Annal: 2008 Edgar Allan Poe Award® for Best First Novel

Results of the Edgar Allan Poe Award® in the year 2008.

Book:In the Woods

In the Woods

Tana French

A gorgeously written novel that marks the debut of an astonishing new voice in psychological suspense

As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox—his partner and closest friend—find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.

Richly atmospheric, stunning in its complexity, and utterly convincing and surprising to the end, In the Woods is sure to enthrall fans of Mystic River and The Lovely Bones.

Book:Head Games

Head Games: A Novel

Craig McDonald

A wistful ballad of lost America rooted in borderland history and mythology. Hector Lassiter has Pancho Villa’s long lost skull. He’s also got people on his trail. Competing fraternities, Mexican bandits, and US Secret Service are after him. But Lassiter is larger than life. He bedded Dietrich and boxed Hemingway, this can’t be too bad. Can it?

Book:Missing Witness

Missing Witness: A Novel

Gordon Campbell

In this electrifying debut thriller, a brilliant defense lawyer takes on a murder case with ingenious twists

Phoenix, Arizona, 1973. A beautiful woman, armed with a gun and accompanied by her twelve-year-old daughter, enters a house. Shots are fired. The woman and her daughter leave the house. Inside, her husband lies dead.

The case seems open and shut. The cops, the attorney general’s office, and the media are certain the woman is guilty. The only witness to the shooting is in a catatonic state and cannot testify. But the murdered man’s wealthy father believes he owes the woman something and hires Dan Morgan, the best lawyer in Phoenix, to defend her.

When the legendary criminal attorney takes on a case it’s to win, no matter what the odds. But for Morgan and his young protégé, Doug McKenzie, there are no easy answers, only mysteries, and the question of innocence and guilt take on profound…[more]

Book:Pyres

Pyres: A Novel

Derek Nikitas

15 year old Lucia Moberg lifts a CD out of a store in a shopping mall—and when she and her dad get into their car, there is a tap at the window. The next second her father’s brains are on the dashboard. So begins the story of the ruin of her mother, whose home life is shrouded in darkness, a mysterious and menacing motorcycle gang, the real-to-life female cop out to crack the case, who is facing her own family’s collapse, and the struggle for Lucia to piece together some semblance of a normal teenage life. The writing is hard and crisp, and wholly multi-dimensional, while the story moves along at a nail-biting pace with twists, turns, literary allusions, and the engaging plight of several fascinating, memorable, and fully rounded characters.

Book:Snitch Jacket

Snitch Jacket: A Novel

Christopher Goffard

“Everyone knows that California sunshine is the world’s loneliest light,” says Benny, who inhabits an underworld of desperados and grotesques and spends much of his free time at the Greasy Tuesday, a squalid, southern California neighborhood dive teeming with local legends.

One night, one of these legends walks through the door: Gus “Mad Dog” Miller, a huge, tattoo-laden Vietnam vet who sports a necklace of severed ears and whose job at the Greasy Tuesday is “to keep the riffraff out.” “But everyone’s riffraff here,” Benny protests. But Benny, our morally ambiguous hero, soon finds himself transfixed by this twisted Falstaffian personality, and six months later Benny is arrested on suspicion of double murder.

Combining elements of classic noir, dark comedy, and a misfit’s memoir reminiscent of “Notes from the Underground,” Christopher Goffard, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, brings life to the darker side of westcoast counter-culture.

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