Honor roll: Agatha Award for Best Novel

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

Book:Bootlegger's Daughter

Bootlegger's Daughter: A Deborah Knott Mystery

Margaret Maron

Unconventional, still unwed (at the ripe old age of 34) North Carolina attorney Deborah Knott has done the unthinkable: tossed her hat into the heated race for district judge of old boy-ruled Colleton County. The only female candidate, she’s busy defending indigent clients and reeling in voters. Then suddenly, the young daughter of Janie Whitehead begs her to help solve Janie’s senseless, never-solved, eighteen-year-old murder. Deborah takes on the case; following twisted, typically Southern bloodlines, turning up dangerous, decades-old secrets, and inspiring someone to go on an all-out campaign to derail her future—political and otherwise. But it will take more than sleazy smear tactics to scare this determined steel magnolia off the scent of down-home deceit…even in a town where a cool slug of moonshine made by Deborah’s father can go down just as smoothly as a cold case of triple murder.

Book:Butchers Hill

Butchers Hill: A Tess Monaghan Mystery

Laura Lippman

Tess Monaghan has finally made the move and hung out her shingle as a p.i.-for-hire, complete with an office in Butchers Hill. Maybe it’s not the best address in Baltimore, but you gotta start somewhere, and Tess’s greyhound Esskay has no trouble taking marathon naps anywhere there’s a roof. Then in walks Luther Beale, the notorious vigilante who five years ago shot a boy for vandalizing his car. Just out of prison, he says he wants to make reparations to the kids who witnessed his crime, so he needs Tess to find them. But once she starts snooping, the witnesses start dying. Is the “Butcher of Butchers Hill” at it again? Like it or not, Tess is embroiled in a case that encompasses the powers that-be, a heartless system that has destroyed the lives of children, and a nasty trail of money and lies leading all the way back to Butchers Hill.

Book:Bury Your Dead

Bury Your Dead: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel

Louise Penny

It is Winter Carnival in Quebec City, bitterly cold and surpassingly beautiful. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has come not to join the revels but to recover from an investigation gone hauntingly wrong. But violent death is inescapable, even in the apparent sanctuary of the Literary and Historical Society—where an obsessive historian’s quest for the remains of the founder of Quebec, Samuel de Champlain, ends in murder. Could a secret buried with Champlain for nearly 400 years be so dreadful that someone would kill to protect it? Although he is supposed to be on leave, Gamache cannot walk away from a crime that threatens to ignite long-smoldering tensions between the English and the French. Meanwhile, he is receiving disquieting letters from the village of Three Pines, where beloved Bistro owner Olivier was recently convicted of murder. “It doesn’t make sense,” Olivier’s partner writes every day. “He didn’t do it, you know.” As past and present collide in this astonishing novel, Gamache must relive the terrible event of his own past before he can bury his dead.

Book:The Virgin of Small Plains

The Virgin of Small Plains: A Novel of Suspense

Nancy Pickard

Small Plains, Kansas, January 23, 1987: In the midst of a deadly blizzard, eighteen-year-old Rex Shellenberger makes a shocking discovery: the naked, frozen body of a teenage girl. Even dead, she is the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen. In the two decades following her death, strange miracles visit those who faithfully tend to her grave.

Seventeen years later, three families and three friends, their worlds inexorably altered in the course of one night, must confront the ever-unfolding consequences. Wonderfully written and utterly absorbing, The Virgin of Small Plains is about the loss of faith, trust, and innocence…and the possibility of redemption.

Book:In Big Trouble

In Big Trouble: A Tess Monaghan Mystery

Laura Lippman

Edgar Award-winner Laura Lippman is developing a reputation as one of the most exciting new detective fiction authors in years. Now she delivers her most suspenseful novel yet, and places Baltimore’s Tess Monaghan…In Big Trouble.

First as a reporter and then as a p.i., Tess Monaghan has learned how to survive and thrive on the streets of Baltimore. But a new case will force her to confront her own past, and a man she loved and lost. It starts when she gets a newspaper photograph of her old boyfriend with a tantalizing shard of headline attached: In Big Trouble. The answers lie far from Baltimore, deep in a world of good-time music, old-fashioned ambiiton, and rich people’s games. For Tess must find out what happened to a man she thought she knew, to a woman who may have changed him forever, and to the victims of a killer who dances to a different—and deadly—drummer.

Book:The Beautiful Mystery

The Beautiful Mystery: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel

Louise Penny

The brilliant new novel in the New York Times bestselling series by Louise Penny, one of the most acclaimed crime writers of our time.

No outsiders are ever admitted to the monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups, hidden deep in the wilderness of Quebec, where two dozen cloistered monks live in peace and prayer. They grow vegetables, they tend chickens, they make chocolate. And they sing. Ironically, for a community that has taken a vow of silence, the monks have become world-famous for their glorious voices, raised in ancient chants whose effect on both singer and listener is so profound it is known as “the beautiful mystery.” But when the renowned choir director is murdered, the lock on the monastery’s massive wooden door is drawn back to admit Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir of the Sûreté du Québec. There they discover disquiet beneath the silence, discord…[more]

Book:She Walks These Hills

She Walks These Hills

Sharyn McCrumb

Historian Jeremy Cobb is backpacking on the Appalachian Trail, attempting to retrace the tragic journey of eighteen-year-old Katie Wyler, who was captured by the Shawnee after the massacre of her pioneer family in Mitchell County, North Carolina. In late summer, Katie escaped from a Shawnee village on the banks of the Ohio, and followed the rivers through the wilderness to find her way home—a brave journey that ended in sorrow. Jeremy, a city-bred graduate student with no trail experience, is determined to complete his scholarly quest, unaware that his journey will be both a trial of hardships and a mystical experience. He does not know that the spirit of Katie Wyler is still seen wandering the hills, trying to get home. Mountain wise woman Nora Bonesteel sees her every autumn “when the air is crisp and the light is slanted and the birds are still.”

Hiram Sorley, known as Harm, is also at large in the Appalachian wilderness. Sorely, who has escaped from the Northeast…[more]

Book:The Cruelest Month

The Cruelest Month: A Three Pines Mystery

Louise Penny

Welcome to Three Pines, where the cruelest month is about to deliver on its threat.

It’s spring in the tiny, forgotten village; buds are on the trees and the first flowers are struggling through the newly thawed earth.  But not everything is meant to return to life…

When some villagers decide to celebrate Easter with a séance at the Old Hadley House, they are hoping to rid the town of its evil—until one of their party dies of fright.  Was this a natural death, or was the victim somehow helped along?

Brilliant, compassionate Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec is called to investigate, in a case that will force him to face his own ghosts as well as those of a seemingly idyllic town. Are the residents of Three Pines hiding something great and sinister about their past? Or is April about to deliver on its fateful threat?

Book:Dreaming of the Bones

Dreaming of the Bones

Deborah Crombie

After twelve years, the last person Scotland Yard Superintendent Duncan Kincaid expects to hear from is his ex-wife Victoria. But this is no social call. In her biographical research on troubled poet Lydia Brooke, Vic’s uncovered reasons to believe Lydia’s death five years ago was not suicide.

Much to Kincaid’s surprise—and the unease of his partner and lover, Sergeant Gemma James—he finds he can’t refuse Vic’s request to look into the long-closed case. The police report raises questions, but not enough to reopen the investigation—until a second death occurs, this one clearly murder.

Now Duncan and Gemma must sift through a tangle of relationships, secrets, and lies to find not just a killer, but a secret which will change their own lives forever.

Book:The Brutal Telling

The Brutal Telling: An Inspector Gamache Mystery

Louise Penny

Chaos is coming, old son.

With those words the peace of Three Pines is shattered. As families prepare to head back to the city and children say goodbye to summer, a stranger is found murdered in the village bistro and antiques store. Once again, Chief Inspector Gamache and his team are called in to strip back layers of lies, exposing both treasures and rancid secrets buried in the wilderness. No one admits to knowing the murdered man, but as secrets are revealed, chaos begins to close in on the beloved bistro owner, Olivier. How did he make such a spectacular success of his business? What past did he leave behind and why has he buried himself in this tiny village? And why does every lead in the investigation find its way back to him?

As Olivier grows more frantic, a trail of clues and treasures— from first editions of Charlotte’s Web and Jane…[more]

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