Annal: 2002 Shamus Award for Best First P.I. Novel

Results of the Shamus Award in the year 2002.

Book:Chasing the Devil's Tail

Chasing the Devil's Tail: A Mystery of Storyville, New Orleans

David Fulmer

Not New Orleans—but Storyville—noir…and all that jazz! 1907 Storyville. Cultures, races, and religions more often blend than clash in a rich gumbo only New Orleans could serve up. But trouble brews. In this red light district, prostitutes ply their trade whether in cramped cribs or elegant houses of French ancestry, while music surges through its streets and helps harmonize the light and dark elements. King Bolden rules the Storyville brass with his golden coronet and his gift—jasser—to blow a riff on the city’s music that pulses with new rhythms and notes. But the real King of Storyville is Tom Anderson, the district’s powerful property owner and political fixer, who employs Creole detective Valentin St. Cyr to dig into the deaths of a string of prostitutes. Each victim is found with a black rose. Is a serial killer leaving a calling card? Is King Bolden losing his mind as he stretches his genius to its limits? Why is an elderly priest sent away under care?

Book:Epitaph

Epitaph: A Novel

James Siegel

William Riskin is acquainted with the fear of death. Once one-third of the Three Eyes Detective Agency, Riskin is now well past his seventieth birthday and decades removed from the routine divorce cases that were his stock in trade. The most excitement he gets these days is working at the local Off-Track Betting parlor in Queens, New York, and occasionally playing the ponies himself. Until one day he spots the obituary of his onetime partner Jean Goldblum. He goes to pay his respects—and ends up paying more than he could ever have expected.

For Riskin discovers that Jean never really retired, and that he had been intently pursuing a final case—one that he died trying to solve. The two partners had never been close, but they did have a pact to finish each other’s cases should one of them fail. Out of loyalty and in memory of Jean, Riskin resolves to close this last file. …[more]

Book:Pilikia is My Business

Pilikia is My Business

Mark Troy

Ex-cop, ex-con, ex-pro basketball player turned private investigator, Val Lyon walks the mean streets of Honolulu. She has been hired by a local attorney to find a missing boy who is the centerpiece of a bitter custody battle. Neither Val nor her client, Brian Magruder, realize what a high profile the case has acquired until they receive death threats. Val’s task pits her against a prominent feminist activist, some politically-connected clergy and members of a powerful local family.

Soon bodies begin to drop and Val finds herself not only searching for the boy, but trying to protect Brian as well. The fact that she has fallen for Brian only complicates matters. The assignment takes Val from the canyons of downtown Honolulu to the leper colony of Molokai and back again. All the way, a killer is dogging her footsteps.

Book:Rat City

Rat City: A Jake Rossiter & Miss Jenkins Mystery

Curt Colbert

Rat City’s the sort of town where a man can’t even be sure of a good breakfast. At least that’s what detective Jake Rossiter learns when the homicide-minded Big Ed drops by Rossiter’s office one morning to punch our boy’s ticket. Rossiter’s not one to go out easy, though, and he manages to send Big Ed to the floor with a bullet in his chest. But who is Big Ed, anyway, and why does he want Rossiter pushing up daisies?

With the help of his able-bodied gal Friday, Miss Jenkins, Rossiter digs through layers of vice and violence in Seattle’s seamy underbelly until he uncovers a case of corruption and prejudice that pits him toe-to-toe with hysterical dames, out-of-town muscle, and the entire Rat City Police force.

Book:A Witness Above

A Witness Above: A Frank Pavlicek Mystery

Andy Straka

Thirteen years ago, Frank Pavlicek left the NYPD under less than ideal circumstances. Now, the divorced father of a teenage daughter, he works as a private investigator in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he indulges his passion for falconry – and tries to live outside the shadow of his past.

Frank is hunting with his red-tailed hawk, Armistead, when he finds it. A teenage boy’s body – barely concealed behind a pile of brush in a part of the forest Frank recently visited with his daughter, Nicole. It’s a truly gruesome crime scene – one of the many things Frank doesn’t miss about working homicide in the big city.

But what Frank finds in the dead boy’s wallet is even more disturbing: Nicole’s phone number, scribbled in ink on the edge of a bill. He pockets the evidence and flees. Days later, his daughter is in jail. His past is coming back to haunt him. And his reputation – and life – are on the line…

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