Annal: 2009 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction

Results of the Agatha Award in the year 2009.

Book:Dame Agatha's Shorts

Dame Agatha's Shorts: An Agatha Christie Short Story Companion

Elena Santangelo

In Dame Agatha's Shorts, mystery author Elena Santangelo guides you through the short works of one of mystery’s most famous writers, Agatha Christie. Find out:

  • what was the most exciting event in Christie’s life outside of dining with the Queen.
  • who Miss Lemon, detective Hercule Poirot’s secretary, listed as a former employer on her resume.
  • which three short stories inspired the novel Evil Under The Sun.
  • what was Ariadne Oliver’s sideline before she became a famous novelist.
  • what inspired Christie’s first story, and possibly her whole writing career.
  • why you should read, or re-read, Agatha Christie’s short stories.

And much more.

Book:Blood on the Stage, 1925-1950

Blood on the Stage: 1925-1950: Milestone Plays of Crime, Mystery and Detection

Amnon Kabatchnik

Author Amnon Kabatchnik continues the focus of his previous volume (1900-1925) and provides an overview of the most important and memorable theatrical works of crime and detection of this period. Addressing the development of this genre in the legitimate theatre, Kabatchnik discusses more than 150 full-length plays produced between 1925 and 1950.

Arranged in chronological order, the productions cited are all works of enduring importance, pioneering contributions, singular innovations, and outstanding success. Many of the most notable playwrights of the era are represented, including Edgar Wallace, Eugene O’Neill, Ayn Rand, Jean-Paul Sartre, J.B. Priestley, and Agatha Christie. Each of the plays featured revolves around murder, theft, chicanery, kidnapping, political intrigue, or espionage. Each entry includes a plot synopsis, production data, and the opinions of well known and respected critics and scholars.

The plays in this era include psychological thrillers and baffling whodunits, among them such memorable works as The Threepenny Opera, Rope, The Petrified Forest, Night Must Fall, Arsenic and Old Lace, An Inspector Calls, and Detective Story.

Book:Duchess of Death

Duchess of Death: The Unauthorized Biography of Agatha Christie

Richard Hack

Although she is the most popular novelist in history, with over two billion books sold worldwide, Agatha Christie lived a life shrouded in secrecy and fueled by curiosity. Nearly as notorious for her aversion to the press as she was for her 80 books and collections of short stories, Christie made no secret of her need for privacy. Utilizing over 5,000 previously unpublished letters, notes, and documents, award-winning biographer Richard Hack allows Christie to write again, 33 years after her death. Duchess of Death is her story, as full of romance, travel, wealth, and scandal as any mystery Christie ever crafted.

There have been numerous biographies of the Queen of Crime, all of which claim to be definitive. However, Duchess of Death is the first to draw from such an enormous number of previously unpublished correspondence and notes, effectively establishing it as the most authoritative, penetrating look at the personal and literary life of Christie.

Book:The Talented Miss Highsmith

The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith

Joan Schenkar

Patricia Highsmith, one of the great writers of 20th Century American fiction, had a life as darkly compelling as that of her favorite “hero-criminal,” talented Tom Ripley. In this revolutionary biography, Joan Schenkar paints a riveting portrait, from Highsmith’s birth in Texas to Hitchcock’s filming of her first novel, Strangers On a Train, to her long, strange, self-exile in Europe. We see her as a secret writer for the comics, a brilliant creator of disturbing fictions, and erotic predator with dozens of women (and a few good men) on her love list. The Talented Miss Highsmith is the first literary biography with access to Highsmith’s whole story: her closest friends, her oeuvre, her archives. It’s a compulsive page-turner unlike any other, a book worthy of Highsmith herself.

Book:Talking About Detective Fiction

Talking About Detective Fiction

P.D. James

In a perfect marriage of author and subject, P. D. James—one of the most widely admired writers of detective fiction at work today—gives us a personal, lively, illuminating exploration of the human appetite for mystery and mayhem, and of those writers who have satisfied it.

P. D. James examines the genre from top to bottom, beginning with the mysteries at the hearts of such novels as Charles Dickens’s Bleak House and Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White, and bringing us into the present with such writers as Colin Dexter and Henning Mankell. Along the way she writes about Arthur Conan Doyle, Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie (“arch-breaker of rules”), Josephine Tey, Dashiell Hammett, and Peter Lovesey, among many others. She traces their lives into and out of their fiction, clarifies their individual styles, and gives us indelible portraits of the characters they’ve created,…[more]

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