Annal: 1997 Hammett Prize for Crime-Writing

Results of the Hammett Prize in the year 1997.

Book:Trial of Passion

Trial of Passion

William Deverell

Arthur Beauchamp, a heralded criminal lawyer, has moved to a quiet island off the British Columbia coast. While trying to recover from a marriage gone sour, his retirement is interrupted by his former law partners-they want Arthur to take charge of the defense trial of Jonathan O’Donnell, the acting dean of a law school. O’Donnell has been accused of rape by one of the students, Kimberley Martin, a smart but arrogant woman who is engaged to a rich businessman. After much pleading, Beauchamp agrees to handle the case. He is drawn into complex legal situations dealing with gender and sex, while his personal life takes a provocative turn as well. A courtroom drama ensues, with unpredictable twists and bizarre events.

Book:Acts of Murder

Acts of Murder: A Karl Alberg Mystery with Cassandra Mitchell

Laurali Wright

Karl Alberg has good reason to remember February 14: it was his wedding day, the day he married his longtime love, Cassandra Mitchell. It was also the day sixteen-year-old Rebecca Granger disappeared. Young Rebecca left home at 8:30 in the morning on the one-hour walk to her part-time job in the town of Sechelt. She never arrived. Is Rebecca just another runaway teenager, angry at her parents’ attempts at discipline? Or is there a more ominous reason for her sudden departure.

Soon, evidence of a cunning killer begins to emerge in and around the beautiful coastal village. Three people are murdered by someone who apparently seeks to rid Sechelt of those who sin, those who betray. With the help of his impressive new sergeant Edwina Henderson, Alberg must find the killer before this self-appointed judge of good and evil can claim another victim, even while Alberg and Cassandra struggle with the implications of an unexpected, even shocking, inheritance that could change their lives in exhilarating ways.

Book:Cimarron Rose

Cimarron Rose

James Lee Burke

Texas attorney and former Texas Ranger Billy Bob Holland has many secrets. Among them is Vernon Smother’s son, Lucas, a now-teenaged boy about whom few know the truth—Lucas is really Billy Bob’s illegitimate son. When Lucas is arrested for murder, Billy Bob must confront the past and serve as the boy’s criminal attorney.

Billy Bob knows the propensity of the town, Deaf Smith, Texas, to make scapegoats out of the innocent and to exploit and sexually use the powerless. During Lucas’s trial, Billy Bob realizes that he will have to bring injury upon Lucas as well as himself in order to save his son. As a result, Billy Bob incurs enemies that are far more dangerous than any he faced as a Texas Ranger.

With the same electric language and hard-edged style that brought James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux novels to the forefront of American crime fiction, Cimarron Rose explodes with a new, evocative setting that will establish Billy Bob Holland as James Lee Burke’s next great character.

Book:Trunk Music

Trunk Music: A Harry Bosch Novel

Michael Connelly

Back on the job after an involuntary leave of absence, LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch lands his first case: a Hollywood producer found in the trunk of his Rolls-Royce, shot twice in the head. It looks like “trunk music,” a Mafia hit. The LAPD’s organized crime unit is oddly uninterested, but Harry thinks they’re wrong. He follows the money trail from the producer’s office to Las Vegas, where he quickly finds evidence of Mafia involvement. But something about the case doesn’t add up, and Harry follows a string of odd clues—glitter in the producer’s cuffs, an over-the-counter medication in the Rolls’s glovebox—in a different direction entirely. Just when Harry thinks he’s on firm ground, the bottom falls out. Blindsided again and again, at odds with his superiors, and overwhelmed by a romance that has cropped up in the middle of the case, Harry is as off balance as he’s ever been.

Book:A Wasteland of Strangers

A Wasteland of Strangers

Bill Pronzini

Set in an isolated town in Northern California, A Wasteland of Strangers begins with the arrival of John Faith in Pomo. Who is he? Why has he come here now, during the off-season when there is nothing to do but get into trouble? What is it he wants? Everyone has an opinion of him, and only a few of them are favorable. For everyone he helps, there are two who question his motives, who see danger to themselves and their way of life in his continual presence in their town. And then, when a beautiful, lonely woman is brutally slaughtered after spending time with him, Faith is the prime and logical suspect. Discovering the identity of the killer becomes as important to Faith as to anyone else, except the murderer.

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