Annal: 1998 Hammett Prize for Crime-Writing

Results of the Hammett Prize in the year 1998.

Book:Tidewater Blood

Tidewater Blood

William Hoffman

For two hundred and fifty years, the LeBlancs of Tidewater Virginia—landed, rich, and proud of it—have been celebrating their French Huguenot ancestry. Each year, over an extravagant lunch and in period costume dress, they relive the beginnings of the LeBlanc line, reminding everyone of their rise from meager beginnings to a position of great stature, wealth, and privilege. But this year’s celebration goes horribly wrong. At the stroke of one, a deafening explosion brings down the massive plantation house columns, crushing every member of the family present. As the dust settles, all fingers point to the black sheep of the family, the youngest brother, Charles LeBlanc.

Long estranged from his family and living in a makeshift cabin on a spit of land off the Chesapeake, Charley has managed to make more enemies than friends—he was dishonorably discharged from the army, and then served time in prison. Facing prison,…[more]

Book:The Last Days of Il Duce

The Last Days of Il Duce

Domenic Stansberry

Domenic Stansberry’s award-winning novel tells the story of Niccolo Jones, a broken-down man plagued by his obsession with his brother Joe’s ex-wife Marie. Set in the old Italian neighborhood of North Beach in San Francisco, the novel flashes back and forth between their childhood days in the 1950s and events thirty years later. The kids are adults now, and everything has changed.

Nick’s story begins when Joe is murdered, igniting in Nick an unquenchable desire for revenge. The crime also awakens Nick’s memories of days gone by, particularly his own illicit feelings for Marie. But the price of passion is as costly now as it was for Nick thirty years ago; for The Last Days of Il Duce is as much about the secrets of the past as it is about the sins of the present.

Dark, elegantly written, intricate, and astonishing, The Last Days of Il Duce is a superb novel in the classic noir tradition.

Book:The Man Who Stole the Mona Lisa

The Man Who Stole the Mona Lisa

Robert Noah

On August 21, 1911, the world’s most celebrated painting, the “Mona Lisa”, was stolen from the Louvre in a plot that was not revealed until the 1930s. Weaving from the threads of this fantastic batch of truth, Robert Noah’s novel pits a crackerjack team of thieves against the largest museum in the world.

Book:Praying to a Laughing God

Praying to a Laughing God: A Novel

Kevin McColley

Set in the heartland of America, Praying to a Laughing God is the remarkable and moving story of old friendships, new love, deeply hidden secrets, and the discovery of truths. It is about the death of dreams and the birth of hope; about a disappearing way of life and the reaffirmation of the human spirit.

When Clark Holstrom goes each morning to open the hardware store he has operated for years on the main street of Credibull, Minnesota, he asks himself why he even bothers. Both the town and the way of life Clark has known for the past 70 years are dying; only the memories are left, and soon they will fade as well. What is best about Credibull is the comfort its residents take in the repetition of their daily lives; what is worst is the deadening monotony that has thrown a stupor over the town. So when a hotshot journalist, the author of several bestselling and exploitative true-crime books, announces that he is coming to Credibull…[more]

Book:Tomato Red

Tomato Red

Daniel Woodrell

Daniel Woodrell has been called “stone brilliant” (James Ellroy); an author whose novels “make you whistle they’re so good” (Chicago Tribune). In Tomato Red, his 1998 New York Times Notable Book, now being published in a Plume trade edition, Woodrell brings together a trio of hard-luck souls desperate for that one big break.

All nineteen-year-old Jamalee Merridew wants is a one-way ticket out of West Table, Missouri. What she needs is a plan, one that includes her brother, Jason, a seventeen-year-old boy so pretty that “if your ex had his lips you’d still be married.” All Jamalee requires is a car, some cash, and a little muscle. Enter Sammy Barlach, an affable drifter, the kind of person “who should in any circumstances be considered a suspect.” The damage this unlikely crew does is mostly to themselves, and Tomato Red shimmers with broken dreams.

Discover the writer critics have hailed as a “backcountry Shakespeare” in his most entertaining and adrenaline-fueled novel to date.

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