Annal: 2002 Agatha Award for Best First Novel

Results of the Agatha Award in the year 2002.

Book:In the Bleak Midwinter

In the Bleak Midwinter: A Reverend Clare Ferguson Mystery

Julia Spencer-Fleming

It’s a cold, snowy December in the upstate New York town of Millers Kill, and newly ordained Clare Fergusson is on thin ice as the first female priest of its small Episcopal church. The ancient regime running the parish covertly demands that she prove herself as a leader. However, her blunt manner, honed by years as an army pilot, is meeting with a chilly reception from some members of her congregation and Chief of Police Russ Van Alystyne, in particular, doesn’t know what to make of her, or how to address “a lady priest” for that matter.

The last thing she needs is trouble, but that is exactly what she finds. When a newborn baby is abandoned on the church stairs and a young mother is brutally murdered, Clare has to pick her way through the secrets and silence that shadow that town like the ever-present Adirondack mountains. As the days dwindle down and the attraction between the avowed priest and the married police chief grows, Clare will need all her faith, tenacity, and courage to stand fast against…[more]
Book:Beat Until Stiff

Beat Until Stiff

Claire M. Johnson

Experienced pastry chef Claire Johnson whips up an insiders look at San Francisco’s cutthroat restaurant trade. Cranky Mary Ryan has sunk a lot of time and talent into the in-vogue American Fare, the town’s hottest spot, while grieving over her broken marriage. At work very early one morning, she steps on a laundry bag stuffed with the dead body of one of her employees. The investigation soon exposes all the dirty secrets that the food business would like to keep secret: the philandering chefs, the silly whims of the dining public, the hiring and illegal aliens, and the subsistence-living pay scale. Events begin to spiral that, in time, take out the restaurant’s celebrity chef and force Mary to use her unique skills to uncover a poisonous scheme. Hard-edged, filled richly with restaurant lore and murder galore, this is a mystery debut to savor.

Book:How to Murder a Millionaire

How to Murder a Millionaire: A Blackbird Sisters Mystery

Nancy Martin

When Nora Blackbird’s parents skipped town and left her with a property tax bill for two million, she found herself in dire need of a paycheck. So the former debutante finds work as the society page columnist for a Philly paper. She’s happy to reclaim her place within the city’s elite-until her first party assignment sends her stumbling…upon the murdered body of the host.

Nora’s sisters-sexy Emma and flaky Libby-complicate matters as Nora investigates. And meanwhile, the son of a rumored New Jersey crime boss is pursuing Nora with bone-melting come-ons she can barely resist.

Book:Not All Tarts are Apple

Not All Tarts are Apple

Pip Granger

A first novel serves up an inimitable slice of British life from Coronation Summer, 1953, in a city not much different than that familiar to Charles Dickens and Oliver Twist. Seven-year-old Rosie lives happily with Uncle Bert and pillow-plump Aunt Maggie above their cafe on Old Compton Street. The Soho neighborhood is rife with tough and sinewy London life including pimps and prostitutes, thieves and con men, the bent and the wicked. One day at school Rosie learns her real mum’s a tart. In fact, the Perfumed Lady is not only a tart, she’s addicted to gin—but what’s her real story? As Bert and Maggie bring in the clever nearby lawyer Sharkey Finn to draw up adoption papers, the motley group of grown-ups surrounding Rosie contribute in their own way to making the child safe from a truly surprising threat. Rosie is an entrancing narrator, sharing the cafe clientele’s matter-of-fact attitude towards crooks and crimes, not to mention the puzzling mystery of identity that unfolds so convincingly yet so innocently that time and place will blur as you turn the pages.

Book:Shadows at the Fair

Shadows at the Fair: An Antique Print Mystery

Lea Wait

Ignorance is truly bliss for recently widowed Maggie Summer, owner of Shadows Antiques, when she arrives at the prestigious Rensselaer County Spring Antiques Fair. Sadly, she won’t remain ignorant of the suspiciously high mortality rate among her fellow antiques dealers for long.

  • Local antiques dealer, dead in a one-car accident on his way home from an antiques exposition in Columbus, Ohio
  • Two Scranton, Pennsylvania, antiques dealers dead of smoke inhalation
  • Massachusetts antiques dealer dead of substance abuse at an auction in Sharon, Connecticut
  • Antiques dealer dies in his booth at the Westchester (New York) Antiques Show

Rumors are everywhere. The most recent victim, John Smithson, died of poison at a show just last week, and many of the…[more]

Book:Six Strokes Under

Six Strokes Under: A Golf Lover's Mystery

Roberta Isleib

Cassandra Burdette used to carry clubs on the PGA tour-now she’s swinging them at the Qualifying School for the LPGA Tour. The competition is fierce, but the standout so far is Kaitlin Rupert, whose talent and beauty are eclipsed only by her attitude. Though Kaitlin has a deeply troubled past and a very messy, very public family scandal, any sympathy from other players has been used up by her hostile personality.

But it’s still a shock when Kaitlin’s psychiatrist is found brutally murdered-and even more of a shock when the police look at Cassie as a prime suspect. Now, Cassie must avoid all the hazards as she tries to uncover who delivered the fatal stroke-if the killer doesn’t tee her up first.

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