Annal: 1996 Edgar Allan Poe Award® for Best First Novel

Results of the Edgar Allan Poe Award® in the year 1996.

Book:Penance

Penance: A Holland Taylor Mystery

David Housewright

PI Holland Taylor knew he was being used. High-level friends at police headquarters were dangling clues from a recent murder case in front of him, stringing him along. Reluctantly investigating the slaying, Taylor was led to the offices of Minnesota gubernatorial candidate and media darling Carol Catherine Monroe. She needed Taylor’s help to diffuse a scandal that could rattle the skeletons in her closet. But the murder of an innocent campaign worker hit Taylor where it hurt and taught him a simple truth: Some sins can never be forgotten—or forgiven…

Book:Fixed In His Folly

Fixed In His Folly: A Malachy Foley Mystery

John N. Walker

When knife-wielding street punks warn private investigator Malachy Foley against “bein’ even close to happy,” the message isn’t about Mal’s state of mind. Harriet “Happy” Mallory, a high-powered Chicago attorney with political ambitions, has just hired Mal to find her son, placed for adoption thirty-one years ago. Seems there’s more here than just the late-blooming maternal interest Harriet claims. Mal, fast on his feet and more quick-witted than prudent, follows the trail to a gentle woman headed home from prison, a beautiful woman headed nowhere but the grave, and then to Harriet’s boy—trapped in a maelstrom of vengeance and death. Bad cops, tarnished priests, and Scripture-quoting killers stalk Chicago’s mean streets together. He ought to take time to salvage his own failing marriage, or maybe stick to playing barroom piano, but Mal presses forward into the center of a strange and violent vendetta.

With a furious pace and meticulous plotting, David J. Walker gives us characters we care about and a vivid portrait of love gone wrong in this unusually accomplished debut mystery.

Book:The Harry Chronicles

The Harry Chronicles

Allan Pedrazas

With the income from his low-key beach pub, the Sand Bar, Harry Rice has room for discretion in the detective work he takes on. So he should have been a little more selective about taking Eloise Loftus’s case—especially since Wade Loftus tried to fire Harry before Eloise even had a chance to hire him.

It seems like a fairly simple job. The Loftuses’ apartment was cleaned out by burglars, and while the insurance company has replaced nearly everything, they can’t do much about the stolen collection of antique guns. Disregarding Wade Loftus’s objections, Harry starts looking for the guns, only to realize that all is not what it seems. Simple theft segues into adultery, smuggling, and murder—with Harry perfectly positioned to take the blame.

Book:Murder In Scorpio

Murder In Scorpio: An Elizabeth Chase Mystery

Martha C. Lawrence

She’s a California P.I. with something extra-an instinct for trouble and a special sense of danger.

Elizabeth Chase is used to funny looks and disbelief when she tells people she uses the paranormal and astrology to help her investigations. But when Sergeant Tom McGowan of the Escondido Police Department needs help in exploring the not-so-accidental death of an old friend, he turns to her.

Instantly, Elizabeth is absorbed by the case, and searches the stars and her sensitive psyche for answers. Janic Freeman, the dead woman, had a lot of friends, but as Elizabeth scans the artifacts of Janice’s life and meets the people she know, she begins to pick up a few unpleasant auras that have the unmistakable color of evil. Trying to pin down Janice’s last fateful day of life, Elizabeth charts her final moves-and follows the celestial signs to cold-blooded murder.

Book:Tight Shot

Tight Shot: A Hollywood Mystery

Kevin Allman

Twenty-nine-year-old Kieran O’Connor’s life is messier than his studio apartment in Venice. He’s being evicted. He prefers hanging out at his ex-girlfriend Claudia’s coffeehouse to traveling in the Hollywood fast lane. Claudia’s currently seeing a hot young female director (“I was less annoyed she’d left me than I was that she’d taken up with someone in the industry”). So when Kieran finds Hollywood’s newest player, producer Monica Slezak, shot to death in the bathroom at a glittery industry banquet, he sees his chance to get off the entertainment beat and into hard news, especially since he’s the first one to get a look at the suicide note.

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