Annal: 2003 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller

Results of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the year 2003.

Book:Soul Circus

Soul Circus

George P. Pelecanos

A Washington, D.C., crime overlord is fighting for his life in court. Two younger dealers are fighting for his territory, prestige, and millions of dollars in future profits. It takes only one slip-a kid going out of control with a rented pistol-to push friction closer to wholesale slaughter.

In the midst of this extraordinary tension, private investigator Derek Strange has found a woman whose testimony could mean death or freedom for the crime lord. He wants her to talk-but first he’ll have to find a way to keep her alive.

Step by step, Strange and his partner are drawn into the darkness, confronting gunrunners, drug dealers, and ordinary people caught up in the ruthless violence of the business. Soul Circus is a heart-stopping thriller that could only have been written by George Pelecanos, the writer who “has gone from cult favorite to acknowledged master” (Booklist).

Book:The Company You Keep

The Company You Keep

Neil Gordon

With the publication of his highly praised first novel, Sacrifice of Isaac, Neil Gordon proved himself a master of the intellectual thriller. In his new novel, Gordon mixes political turmoil and family drama to deliver a plot that is as intricate as it is compelling.

Based on intensive research into the divisive events of the late sixties and the lives of Weather Underground radicals and Vietnam veterans, The Company You Keep is a story of the ecstatic righteousness of youth and the bonds of family love, of ideals betrayed by violence, and of love sacrificed to history. When his political past catches up with him, one man goes on the run again after thirty-odd years-this time not for political reasons, but for the love of his child. Again he becomes a fugitive, setting in motion an incredible American saga.

Historically rich, morally complex, and emotionally engrossing, The Company You Keep is a dramatic and moving novel in the tradition of works by Tim O’Brien and Tobias Wolff.

Book:Death of a Nationalist

Death of a Nationalist

Rebecca Pawel

Madrid 1938. Carlos Tejada Alonso y Leon is a Sergeant in the Guardia Civil, a rank rare for a man not yet thirty, but Tejada is an unusual recruit. The bitter civil war between the Nationalists and the Republicans has interrupted his legal studies in Salamanca. Second son of a conservative Southern family of landowners, he is an enthusiast for the Catholic Franquista cause, a dedicated, and now triumphant, Nationalist.

This war has drawn international attention. In a dress rehearsal for World War II, fascists support the Nationalists, while Communists have come to the aid of the Republicans. Atrocities have devastated both sides. It is at this moment, when the Republicans have surrendered, and the Guardia Civil has begun to impose order in the ruins of Madrid, that Tejada finds the body of his best friend, a hero of the siege of Toledo, shot to death on a street named Amor de Dios. Naturally, a Red is suspected. And it is easy for Tejada to assume that the woman wearing a red scarf, caught kneeling over the body, is the killer. But when his doubts are aroused, he cannot help seeking justice.

Book:The Dogs of Riga

The Dogs of Riga: A Kurt Wallendar Mystery

Henning Mankell, Laurie Thompson

Bringing the acclaimed series to a close, The Dogs of Riga takes Inspector Kurt Wallander across the Baltic to a disintegrating soviet union

February, 1991. A life raft washes ashore in Skåne carrying two dead men in expensive suits, shot gangland-style. Inspector Kurt Wallander and his team determine that the men were Eastern European criminals. But what appears in Sweden to be an open-and-shut case soon plunges Wallander into an alien world of police surveillance, thinly veiled threats, and life-endangering lies.

When another murder is committed, Wallander must travel to Riga, Latvia, at the peak of the massive social and political upheaval that preceded the nation’s independence from the Soviet Union. Struggling to catch up with the culprits he pursues in this shadowy nation, Wallander finds that he must make a choice, decide who is lying and who is telling the truth, and test his bravery.

Book:The House Sitter

The House Sitter

Peter Lovesey

When a woman is found strangled to death on a popular beach in Sussex, the police have a hard time identifying her. It takes twelve days to discover she was a top psychological profiler for the National Crime Faculty. Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond is called in because the victim lived in Bath. He must coordinate his efforts with those of Henrietta Mallin, the original senior investigating officer, as well as try to cooperate with the cocky young officer charged with investigating the bizarre murder that the victim had been working on.

Oddly, the National Crime Faculty tries to thwart his efforts.

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