Annal: 1996 Anthony Award for Best Novel

Results of the Anthony Award in the year 1996.

Book:Under the Beetle's Cellar

Under the Beetle's Cellar

Mary Willis Walker

Kidnapped by a cult of religious fanatics, an Austin school bus driver and eleven of his young charges have been held underground at the group’s highly fortified compound for forty-six days. While a team of federal negotiators begins to lose all hope of rescuing the hostages, crime reporter Molly Cates sets outto discover everything she can about the cult’s iron-willed leader, Samuel Mordecai. And as the clock ticks inexorably, she takes the role of Clarisse Starling opposite Mordecai’s Hannibal Lecter, engaging in a psychological confrontation as harrowing as any in The Silence of the Lambs.

Tough, terrifying, and relentlessly heart-wrenching, this is a novel whose images no reader will ever forget.

Book:Blue Lonesome

Blue Lonesome

Bill Pronzini

Jim Messenger is a CPA who hates his job, loves jazz, and can’t forget a woman he has seen eating at the Harmony Café. She goes by the name of Janet Mitchell, and when he introduces himself, her only comment is, “It won’t do you any good.” When she commits suicide, Messenger is driven to find out why. Her name is only the first of the lies he uncovers. In “historic Beulah,” Nevada, secrets coil like rattlesnakes ready to strike, and suffering lies like a suffocating blanket over lives put on hold. Starting with one slender clue, Messenger embarks on a search for the truth that becomes a rite of passage. By the end, lives have been changed, a horrible murder brought to light, and a quiet, little town irrevocably torn apart.

Book:Hard Christmas

Hard Christmas: A Cat Marsala Mystery

Barbara D'Amato

Freelance reporter Cat Marsala has done lots of tough investigative pieces lately. Now she would like something a little softer—and a feature story on Christmas tree farming sounds ideal. She’s thrilled when Henry DeGraaf, president of the West Michigan Evergreen Growers Association, invites her to spend Thanksgiving at his family farm north of Holland, Michigan, where she can observe the Christmas tree industry up close. With only seven hours of daylight, the work is intense, the team spirit legendary.

Cat receives a warm welcome at the DeGraaf farmhouse, especially from DeGraaf’s twelve-year-old niece, Nell. Grandmother DeGraaf prepares delicious old Dutch dishes, and Great-Aunt Clara shares with Cat letters written by the first DeGraaf to settle in Michigan. Cat is impressed with the history and tradition of the family, but it’s not long before she discovers the terrible tensions that permeate the household. …[more]

Book:The Last Coyote

The Last Coyote: A Harry Bosch Novel

Michael Connelly

Harry Bosch’s life is a mess. His new house has been condemned because of earthquake damage. His girlfriend has left him. He’s drinking too much. And he’s even had to turn in his badge: he attacked his commanding officer and is suspended indefinitely pending a psychiatric evaluation.

At first Bosch resists the LAPD shrink, but finally he recognizes that something is troubling him, a force that may have shaped his entire life. In 1961, when Harry was twelve, his mother was brutally murdered. No one was ever even accused of the crime. Harry opens up the decades-old file on the case and is irresistibly drawn into a past he has always avoided. It’s clear that the case was fumbled. His mother was a prostitute, and even thirty years later the smell of a coverup is unmistakable. Someone powerful was able to keep the investigating officers away from key suspects. …[more]

Book:True Crime: The Novel

True Crime: The Novel

Andrew Klavan

In the heat of the city, a man is out of time: speeding in a beat-up Ford Tempo, blasting easy-listening music. Reporter Steve Everett drinks too much, makes love to his boss’s wife, and has just stumbled upon a shocking truth: a convicted killer is about to be executed for a crime he didn’t commit.

In the cold confines of Death Row, Frank Beachum is also out of time. Ready to say good-bye to the wife and child he loves and hello to the God he still believes in, Beachum knows he did not kill a convenience store clerk six years ago. But in a few hours—if Steve Everett can’t find the evidence to stop it—a needle is going to pierce Frank Beachum’s skin.

The killing machine is primed. The executioner is waiting. And so is the priest. Now the clock is ticking down and the race is on—between the reporter and his demons, between the system and its lethal flaws, between the last innocent man and society’s ultimate crime…

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