Annal: 2004 Edgar Allan Poe Award® for Best First Novel

Results of the Edgar Allan Poe Award® in the year 2004.

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:12 Bliss Street

12 Bliss Street: A Novel

Martha Conway

Nicola is having a really bad day. She’s tired of her job, her boss, and even her San Francisco apartment, which she’s just heard she’s being evicted from anyway. Her life’s only excitement is fueled by fantasy – about the expensive lingerie she wears under her business suits, about a man she sees at lunch every day, a darkly handsome man she calls Chorizo, after the kind of pizza he orders. She’s flat-out tired of her life, and nothing brings it home more than running into her annoying but harmless ex-husband, Scooter, on the way to work.

But if ever anyone learns a lesson in “be careful what you wish for,” it’s Nicola, because suddenly her life seems to be full of excitement. First she gets kidnapped after kickboxing class by two inept teenagers who, it turns out, aren’t your garden-variety ransom kidnappers at all. But before she can resolve this situation, her innocent flirtation with Chorizo turns sinister. Suddenly Nicola’s problem is no longer how to survive her boredom but how to survive, period. All in all, Martha Conway’s debut is a deliciously hip, sexy, and suspenseful crime novel.

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:The Night of the Dance

The Night of the Dance: A Mystery

James Hime

Sissy Fletcher, the preacher’s daughter, disappeared on the night of the Rodeo Dance ten years ago and has been missing ever since. Until now, that is—a team drilling an oil well has made a grisly discovery in an isolated pasture. Seeing as how it’s an election year, finding her killer is a bigger priority than it might usually be in sleepy Washington County, Texas, where not much ever happens anyway.

Though it’s becoming clear that the town isn’t quite as sleepy as it seems. Martin Fletcher, Sissy’s brother, seems to believe he’s on a mission from God to raise hell in Washington County. He and his partner, Dud Hughes, aim to start small, with armed robbery, and work their way up to bigger things, but an inquiry into his sister’s death threatens to draw a little more attention his way than he wants just now. …[more]

Book:Offer of Proof

Offer of Proof: A Novel

Robert Heilbrun

A beautiful businesswoman is robbedand murdered. With her last breath, she identifies her assailant. Or does she? Damon Tucker, a young kid from Harlem, is quickly charged with the murder. He maintains his innocence from the beginning despite some incredibly damning evidence. Soon the only person standing between Damon and a possible death sentence is his public defender, Arch Gold, a tough courtroom veteran who knows every move in the game of criminal justice in New York City. But in this case Gold quickly discovers that nothing is what it seems and the rules of evidence don’t always apply. This may be a case he can’t win.

Through Gold’s eyes, we meet an unforgettable cast of characters on both sides of the law: a judge who smiles at everyone but favors the death penalty; an old bookie who’s trying to keep the government from seizing his IRAs; a young stripper with a big mouth; and a stick-up artist who wants a day job. Each has a surprising role to play as Gold faces the biggest challenge…[more]

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