Annal: 2003 Hammett Prize for Crime-Writing

Results of the Hammett Prize in the year 2003.

Book:The Seduction of Water

The Seduction of Water

Carol Goodman

Iris Greenfeder, ABD (All But Dissertation) has just turned forty, lives in Manhattan, and works three teaching jobs to support herself. Recently she’s felt that the “buts” are taking over her life: all but published, all but a professor, all but married (to Jack, her boyfriend of ten years). Yet the sudden impulse to write a story about her mother leads to a shot at literary success. The piece recounts an eerie Irish fairy tale her mother used to tell her at bedtime–and nestled inside is the sad story of her mother’s death…

More than fifty years ago, Iris’s mother, Katherine Morrissey, arrived at the Catskills’ grand Hotel Equinox penniless, with almost no belongings. Kay was hired as a maid but refused to speak of her past or her family. One year later, she married Ben Greenfeder, the hotel’s manager. During the hotel’s off-season, Kay wrote the first two fantasy novels of a planned trilogy.…[more]

Book:The Delicate Storm

The Delicate Storm

Giles Blunt

The third week in January in Algonquin Bay: A freak warm front has rolled in, making it feel like April and enticing the locals into shedding their down parkas and strolling the streets. But the warm weather has also brought the bears out of hibernation, and they have come out hungry. Suddenly the stakes turn ugly when an auto mechanic discovers a mauled human arm in his yard, and the cops determine that its owner was dead before the bears got to him. A search of the surrounding woods turns up body parts placed exactly where the bears were most likely to find them. A homicide, then, but who is the victim?

As detectives John Cardinal and Lise Delorme wrestle with what soon becomes a trail of misinformation about the victim’s identity, another body is found in the woods—a young woman, apparently raped. There has to be a connection: two bodies abandoned in the woods within days of each other cannot be a coincidence in a small town like Algonquin Bay. Then police records reveal…[more]

Book:Every Secret Thing

Every Secret Thing: A Novel

Laura Lippman

On a July afternoon two little girls, banished from a birthday party, take a wrong turn onto an unfamiliar Baltimore street—and encounter an abandoned stroller with a baby inside it. Dutiful Alice Manning and unpredictable Ronnie Fuller only want to be helpful, to be good. People like children who are good, Alice thinks. But whatever the girls’ real intentions, things go horribly awry and three families are destroyed.

Seven years later Alice and Ronnie are heading home again—only separately this time, their fragile bond long shattered, their secrets still closely kept. Advised to avoid each other, they enter a world where they essentially have no past. In exchange, they are promised a fresh start, the chance to mold their own future.

That promise is broken when a child disappears, under disturbingly similar circumstances. And the adults in Alice’s…[more]

Book:Shutter Island

Shutter Island: A Novel

Dennis Lehane

Summer, 1954.

U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels has come to Shutter Island, home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Along with his partner, Chuck Aule, he sets out to find an escaped patient, a murderess named Rachel Solando, as a hurricane bears down upon them.

But nothing at Ashecliffe Hospital is what it seems. And neither is Teddy Daniels. Is he there to find a missing patient? Or has he been sent to look into rumors of Ashecliffe’s radical approach to psychiatry? An approach that may include drug experimentation, hideous surgical trials, and lethal countermoves in the shadow war against Soviet brainwashing….

Or is there another, more personal reason why he has come there? …[more]

Book:Tropic of Night

Tropic of Night

Michael Gruber

Jane Doe was a promising anthropologist, an expert on shamanism. Now she’s nothing, a shadow: after faking her own suicide, she’s living under an assumed identity in Miami with a little girl to protect. Everyone thinks she’s dead. Or so she hopes.

Then the killings start, a series of ritualistic murders that terrifies all of Miami. The investigator is Jimmy Paz, a Cuban-American police detective. There are witnesses, but they can recall almost nothing of the events, as though their memories have been erased—as if a spell has been cast on each of them. Equally bizarre is the string of clues Paz uncovers: a divination charm, exotic drugs found in the bodies of the victims, a century-old report telling of a secret place in the heart of Africa.

These clues point Paz inexorably toward the fugitive, Jane Doe, and force Jane to realize that the darkness she has fled is seeking her out, hunting her down. By the time her path intersects with Jimmy Paz’s, the two will be thrust into a cataclysmic battle between good and an evil unimaginable to the Western mind.

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