Annal: 2011 Macavity Award for Best Nonfiction

Results of the Macavity Award in the year 2011.

Book:Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks

Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making

John Curran

A fascinating exploration of the contents of Agatha Christie’s seventy-three private notebooks, including illustrations and two unpublished Poirot stories

When Agatha Christie died in 1976, aged 85, she had become the world’s most popular author. With sales of more than two billion copies worldwide in more than 100 countries, she had achieved the impossible—more than one book every year since the 1920s, every one a bestseller.

So prolific was Agatha Christie’s output—66 crime novels, 20 plays, 6 romance books under a pseudonym and over 150 short stories—it was often claimed that she had a photographic memory. Was this true? Or did she resort over those 55 years to more mundane methods of working out her ingenious crimes? …[more]

Book:Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and his Rendezvous with American History

Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and his Rendezvous with American History

Yunte Huang

This is the first biography of the cinematic hero Charlie Chan, whose character was inspired by the real-life story of Chang Apana, a bullwhip-wielding, five-foot-tall Chinese immigrant detective whose raids on opium dens and gambling parlors made him into a legend. Emerging against the backdrop of racially riven early-twentieth-century Hawaii, Apana’s bravado inspired mystery writer Earl Derr Biggers, a Harvard graduate, to write six best-selling Charlie Chan novels. The resulting Hollywood character was not a stereotypical “Chinaman” but a wisecracking sleuth with a knack for turning Oriental wisdom into soup-alley Chinatown blues.

Yunte Huang’s exploration of this remarkable story asks whether Chan is a “Yellow Uncle Tom” or a “swell dish of chop suey mystery.” Examining Charlie Chan in fact and fiction, Huang follows this untold story from the glittering beaches of Waikiki to the movie studios of Hollywood.

Book:Following the Detectives

Following the Detectives: Real Locations in Crime Fiction

Maxim Jakubowski

Whether it be the London of Sherlock Holmes or the Ystad of the Swedish Wallander, Dashiell Hammett’s San Francisco or Donna Leon’s Venice, the settings chosen by crime fiction authors have helped those writers to bring their fictional investigators to life and to infuse their writing with a sense of danger and mystery.

Following the Detectives follows the trail of over 20 of crime fiction’s greatest investigators, discovering the cities and countries in which they live and work.

Edited by one of the leading voices in crime fiction, Maxim Jakubowski, each entry is written by a crime writer, journalist or critic with a particular expertise in that detective and the fictional crimes that have taken place in each city’s dark streets and hidden places. …[more]

Book:The Poisoner's Handbook

The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York

Deborah Blum

A beguiling concoction-equal parts true crime, twentieth-century history, and science thriller.

A fascinating Jazz Age tale of chemistry and detection, poison and murder, The Poisoner’s Handbook is a page-turning account of a forgotten era. In early twentieth-century New York, poisons offered an easy path to the perfect crime. Science had no place in the Tammany Hall-controlled coroner’s office, and corruption ran rampant. However, with the appointment of chief medical examiner Charles Norris in 1918, the poison game changed forever. Together with toxicologist Alexander Gettler, the duo set the justice system on fire with their trailblazing scientific detective work, triumphing over seemingly unbeatable odds to become the pioneers of forensic chemistry.

Book:Thrillers: 100 Must Reads

Thrillers: 100 Must Reads

David Morrell, Hank Wagner

The most riveting reads in history meet today’s biggest thriller writers. Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads examines 100 seminal works of suspense through essays contributed by such esteemed modern thriller writers as: David Baldacci, Steve Berry, Sandra Brown, Lee Child, Jeffery Deaver, Tess Gerritsen, Heather Graham, John Lescroart, Gayle Lynds, Katherine Neville, Michael Palmer, James Rollins, R. L. Stine, and many more. Features 100 works—from Beowulf to The Bourne Identity, Dracula to Deliverance, Heart of Darkness to The Hunt for Red October—deemed must-reads by the International Thriller Writers organization.

Much more than an anthology, Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads goes deep inside the most notable thrillers published over the centuries. Through lively, spirited, and thoughtful essays that examine each work’s significance, impact, and influence, Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads provides both historical and personal perspective on those spellbinding works that have kept readers on the edge of their seats for centuries.

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