Annal: 1998 Agatha Award for Best First Novel

Results of the Agatha Award in the year 1998.

Book:The Doctor Digs a Grave

The Doctor Digs a Grave

Robin Hathaway

Available for house calls— and homicide…

When cardiologist Dr. Andrew Fenimore isn’t mending weak hearts, he’s solving crimes in Philadelphia’s wealthy Society Hill. But murder is the last thing the good doctor expects when he befriends a teenage boy trying to bury his dead cat. As the two dig a grave for the cat’s final resting place in a vacant lot— which happens to be an ancient burial ground— they discover a fresh corpse, buried feet flexed, facing east, according to Lenape Indian tradition.

Fenimore’s P.I. pastime starts to become a distinct health hazard as he and his young sidekick follow the trail of the deceased young woman straight to the son of a colleague, one of Philadelphia’s most prominent surgeons. Surely the scion of a fine old Philadelphia family and his Indian fiancee ignited some powerful passions. But are they enough to risk trying for the perfect murder in a place where civility rules with an iron fist in a velvet glove?

Book:Dying to Get Published

Dying to Get Published: A Jennifer Marsh Mystery

Judy Fitzwater

Introducing Jennifer Marsh

What does it take to get a book contract? That’s the lament of every unpublished author—including aspiring murder-mystery novelist Jennifer Marsh.

After submitting eight diligently crafted manuscripts to every prominent publisher in New York, Jennifer has collected enough rejection letters to wallpaper a room. But that doesn’t stop her from concocting one killer of a scheme for her next novel.

And suddenly Jennifer’s lifelong love affair with crime fiction brings her face to face with real-life murder…

Book:Fax Me a Bagel

Fax Me a Bagel: A Ruby, the Rabbi's Wife Mystery

Sharon Kahn

Ruby has been a widow for more than a year now, since the hit-and-run death of her beloved husband, Stu. She should be free to start a new life, but once a rabbi’s wife, always a rabbi’s wife, at least in Eternal. Ruby can’t even escape her least favorite member of the congregation, Essie Sue Margolis—who wears designer clothes to take out the garbage. Ruby figures she should be safe from Essie Sue at eleven in the morning at The Hot Bagel. Wrong. Still, The Hot Bagel makes the best baked goods west of the Hudson, and Ruby’s not about to miss her favorite morning fix. Ruby soon discovers that she has more on her proverbial plate than poppy seeds. Marla, sister of the much disliked Essie Sue, goes into a convulsion and dies, leaving not only her bagels on the table but more unanswered questions than Ruby could ever have imagined. Was Marla’s death an accident? Was it part of a plan? How does it fit into other unexplained deaths in the small Texas community that straddles the worlds of the plantation South and the rugged West?

Book:Sympathy for the Devil

Sympathy for the Devil: A Madeline Bean Mystery

Jerrilyn Farmer

Madeline Bean, caterer to the stars, is in the middle of the biggest job of her career. She and her partner Wesley have pulled off Hollywood’s most outrageous A-list Halloween party for notorious producer Bruno Huntley, complete with an eerie fortuneteller who is astonishingly accurate, and exotic food that’s to die for. Before long, Bruno is thrashing and writhing out on the dance floor. Just one problem: he’s not standing up, And soon, he’s not even breathing.

The newly late Mr. Huntley was poisoned, that’s certain. But the number of suspects with a yen to send Bruno to the devil could fill an audition for extras in the next Quentin Tarantino flick. When Wesley is arrested for the murder because of a long-standing dispute with the maniacal mogul, Madeline knows he couldn’t be guilty. But to prove it, she has to wade through the muck of a mudslinging family, outrun a pair of crazed canines, dodge a pair of well-aimed bullets, and expose a slew of secrets that could put a soap opera to shame. Somebody’s cooked up a murder, and it’s up to Madeline to find out who—before she faces a fadeout of her own.

Book:Tiger's Palette

Tiger's Palette: A Caroline Canfield Mystery

Jacqueline Fiedler

With a habit of looking everywhere except where she’s going, thirty-one-year-old wildlife artist Caroline Canfield knows one thing for sure: accidents have a way of finding her. So after her free-spirited mentor, Anthony Chirico, plunges to his suspicious death from a scaffold, Caroline initially turns down the chance to finish his jungle mural at the Fox Valley Zoo. Aware of Tony’s penchant for leaving hidden messages in his work, Caroline starts to wonder if his fall was no accident—and when she finds Tony’s assistant with a knife in his throat, she gets the point that someone desperately wants to keep the zoo’s new exhibit from opening.

Spurred by her desire to know the truth and uncover the secrets of the mural, Caroline reluctantly accepts the Fox Valley Zoo commission. But working at the zoo isn’t a walk in the park—animals are being threatened and “accidents” start happening with alarming frequency. If Caroline doesn’t put the pieces of the puzzle together soon, she may never get out of this jungle alive.

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