Annal: 2008 Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award for Crime Novel

Results of the Dagger Award in the year 2008.

Book:Blood from Stone

Blood from Stone

Frances Fyfield

Marianne Shearer is at the height of her career, a dauntingly successful barrister, respected by her peers and revered by her clients. So why has she killed herself? Her latest case had again resulted in an acquittal, though the outcome was principally due to the death of the prime witness after Marianne’s forceful cross-examination. Had this wholly professional and unemotional lawyer been struck by guilt or uncertainty, or is there some secret to be discovered in her blandly comfortable private life? Her death reveals a paucity of friends, a grasping brother and a tenacious colleague, Peter Friel, who is determined to find out if that last trial held the reason for her taking her own life. The transcript holds intriguing clues, but it is another witness at the trial who holds the key to the truth and she is far from sure that she can reveal her secrets without releasing even more deceit and destruction.

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:Night Work

Night Work: A Novel

Steve Hamilton

Meet Joe Trumbull. Two years ago his fiancée, Laurel, was brutally murdered…and the killer was never caught. Joe, a juvenile probation officer in Kingston, New York, won’t ever forget his first true love. But as time passes, he is willing to give another woman, Marlene Frost, a chance—and hopes a brand-new relationship with a beautiful, charismatic woman might be just what he needs.

Turns out Joe is dead wrong. Because somehow, for reasons he cannot even begin to understand, his first date with Marlene will mark the beginning of a new nightmare—one that will lead him down a dark, familiar road…to the faceless man in the shadows…and to the most terrible realization of all.

Book:The Tin Roof Blowdown

The Tin Roof Blowdown: A Dave Robicheaux Novel

James Lee Burke

Hurricane Katrina has left the commercial district and residential neighborhoods of New Orleans awash with looters and predators of every stripe. The power grid of the city has been destroyed, New Orleans reduced to the level of a medieval society. There is no law, no order, no sanctuary for the infirm, the helpless, and the innocent. Bodies float in the streets and lie impaled on the branches of flooded trees. In the midst of an apocalyptical nightmare, Robicheaux must find two serial rapists, a morphine-addicted priest, and a vigilante who may be more dangerous than the criminals looting the city.

Filled with complex characters and depictions of people at both their best and worst, The Tin Roof Blowdown is not only an action-packed crime thriller, but a poignant story of courage and sacrifice that critics are already calling Burke’s best work.

Book:A Vengeful Longing

A Vengeful Longing: A Novel

R.N. Morris

It is the middle of a hot, dusty St Petersburg summer in the late 1860s. A doctor’s wife and son die suddenly—and in excruciating pain. The doctor is arrested, suspected of poisoning. As investigator Porfiry Petrovich concedes, in such cases the obvious solution often turns out to be the correct one. And in the city’s stifling, stinking atmosphere, even he lacks the energy to look any deeper. But when further (and apparently unconnected) murders occur, something like a pattern seems to emerge. Porfiry is forced to reassess his assumptions and follow a tenuous, uncertain trail that takes him into the hidden, squalid heart of the city and brings him face to face with incomprehensible horror and cruelty.

Book:What the Dead Know

What the Dead Know: A Novel

Laura Lippman

Thirty years ago two sisters disappeared from a shopping mall. Their bodies were never found and those familiar with the case have always been tortured by these questions: How do you kidnap two girls? Who’or what’could have lured the two sisters away from a busy mall on a Saturday afternoon without leaving behind a single clue or witness?

Now a clearly disoriented woman involved in a rush-hour hit-and-run claims to be the younger of the long-gone Bethany sisters. But her involuntary admission and subsequent attempt to stonewall investigators only deepens the mystery. Where has she been, why has she waited so long to come forward? Could her abductor truly be a beloved Baltimore cop? There isn’t a shred of evidence to support her story, and every lead she gives the police seems to be another dead-end’a dying, incoherent man, a razed house, a missing grave, and a family that disintegrated long ago, torn apart not only by the crime but by the fissures the tragedy revealed…[more]

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