Annal: 2009 Edgar Allan Poe Award® for Best First Novel

Results of the Edgar Allan Poe Award® in the year 2009.

Book:The Foreigner

The Foreigner: A Novel

Francie Lin

Set against the Taiwanese criminal underworld, The Foreigner is Francie Lin’s audacious debut novel. A noirish tale about family, fraternity, conscience, and the curious gulf between a man’s culture and his deepest self

Emerson Chang is a mild mannered bachelor on the cusp of forty, a financial analyst in a neatly pressed suit, a child of Taiwanese immigrants who doesn’t speak a word of Chinese, and, well, a virgin. His only real family is his mother, whose subtle manipulations have kept him close—all in the name of preserving an obscure idea of family and culture.

But when his mother suddenly dies, Emerson sets out for Taipei to scatter her ashes, and to convey a surprising inheritance to his younger brother, Little P. Now enmeshed in the Taiwanese criminal underworld, Little P seems to be running some very shady business out of his uncle’s karaoke bar, and he conceals a secret—a crime that has not only severed him from his family,…[more]

Book:Calumet City

Calumet City: A Novel

Charlie Newton

Among the most self-assured and sharply crafted debuts in recent years, Calumet City detonates a Molotov cocktail of character-driven suspense and ghetto-Chicago intrigue.

Meet Patti Black, the most decorated cop in Chicago. On her ghetto beat, Patti Black redefines the word badass. But her steel-plated exterior—solitary, stoic, loveless—belies the wrenching legacy of her orphan childhood. Haunted by the horrifying abuse she suffered at the hands of her foster parents, Patti Black sublimates past torments into a meticulously maintained tough-gal persona.

When a series of unrelated cases—a drug bust gone bad, a mayoral assassination attempt, the murder of a state attorney, the exhumation of a long-concealed body from a tenement basement wall—all point in Patti Black’s direction, she finds herself…[more]

Book:A Cure for Night

A Cure for Night: A Novel

Justin Peacock

In Brooklyn’s criminal courts, justice often depends on who has the better story to tell.

After a drug-related scandal ejects Joel Deveraux from his job at a white-shoe law firm, he slides down the corporate ladder to the Public Defenders’ office in Brooklyn, where he defends the innocent and the guilty alike, a cog in the great clanking machine that is the New York City justice system. When his boss offers him the second chair to the savvy Myra Goldstein in a high-profile murder case, he eagerly takes it. The defendant is Lorenzo Tate, a black pot dealer from the projects who is charged with the murder of a white college student in a street shooting; and the tabloids have sunk their teeth into the racially tinged trial.

In this twisty and overwhelmingly authentic journey through the real Brooklyn, Justin Peacock paints a portrait of the law as a form of combat where the best story wins—but who’s telling the truth and who’s lying are matters of interpretation.…[more]

Book:The Kind One

The Kind One

Tom Epperson

In 1930’s Los Angeles, someone desperately wants to know who Danny Landon is. That someone is Danny Landon himself. All the young man really knows about himself is that some terrible incident has erased his memory. Danny’s boss is a mobster named Bud Seitz—a vicious, sadistic killer who’s been given the ironic nickname of “The Kind One.” According to Seitz, Danny’s amnesia is the result of being hit in the head with a lead pipe. But Danny’s not sure of anything. How can he be a gangster when he doesn’t feel like one?

It’s not easy being the right-hand man to a big criminal, and it gets harder when Danny’s ordered to keep an eye on Bud’s lovely young girlfriend, Darla. Danny can’t help but fall in love with her. To make matters worse, Danny’s life at his bungalow-court apartment is no picnic as he’s constantly having to rescue his 11-year-old neighbor Sophie from an abusive home…[more]

Book:Sweetsmoke

Sweetsmoke: A Novel

David Fuller

The year is 1862, and the Civil War rages through the South. On a Virginia tobacco plantation, another kind of battle soon begins. There, Cassius Howard, a skilled carpenter and slave, risks everything-punishment, sale to a cotton plantation, even his life-to learn the truth concerning the murder of Emoline, a freed black woman, a woman who secretly taught him to read and once saved his life. It is clear that no one cares about her death in the midst of a brutal and hellish war. No one but Cassius, who braves horrific dangers to escape the plantation and avenge her loss.

As Cassius seeks answers about Emoline’s murder, he finds an unexpected friend and ally in Quashee, a new woman brought over from another plantation; and a formidable adversary in Hoke Howard, the master he has always obeyed.

With subtlety and beauty, Sweetsmoke captures the daily indignities and harrowing losses suffered by slaves, the turmoil of a country waging countless wars within its own borders, and the lives of those people fighting for identity, for salvation, and for freedom.

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