Annal: 2002 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller

Results of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the year 2002.

Book:Hell to Pay

Hell to Pay: A Novel

George P. Pelecanos

Derek Strange and Terry Quinn, the team of investigators who made their bestselling debut in Right As Rain, are hired to find a fourteen-year-old girl who’s run away from her home in the suburbs. It’s easy for Strange and Quinn to learn that the girl is now working as a prostitute in one of D.C.’s most brutal neighborhoods. Getting her to leave is harder. The two ex-cops think they know this world-but nothing in their experience has prepared them for the vengeance of Worldwide Wilson, the ruthless operator whose territory they are intruding upon.

Their mission is fractured by a violent criminal act against a young player from the neighborhood football team that Strange coaches. Tracking down the perpetrators becomes a point of honor for Strange and Quinn, and their investigation leads them deep inside the city’s labyrinth of crime-and back, again, to the lethal Worldwide Wilson.

Book:The Emperor of Ocean Park

The Emperor of Ocean Park

Stephen L. Carter

An extraordinary fiction debut: a large, stirring novel of suspense that is, at the same time, a work of brilliantly astute social observation. The Emperor of Ocean Park is set in two privileged worlds: the upper crust African American society of the eastern seaboard—old families who summer on Martha’s Vineyard—and the inner circle of an Ivy League law school. It tells the story of a complex family with a single, seductive link to the shadowlands of crime.

The Emperor of the title, Judge Oliver Garland, has just died, suddenly. A brilliant legal mind, conservative and famously controversial, Judge Garland made more enemies than friends. Many years before, he’d earned a judge’s highest prize: a Supreme Court nomination. But in a scene of bitter humiliation, televised across the country, his nomination collapsed in scandal. The humbling defeat became a private agony, one from which he never recovered. …[more]

Book:Living Dead Girl

Living Dead Girl

Tod Goldberg

There is no trace of Paul Luden’s ex-wife at his old home, a two-bedroom log cabin on the shores of Granite Lake. It’s fall. The summer people are long gone. The year-round population is sparse. No one in the small community has seen her for days. A friend has alerted Paul, who has driven up from L.A. with his embarrassingly young girlfriend, hoping for the best. “I mean, she could be in Bosnia doing humanitarian relief.” Together they cross the lake and approach the house. The front door is locked and the boat is tethered. Entering through an open back door, Paul steps out of his normal existence into one of increasing terror.

Far from over, past, gone, his old life coils around him, pulling him in, until his destiny is once again inexorably joined to his ex-wife’s and threatens to tear him asunder.

Book:One Step Behind

One Step Behind: A Kurt Wallander Mystery

Henning Mankell, Ebba Segerberg

On Midsummer’s Eve, three friends gather in a secluded meadow in Sweden. In the still-sun-lit northern night, they don costumes and begin to role play. But an uninvited guest soon brings their performance to a gruesome conclusion. His approach is careful; his aim is perfect. Three bullets, three corpses. The murderer then carefully photographs the grisly tableau.

Meanwhile, the Ystad police station is experiencing a summer lull. Inspector Kurt Wallander is focusing on living healthier, but his peace of mind is shattered when a fellow officer is murdered. The police slowly realize how little they know about what is going on in their seemingly serene town. An unknown killer is on the loose, but their only lead is a photograph of three dead young people in costume. Forced to dig more deeply than he’d like into the personal life of one of his colleagues, Wallander’s investigation uncovers something he could never have imagined.

Book:Reversible Errors

Reversible Errors: A Novel

Scott Turow

Rommy “Squirrel” Gandolph is a Yellow Man, an inmate on death row for a 1991 triple murder in Kindle County. His slow progress toward certain execution is nearing completion when Arthur Raven, a corporate lawyer who is Rommy’s reluctant court-appointed representative, receives word that another inmate may have new evidence that will exonerate Gandolph.

Arthur’s opponent in the case is Muriel Wynn, Kindle County’s formidable chief deputy prosecuting attorney, who is considering a run for her boss’s job. Muriel and Larry Starczek, the original detective on the case, don’t want to see Rommy escape a fate they long ago determined he deserved, for a host of reasons. Further complicating the situation is the fact that Gillian Sullivan, the judge who originally found Rommy guilty, is only recently out of prison herself, having served time for taking bribes. …[more]

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