Annal: 1996 Agatha Award for Best First Novel

Results of the Agatha Award in the year 1996.

Book:Murder on a Girls' Night Out

Murder on a Girls' Night Out: A Southern Sisters Mystery

Anne George

Patricia Anne—”Mouse”—is respectful, respectable, and demure, a perfect example of genteel Southern womanhood. Mary Alice—”Sister”—is big, brassy, flamboyant, and bold. Together they have a knack for finding themselves in the center of some of Birmingham’s most unfortunate unpleasantness.

Country Western is red hot these days, so overimpulsive Mary Alice thinks it makes perfect sense to buy the Skoot ‘n’ Boot bar—since that’s where the many-times-divorced “Sister” and her boyfriend du jour like to hang out anyway. Sensible retired schoolteacher Patricia…

Book:Biggie and the Poisoned Politician

Biggie and the Poisoned Politician

Nancy Bell

Biggie Weatherford is the wealthiest woman in the tiny East Texas town of Job’s Crossing. She’s also something of an eccentric (she says cooling her feet in a propped-open refrigerator is easier than putting in air-conditioning). Mostly, though, she’s an affectionate grandmother with a passion for fishing and an abiding interest in local history.

Understandably, Biggie gets riled up when she finds out about the proposed garbage dump to be located next to her ancestral graveyard—the final resting place of James Royce Wooten, the town’s founding father and the namesake of Biggie’s young grandson, J. R. With J. R. by her side, Biggie plots to derail city hall, only to wind up in the middle of a murder investigation when, right in front of her, the mayor drops dead in his angel food cake. Now, Biggie might not have liked Mayor Gribbons and his plans, but she sure didn’t poison him, and she’s not about to let anyone in Job’s Crossing get away with murder. With plenty of gumption, Biggie sets about catching a killer and relocating the proposed dump—and she still finds time to organize the annual Job’s Crossing Pioneer Days festival.

Book:Death in Little Tokyo

Death in Little Tokyo: A Ken Tanaka Mystery

Dale Furutani

When mystery buff Ken Tanaka masquerades as a private investigator at his local mystery club’s weekend event, a femme fatale right out of an old Bogart movie asks him for a favor. Ken takes the case as a joke—but there’s nothing to laugh about when his sleuthing leads him to a dead man in a Little Tokyo hotel room. Suddenly entangled in a real-life murder, Ken and his girlfriend, Mariko Kosaka, have to negotiate the unfamiliar streets and traditional customs of Los Angeles’s Japanese-American enclave.

Book:Riding for a Fall

Riding for a Fall: A Veterinarian Mystery

Lillian M. Roberts

Murder wasn’t part of her practice…

Palm Springs veterinarian Andi Pauling is struggling to keep her new business afloat. So when Ross McRoberts appears in her doorway, he seems like an apparition conjured up by her own wishful thinking. A vet school friend who was too sexy for his own good, Ross is Andi’s one big regret: He married someone else and moved away.

Yet Ross has changed. On the surface he seems filthly rich, driving a fancy sports car, playing polo, and galloping with a crowd that reeks of luxury. But there’s trouble behind the glamour: Ross’s beloved horses have become targets of malicious sabotage. And when a popular Argentine player is murdered, Andi the vet turns into Andi the novice sleuth, risking infinitely more than she knows or dreams, including her life. ..

Book:Somebody Else's Child

Somebody Else's Child

Terris McMahan Grimes

Theresa is a career woman, a mother and a wife. When her mother calls to say there’s trouble at her elderly neighbor’s house and she’s going over to investigate, Theresa has no choice but to get involved. Before the night is over, Theresa finds herself caught up in the harsh brutality of the streets, with a drive-by shooting, a mysterious kidnapping, and more.

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