Honor roll: Agatha Award for Best First Novel

Each of these books has been nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel. They are ranked by honors received.

Book:Maisie Dobbs

Maisie Dobbs

Jacqueline Winspear

What do Hercule Poirot and Charlotte Gray have in common? It may be the wonderful Maisie Dobbs. Lady Rowan Compton first met Maisie when, at thirteen, she went into service as a maid at her ladyship’s Belgravia mansion. A suffragette, Lady Rowan took the remarkably smart youngster under her wing and became her patron. She encouraged Maisie to study at Cambridge, and was aided in this by Maurice Blanche, a friend often retained as an investigator by the elite of Europe when discretion and results were required. It was he who first recognized Maisie’s intuitive gifts. The outbreak of war changed everything. Maisie left for France to train as a nurse, then served at the front, where she fell in love with a handsome young doctor. After the Armistice, in the spring of 1929, Maisie hangs out her shingle: M. Dobbs, Trade and Personal Investigations. Her very first case involves suspected infidelity but turns up something else, a tombstone with only a first name—Vincent. And then she finds another. The deceased…[more]

Book:The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce Mystery

Alan Bradley

In his wickedly brilliant first novel, Debut Dagger Award winner Alan Bradley introduces one of the most singular and engaging heroines in recent fiction: eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison.

It is the summer of 1950–and at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, is intrigued by a series of inexplicable events: A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Then, hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath.

For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw. “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.”

Book:In the Bleak Midwinter

In the Bleak Midwinter: A Reverend Clare Ferguson Mystery

Julia Spencer-Fleming

It’s a cold, snowy December in the upstate New York town of Millers Kill, and newly ordained Clare Fergusson is on thin ice as the first female priest of its small Episcopal church. The ancient regime running the parish covertly demands that she prove herself as a leader. However, her blunt manner, honed by years as an army pilot, is meeting with a chilly reception from some members of her congregation and Chief of Police Russ Van Alystyne, in particular, doesn’t know what to make of her, or how to address “a lady priest” for that matter.

The last thing she needs is trouble, but that is exactly what she finds. When a newborn baby is abandoned on the church stairs and a young mother is brutally murdered, Clare has to pick her way through the secrets and silence that shadow that town like the ever-present Adirondack mountains. As the days dwindle down and the attraction between the avowed priest and the married police chief grows, Clare will need all her faith, tenacity, and courage to stand fast against…[more]
Book:Murder, With Peacocks

Murder, With Peacocks: A Meg Langslow Mystery

Donna Andrews

Donna Andrews introduces a cast of quirky characters who will pull her heroine in different directions as she plans three successive summer weddings.

When Meg Langslow is roped into being a bridesmaid for the nuptials of her mother, her brother’s fiancee, and her own best friend, she is apprehensive. Getting the brides to chose their outfits and those of their bridesmaids (and not change their minds three days later), trying to capture the principals long enough to work out details, and even finding peacocks to strut around the garden during the ceremony—these are things Meg can handle. She can brush off the unfortunate oaf who is smitten with her, and take philosophically her disappointment when she learns that the only eligible man in her small Virginia town (and a delightful hunk he is) is of questionable sexual preference. But even Meg is taken aback when the unpleasant former sister-in-law of Meg’s…[more]

Book:Learning to Swim

Learning to Swim: A Novel

Sara J. Henry

“If I’d blinked, I would have missed it. But I didn’t, and I saw something fall from the rear deck of the opposite ferry: a small, wide-eyed human face, in one tiny frozen moment, as it plummeted toward the water.”

When she witnesses a small child tumbling from a ferry into Lake Champlain, Troy Chance dives in without thinking. Harrowing moments later, she bobs to the surface, pulling a terrified little boy with her. As the ferry disappears into the distance, she begins a bone-chilling swim nearly a mile to shore with a tiny passenger on her back.

Surprisingly, he speaks only French. He’ll acknowledge that his name is Paul; otherwise, he’s resolutely mute.

Troy assumes that Paul’s frantic parents will be in touch with the police or the press. But what follows is a shocking and deafening silence. And Troy, a freelance writer, finds herself as fiercely determined to protect Paul as she is to find out…[more]

Book:Dating Dead Men

Dating Dead Men

Harley Jane Kozak

Los Angeles greeting-card artist and card-and-gift shop manager Wollie Shelley is dating forty men in sixty days as research for radio talk-show host and bestselling author Dr. Cookie Lahven’s upcoming book, How to Avoid Getting Dumped All the Time. Wollie is meeting plenty of eligible bachelors but not falling in love, not until she stumbles over a dead body en route to Rio Pescado–a state-run mental hospital–and is momentarily taken hostage by a charismatic “doctor” who is on the run from the Mob. Wollie fears that her beloved brother, a paranoid schizophrenic living at Rio Pescado, is involved in the murder, so rather than go to the authorities, she decides to solve the crime on her own. As she meets up with an array of small-time crooks and swaggering mobsters (many of whom are a lot more affable and only slightly more sinister than the men she’s been dating), Wollie realizes that “getting dumped” is the least of her problems. Finding true love, she discovers, sometimes means learning how…[more]

Book:Blanche on the Lam

Blanche on the Lam

Barbara Neely

It’s hard enough making ends meet on the pittance Blanche White earns doing day work for the genteel Southern families of North Carolina. But when her fourth bad check lands her a jail sentence, Blanche goes on the lam.

Inadvertently, she finds work at the summer home of a wealthy family, the members of which have plenty of their own secrets. And when a dead body is discovered, Blanche finds herself the prime suspect. Using her wit and intelligence—not to mention the remarkably efficient old-girl network among domestic workers—she gets to work uncovering the real killer before she lands in more hot water.

Book:Death Dances to a Reggae Beat

Death Dances to a Reggae Beat

Kate Grilley

Kelly Ryan has just moved to the Caribbean island of St. Chris to run a top-rated radio station. She knew that her new life would be full of adventure—but she never expected murder…

Book:One for the Money

One for the Money: A Stephanie Plum Novel

Janet Evanovich

Watch out, world. Here comes Stephanie Plum, a bounty hunter with attitude. In Stephanie’s opinion, toxic waste, rabid drivers, armed schizophrenics, and August heat, humidity, and hydrocarbons are all part of the great adventure of living in Jersey. She’s a product of the “burg,” a blue-collar pocket of Trenton where houses are attached and narrow, cars are American, windows are clean, and (God forbid you should be late) dinner is served at six. Now Stephanie’s all grown up and out on her own, living five miles from Mom and Dad’s, doing her best to sever the world’s longest umbilical cord. Her mother is a meddler, and her grandmother is a few cans short of a case.

Out of work and out of money, with her Miata repossessed and her refrigerator empty, Stephanie blackmails her bail bondsman cousin, Vinnie, into giving her a try as an apprehension agent. Stephanie knows zilch about the job requirements, but she figures…[more]

Book:Death in Little Tokyo

Death in Little Tokyo: A Ken Tanaka Mystery

Dale Furutani

When mystery buff Ken Tanaka masquerades as a private investigator at his local mystery club’s weekend event, a femme fatale right out of an old Bogart movie asks him for a favor. Ken takes the case as a joke—but there’s nothing to laugh about when his sleuthing leads him to a dead man in a Little Tokyo hotel room. Suddenly entangled in a real-life murder, Ken and his girlfriend, Mariko Kosaka, have to negotiate the unfamiliar streets and traditional customs of Los Angeles’s Japanese-American enclave.

Views: 1,918 • Modified: • Elapsed: 0.021 sec