Annal: 1998 Agatha Award for Best Novel

Results of the Agatha Award in the year 1998.

Book:Butchers Hill

Butchers Hill: A Tess Monaghan Mystery

Laura Lippman

Tess Monaghan has finally made the move and hung out her shingle as a p.i.-for-hire, complete with an office in Butchers Hill. Maybe it’s not the best address in Baltimore, but you gotta start somewhere, and Tess’s greyhound Esskay has no trouble taking marathon naps anywhere there’s a roof. Then in walks Luther Beale, the notorious vigilante who five years ago shot a boy for vandalizing his car. Just out of prison, he says he wants to make reparations to the kids who witnessed his crime, so he needs Tess to find them. But once she starts snooping, the witnesses start dying. Is the “Butcher of Butchers Hill” at it again? Like it or not, Tess is embroiled in a case that encompasses the powers that-be, a heartless system that has destroyed the lives of children, and a nasty trail of money and lies leading all the way back to Butchers Hill.

Book:The Ape Who Guards the Balance

The Ape Who Guards the Balance: An Amelia Peabody Mystery

Elizabeth Peters

The prospects for the 1907 archaeological season in Egypt seem fairly dull to Amelia Peabody. Despite her adored husband’s brilliant reputation in his field, his dashing-yet-less-than-diplomatic behavior has Professor Radcliffe Emerson ignominiously demoted to examining only the most boring tombs in the Valley of the Kings—mere leftovers, really. All the Peabody Emersons profess stiff upper lips and intend to make the best of a bad situation, but this year the legendary land of the pharaohs will yield more than priceless artifacts for the Emerson expedition. For the desert guards even deeper mysteries that are wrapped in greed—and sealed by murder.

In a seedy section of Cairo, the youngest members of the expedition purchase a mint-condition papyrus of the famed Book of the Dead, the collection of magical spells and prayers designed to ward off the perils of the underworld and lead the deceased…[more]

Book:Blind Bloodhound Justice

Blind Bloodhound Justice

Virginia Lanier

This isn’t the first time that Jo Beth Sidden’s life has gone to the dogs. But the bloodhound trainer-turned-sleuth’s latest case has a trail so cold there isn’t a scent for her trusty canines to trace. Thirty years ago, two baby girls were kidnapped and their nanny murdered. The estate owner’s daughter turned up safe in a nearby church. The other, the gardener’s child, was never found. The man convicted of the two crimes was a vagrant who insisted he was innocent throughout the three decades he served of a life sentence. Now, he’s being paroled for health reasons and Sheriff Hank Cribbs is worried his return will stir up bad blood. Turning to his best friend, Jo Beth, Hank asks for help. With her beloved blind bloodhound, the two-year-old Bobby Lee, Jo Beth must sniff out the ghosts of the past and find the truth buried deep in a swamp of cunning deceit and murderous secrets.

Book:Home Fires

Home Fires: A Deborah Knott Mystery

Margaret Maron

North Carolina Judge Deborah Knott engages in her own investigation of an arsonists in the midst of campaigning for reelection in the sixth installment of this award-winning series.

At a stop along her campaign trail, Judge Deborah Knott attends a community picnic at the Mt. Olive Church. When the historic building is destroyed by a fire shortly after the outing - and the charred skeleton of young man is found among the ashes - Knott begins her own investigation into the tragedy. Earlier national news reports of a fire at a local African-American church had already gained attention of Wallace Adderly, a Black Panther from the ‘70s. Knott and Adderly team up to discover if the blazes are merely coincidence, or the work of a racist arsonist. As the number of suspects rises, Deborah finds herself re-examining her own beliefs and values as she and Adderly race to prevent another devastating loss in the community.

Book:Liar

Liar: An Irene Kelly Mystery

Jan Burke

Rising star Jan Burke—whom reviewers have consistently compared to Patricia Cornwell, Sue Grafton, and Robert Parker—surpasses already high expectations in Liar, her most riveting work to date.

Intrepid sleuth/reporter Irene Kelly barely has time to recover from the shock of learning that her estranged aunt has been killed before being blindsided by an even bigger surprise—she’s the number one suspect! With the LAPD biting fast at her heels, Irene searches for her aunt’s son, Travis—a young man who wants nothing to do with Irene or any of the Kelly clan. The seeds of contention sown by family members no longer living are now being reaped by the next generation in ways no one would ever have expected. As deeply buried family skeletons are unearthed, the line between stalker and stalked becomes increasingly blurred, with dangerous consequences for Irene. She casts her lot with Travis, who she believes is the killer’s next target, but her efforts…[more]

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