Annal: 1997 Agatha Award for Best First Novel

Results of the Agatha Award in the year 1997.

Book:The Salaryman's Wife

The Salaryman's Wife

Sujata Massey

Japanese-American Rei Shimura is a 27-year-old English teacher living in one of Tokyo’s seediest neighborhoods. She doesn’t make much money, but she wouldn’t go back home to California even if she had a free ticket (which, thanks to her parents, she does.) Her independence is threatened however, when a getaway to an ancient castle town is marred by murder.

Rei is the first to find the beautiful wife of a high-powered businessman, dead in the snow. Taking charge, as usual, Rei searches for clues by crashing a funeral, posing as a bar-girl, and somehow ending up pursued by police and paparazzi alike. In the meantime, she manages to piece together a strange, ever-changing puzzle—one that is built on lies and held together by years of sex and deception.

Book:The Butter Did It

The Butter Did It: A Gastronomic Tale of Love and Murder

Phyllis Richman

Washington’s finest French chef, Laurence Levain, is dead, and all of D.C. thinks the culprit was too much foie gras. All, that is, except for Chas Wheatley, the city’s most famous restaurant critic. Still carrying a torch for Levain after having had a passionate romance with him years before, she’s convinced that his death was more than a simple case of too much cholesterol it was a case of murder. Enlisting the aid of detective/gourmand Homer Jones, she launches an investigation into this fiendish crime and soon finds herself in more trouble than she bargained for.

A delicious entry into the increasingly popular culinary mystery genre, The Butter Did It is a fun, fast-paced whodunit by a true insider of the restaurant and newspaper worlds. With numerous menus sprinkled throughout the book, this culinary extravaganza is just the thing for readers hungry for some intrigue with their dinner.

Book:Dead Body Language

Dead Body Language

Penny Warner

Thirty-seven year old journalist, Connor Westphal, has relocated from San Francisco to Flat Skunk, a mining-turned-tourist town in the foothills of the Sierras, to start up her own weekly paper. Suddenly, dead bodies begin turning up in the most unusual places, setting Connor on a hunt for a killer. You might say Connor has a sixth sense when it comes to investigating…but she only has four of the usual five senses. Connor Westphal is deaf. But being hearing impaired doesn’t stop Connor from pursuing the murderer. Without sound to distract her, she attends to subtleties that others overlook and ultimately unravels the mystery.

Book:Death Brims Over

Death Brims Over: A Brenda Midnight Mystery

Barbara Jaye Wilson

Meet Brenda Midnight

She’s a savvy young designer with her own hat shop, who has never even thought of chasing crooks. But when crime invades her cobblestone Greenwich Village neighborhood and the cops don’t have a clue, Brenda has to drop everything, including her hats, to catch a thief. . .and a killer.

Chasing The Lady In Pink

There’s big money to be made if Brenda and her dress designer friend Carla can create the high society wedding of the year. Carla’s covering the bride and her maids with dresses to die for, and Brenda’s doing the hats. But just as Brenda’s finishing the last of the exquisite headgear, she’s held up by a woman in a hot pink suit, who escapes with the entire collection.…[more]

Book:Quieter Than Sleep

Quieter Than Sleep

Joanne Dobson

English professor and Emily Dickinson expert Karen Pelletier is as unlikely a sleuth as you’ll ever find, and you’d think that an elite college like Enfield would be as safe, cozy, and insulated as its reputation. But Enfield is shaken to its Puritan roots when star English professor Randy Astin-Berger tumbles out of a closet into Karen’s arms at a faculty cocktail party, strangled to death with his own flashy necktie. Karen struggles to remember Randy’s last words, spoken just minutes before she caught his corpse. He’d been babbling something about a mysterious “master letter,” but unfortunately, she hadn’t really been listening.

Lieutenant Piotrowski of the local police naturally suspects Karen first, since she was the last person to be seen with Astin-Berger. But when a student, Bonnie Weimer, is found dead two days later, the search widens. Why anyone would want to kill…[more]

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