Annal: 2003 Barry Award for Best First Novel

Results of the Barry Award in the year 2003.

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:The Blue Edge of Midnight

The Blue Edge of Midnight

Jonathon King

Featuring ex-cop Max Freeman, The Blue Edge of Midnight marks the debut of a powerful new crime series.

Max Freeman’s old life ended on a night that will haunt him forever. The night he killed a twelve-year-old child in self-defense in a Philadelphia shootout. The night he stopped being a cop. Now he lives an existence of solitary confinement on the edge of the Florida Everglades, where he answers to no one but the demons that eat away at his conscience.

Until the night he finds the corpse of a child beside an ancient river. The night Max Freeman’s past explodes into the present.

Suddenly, Freeman is thrust into the center of the search for a killer responsible for a string of grisly slayings that is baffling both local authorities and the F.B.I. Distrusted as an outsider by the longtime residents of the Glades and pulled into…[more]

Book:Buck Fever

Buck Fever: A Blanco County Texas Novel

Ben Rehder

Blanco County, Texas: It’s the week before deer hunting season, as close to a statewide holiday you get in Texas, and the locals are getting restless. Red O’Brien and Billy Don Craddock aren’t the only good ol’ boys out at night spotlighting deer from their pickups, trying to get a jump on the hundreds of hunters that will be out come Saturday. Game Warden John Marlin has his hands full with poaching complaints coming in faster than he can write out-of-season tickets. Then a call of a different sort comes in. A man dressed up in some sort of deer costume has been shot at the Circle S ranch, and witnesses are reporting a massive wild-eyed buck deer prancing about the pasture in a lovesick frenzy.

Marlin’s seen a lot in his years, but this is wilder than he could have imagined: the man in the deer suit is a good friend, and the whacked-out whitetail isn’t exactly a stranger either. It’s the beginning of a mad, frantic weekend in Blanco…[more]

Book:The Devil's Redhead

The Devil's Redhead

David Corbett

In this masterfully written fiction debut, David Corbett combines a gripping crime story with a poignant tale of enduring love.

Freelance photographer and wildcat smuggler Dan Abatangelo blows into Vegas to hit the tables and taste the night life. In his path waits Shel Beaudry, a knockout redhead with a smile that says, Gentlemen, start your engines. The attraction is instant–and soon the two are living the gypsy life on the West coast, where Dan captains a distribution ring for premium Thai marijuana, His credo “no guns, no gangsters, it’s only money.”

But the trade is changing. Eager to get out, Dan plans one last run, judges poorly, and is betrayed by an underling and caught by the DEA. To secure light time for Shel and his crew, Dan takes the fall and pleads to ten years. Now, having served the…[more]

Book:The Distance

The Distance: A Billy Nichols Novel

Eddie Muller

Morris White is a Sous Chef at a first-rate Philadelphia French restaurant. All he wants is to leave behind his past—the poor neighborhood and petty crime he knew as a kid—and open his own restaurant. His dream comes one step closer to reality when the affair he’s having with Vicky Ward heats up. Not only is she the manager of the restaurant, but she comes from money and a privileged background. The only thing that could stop them from turning their dream into a reality, is Morris’s half-brother, Vince Kammer, who is about to get out of Graterford Prison.

Vince may have done the time, but the crime is far from behind him. Soon poor Morris is stuck in the middle. His job is in jeopardy, his new relationship is in jeopardy, his dream is in jeopardy, all because he’s finding it harder and harder to escape his hometown roots, which, unlike the crisp, bright white linens of the restaurant, are black as hell and dark as night.

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.

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