likely to agree.

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School Library Journal: Adult/High School–As much a social history of the times as a book about the popular series, this is a fun title that will appeal to older teens who remember the series fondly. In 1930, she arrived in her shiny blue roadster and she has remained a part of the children's book scene ever since. While Nancy may have been the brainchild of Edward Stratemeyer, creator of the successful Stratemeyer Syndicate, it was the devotion of Harriet, his daughter, and syndicate writer Mildred Wirt Benson who brought her to life. The series succeeded beyond anyone's wildest dreams but things were not always peaceful in River Heights. Rehak does a good job of explaining the intricacies of the Stratemeyer Syndicate and the sometimes-rocky relationship between these two strong women, each of whom felt a sense of ownership of the girl detective. Those who followed the many adventures of Nancy Drew and her friends will be fascinated with the behind-the-scene stories of just who Carolyn Keene really was.–Peggy Bercher, Fairfax County Public Library, VA

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2005 (Best Novel)
The Body in the Snowdrift
 Katherine Hall Page
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2004 (Best First Novel)
Dating Dead Men
 Harley Jane Kozak
Library Journal : All greeting card artist Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley wants to do is get the status of her franchise card shop upgraded, go out on dates, and take care of her institutionalized paranoid schizophrenic brother, P.B. But life for Wollie isn't as simple as it appears. Corporate spies could appear at any moment. Her social life is dictated by a research project for a radio celebrity psychotherapist who's paying Wollie to date 40 men in 60 days. And her brother has called to tell her that there's been a murder at his mental hospital. To top it all off, Wollie has finally met the man of her dreams, but he's on the run from gangsters and the law, and may or may not be involved in a killing. There's never a dull moment in this rollicking caper, an exuberant, fun-filled roller-coaster ride worthy of Stephanie Plum. Kozak, a talented actress who's appeared in such films as Parenthood and When Harry Met Sally, will inevitably be compared favorably to Janet Evanovich-Kozak's humor, voice, and pacing is quite similar. This incredible debut novel is the first in a series of dating mysteries, and libraries of all sizes will want it for their collections.-Shelley Mosley, Glendale P.L., AZ

Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly : Even Stephanie Plum's antics will seem sedate after readers make the acquaintance of Los Angeles's own Wollie Shelley, greeting card designer and small business owner. Wollie is dating 40 men in 60 days as part of a research project for a bestselling radio personality; the $5,000 fee could help her struggling store, "Wollie's Welcome! Greetings." In particular, Wollie's worried about inspections from national headquarters, who want to ensure that her franchise is up to standard. Her already full plate gets loaded up further when her paranoid schizophrenic brother, P.B., who resides at a mental hospital called Rio Pescado, phones to tell her he's witnessed a murder. The last thing Wollie wants is to call the police, so she dashes off to Rio Pescado. On the way she finds a dead body. At the hospital she picks up a charismatic stranger, "Doc," who's on the run, and Wollie can't help getting herself mixed up in his troubles as well. Juggling dates, avoiding the bad guys on Doc's trail, trying to keep her store up to snuff and figuring out what to feed the ferret Doc left in her care have Wollie hopping at a pace reminiscent of the best 1930s screwball film comedies. Kozak has struck gold first time out with a wacky, high-octane plot and characters to match.

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2004 (Best Juvenile)
Chasing Vermeer
Click to search this book in our catalog   Blue Balliett
Publishers Weekly : Puzzles nest within puzzles in this ingeniously plotted and lightly delivered first novel that, revolving around the heist of a Vermeer painting, also touches on the nature of coincidence, truth, art and similarly meaty topics. Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay become friends in sixth grade at a school operated by the University of Chicago (Balliett taught at the University's Lab Schools), both of them independent thinkers excited by their maverick teacher, Ms. Hussey. For reasons unknown to her students, the teacher asks her class to ponder the importance of letters (the epistolary sort) and to mull over Picasso's ideas about art as "a lie that tells the truth." Readers have the edge on the characters, being privy to an enigmatic letter sent to three unidentified persons outlining a centuries-old "crime" against a painter's artistic legacy. These mysteries deepen exponentially when someone steals a Vermeer masterpiece and holds it hostage, demanding scholarly redress for misattributions within Vermeer's small oeuvre. The art mystery and the crisp intelligence of the prose immediately recall E.L. Konigsburg, but Balliett is an original: her protagonists also receive clues through dreams, pentominoes (math tools with alphabetic correspondences), secret codes (including some left to readers to decipher) and other deliberately non-rational devices. Helquist (the Lemony Snicket books) compounds the fun with drawings that incorporate the pentomino idea to supply visual clues as well. Thick with devilish red herrings, this smart, playful story never stops challenging (and exhilarating) the audience. Ages 8-12.

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2004 (Best Novel)
Birds of a Feather
Click to search this book in our catalog   Jacqueline Winspear
Library Journal : In this follow-up to Winspear's Edgar Award–nominated Maisie Dobbs, her most unusual P.I. has been hired to find the missing daughter of a wealthy London magnate. As Maisie and her Cockney assistant, Billy Beale, try to track Charlotte Waite down, they discover that three of her old friends have been murdered—poisoned and then bayoneted. Did Charlotte run away to escape an overbearing father, or did she flee out of fear? Are the crimes connected to the Great War? Unlike the first book, which was a fascinating portrait of a young woman moving from servitude to independence, this is more a traditional mystery à la Dorothy Sayers. But Winspear doesn't stint on the intriguing historical and social details that made her debut so compelling. She deftly captures Maisie's Upstairs, Downstairs dilemma of living in a class-ridden society: the former housemaid still feels "like a citizen of two countries, neither here nor there, but always somewhere in the middle." Strongly recommended for most mystery collections.—Wilda Williams, Library Journal

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Publishers Weekly : The eponymous heroine of Winspear's promising debut, Maisie Dobbs (2003), continues to beguile in this chilling, suspenseful sequel set in England a decade after the end of the Great War. Maisie, "Psychologist and Investigator," as the brass nameplate on her office door declares, gets hired by a wealthy industrialist to find his only daughter, Charlotte Waite, who has gone missing. With the help of her cockney assistant, Billy Beale, Maisie sets out to learn all she can of Charlotte's habits, character and friends. No sooner has Maisie discovered the identities of three of these friends than they start turning up dead—poisoned, then bayoneted for good measure. At each crime scene is left a white feather. Increasingly preoccupied with these tragedies, Maisie almost loses sight of her original mission, until it becomes apparent that the murders and Charlotte's disappearance are related. As in her first novel, the author gives an intelligent and absorbing picture of the period, providing plentiful details for the history buff without detracting from the riveting mystery. Readers will be eager to see more of the spunky Maisie, with her unusual career as a one-time maid, nurse and university student. Agent, Amy Rennert. (June 15)Forecast: A Top Ten Book Sense 76 pick for 2003, Maisie Dobbs has been nominated for both Agatha and Edgar awards. A win of either of these in late May, followed by a national author tour, will help propel sales of Birds of a Feather.

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School Library Journal : Adult/High School–The spirited heroine of Maisie Dobbs (Soho, 2003) is back to solve another puzzle in post-World War I London. Having been trained by a master detective, the former serving girl now a Cambridge graduate is hired by grocery magnate Joseph Waite to find his wayward daughter, Charlotte. What begins as a simple missing-person case evolves into the investigation of three murders, all of young women who were friends during the war. Charlotte may be the next target. Chock-full of period details such as how to start a 1920s-era MG, what to buy at the grocer's, what to wear in the country, soup kitchens, and heroin use, the novel follows Maisie's progress as she uses detection, psychology, and even yogalike centering to clear her mind. There is much substance to this mystery, which mines the situations brought about by the horrors of the war–both on the front and at home, and its still simmering aftermath–plus a hint of romance and the beginning resolution of two father-daughter rifts. The story flows easily, descriptions are vivid and apt, and character is limned quickly, with each an individual. This is an utterly enjoyable and painless history lesson and a well-plotted and consistent mystery that will appeal to teens looking for more than just historical fiction.–Susan H. Woodcock, Fairfax County Public Library, Chantilly, VA

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2003 (Best Novel)
Letter From Home
Click to search this book in our catalog   Carolyn Hart
Library Journal : A letter from her Oklahoma hometown spirits famous journalist Gretchen Gilman back to 1944, when someone murdered Faye Tatum. People believed Faye's husband, jealous of her flirtations, did it and then disappeared. Gilman believed otherwise and set out for proof. A solid standalone work from the author of the "Death on Demand" series.

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Publishers Weekly : Hart has created a fabulous two-in-one: an excellent mystery and the poignant memoirs of her heroine, Gretchen Grace Gilman. A letter received by the now elderly newshound extraordinaire returns her physically, mentally and emotionally to her past and to her hometown in northeastern Oklahoma. As the pages of the letter unfold, so does the story of Gretchen's summer of 1944. With every able-bodied male involved in the war effort, Gazette editor Walt Dennis agrees to give 13-year-old Gretchen a shot as a newspaper reporter. But the sleepy town is soon rocked by the murder of Faye Tatum, an artist and the mom of Gretchen's friend and neighbor Barb. To make matters worse, the prime suspect is Barb's dad, Clyde, home on leave but nowhere to be found after the murder. Political ambitions spur the county attorney and the sheriff to track down Clyde and arrest him, while less hasty Chief Fraser is more interested in first sorting through all the facts. The obviously well-researched history draws the reader into this atypical whodunit. Characters are Steinbeck vivid, as is the sense of time and place. Hart masterfully portrays an American small town during WWII.

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2003 (Best First Novel)
Maisie Dobbs
 Jacqueline Winspear
Library Journal : From its dedication to the author's paternal grandfather and maternal grandmother, who were both injured during World War I, to its powerful conclusion, this is a poignant and compelling story that explores war's lingering and insidious impact on its survivors. The book opens in spring 1929 as Maisie Dobbs opens an office dedicated to "discreet investigations" and traverses back and forth between her present case and the long shadows cast by World War I. What starts out as a plea by an anxious husband for Maisie to discover why his wife regularly lies about her whereabouts turns into a journey of discovery whose answers and indeed whose very questions lie in a quiet rural cemetery where many war dead are buried. In Maisie, Winspear has created a complex new investigator who, tutored by the wise Maurice Blanche, recognizes that in uncovering the actions of the body, she is accepting responsibility for the soul. British-born but now living in America, first novelist Winspear writes in simple, effective prose, capturing the post-World War I era effectively and handling human drama with compassionate sensitivity while skillfully avoiding cloying sentimentality. At the end, the reader is left yearning for more discreet investigations into the nature of what it means to feel truth. Highly recommended.-Caroline Hallsworth, City of Greater Sudbury, Ont.

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Publishers Weekly : In Winspear's inspired debut novel, a delightful mix of mystery, war story and romance set in WWI-era England, humble housemaid Maisie Dobbs climbs convincingly up Britain's social ladder, becoming in turn a university student, a wartime nurse and ultimately a private investigator. Both naive and savvy, Maisie remains loyal to her working-class father and many friends who help her along the way. Her first sleuthing case, which begins as a simple marital infidelity investigation, leads to a trail of war-wounded soldiers lured to a remote convalescent home in Kent from which no one seems to emerge alive. The Retreat, specializing in treating badly deformed battlefield casualties, is run by an apparently innocuous former officer who requires his patients to sign over their assets to his tightly run institution. At different points in her remarkable career, Maisie crosses paths with a military surgeon to whom she's attracted despite his disfigurement from a bomb blast at the front. A refreshing heroine, appealing secondary characters and an absorbing plot, marred only by a somewhat bizarre conclusion, make Winspear a new writer to watch.

Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal : Adult/High School-Maisie is 14 when her mother dies, and she must go into service to help her father make ends meet. Her prodigious intellect and the fact that she is sneaking into the manor library at night to read Hume, Kierkegaard, and Jung alert Lady Rowan to the fact that she has an unusual maid. She arranges for Maisie to be tutored, and the girl ultimately qualifies for Cambridge. She goes for a year, only to be drawn by the need for nurses during the Great War. After serving a grueling few years in France and falling in love with a young doctor, Maisie puts up a shingle in 1929 as a private investigator. She is a perceptive observer of human nature, works well with all classes, and understands the motivations and demons prevalent in postwar England. Teens will be drawn in by her first big case, seemingly a simple one of infidelity, but leading to a complex examination of an almost cultlike situation. The impact of the war on the country is vividly conveyed. A strong protagonist and a lively sense of time and place carry readers along, and the details lead to further thought and understanding about the futility and horror of war, as well as a desire to hear more of Maisie. This is the beginning of a series, and a propitious one at that.-Susan H. Woodcock, Fairfax County Public Library, Chantilly, VA

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2003 (Best Juvenile)
The 7th Knot
 Kathleen Karr
School Library Journal : Gr 7-9-In this historical mystery, brothers Wick and Miles are sent to spend the summer with their rich Uncle Eustace, an 1890s robber baron touring Europe to purchase "High Art." After Eustace's mysterious valet, Jose Gregorio, is kidnapped, the brothers follow his trail and become involved with the Durerbund, a nationalistic secret society that honors painter Albrecht Durer. In a series of adventures involving dungeons, explosions, airships, and secret rooms, the brothers are reunited with Jose, and they race across Europe to stop the Durerbund before its plans to conquer Europe come to fruition. The action-filled, fast-paced plot and maturing of the boys from delinquents into heroes-and their interest in nude paintings-will appeal to a wide audience. While background characters remain caricatures, Wick, Miles, and Jose are fully human and entertaining. Karr smoothly integrates information about Durer and other painters into the plot, and she uses the historical Durerbund, with its shades of Nazism, to good effect. The well-crafted plot and nonstop action will catch readers' attention from the first chapter and lead them to the satisfying conclusion, and they may even be motivated to look at an art book or two.-Beth L. Meister, Yeshiva of Central Queens, Flushing, NY

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2002 (Best Novel)
Youve Got Murder
 Donna Andrews
Publishers Weekly : In a detour from her first three outings featuring the delightful Meg Langslow (Revenge of the Wrought-Iron Flamingos, etc.), Andrews pulls her quirky new sleuth, Turing Hopper, from cyberspace. Turing, named for AI pioneer Alan Turing, is an AIP Artificial Intelligence Personality and the star of a vast number of research programs housed at Universal Library (UL) in Crystal City outside Washington, D.C. Turing's personalized banter with her customers is so down to earth she seems almost real, and she herself begins to believe she's becoming sentient. When her programmer, Zach Malone, mysteriously disappears, Turing suspects foul play and explores every avenue within her capabilities to find him. Needing human aid, she asks Tim Pincoski, UL's "Xeroxcist," and Maude Graham, secretary to a UL executive, for help. Programming an investigation takes Turing beyond her limited form and all three into corporate espionage, danger and murder. UL surveillance cameras are everywhere, and Turing's capacity to invade files and data in almost every area scarily evokes Big Brother. Without a doubt, this is a unique effort executed with great skill. The high-tech investigation, Turing's plan for herself and her ruminations about becoming almost human are sure to engage computer buffs everywhere. Fans looking for the lighthearted, humorous romps of the author's earlier books, however, may be disappointed.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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2002 (Best First Novel)
In the Bleak Midwinter
Click to search this book in our catalog   Julia Spencer-Fleming
2002 (Best Juvenile)
Red Card: A Zeke Armstrong Mystery
Click to search this book in our catalog   Daniel J. Hale
School Library Journal : Gr 4-7-Ezekial Tobias Armstrong, a soccer whiz and mystery sleuth, helps to find out who is trying to kill his coach while they are playing a tournament in Dallas. Zeke also helps to hold his teammates together as they move through the competition without their coach, who has been hospitalized. The constant action and excitement of the play-by-play, the mystery, and Zeke's first-person narration should hold readers' attention. As in many novels for young people, the adults don't appear too bright. While knowledge of soccer is not necessary to understand the descriptions, it helps.-Janice C. Hayes, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro

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2001 (Best Novel)
Murphys Law
Click to search this book in our catalog   Rhys Bowen
Library Journal : Mosley's first foray into writing science fiction since Blue Light (LJ 10/1/98), these interrelated stories, set in the near future, read as a natural but chilling extension of our present. From child genius Ptolemy Bent, sentenced to prison for euthanizing his grandmother and uncle, to female boxer Fera, who becomes a feminist icon for the 21st century, his characters battle for both personal survival and a chance to turn back the clock. In this futuristic world, privacy is little but a memory and prejudice and suspicion still sour race relations. Mosley's reputation as the best-selling author of the Easy Rawlins mysteries may entice a number of his regular readers to pick up this book, where they will find some of the same bleak outlook, flashes of insight, and true-to-life African American characters. An additional audience will come from iPublish.com, where the first two stories were previously published as e-books. Recommended for all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/01.] Rachel Singer Gordon, Franklin Park

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2001 (Best First Novel)
Bubbles Unbound
 Sarah Strohmeyer
Library Journal : Bubbles Yablonsky, a 34-year-old hairdresser/divorcee, may dress and look like a blonde Barbie-doll bimbo, but she aspires to a more brain-intensive job as an investigative journalist. She grabs her main chance when she and a hunky but elusive photographer named Stiletto discover a dead body--along with the apparent perpetrator, who is drunk and just happens to be the antidrug-crusading wife of a local steel magnate. Suffice to say, Bubbles's revelatory story causes endless repercussions. A sexy, irrepressible heroine, riotous supporting characters, continual action, ubiquitous humor, and even a makeup tip or two make this a highly recommended series debut.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly : Meet Bubbles Yablonsky, beautician-reporter-sleuth and blazing star of Strohmeyer's entertaining, establishment-bashing debut as a mystery writer. Like the mills that gird the book's seen-better-days steel town of Lehigh, Pa., the city is itself a seething cauldron. Battle lines are sharply drawn between the haves and have-nots. Bubbles is hell-bent on getting even with the overlords, especially her former husband, a heel who has gone over to the other side. Opportunity knocks when Bubbles incriminates a wealthy socialite in a brutal murder and then uncovers a murky past, where corpses are littered around the accused's steel-magnate husband. The going is never easy, as Bubbles faces more perils than Pauline: falling off a bridge in the arms of a potential suicide; dodging drive-by gunmen and car bombers; being handcuffed and fitted for cement boots; and always searching for a better way to display her cleavage. Armed with her certificate from Two Guys Community College, abetted by a quirky array of social castoffs and fueled by Doritos, Velveeta and Diet Pepsi, Bubbles overcomes every obstacle on her way to shaking the foundations of the corporate world and, in the process, leaving more than a few wrinkles in her ex's tailored Brooks Brothers suits. Hop in the Camaro and buckle up: Bubbles is behind the wheel, and a wild ride awaits. Agent, Heather Schroder at ICM.

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2001 (Best Juvenile)
The Mystery of the Haunted Caves
 Penny Warner
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2000 (Best Novel)
Mariners Compass
 Earlene Fowler
Library Journal : In order to inherit a house from a man she never met, series protagonist Benni Harper (Dove in the Window, Prime Crime: Berkley, 1998) must spend two weeks alone in it. There, the folk art museum curator and sleuth follows mysterious clues her benefactor left behind. For series fans.

Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly : A bizarre inheritance, a dangerous quest and a political battle are the main events of Benni Harper's captivating sixth adventure (after Dove in the Window). Benni's work at the San Celina Folk Art Museum is interrupted when she unexpectedly inherits the estate of a stranger named Jacob Chandler. His house in Morro Bay is worth $200,000, but Chandler's will stipulates that Benni can keep the windfall only if she lives in the house for two weeks--alone. As expected, her protective husband, police chief Gabe, is none too happy about this development. But Benni is unwilling to turn down the money, and more important, her curiosity is piqued. After all, why would someone she'd never met make her his sole heir, especially when it turns out that many others were expecting to benefit from his death? To find the answer, Benni embarks on a dangerous search for Chandler's motives, following a series of cryptic notes that he's left for her all over California. Meanwhile, Gabe has his hands full keeping peace between San Celina's mayor and Benni's formidable Gramma Dove, who leads a sit-in at the Historical Museum to thwart the mayor's plan to convert it into a restaurant. As Benni's inquiries lead to unsettling information about her mother, who died when Benni was six, Fowler captures her plucky heroine's secret anxieties, but offsets them with a good dose of humor. Benni's need to know the truth about her family imbues the novel with alluring intimacy and suspense. And Chandler's penchant for wood carving provokes engaging descriptions of that craft, which accompany Fowler's usual bits on quilting and food. Chandler's puzzles test Benni's relationships with her husband, father and grandmother in this excellent addition to a notable series.

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2000 (Best First Novel)
Murder, With Peacocks
Click to search this book in our catalog   Donna Andrews
Library Journal : Meg Lanslow, maid of honor for three impending weddings, returns to her Virginia small-town home for the summer in order to arrange the details. Amidst the near disasters, truculent brides-to-be, screwball relatives, and minutiae-filled days, someone kills the rudely annoying sister of her mother's fiance. Meg's divorced but amicable father, an insatiable busybody and doctor, begins investigating--with assistance from Meg. Loquacious dialog, persistent humor, and interrupted romance brand the 1997 winner of the publisher's "Malice Domestic" contest. A fun, breezy read.

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1999 (Best Novel)
Butchers Hill
Click to search this book in our catalog   Laura Lippman
Publishers Weekly : Tess Monaghan, newspaperwoman turned sleuth, makes it official with a new business as a PI in a run-down section of Baltimore, Butchers Hill. Her first clients--an elderly man known as the Butcher of Butchers Hill and a highly successful female professional fund-raiser--present the first dilemma. Tess needs a cover, reluctantly supplied by Client 2, in order to get access to information on the ghetto for Client 1. The process of finding diverse missing persons starts Monaghan and her two black clients on sometimes prickly discourse involving race. As in Baltimore Blues and Charm City, dialogue is on the mark, accompanied by lively observations about female entrepreneurship, adoption, foster home rackets, and quirky Baltimore natives and neighborhoods. A bittersweet, perfectly plausible ending winds things up.

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1999 (Best First Novel)
The Doctor Digs a Grave
Click to search this book in our catalog   Robin Hathaway
School Library Journal : YA-Hathaway introduces sleuth cardiologist Dr. Andrew Fenimore, whose expert medical knowledge helps unravel the mysterious death of a Lenape woman. When Fenimore spots a street kid named Horatio unsuccessfully trying to bury his dead cat in a public park on Philadelphia's affluent Society Hill, he befriends the youth and offers to help him lay his pet to rest in what is rumored to be an ancient burial ground of the Lenape. Descendants of this East Coast tribe still live in the eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey area. While burying the animal, the doctor and Horatio stumble upon the body of a young girl who is buried in an upright position facing east as is traditional with the Lenape. From this curious discovery, Hathaway's novel weaves the forgotten culture of this tribe, the doctor's unconventional avocation as a P.I., and a cast of lovable but eccentric characters into a well-crafted tale of suspense. Young adults will enjoy this witty novel that illuminates in wonderful detail the little-known ways of the Lenape and introduces a physician-detective who is expected to reappear in forthcoming novels.-Pat Bangs, Fairfax County Public Library, VA

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1998 (Best Novel)
The Devil in Music
 Kate Ross
Library Journal : Ross's historical mysteries featuring English dandy Julian Kestrel (e.g., Whom the Gods Love, LJ 4/1/95) have earned a loyal following. This fourth entry in the series moves Kestrel from his usual London haunts to Milan and moves Ross from trade paperback to hardcover status. While traveling the Continent with his friend, Dr. MacGregor, Kestrel reads of the recent uncovering of a four-year-old murder involving the aristocratic Malvezzi family and decides to try out his investigating skills once again. The victim was Lodovico Malvezzi, a Milanese marquis and famed music lover. Given his imperious manner, suspects are all to easy to find, especially among his family. Added to the mystery of his death are the disappearances of a talented musical protege of the marquis and a surly servant, various intrigues related to Italian politics, and rebellions. Kestrel is undaunted by these challenges but finds Malvezzi's beautiful young widow a dangerous distraction. While the plotting is not as tight as in previous novels, the final chapters are replete with enough revelations and twists to please Ross's fans and leave them looking forward to the next novel.

Jan Blodgett, Davidson Coll., Davidson, N.C. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly : Calling upon his abundant knowledge of the Vatican's inner workings, Sheehan (Innocent Darkness) gives a view of modern Catholic church history as seen through the eyes of Augustine Cardinal Galsworthy, a man of legendary intellect, pride, sensuality and refinement, who wants to be pope. The story begins on the eve of the third millennium. A conclave of cardinals has assembled shortly after the death of their beloved "Slav Pope" to elect his successor. As the cunning cardinal wheels and deals his way toward election, he recalls the story of his life to this point. An awkward, lonely, stammering child, he grew into a man whose intelligence, ambition and charisma propelled him through the ranks to become the youngest cardinal in the church. From his hard-won position as papal advisor, he has counseled a succession of popes on ecclesiastical and personal issues and has zealously managed the "offerings" stowed away in Swiss bank accounts, all the while battling to preserve traditional Catholicism in the wake of Vatican II reforms. As Sheehan takes pains to show, the cardinal's preoccupations are not all temporal or political. On trips to the Congo and Somalia, he ministers passionately to the starving and diseased multitudes. Self-possessed in every sense of the word, Sheehan's crafty cardinal recalls such saintly Machiavellians as Browning's Bishop Bloughram and Strachey's Cardinal Manning. It should come as no surprise that the supporting cast often fades into the scenery while Cardinal Galsworthy's morally ambiguous triumphs and sufferings dominate this tale. Author tour.

Copyright 1997 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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1998 (Best First Novel)
The Salarymans Wife
 Sujata Massey
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1997 (Best Novel)
Up Jumps the Devil
 Margaret Maron
Library Journal : Maron returns to fictional Colleton County, North Carolina, the setting of The Bootlegger's Daughter (Mysterious, 1992). After someone murders one of Deborah Knott's childhood friends, and then another, suspicion falls on Deborah's father. A winning tale of closeted skeletons and family feuds.

Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publisher's Weekly : With vivid detail and engaging, credible characters, Maron's series featuring North Carolina district court judge Deborah Knott (Edgar winner Bootlegger's Daughter, etc.) brings to life fictional Colleton County and chronicles a charming but rapidly changing South. Here, the background is the suburbanization of the rural countryside less than an hour by superhighway from Raleigh. A few days after Dallas Stancil refuses to sell his land to a speculator, his stepson and wife murder him. Then, Dallas's peripatetic cousin Allen, the devil from Deborah's past, comes to town. Several days later, Dallas's father, Jap, is killed just before he can divide the property between Merrilee Grimes, his late wife's niece, and Allen. So who killed Jap, and who gets the Stancil land--Dallas's widow? Allen? Merrilee and her husband, Pete? Billy Wall, Jap's partner in the produce business? Dick Sutterly, a real estate developer who has a signed deed to Jap's property? Suspicions extend to Deborah's own family when one of her 11 brothers, visiting from California, reveals that he's lost his job and plans to sell his acreage, which abuts Jap's. In the end, the answer derives from a combination of greed, fear and ignorance of the intricate laws of inheritance. Maron eloquently describes different behaviors toward the land, from stewardship to despoliation. The old-fashioned warmth of the extended Knott family and Maron's well-constructed plot make this series a standout. Mystery Guild selection.

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1997 (Best First Novel)
Murder on a Girls Night Out
Click to search this book in our catalog   Anne George
Publisher's Weekly : A refreshingly different heroine, retired Alabama schoolteacher Patricia Anne Hollowell, is drawn into a murder investigation after her colorful sister, Mary Alice, buys a country-western club. When the previous owner is found gruesomely murdered, the suspects include the club's cook, one of Patricia Anne's former prize students. Sprightly dialogue and a humorous eye for detail get this mystery off to a promising start. However, once the offbeat characters are introduced, they and their relationships fail to change or deepen. The dialogue becomes repetitive, and the telling domestic observations lapse into trivia. Clues accumulate more through coincidence than through investigation, with the conclusion weighed down by a welter of implausible connections and old secrets.

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1996 (Best Novel)
If Id Killed Him When I Met Him
Click to search this book in our catalog   Sharyn McCrumb
1996 (Best First Novel)
The Body in the Transept
Click to search this book in our catalog   Jeanne M. Dams
Library Journal : This offering from newcomer Dams gleams with all the polish of a quaint English-village mystery. American widow Dorothy Martin, sixtyish and plump, inhabits a picturesque Jacobean house in Sherebury. Feeling low, she attends Christmas Eve services at a nearby cathedral and afterwards trips over the bloody body of a clergyman. Unable to put the matter out of her mind, and in need of something to do, she begins sleuthing. Nicely described small-town antics, a cleverly concocted plot, and a charmingly competent heroine. Recommended.

Copyright 1995 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly : Drawing on American sensibilities and English tradition, Dams's debut introduces widowed American sleuth Dorothy Martin, who will delight lovers of cozies set on both sides of the Atlantic. Dorothy has moved to the fictional university/ cathedral town of Sherebury, where she and her academic husband had planned to retire before his unexpected demise. After the Christmas Eve service in the Cathedral, Dorothy stumbles over the body of Canon Billings. Once she recovers her equilibrium, she finds herself feeling involved in the case and curious about the unpleasant but learned Canon, who had made more enemies than friends. He had recently argued vehemently with his young, hot-headed assistant in the library, had tried to get the choirmaster fired and was gathering evidence against the verger who was stealing from the collection plate. Dorothy charmingly insinuates herself into village life in the best Miss Marple tradition, talking to neighbors and befriending others (including widower Chief Constable Alan Nesbitt) and determinedly pursuing the killer even as she puts herself in danger. With her penchant for colorful hats, Dorothy establishes herself as a fresh, commanding--and always genteel--presence among female elder-sleuths of the '90s.

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1995 (Best Novel)
She Walks These Hills
 Sharym McCrumb
Library Journal : A tale of an escaped convict from Edgar Award winner McCrumb.

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Publishers Weekly : In 1779, Katie Wyler, 18, was captured by the Shawnee in North Carolina. The story of her escape and arduous journey home through hundreds of miles of Appalachian wilderness is the topic of ethno-historian Jeremy Cobb's thesis-and the thread which runs through the third of McCrumb's ballad novels (after The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter). As Cobb begins to retrace Katie's return journey, 63-year-old convicted murderer Hiram (Harm) Sorley escapes from a nearby prison. Suffering from Korsakoff's syndrome, he has no recent memory: old Harm is permanently stuck in the past. Hamelin, Tenn., police dispatcher Martha Ayers uses the opportunity to convince the sheriff to assign her as a deputy. One of her first duties is to calm a young mother who, angry at her inattentive husband, is threatening her baby with a butcher knife. Ayers and the sheriff must also warn Harm's ex-wife Rita that he has escaped. Acting as a kind of narrative conscience is a local deejay, a ``carpetbagger from Connecticut,'' who sees Harm as a folk hero from another era. Deftly building suspense, McCrumb weaves these colorful elements into her satisfying conclusion as she continues to reward her readers' high expectations. Mystery Guild selection; author tour.

Copyright 1994 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal : YA--Mystery and folklore are skillfully blended in this contemporary Appalachian tale. Driving the plot are ``Harm'' (Hiram) Sorley, an aging prisoner suffering from recent memory loss, who receives a spiritual message to escape from prison and return home to North Carolina; history grad student Jeremy Cobb, who wants to hike the trail used by Katie Wyler in the late 1700s when she escaped from Indians who held her captive; and members of the sheriff's department who search for both of these men. Strong females also figure prominently in this title, not the least of whom is Katie Wyler, dead over 200 years, whose spectral image helps several characters. Assisting Sheriff Arrowwood is his newest deputy, Martha Ayers, who's determined to prove she can rise above the lot of dispatcher. When all these folks converge beside a burning trailer home, more than one mystery is solved. McCrumb's rich use of dialect, accompanied by both physical description of and folklore about the mountains, combine to produce an evocative, haunting story. This novel defies stereotypical mystery elements, offering instead a complete melange of character study, plot, and setting.

Pam Spencer, Chapel Square Media Center, Fairfax County, VA Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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1995 (Best First Novel)
Do Unto Others
 Jeff Abbott
Publishers Weekly : Abbott's debut mystery is a bright, often funny portrayal of the social mechanics of a small town, where, as the narrator/accused/detective quickly discovers, everyone has something to hide. Jordan Poteet has left a thriving publishing career back East to return to his home town in Mirabeau, Texas-a town as backward and insulated as any cliche-to care for his ailing mother and work as the local librarian. Quickly, Jordan is accused of the gruesome murder of a nasty, churchgoing town elder who is at odds with the library's ``liberal'' policies. With a redneck assistant D.A. on his heels, Jordan tries to prove his innocence. Abbott is highly skilled and at ease with the twang and tone of Texas folk and often seems in control of his story. The problem is Abbott has stuffed his relatively short book full-too full. He covers almost every hot topic from censorship to religious fanaticism to Alzheimer's to blackmail. The cast of characters is so vast that Abbott is forced to rehash his hero's suspect list more than once, and though the sweetly handled and satisfying romantic subplot stands out, more often readers will find themselves lost in a sea of personalities. While often engaging, Abbott simply weaves too large a web for a small-town tale. It's a little hard to imagine how this once-in-a-lifetime will translate into the series promised by the cover.

Copyright 1994 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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