Annal: 2005 Agatha Award for Best Novel

Results of the Agatha Award in the year 2005.

Book:The Body in the Snowdrift

The Body in the Snowdrift: A Faith Fairchild Mystery

Katherine Hall Page

When caterer Faith Fairchild learns of her father-in-law’s plan to celebrate his seventieth birthday by treating his children, their spouses, and his grandchildren to a weeklong stay at the Pine Slopes resort, her reaction is mixed. Yes, she likes to ski and yes, she loves the kin of her husband, the Reverend Thomas Fairchild, but both in smaller and shorter doses.

The Fairchilds have been coming to the ski area since Tom and his siblings were toddlers and are old friends of the owners, the Staffords. All starts well as the family settles into neighboring condos, until Faith discovers a body on one of the cross-country trails—the apparent victim of a heart attack. Then Pine Slopes’ star chef vanishes without a trace. One catastrophe follows another: a malicious prank at the sports center, a break-in at the Fairchild condo, and one of the chairlifts is sabotaged. Who is the mysterious woman living in the “gingerbread cottage” deep in the woods? And what are adolescents Ophelia Stafford…[more]

Book:The Belen Hitch

The Belen Hitch: A Sasha Solomon Mystery

Pari Noskin Taichert

Public relations consultant Sasha Solomon travels to Belen, New Mexico, to help the small town increase tourism using a former Harvey House as the main attraction. Two factions think they’ve got the key to Belen’s economic success. The train enthusiasts hope to transform the building into a bed and breakfast complete with a restored Fred Harvey restaurant. The equally vocal artists want to create a world-class gallery with the “blasphemous” art of Phillipa Petty—an internationally known painter and local denizen—at its center.

When Solomon finds Petty’s murdered body in the artist’s studio, the consultant’s life becomes much more difficult than mere press releases and returns-on-investment.

Book:Owls Well That Ends Well

Owls Well That Ends Well: A Meg Langslow Mystery

Donna Andrews

In Owls Well That Ends Well, Meg and Michael have bought a very elderly house from the estate of the uncrowned Queen of the Packrats. She bought everything and kept it all. When the house became overcrowded, she moved the overflow into the barn. When the barn was crammed, she began filling the property’s sheds. When she died, her “holdings” left the various grandnieces and grandnephews with decades of junk. They avoid the job of cleaning it up by selling the place “as is” to Meg and Michael, sticking them with the lot. Their solution: a yard sale.

As always, Meg’s large family flocks in to offer their dubious help. Many even come with junk of their own to add to the sale. Meg’s mother, sure that Meg has taken care of all the “treasures,” turns to drawing up elaborate redecorating plans. Meg’s dad, newly elected president of SPOOR (Stop Poisoning Our Owls and Raptors) shoulders the cause of the endangered baby…[more]

Book:Pardonable Lies

Pardonable Lies: A Maisie Dobbs Novel

Jacqueline Winspear

Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple. Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone. Alexander McCall Smith’s Precious Ramotswe. Every once in a while, a detective bursts on the scene who captures readers’ hearts—and imaginations—and doesn’t let go. And so it was with Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs, who made her debut just two years ago in the eponymously titled first book of the series, and is already on her way to becoming a household name.

A deathbed plea from his wife leads Sir Cecil Lawton to seek the aid of Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator. As Maisie soon learns, Agnes Lawton never accepted that her aviator son was killed in the Great War, a torment that led her not only to the edge of madness but to the doors of those who practice the dark arts and commune with the spirit world.

In accepting the assignment, Maisie finds her spiritual strength tested, as well as her regard for her mentor, Maurice…[more]

Book:Rituals of the Season

Rituals of the Season: A Deborah Knott Mystery

Margaret Maron

The multiple winner of the most coveted prizes for mystery fiction, Margaret Maron is back with a new tale featuring her perennially popular sleuth Judge Deborah Knott. Only days away from her wedding to Deputy Sheriff Dwight Bryant, Judge Deborah Knott has more than enough worries to keep her busy. With her sisters-in-law dissecting every detail of the ceremony, her brothers making book on whether her very pregnant matron of honor will be in the church or in labor, her house torn up by carpenters and plumbers, and Dwight’s young son expected for Christmas, Deborah doesn’t need a murder on her wedding plate as well-but that’s exactly what she gets….

Book:Trouble in Spades

Trouble in Spades: A Nina Quinn Mystery

Heather Webber

Landscaping is Nina Quinn’s business, but trouble seems to be her middle name. Saddled with a recently expelled, faithless local-cop husband, a teenaged terror of a stepson, and the yappiest, most unhousebreakable Chihuahua in captivity, Nina needs a respite—and the backyard makeover she’s undertaking for her sister Maria and Nate, Maria’s fiancé, may do the trick.

But, of course, Nate vanishes mysteriously, and Nina’s gardening magic inadvertently turns up a corpse. And with a thief on the prowl who’s preying on the neighborhood elderly, a suspicious Pandora’s Box of a package arriving on her doorstep, and yet another body inconveniently turning up, Nina’s going to have to dig into her community’s dirtiest little secrets to regain her peace and sanity—if she can manage to stay alive long enough to enjoy it.

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