Annal: 2012 Hammett Prize for Crime-Writing

Results of the Hammett Prize in the year 2012.

Book:Oregon Hill

Oregon Hill

Howard Owen

Willie Black has squandered a lot of things in his life—his liver, his lungs, a couple of former wives and a floundering daughter can all attest to his abuse. He’s lucky to be employed, having managed to drink and smart-talk his way out of a nice, cushy job covering (and partying with) the politicians down at the capitol.

Now, he’s back on the night corps beat, right where he started when he came to work for the Richmond paper almost 30 years ago. The thing Willie’s always had going for him, though, all the way back to his hardscrabble days as a mixed-race kid on Oregon Hill, where white was the primary color and fighting was everyone’s favorite leisure pastime, was grit. His mother, the drug-addled Peggy, gave him that if nothing else. He never backed down then, and he shows no signs of changing.

When a co-ed at the local university where Willie’s daughter is a perpetual student is murdered, her headless body found…[more]

Book:Alif the Unseen

Alif the Unseen: A Novel

G. Willow Wilson

G. Willow Wilson’s bewitching new novel—perfect for fans of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman and The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas.

“I will tell you a story, but it comes with a warning; when you hear it, you will become someone else.”

He calls himself Alif—few people know his real name—a young man born in a Middle Eastern city that straddles the ancient and modern worlds. When Alif meets the aristocratic Intisar, he believes he has found love. But their relationship has no future—Intisar is promised to another man and her family’s honour must be satisfied. As a remembrance, Intisar sends the heartbroken Alif a mysterious book. Entitled The Thousand and One Days, Alif discovers that this parting gift is a door to another world—a world from a very different time, when old magic was in the ascendant and the djinn walked amongst us. With the book in…[more]

Book:Defending Jacob

Defending Jacob

William Landay

Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney for two decades. He is respected. Admired in the courtroom. Happy at home with the loves of his life, his wife, Laurie, and teenage son, Jacob.

Then Andy’s quiet suburb is stunned by a shocking crime: a young boy stabbed to death in a leafy park. And an even greater shock: The accused is Andy’s own son—shy, awkward, mysterious Jacob.

Andy believes in Jacob’s innocence. Any parent would. But the pressure mounts. Damning evidence. Doubt. A faltering marriage. The neighbors’ contempt. A murder trial that threatens to obliterate Andy’s family.

It is the ultimate test for any parent: How far would you go to protect your child? It is a test of devotion. A test of how well a parent can know a child. For Andy Barber, a man with an iron will and a dark secret, it is a test of guilt and innocence in the deepest sense.

How far would you go?

Book:Patient Number 7

Patient Number 7: A Novel

Kurt Palka

Inspired by a true story and based on a wealth of family documents, this elegant and compelling novel chronicles the lives of two families from the 1930s through the coming of the Nazis and World War II, and the long, difficult post-War period to the present. A must-read for fans of Irene Nemirovsky, Hans Fallada, and Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader.

This vividly realized, masterfully executed novel is a window into a little-explored corner of history. Patient Number 7 is a story of love between an aristocratic young woman and the cavalry officer—later Panzer officer in the German army—she marries; between friends who help each other through the Nazi takeover of Austria, the war, and what was sometimes worse, the “liberation”; between a mother and her two very different daughters. But it is also the story of a nation’s darkest days, and its slow recovery during one of the most convulsive, violent periods of human history. Beautifully written, haunting, and ultimately redemptive, it is a work of great skill and great compassion.

Book:Truth Like the Sun

Truth Like the Sun

Jim Lynch

A classic and hugely entertaining political novel, the cat-and-mouse story of urban intrigue in Seattle both in 1962, when Seattle hosted the World’s Fair, and in 2001, after its transformation in the Microsoft gold rush.

Larger than life, Roger Morgan was the mastermind behind the fair that made the city famous and is still a backstage power forty years later, when at the age of seventy he runs for mayor in hopes of restoring all of Seattle’s former glory. Helen Gulanos, a reporter every bit as eager to make her mark, sees her assignment to investigate the events of 1962 become front-page news with Morgan’s candidacy, and resolves to find out who he really is and where his power comes from: in 1962, a brash and excitable young promoter, greeting everyone from Elvis Presley to Lyndon Johnson, smooth-talking himself out of difficult situations, dipping in and out of secret card games; now, a beloved public figure with, it turns out, still-plentiful secrets. Wonderfully interwoven into this tale of the city of dreams are backroom deals, idealism and pragmatism, the best and worst ambitions, and all the aspirations that shape our communities and our lives.

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