Annal: 2004 Barry Award for Best First Novel

Results of the Barry Award in the year 2004.

Book:Monkeewrench

Monkeewrench

P.J. Tracy

Haunted by a series of horrifying and violent episodes in their past, Grace McBride and the oddball crew of her software company, Monkeewrench, create a computer game where the killer is always caught, where the good guys always win. But their game becomes a nightmare when someone starts duplicating the fictional murders in real life, down to the last detail.

By the time the police realize what’s happening, three people are dead, and with seventeen more murder scenarios available online, there are seventeen more potential victims. While the authorities scramble to find the killer in a city paralyzed by fear, the Monkeewrench staff are playing their own game, analyzing victim profiles in a frantic attempt to discover the murderer’s next target.

In a thriller populated by characters both hilarious and heartbreaking, a rural Wisconsin sheriff, two Minneapolis police detectives, and Grace’s gang are caught in a web of decades-old secrets that could get them all killed.

Book:The Barbed-Wire Kiss

The Barbed-Wire Kiss

Wallace Stroby

Long Branch, Asbury Park, Ocean Grove. The Jersey Shore ain’t what it used to be, but ex-state trooper Harry Rane still calls it home. After his wife’s death, Harry got careless, got shot, and he left the force. He’s a changed man, leads a quiet life, except when it comes to helping his friends…

Now an old buddy of Harry’s wants a big favor. He owes $50,000 to a Jersey crime boss and needs Harry to get him more time to repay the loan. That sounds like a plan…except for the green-eyed, redheaded complication. The mobster’s married to a gorgeous lady who once fell hard for Harry. And history is about to repeat itself.

Trying to help his friend pay off his debt but inexorably drawn to the girl, soon Harry is between a rock and a hard place. His chances of getting up and staying alive look to be about a million to one….

Book:The Bridge of Sighs

The Bridge of Sighs: A Novel

Olen Steinhauer

It’s August, 1948, three years after the Russians “liberated” the nation from German Occupation. But the Red Army still patrols the capital’s rubble-strewn streets, and the ideals of the Revolution are but memories. Twenty-two-year-old Detective Emil Brod finally gets his chance to serve his country, investigating murder for the People’s Militia.

The first victim is a state songwriter, but the facts point to a political motive. Emil would like to investigate further, but his colleagues in Homicide are suspicious or silent: He is on his own in this new, dangerous world.

The Bridge of Sighs launches a unique series of crime novels featuring a cast of characters in an ever-evolving landscape, the politically volatile terrain of Eastern Europe in the second half of the 20th century.

Book:Clea's Moon

Clea's Moon: A John Ray Horn Novel

Edward Wright

John Ray Horn used to be Sierra Lane, hero to countless youngsters who faithfully watched his B westerns. Now, after two years in prison, he lives on the margins of postwar Los Angeles. His wife has left him. Blacklisted by the studios, he makes ends meet by collecting debts for a gambler, who just happens to be his old Indian sidekick from the movies. Then things happen to shake Horn out of his cynicism and self-pity.

Scotty Bullard, an old friend, contacts Horn soon after the death of his own father, a powerful real estate developer. Among the elder Bullard’s possessions Scotty has found a collection of obscene photographs of underage girls, one of whom he thinks is Clea, Horn’s stepdaughter before his divorce.

Within two days, Scotty is dead, having fallen—or been pushed—from his apartment window. And soon after, Horn’s…[more]

Book:Maisie Dobbs

Maisie Dobbs

Jacqueline Winspear

What do Hercule Poirot and Charlotte Gray have in common? It may be the wonderful Maisie Dobbs. Lady Rowan Compton first met Maisie when, at thirteen, she went into service as a maid at her ladyship’s Belgravia mansion. A suffragette, Lady Rowan took the remarkably smart youngster under her wing and became her patron. She encouraged Maisie to study at Cambridge, and was aided in this by Maurice Blanche, a friend often retained as an investigator by the elite of Europe when discretion and results were required. It was he who first recognized Maisie’s intuitive gifts. The outbreak of war changed everything. Maisie left for France to train as a nurse, then served at the front, where she fell in love with a handsome young doctor. After the Armistice, in the spring of 1929, Maisie hangs out her shingle: M. Dobbs, Trade and Personal Investigations. Her very first case involves suspected infidelity but turns up something else, a tombstone with only a first name—Vincent. And then she finds another. The deceased…[more]

Book:Mission Flats

Mission Flats

William Landay

Former D.A. William Landay explodes onto the suspense scene with an electrifying novel about the true price of crime and the hidden corners of the criminal justice system. Only an insider could so vividly capture Boston’s gritty underworld of cops and criminals. And only a natural storyteller could weave this mesmerizing tale of murder and memory, a story about the hold of time past over time present–and the story of one unforgettable young policeman who ventures into the most dangerous place of all.

By a gleaming lake in the forests of western Maine, outside a sleepy town called Versailles, the body of a man lies sprawled in a deserted cabin. The dead man was an elite D.A. from Boston, and his beat was that city’s toughest neighborhood: Mission Flats.

Now, for small-town police chief Ben Truman, investigating the murder will mean leaving his quiet, haunted home and journeying…[more]

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