Honor roll: Hammett Prize for Crime-Writing

Each of these books has been nominated for an Hammett Prize for Crime-Writing. They are ranked by honors received.

Book:Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter: A Novel

Tom Franklin

Edgar Award-winning author Tom Franklin returns with his most accomplished and resonant novel so far—an atmospheric drama set in rural Mississippi. In the late 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas “32” Jones were boyhood pals. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry, the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, single black mother. Yet for a few months the boys stepped outside of their circumstances and shared a special bond. But then tragedy struck: Larry took a girl on a date to a drive-in movie, and she was never heard from again. She was never found and Larry never confessed, but all eyes rested on him as the culprit. The incident shook the county—and perhaps Silas most of all. His friendship with Larry was broken, and then Silas left town.

More than twenty years have passed. Larry, a mechanic, lives a solitary existence, never able to rise above the whispers…[more]

Book:The Yiddish Policemen's Union

The Yiddish Policemen's Union: A Novel

Michael Chabon

For sixty years, Jewish refugees and their descendants have prospered in the Federal District of Sitka, a “temporary” safe haven created in the wake of revelations of the Holocaust and the shocking 1948 collapse of the fledgling state of Israel. Proud, grateful, and longing to be American, the Jews of the Sitka District have created their own little world in the Alaskan panhandle, a vibrant, gritty, soulful, and complex frontier city that moves to the music of Yiddish. For sixty years they have been left alone, neglected and half-forgotten in a backwater of history. Now the District is set to revert to Alaskan control, and their dream is coming to an end: once again the tides of history threaten to sweep them up and carry them off into the unknown.

But homicide detective Meyer Landsman of the District Police has enough problems without worrying about the upcoming Reversion. His life is a shambles, his marriage a wreck, his career a disaster. He and his half-Tlingit partner, Berko Shemets, can’t…[more]

Book:The Blind Assassin

The Blind Assassin

Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood takes the art of storytelling to new heights in a dazzling new novel that unfolds layer by astonishing layer and concludes in a brilliant and wonderfully satisfying twist.

For the past twenty-five years, Margaret Atwood has written works of striking originality and imagination. In The Blind Assassin, she stretches the limits of her accomplishments as never before, creating a novel that is entertaining and profoundly serious.

The novel opens with these simple, resonant words: “Ten days after the war ended, my sister drove a car off the bridge.” They are spoken by Iris, whose terse account of her sister Laura’s death in 1945 is followed by an inquest report proclaiming the death accidental. But just as the reader expects to settle into Laura’s story, Atwood introduces a novel-within-a- novel.…[more]

Book:Silent Joe

Silent Joe

T. Jefferson Parker

With the horrible remnants of a childhood tragedy forever visible across his otherwise handsome face, Joe Trona is scarred in more ways than one. Rescued from an orphanage by Will Trona, a charismatic Orange County politician who sensed his dark potential, Joe is swept into the maelstrom of power and intimidation that surrounds his adoptive father’s illustrious career. Serving as Will’s right-hand man, Joe is trained to protect and defend his father’s territory—but he can’t save the powerful man from his enemies. Will Trona is murdered, and Joe will stop at nothing to find out who did it.

Looking for clues as he sifts through the remains of his father’s life—his girlfriends, acquaintances, deals, and enemies—Joe comes to realize how many secrets Will Trona possessed, and how many people he had the power to harm. But two leads keep rising to the surface: a little girl who was kidnapped by her mentally disturbed brother, and two rival gangs who seem to have…[more]

Book:In a Dry Season

In a Dry Season

Peter Robinson

Peter Robinson, internationally acclaimed author of literary suspense, knows the serenity found in the rustic Yorkshire countryside can be deceptive. For evil can strike in the most pastoral of surroundings, and go unpunished for years-even decades.

Water is the essence of life. Yet during a dry season, when supply cannot meet demand, the precious commodity rapidly drains from a manmade reservoir to reveal a forgotten town that was sacrificed for the sake of water. A blistering summer has struck, and thirst has consumed the resources provided by the Thornfield Resevoir, unmasking the remains of Hobb’s End, a small village at its bottom that ceased to exist in post World War II England.

A curious child thinks of the resurfaced hamlet as a mystical playground, until he unearths a human skeleton. Modern forensics determine that the skeleton belongs to a young woman who appears to have been brutally murdered and hidden beneath the floor…[more]

Book:Bury Me Deep

Bury Me Deep: A Novel

Megan Abbott

In October 1931, a station agent found two large trunks abandoned in Los Angeles’s Southern Pacific Station. What he found inside ignited one of the most scandalous tabloid sensations of the decade.

Inspired by this notorious true crime, Edgar®-winning author Megan Abbott’s novel Bury Me Deep is the story of Marion Seeley, a young woman abandoned in Phoenix by her doctor husband. At the medical clinic where she finds a job, Marion becomes fast friends with Louise, a vivacious nurse, and her roommate, Ginny, a tubercular blonde. Before long, the demure Marion is swept up in the exuberant life of the girls, who supplement their scant income by entertaining the town’s most powerful men with wild parties. At one of these events, Marion meets—and falls hard for—the charming Joe Lanigan, a local rogue and politician on the rise, whose ties to all three women bring events to a dangerous collision.

A story born of Jazz Age decadence and Depression-era desperation, Bury Me Deep—with its hothouse of jealousy, illicit sex and shifting loyalties—is a timeless portrait of the dark side of desire and the glimmer of redemption.

Book:The Ice Harvest

The Ice Harvest

Scott Phillips

Loaded guns, ladies of the night, broken neon, broken dreams. Here is a world that is immediately recognizable—through a shot glass at three A.M. This is life with rough edges, in a novel that gives you the straight goods—point blank— one cold, snowbound Christmas Eve in Kansas. One single night, defined in shadings of black and white, when everything changes…

For most, the city is closing up. For a few outsiders, this night, Christmas Eve 1979, is just beginning. Charlie Arglist is a lawyer saying goodbye to Wichita by revisiting the landscape of his used up life: the cold stare of his angry ex-wife, the empty strip clubs and bars where loneliness turns a profit, the frozen glare of ex-lovers and cops long snuggled in his deep pockets. Club owner Renata, an elegant dish in a smoky dive, dreams of financial prosperity and holds a single frame of a stolen film that could help her achieve them. And there’s Vic. He’s got a reputation, a bad temper, and a secret worth half a million dollars. Not to mention a knack for bringing people together…for the last time. Before the night is over, the decisions they face and the choices they make will irrevocably alter the course of their lives—if they can live long enough to see Christmas Day sunrise.

Book:L.A. Requiem

L.A. Requiem

Robert Crais

The day starts like any other in L.A. The sun burns hot as the Santa Ana winds blow ash from mountain fires to coat the glittering city. But for private investigator Joe Pike, the city will never be the same again. His ex-lover, Karen Garcia, is dead, brutally murdered with a gun shot to the head.

Now Karen’s father calls on Pike and his partner, Elvis Cole, to keep an eye on the LAPD as they search for his daughter’s killer—because in the City of Angels, everyone has something to hide. But what starts as routine turns into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse. For a dark web of conspiracy threatens to destroy Pike and Cole’s twelve-year friendship—if not their lives.

Book:The Bottoms

The Bottoms

Joe R. Lansdale

Today, the Sabine River runs as before, yet the bottoms have been drained. Long gone are the alligators, and the few birds that take to the air cast tiny shadows over concrete surfaces.

But way back then, during the thick of the Great Depression that squeezed Deep East Texas in its impoverishing grip, a boy could hear the crickets and the frogs in the star-studded southern night. And in this primordial time a killer stalked the land.

When young Harry Crane discovers the black woman’s body, mutilated and bound to a tree with barbed wire, he unwittingly unleashes a storm of uncontrolled fear, thinly buried racial animosities, and fearsomely escalating violence. Jacob Crane, Harry’s father and the town constable, struggles valiantly to see that proper justice gets done.

Book:Mystic River: A Novel

Mystic River: A Novel

Dennis Lehane

When they were children, Sean Devine, Jimmy Marcus, and Dave Boyle were friends. But then a strange car drove up their street. One boy got in the car, two did not, and something terrible happened—something that ended their friendship and changed all three boys forever. Twenty-five years later, Sean is a homicide detective. Jimmy is an ex-con. And Dave is trying to hold his marriage together and keep his demons at bay-demons that urge him to do horrific things.

When Jimmy’s daughter is found murdered, Sean is assigned to the case. His investigation brings him into serious conflict with Jimmy. And then there is Dave, who came home covered in someone else’s blood the night Jimmy’s daughter died. While Sean attempts to use the law to return peace and order to the neighborhood, Jimmy finds his need for vengeance pushing him ever closer to a moral abyss from which he won’t be able to return.

A tense and unnerving psychological thriller, Mystic River is also an epic novel of love, loyalty, faith, and family.

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