Annal: 2005 Barry Award for Best First Novel

Results of the Barry Award in the year 2005.

Book:The Shadow of the Wind

The Shadow of the Wind

Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Lucia Graves

Barcelona, 1945—just after the war, a great world city lies in shadow, nursing its wounds, and a boy named Daniel awakes on his eleventh birthday to find that he can no longer remember his mother’s face. To console his only child, Daniel’s widowed father, an antiquarian book dealer, initiates him into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelona’s guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again. Daniel’s father coaxes him to choose a volume from the spiraling labyrinth of shelves, one that, it is said, will have a special meaning for him. And Daniel so loves the novel he selects, The Shadow of the Wind by one Julian Carax, that he sets out to find the rest of Carax’s work. To his shock, he discovers that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book this author has written. In fact, he may have the last one in existence. Before Daniel knows it his seemingly innocent…[more]

Book:The Coroner's Lunch

The Coroner's Lunch

Colin Cotterill

Laos, 1972. The Communist Pathet Lao has taken over this former French colony. Most of the educated class has fled, but Dr. Siri Paiboun, a Paris-trained doctor whose late wife had been an ardent Communist, remains. And so this 72-year-old physician is appointed state coroner, despite the fact that he has no training or even supplies to use in performing his new task. What he does have is curiosity and integrity. At his age he is not about to let a bunch of ignorant bureaucrats dictate to him.

One of his first cases involves three bodies recovered from a reservoir, but Dr. Siri establishes that the cause of death was not drowning. These men seem to have been electrocuted, perhaps tortured, and they also seem to be Vietnamese, which could have international repercussions. And then there is the inexplicable death of a Party bigwig’s equally important wife. She collapsed and died at a banquet. But Dr. Siri doesn’t think her death was from natural causes.

In the course of his investigations, Dr. Siri must travel to his birthplace, a Hmong village he has not visited for more than 60 years, where he makes a profound discovery, not only about the motive for several murders, but about himself.

Book:Relative Danger

Relative Danger

Charles Benoit

Picture a hotel room in 1948 Singapore. Picture a dispute between black marketer and thief Russell Pearce and an associate-an associate who opens fire and murders Russell Pearce. Fast forward to present-day Pottsville, Pennsylvania. Young Doug Pearce, just fired from his steady job in the brewery, has never strayed far from home. But he’s always found stories of his Uncle Russ, the family black sheep, fascinating.

In comes a letter from an old friend of his dead uncle inviting him up to Toronto. Doug, at loose ends and bored with killing time, accepts. On arrival, he learns that wealthy and glamorous Edna has an agenda: she has assembled enough clues to solve the murder of Russell Pearce and to recover a legendary red diamond he was thought to be smuggling. Doug, nervous but game, agrees to play detective. How bad can it be to jet off to a glamour spot or two and have an adventure? …[more]

Book:Skinny-dipping

Skinny-dipping: A Novel of Suspense

Claire Matturro

“I, Lilly Rose Cleary, have a nearly endless capacity for driving myself crazy.” And who knows a woman better than herself? Especially a woman like Lilly, a tough-as-nails partner working in a Sarasota, Florida, law firm representing fat-cat physicians in malpractice cases. Lilly is also an obsessive-compulsive health nut who has a bad habit of tripping over dead bodies.

After successfully representing a client in a kayak whiplash case, she becomes a victim herself when she’s ambushed at her office door. The following day a client turns up dead from an apparent poisoning. As if that isn’t enough to tax Lilly’s chronic state of anxiety, her sometime boyfriend—an attorney in search of the perfect class-action suit—moves in and promptly begins to drive Lilly nuts.

Amid the chaos, Lilly tries to figure out why she’s in this mess. Who would want to attack a tofu-eating attorney? And why? Joined by a colorful cast of characters, including a bridge-diving rottweiler and a lay minister who runs a U-pick opium poppy farm, Lilly has a mostunorthodox—and hilarious—way of finding out.

Book:Some Danger Involved

Some Danger Involved: A Novel

Will Thomas

When a student bearing a striking resemblance to artists’ renderings of Jesus Christ is found murdered—by crucifixion—in London’s Jewish ghetto, 19th-century private detective Barker must hire an assistant to help him solve the sinister case. Out of all who answer an ad for a position with “some danger involved,” the eccentric and enigmatic Barker chooses downtrodden Llewelyn, a gutsy young man whose murky past includes recent stints at both an Oxford college and an Oxford prison.

As Llewelyn learns the ropes of his position, he is drawn deeper and deeper into Barker’s peculiar world of vigilante detective work, as well as the dark heart of London’s teeming underworld. Together they pass through chophouses, stables, and clandestine tea rooms, tangling with the early Italian mafia, a mad professor of eugenics, and other shadowy figures, inching ever closer to the shocking truth behind the murder.

Brimming with wit and unforgettable characters, and steeped in authentic period detail, Some Danger Involved is a captivating page-turner that introduces an equally captivating duo while signaling the start of an exciting career for Will Thomas.

Book:Walking Money

Walking Money

James O. Born

For more than seventeen years with the U.S. Marshals Service, DEA, and Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Jim Born has seen just about everything Florida crime and criminals can throw at him, and he’s put it all into as entertaining and accomplished a first thriller as you’ll find anywhere this year.

State cop Bill Tasker has had problems in the past, but nothing compared to what’s about to happen to him. A satchel with a million and a half in skimmed money is about to go walking. A phony community activist has decided to cash in, but a local FBI agent also has his eyes on the prize, a key witness gets murdered, and it’s Tasker who ends up framed for the whole thing. Soon, other people become seduced by the cash as well, and as the bag passes from hand to hand and the body count mounts, Tasker realizes it’s all up to him. If he doesn’t retake his life right now…someone’s going to do it for him.

Filled with a rich array of characters, a constantly twisting plot, and an authenticity so deep you can’t help wondering how much of this is actually true, Walking Money is indeed proof that “Jim Born is the real thing.”

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