Annal: 1999 Agatha Award for Best First Novel

Results of the Agatha Award in the year 1999.

Book:Murder, With Peacocks

Murder, With Peacocks: A Meg Langslow Mystery

Donna Andrews

Donna Andrews introduces a cast of quirky characters who will pull her heroine in different directions as she plans three successive summer weddings.

When Meg Langslow is roped into being a bridesmaid for the nuptials of her mother, her brother’s fiancee, and her own best friend, she is apprehensive. Getting the brides to chose their outfits and those of their bridesmaids (and not change their minds three days later), trying to capture the principals long enough to work out details, and even finding peacocks to strut around the garden during the ceremony—these are things Meg can handle. She can brush off the unfortunate oaf who is smitten with her, and take philosophically her disappointment when she learns that the only eligible man in her small Virginia town (and a delightful hunk he is) is of questionable sexual preference. But even Meg is taken aback when the unpleasant former sister-in-law of Meg’s…[more]

Book:By Blood Possessed

By Blood Possessed

Elena Santangelo

Pat Montella is summoned from her dreary office job in suburban Pennsylvania by an unusual request from a stranger: Ninety-one-year-old Magnolia Shelby wants to bequeath to Pat in her will her house and acreage in rural Virginia, and the only condition is that Pat visit during the first week of May to learn what this is all about.

What she finds is Bell Run, a Civil-War-era estate and battle ground inhabited by the enigmatic Miss Maggie, a retired history teacher with a passion for the Civil War. And that’s not all, for just as Pat begins to get the lay of the land, she finds herself noticing curiously out-of-date details, like the vibrations of bullets hitting old wood, or the smell of campfire coffee and roast pork, or the faraway hissing of a steam engine. Before too long, she has to admit that what she’s hearing, seeing, and smelling are the details of an era long past, the sights and sounds of 1863.

Pat soon begins to “see” enough about these long-ago events to put some of the facts together. But then she learns something extraordinary, and how this knowledge affects Pat and Maggie in 1990s Virginia stirs up some very modern, very real danger.

Book:Circles of Confusion

Circles of Confusion: A Claire Montrose Mystery

April Henry

Why did dear departed Aunt Cady have an exquisite old painting buried beneath World War II paraphernalia? And how can a painting so dramatically shift Claire’s perspective on everything from her uninspired love life to her ho-hum job in the Oregon state custom license plate division?


(must be fate)

A sophisticated art expert tells Claire the painting isn’t valuable. Why, then, is she being followed, her hotel room getting ransacked, and her life being thrown in a state of havoc that reaches back to her quiet home in Portland? The closer Claire comes to the truth about her inherited masterpiece, the more questions—and trouble—she uncovers. Though offers of help are arriving in very intriguing packages, Claire is caught in the middle of a dangerous tug-of-war that can leave her either richer in body, soul, and bank book—or broken, battered, and pushing up daisies.

Book:Revenge of the Gypsy Queen

Revenge of the Gypsy Queen

Kris Neri

Families: Can’t live with ‘em, can’t kill ‘em…

The beleaguered daughter of eccentric Hollywood stars, mystery writer Tracy Eaton is no stranger to wacky people, especially within her family. So when her sister-in-law’s wedding becomes a three-ring circus, Tracy is nonplussed, even when the bride is kidnapped.

Her snoot, bickering in-laws refuse to call the police and insist on paying the ransom, but Tracy knows that if justice is gong to prevail, it will definitely need her help. Because…the groom is riding around in a bulletproof limo; sweet, lovable Uncle Philly—a con artist if ever there was—has disappeared; and there are strange happenings at the engaged couple’s upscale restaurant: the Gypsy Princess. It will take all of Tracy’s innate nosiness and nerve to get to the shocking truth—and the Eaton family secret.

Book:Sing It to Her Bones

Sing It to Her Bones: A Hannah Ives Mystery

Marcia Talley

Launching a compelling new series, Talley introduces Hannah Ives, who is recovering from breast cancer at the home of her sister-in-law on Chesapeake Bay. She stumbles onto the decomposed body of a girl who disappeared from a high school dance almost ten years earlier. When Hannah starts asking questions, she discovers a town determined to make sure the past remains untouched.

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