Annal: 1997 Shamus Award for Best P.I. Novel

Results of the Shamus Award in the year 1997.

Book:Sunset Express

Sunset Express: An Elvis Cole Novel

Robert Crais

Elvis Cole is back on his own turf in Los Angeles, and embroiled in a controversial high-profile murder case. A wealthy restaurateur is accused of murdering his wife, and his hot-shot defense attorney hires Elvis to find proof that police detective Angela Rossi fooled around with the evidence.

Rossi had been cleared of an earlier charge of planting evidence to convict a counterfeiter, but her career was damaged and she’s rumored to be willing to do anything to get it back on track—even if it means framing an innocent man. Yet as Elvis investigates Rossi for the defense team, he begins to be more suspicious of the media-loving lawyers than the cops. As the investigation continues, Elvis is visited by Lucy Chenier, the Louisiana lawyer he’d met several months ago. Lucy is in Los Angeles for a business trip, and as she and Elvis spend more time together, their mutual attraction grows. As the fireworks ignite, Elvis and Lucy are drawn deeper into the intrigue and dangers surrounding the case of the missing woman.

Book:Damned in Paradise

Damned in Paradise: A Nathan Heller Novel

Max Allan Collins

Nathan Heller has tackled the most notorious crimes of the century over the course of seven novels, and now he faces one of the greatest challenges of his career, the famous Massie case.

Clarence Darrow is past his prime but still a brilliant defense attorney when he asks Heller for a meeting at New York’s celebrity hangout, Sardi’s. Darrow wants Heller along when he takes on the tragic and twisted revenge murder of a “native” Islander who was one of five men accused of raping a beautiful socialite, Thalia Massie. The defendants are, surprisingly, the woman’s husband and mother, along with two Navy men. The case is sordid, tainted with bigotry and lies, and filled with contradictions. The job, then, is this: uncover what really happened.

As tensions mount and the case finds its way to the courtroom, the truth becomes disturbingly clear. Darrow’s performance is spellbinding, but will the final verdict spell justice?

Book:Flesh Wounds

Flesh Wounds: A John Marshall Tanner Mystery

Stephen Greenleaf

“Marsh? It’s Peggy.” The words strike like lightning bolts into the life of John Marshall Tanner, reopening old wounds, rekindling old desires. The speaker is Peggy Nettleton, Tanner’s former secretary and former lover, who left his life six years earlier in circumstances too painful to remember. Now Peggy lives in Seattle and is about to marry Ted Evans, a wealthy investment banker. But Peggy has a problem—Nina Evans, Ted’s beautiful young daughter by a previous marriage, is missing. The young model has disappeared into Seattle’s netherworld after posing for some nude photographs. Peggy’s marriage can’t go forward until Nina is found. Peggy calls on her old boss for help.

From art galleries to strip clubs, from porn kings to computer wizards, Tanner trails Nina to her oppressor’s lair. He will be tested as never before as he learns more than he cares to know about Peggy and the man to whom she is betrothed, and about the world of digital imagery and its capacity to generate electric evils.

Book:Invasion of Privacy

Invasion of Privacy: A John Francis Cuddy Mystery

Jeremiah Healy

A woman hires Boston P.I. John Francis Cuddy to investigate her mysterious boyfriend, Andrew Dees. Cuddy obliges and finds much more than a covert Casanova. It seems that Dees bears a marked resemblance to a stoolie who disappeared after turning the feds onto the Milwaukee mob family he cooked books for. And Cuddy’s prying has the vengeful family thinking that Cuddy can lead them to the elusive Dees for a little score settling.

Book:Sentinels

Sentinels: A “Nameless Detective” Novel

Bill Pronzini

Led by circumstances to accept the kind of case he dislikes—a “worried mother job”—”Nameless” reluctantly agrees to investigate the strange disappearance of college student Allison McDowell and her mysterious new boyfriend while on a driving strip from Oregon to San Francisco. The young couple vanished suddenly and without a trace after their car broke down and they were forced to spend a night in the tiny village of Creekside, in the remote Northwestern corner of California.

When “Nameless” travels to Creekside and begins to question the locals, he encounters apparent apathy, hostility, and mounting evidence that suggests the couple may have met with foul play. Is one or more of the inhabitants of Creekside responsible? Is it Allison’s boyfriend, whose identity is unknown even to her mother? Or is it forces of a far more sinister nature?

“Nameless’s” search takes him to Eugene, Oregon and then back to the Northern California wilderness. And it leads him from what seems to be a simple disappearance to a complex conspiracy of evil, one which reaches far beyond this remote backwater and threatens to destroy him as well before he can expose the truth.

Book:When Wallflowers Die

When Wallflowers Die: A Phoebe Siegel Mystery

Sandra West Prowell

Tough as barbed wire and just as tightly strung, Phoebe Siegel is a cop turned private detective with too much past, too much family, and a talent for diving too deep into a case.

Bob Maitland is the golden boy of Montana politics, poised to run for governor. There’s just one loose end in his life—the 27-year-old killing of his heiress wife, Ellen, which was never solved. Maitland wants Phoebe Siegel to find the long-missing construction worker who either committed or witnessed the murder. Phoebe, no fan of Maitland’s style, promises only to think it over. After Maitland trumpets their supposed agreement to the press, Phoebe hears from another potential client. Frank Chillman swears Ellen Maitland’s murder and the murder of his prostitute sister, one day later, are related. Before Phoebe can even check out his story, he’s found shot to death. With a dead man for a client, she plunges into the case, trying to find the connection between a rich wallflower and a hard-luck call girl who died three decades ago. The trail is long cold, but it heats up quickly as someone starts stalking Phoebe, with another killing in mind….

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