Annal: 2005 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller

Results of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the year 2005.

Book:Legends

Legends: A Novel of Dissimulation

Robert Littell

Martin Odum is a CIA field agent turned private detective, struggling his way through a labyrinth of past identities—”legends” in CIA parlance. Is he really Martin Odum? Or is he Dante Pippen, an IRA explosives maven? Or Lincoln Dittmann, Civil War expert? These men like different foods, speak different languages, have different skills. Is he suffering from multiple personality disorder, brainwashing, or simply exhaustion? Can Odum trust the CIA psychiatrist? Or Stella Kastner, a young Russian woman who engages him to find her brother-in-law so he can give her sister a divorce.

As Odum redeploys his dormant tradecraft skills to solve Stella’s case, he travels the globe battling mortal danger and psychological disorientation. Part ‘Three faces of Eve’, part ‘The Spy Who Came in From the Cold’, and always pure Robert Littell, Legends—from unforgettable opening to astonishing ending—again proves Littell’s unparalleled prowess as a seductive storyteller.

Book:Ash & Bone

Ash & Bone: A Frank Elder Mystery

John Harvey

In the depths of his Cornish hideaway, retired Detective Inspector Frank Elder’s solitary life is disturbed by a call from his estranged wife, telling him his seventeen-year-old daughter, Katherine, is running wild, unbalanced by the abduction and rape he feels he should have prevented. Meanwhile, in the heart of London, the takedown of a violent criminal goes badly, and Detective Sergeant Maddy Birch is uneasy about the reasons why, an uneasiness that is compounded when she starts to believe she is being stalked.

Maddy and Frank have a connection, a brief and clumsy encounter years before that has left a trace of lingering regret. In Ash & Bone their lives connect again when a second phone call persuades the unsettled, unhappy Elder out of retirement, only to find that a cold case has a devastating present-day impact.

Book:The Lincoln Lawyer

The Lincoln Lawyer: A Novel

Michael Connelly

Mickey Haller has spent all his professional life afraid that he wouldn’t recognize innocence if it stood right in front of him. But what he should have been on the watch for was evil. Haller is a Lincoln Lawyer, a criminal defense pro who operates out of the backseat of his Lincoln Town Car, to defend the clients at the bottom of the legal food chain. It’s no wonder that he is despised by cops, prosecutors, and even some of his own clients. From bikers to con artists to drunk drivers and drug dealers, they’re all on Mickey Haller’s client list. But when a Beverly Hills rich boy is arrested for brutally beating a woman, Haller has his first high-paying client in years. It’s a franchise case and he’s sure it will be a slam dunk in the courtroom. For once, he may be defending a client who is actually innocent. But an investigator is murdered for getting too close to the truth and Haller quickly discovers that his search for innocence has taken him face-to-face with a kind of evil as pure as a flame. To escape without being burned, Haller must use all of his skills to manipulate a system in which he no longer believes.

Book:The Right Madness

The Right Madness: A Novel

James Crumley

James Crumley is one of the most influential crime writers of the post-Chandler era, and his raw, subversive novels have earned him living legend status. He first introduced readers to C. W. Sughrue (“‘Shoog’ as in sugar. And ‘rue’ as in rue the goddamned day”) in his now classic The Last Good Kiss. An ex-army officer turned Montana private eye, Sughrue is as tough and cynical as he is good-hearted and weak-kneed when it comes to women and booze. He’s back to take readers on a bender through small towns, dark bars, and dank hotel rooms in a novel charged with Crumley’s genius for the poetry of violence.

In The Right Madness, Sughrue’s close friend, psychiatrist Will MacKinderick, begs him to track down stolen confidential psychoanalysis files—he suspects one of his patients is the culprit. Going against every last instinct, Sughrue agrees to take on the case—a $20,000 retainer is always hard to resist. And when the suspects start dying of violently unnatural causes,…[more]

Book:Strange Affair

Strange Affair: A Novel of Suspense

Peter Robinson

On a warm summer night, an attractive woman hurtles north in a blue Peugeot with a hastily scrawled address in her pocket, while, back in London, a desperate man leaves an urgent late-night phone message on his brother’s answering machine. By sunrise the next morning, the woman is found inside her car along an otherwise peaceful country lane, shot, execution-style, through the head.

Welcome to the idyllic Yorkshire Dales, where Detective Inspector Annie Cabbot arrives on the scene and discovers, to her surprise, a slip of paper in the dead woman’s pocket that bears the name of her colleague and erstwhile lover, Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks. Banks, meanwhile—already haunted and withdrawn after nearly dying in the fire that destroyed his home—has gone missing just when he’s needed most, and has left plenty of questions behind. …[more]

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