Annal: 2003 Agatha Award for Best Novel

Results of the Agatha Award in the year 2003.

Book:Letter from Home

Letter from Home

Carolyn G. Hart

World-renowned journalist G. G. Gilman does her best not to think of the past. But one day she gets a letter—sent from the small Oklahoma town where she grew up—that brings it all back. Memories of people she had once known and loved dearly—and of the sultry summer when her life changed forever…

In the summer of 1944, Gretchen Gilman was working as a reporter at the local newspaper. Her assignments weren’t very exciting—she mostly wrote about local boys just back from the war—but it was a good opportunity for a young woman with talent and ambition to spare. Gretchen knew better than anyone what people in town were talking about. And that summer they were talking about Faye Tatum.

Just hours after Faye was found dead in her own living room, the speculation began. Murdered, people said, by her jealous…[more]

Book:Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon

Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon

Donna Andrews

Poor Meg Langslow. She’s blessed in so many ways. Michael, her boyfriend, is a handsome, delightful heartthrob who adores her. She’s a successful blacksmith, known for her artistic wrought-iron creations. But somehow Meg’s road to contentment is more rutted and filled with potholes than seems fair.

There are Michael’s and Meg’s doting but demanding mothers, for a start. And then there’s the fruitless hunt for a place big enough for the couple to live together. And a succession of crises brought on by the well-meaning but utterly wacky demands of her friends and family. Demands that Meg has a hard time refusing—which is why she’s tending the switchboard of Mutant Wizards, where her brother’s computer games are created, and handling all the office management problems that no one else bothers with. For companionship, besides a crew of eccentric techies, she has a buzzard with one wing—who she must feed frozen mice…[more]

Book:Dream House

Dream House

Rochelle Krich

Friday, October 31. 9:37 P.M., 100 block of South Martel. A vandal threw a pumpkin through the front window of a house and several eggs at the front door.

The police report read like just another Halloween prank–a nasty, petty act. But the attack is one in a recent spate of increasingly violent vandalisms targeting residents who have paid millions of dollars for their dream homes in the ritziest enclaves of Los Angeles.

Residents are already seething, hotly divided about the growing number of Historical Architectural Restoration and Preservation (HARP) boards that prevent homeowners from remodeling their expensive real estate, forcing them to preserve the traditional integrity of neighborhoods where Hollywood legends once lived. So impassioned are pro-and anti-HARP forces that Crime Sheet columnist…[more]

Book:Last Lessons of Summer

Last Lessons of Summer

Margaret Maron

In the suffocating heat of a Southern August, Amy Steadman, heir to a merchandising and publishing empire, has come to clean out the house of her murdered grandmother - and perhaps find some answers. Beneath her quiet, accommodating manner, a storm is brewing.

For here in this gracious home, Amy’s own mother had committed suicide when her daughter was barely three years old. The tragedy put an end to her mother’s turbulent marriage to Amy’s father. But the secrets surrounding her mother’s death live on. Sorting through her grandmother’s things, Amy reflects on the parallels between her parents’ relationship and the growing suspicions she has about her own husband, who may love her legacy more than he loves her.

As she rediscovers the tobacco-rich land where she spent her childhood summers, Amy meets relatives she never knew, and…[more]

Book:Mumbo Gumbo

Mumbo Gumbo: A Madeline Bean Novel

Jerrilyn Farmer

With two straight number one Los Angeles Times bestsellers, three consecutive Agatha Award nominations, two Anthony nominations, and Lefty and Macavity Awards already in the pot, mystery author par excellence Jerrilyn Farmer is cookin’! Now her oh-so-delectable creation, spunky Hollywood event planner and caterer to the stars Madeline Bean, finds herself in a murderous stew once more, in an exceptionally tasty hardcover debut simmering with intelligence and outrageous humor and spiced with real surprises.

It’s another great gig for Mad Bean Events: catering the gala season wrap party for the runaway TV hit, gourmet cook-off game show Food Freak. But Madeline’s going to have to keep her delicious Cajun treats simmering on the stove a while longer now that the studio has decided to film one more episode . . . and the head writer has mysteriously disappeared. The good…[more]

Book:Shop Till You Drop

Shop Till You Drop

Elaine Viets

Once on the fast track to success, Helen Hawthorne is now going nowhere fast. She traded in her chic life for a shabby one. And now she’s on the run, jumping from city to city and dead-end job to dead-end job, trying to stay one step ahead of her past…

After two weeks as the new salesclerk at Juliana’s, Fort Lauderdale’s ultra-exclusive clothing boutique, Helen still feels out of fashion. And since the only crime likely to be committed around here is being old-or worse, looking old-Helen figures she’s safe. Until she discovers the manager has been embezzling money and selling designer drugs along with the designer clothes. Add murder to the mix-and Helen’s dead-end job is downright deadly.

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