Annal: 1989 Agatha Award for Best First Novel

Results of the Agatha Award in the year 1989.

Book:Grime and Punishment

Grime and Punishment: A Jane Jeffry Mystery

Jill Churchill

It’s So hard to Kill Good Help These Days…

With three kids to raise on her own, Jane Jeffry sometimes needs a hand with the housework. But many of her complaining neighbors believe that the “Happy Helper” cleaning lady they all share wouldn’t know a dustball if she was choking on it. That hardly seems reason enough, however, to do the disreputable domestic in.

So when the charwoman in question is discovered strangled to death with a vacuum cleaner cord, Jane decides to dig up the real dirt—if the tenacious single mom can find any time to spare between her PTA meetings and car-pooling duties. But despite her busy schedule, Jane is determined to tidy up the whole murderous mess—even if it means provoking a killer who may live as close as next door.

Book:The Mark Twain Murders

The Mark Twain Murders: A Beth Austin Mystery

Edith Skom

Skulduggery was afoot in the campus library at Midwestern University. Sinister students were razoring pages from periodicals and stealing obscure essays for their term papers. A bookish thief was making a bundle smuggling out valuable first editions for resale. And in the South Tower, a killer was stalking a coed.

Even so, Professor Beth Austin was shocked—and intrigued—to find a handsome FBI agent in the English Department. Soon they had joined forces, delving into the lives of her eccentric colleagues…and straying into the dark shadows of the groves of academe where someone’s hands were stained with blood.

Book:The Mother Shadow

The Mother Shadow

Melodie Johnson Howe

Maggie Hill has just turned thirty-five and doesn’t have much to show for it, save a short-lived writing career and a broken marriage. Things don’t get any better when her latest temporary employer, the wealthy Ellis Kenilworth, puts a bullet through his head, leaving Maggie to carry out the freshly written, shocking codicil to his will. The surviving Kenilworths, it appears, have more on their minds than grieving.

Enter Claire Conrad, a brilliant detective whose reasoning is as elegant as her attire. Maggie and Claire team up and, with a little help from Claire’s sexy butler, discover some dirty linen and more than one skeleton in the Kenilworth family closet.

Book:A Question of Guilt

A Question of Guilt

Frances Fyfield

Book:Working Murder

Working Murder: A Henry Holt Mystery

Eleanor Boylan

Clara Gamadge puts down the phone with a tremor of excitement. Only a year ago that call would have come to her husband, gifted sleuth Henry Gamadge. Now Henry is dead, and Clara is summoned to deal with the latest convulsion in an old family tragedy.

Haunted by the never-explained disappearance fifty years ago of her lovely daughter, Ellen, Clara’s Aunt May ignores a kindly anonymous letter advising her to let Ellen rest, or live, in peace—and suddenly dies. And so begins Clara’s first solo case, a tragic, twisting tale that winds far into the past—back to Prohibition, bitter family feuds, secret love affairs, and a cherished, laughing girl.

In this lively puzzle, author Eleanor Boylan, whose own aunt Elizabeth Daly wrote eight Henry Gamadge mysteries, does her aunt—and her readers—proud.

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