Annal: 1996 Shamus Award for Best First P.I. Novel

Results of the Shamus Award in the year 1996.

Book:The Innocents: A Wil Hardesty Mystery

The Innocents: A Wil Hardesty Mystery

Richard Barre

In 1990, a flash flood rips through a lonely section of the California desert, unearthing the skeletons of seven murdered children. Amid the outcry for justice following the discovery, the media gives them a name: The Innocents.

The Innocents case soon becomes a pressure cooker of media hype and political heat. Who are they? Who put them there? How were they killed? Clues are negligible: a nick in the bones that tells investigators the murder weapon was likely a knife, and a tarnisned Saint Christopher medal bearing the inscription Vaya Con Dios, Benito. Papa, 1967. One man recognizes those words, fully understands their meaning; they were once inscribed on the final gift to a six-year-old son who promised to be good. The man is Ignacio Reyes.

Reyes must find out who killed his child; he knows, however, that the answer will unleash long-buried demons of memory…[more]

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:If Looks Could Kill

If Looks Could Kill

Ruthe Furie

Fran Tremaine Kirk lives near Buffalo, NY, with her dog, Horace. When her abusive ex-husband dies while trying to kill her, Fran tries to jumpstart her life by taking a job as a Gal Friday, which turns out to be more dangerous and not nearly so simple as it was touted by her quirky employer.

Her office is upstairs over a beauty parlor called Looks, where a murder is committed shortly after her arrival. Fran gets frightening messages on her answering machine, fights off attacks by a sinister masked man, and finds herself smack dab in the affairs of the local mob.

Just because there is a murder to investigate doesn’t mean she can neglect her duties for her shady boss. The calls for the dating service and the orders for articles that can only be sent in plain brown wrappers must be attended to. …[more]

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:Who in Hell Is Wanda Fuca? A Leo Waterman Mystery

Who in Hell Is Wanda Fuca? A Leo Waterman Mystery

G.M. Ford

…And just who is Leo Waterman?

A soft-hearted sleuth with a rebellious streak left over from the ‘60s, Leo Waterman seems to get entangled in, every oddball situation from Seattle to Puget Sound. So when he’s hired to locate Caroline Nobel, an errant mob heiress with an environmentalist’s heart, Leo goes with the flow—leaving behind the familiar sights of Pioneer Square to follow the landscape-loving activist into the rain-soaked Washington woods. But Caroline’s conscientious cohorts are dragging her deeper into the murky waters of environmental sabotage. And her hotheaded enthusiasm can’t be cooled, even after two people are brutally murdered. Caroline’s onto something extremely toxic. And unless Waterman can clear the air, her deadly dedication could poison him as well.

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