Annal: 1995 Shamus Award for Best First P.I. Novel

Results of the Shamus Award in the year 1995.

Book:A Drink Before the War

A Drink Before the War

Dennis Lehane

Kenzie and Gennaro are private investigators in the blue-collar neighborhoods and ghettos of South Boston-they know it as only natives can. Working out of an old church belfry, Kenzie and Gennaro take on a seemingly simple assignment for a prominent politician: to uncover the whereabouts of Jenna Angeline, a black cleaning woman who has allegedly stolen confidential state documents.

Finding Jenna, however, is easy compared to staying alive once they’ve got her. The investigation escalates, implicating members of Jenna’s family and rival gang leaders while uncovering extortion, assassination, and child prostitution extending from bombed-out ghetto streets to the highest levels of government.

A Drink Before the War, the first in Lehane’s acclaimed series with Boston detectives Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro, is a remarkable debut that is at once a pulsating crime thriller and a mirror of our world, one in which the worst human horrors are found closest to home, and the most vicious obscenities are committed in the name of love.

Book:The Fall-Down Artist

The Fall-Down Artist: A Carroll Dorsey Mystery

Thomas Lipinski

Insurance fraud investigation—trying to outsmart liars and cheats looking for a fast buck by scamming the system—may not be very glamorous, but these days in Pittsburgh, it’s food on the table for P. 1. Carroll Dorsey. And with the economy headed south, fake fall-downs have turned into something of a working-class growth industry. Thing is, though, the more Dorsey looks, the more he sees. This phony-injury epidemic is bigger than it seems, and it might involve some of the heaviest hitters in town. If Dorsey makes the wrong move, he’s liable to take the big fall-down himself and he’s got no insurance…

Book:The Heaven Stone

The Heaven Stone

David Daniel

The Heaven Stone introduces a fresh voice in author David Daniel and a likable new protagonist in Alex Rasmussen, ex-cop turned private investigator, who is drawn into the world of Lowell, Massachusetts’s, Cambodian refugee community.

The only member of his family to escape the killing fields of Cambodia, Bhuntan Tran wound up in the decaying factory town of Lowell. Working two menial jobs (although he held a Ph.D.). Tran was well on his way to achieving the American dream when he was shot, execution-style, in his own home. The police are convinced the killing was drug-related and aren’t too concerned with a solution.

An attractive Chinese-American social worker refuses to accept so easy an answer and commissions Rasmussen to dig out the real story. Against the background of an industrial town where new immigrants are clashing with the long-settled Yankee population, Rasmussen’s investigation opens up not only dark links to the victim’s past but old wounds of the detective’s own.

Book:One for the Money

One for the Money: A Stephanie Plum Novel

Janet Evanovich

Watch out, world. Here comes Stephanie Plum, a bounty hunter with attitude. In Stephanie’s opinion, toxic waste, rabid drivers, armed schizophrenics, and August heat, humidity, and hydrocarbons are all part of the great adventure of living in Jersey. She’s a product of the “burg,” a blue-collar pocket of Trenton where houses are attached and narrow, cars are American, windows are clean, and (God forbid you should be late) dinner is served at six. Now Stephanie’s all grown up and out on her own, living five miles from Mom and Dad’s, doing her best to sever the world’s longest umbilical cord. Her mother is a meddler, and her grandmother is a few cans short of a case.

Out of work and out of money, with her Miata repossessed and her refrigerator empty, Stephanie blackmails her bail bondsman cousin, Vinnie, into giving her a try as an apprehension agent. Stephanie knows zilch about the job requirements, but she figures…[more]

Book:When Death Comes Stealing

When Death Comes Stealing: A Tamara Hayle Mystery

Valerie W. Wesley

A tough and savvy Newark cop-turned-P.I., Tamara Hoyle is a sister with a mission: to raise her kid right in a mean town. But now the post has come knocking—bringing trouble to her door in the person of her “dog” of a former husband, DeWayne.

Suspicious “accidents” have claimed the lives of two of DeWayne’s sons from different marriages. And though good sense warns Tamara to steer clear of her charming, lowdown ex, she has little choice but to offer him her investigative expertise—because a killer may now be drawing fatally close to home—to Tamara’s only son.

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