Honor roll: Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller

Each of these books has been nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller. They are ranked by honors received.

Book:In the Woods

In the Woods

Tana French

A gorgeously written novel that marks the debut of an astonishing new voice in psychological suspense

As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox—his partner and closest friend—find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.

Richly atmospheric, stunning in its complexity, and utterly convincing and surprising to the end, In the Woods is sure to enthrall fans of Mystic River and The Lovely Bones.

Book:A Place of Execution

A Place of Execution

Val McDermid

On a freezing day in December 1963, thirteen-year-old Alison Carter vanishes from her village. Nothing will ever be the same again for the inhabitants of the isolated hamlet in the English countryside. A young George Bennett, a newly-promoted inspector, he is determined to solve this case—even if it just to bring home a daughter’s dead body to her mother.

As days progress, the likelihood that Alison has been murdered increases when a gruesome discovery is made in a cave. But with no corpse, the barest of clues, and an investigation that turns up more questions than answers, Bennett finds himself up against a stone wall…until he learns the shocking truth—a truth that will have far-reaching consequences.

Decades later, Bennett finally tells his story to journalist Catherine Heathcote. But just when the book is posed for publication, he pulls the plug on it without explanation. He has new information that he will not divulge. Refusing to let the past remain a mystery, Catherine sets out to uncover what really happened to Alison Carter. But the secret is one she might wish she’d left buried on that cold, dark day thirty-five years ago.

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 Lincoln Lawyer

The Lincoln Lawyer: A Novel

Michael Connelly

Mickey Haller has spent all his professional life afraid that he wouldn’t recognize innocence if it stood right in front of him. But what he should have been on the watch for was evil. Haller is a Lincoln Lawyer, a criminal defense pro who operates out of the backseat of his Lincoln Town Car, to defend the clients at the bottom of the legal food chain. It’s no wonder that he is despised by cops, prosecutors, and even some of his own clients. From bikers to con artists to drunk drivers and drug dealers, they’re all on Mickey Haller’s client list. But when a Beverly Hills rich boy is arrested for brutally beating a woman, Haller has his first high-paying client in years. It’s a franchise case and he’s sure it will be a slam dunk in the courtroom. For once, he may be defending a client who is actually innocent. But an investigator is murdered for getting too close to the truth and Haller quickly discovers that his search for innocence has taken him face-to-face with a kind of evil as pure as a flame. To escape without being burned, Haller must use all of his skills to manipulate a system in which he no longer believes.

Book:Open Season

Open Season: A Joe Pickett Novel

C.J. Box

Few first mysteries have been welcomed as enthusiastically as Open Season, or with better cause.

“When a high-powered bullet hits living flesh, it makes a distinctive -pow-WHOP-sound that is unmistakable even at tremendous distance.” And so it begins for Joe Pickett, a Wyoming game warden who, with the shot of a rifle, is thrust into a race to save not only an endangered species, but also the life and family he loves.

C. J. Box knows the wilderness and he knows how to create a wonderfully authentic, vividly alive sense of place. Most of all, he knows how to create a memorable new hero: a man who is full of failings, but strong and honorable. This is mystery writing at its best-and the beginning of a brilliant new career.

Book:Child 44

Child 44: A Novel

Tom Rob Smith

MGB officer Leo is a man who never questions the Party Line. He arrests whomever he is told to arrest. He dismisses the horrific death of a young boy because he is told to, because he believes the Party stance that there can be no murder in Communist Russia. Leo is the perfect soldier of the regime.

But suddenly his confidence that everything he does serves a great good is shaken. He is forced to watch a man he knows to be innocent be brutally tortured. And then he is told to arrest his own wife.

Leo understands how the State works: Trust and check, but check particularly on those we trust. He faces a stark choice: his wife or his life.

And still the killings of children continue…

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: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 Expats (Chris Pavone)

The Expats

Chris Pavone

Can We Ever Escape Our Secrets?

Kate Moore is a working mother, struggling to make ends meet, to raise children, to keep a spark in her marriage…and to maintain an increasingly unbearable life-defining secret. So when her husband is offered a lucrative job in Luxembourg, she jumps at the chance to leave behind her double-life, to start anew.

She begins to reinvent herself as an expat, finding her way in a language she doesn’t speak, doing the housewifely things she’s never before done—playdates and coffee mornings, daily cooking and never-ending laundry. Meanwhile, her husband works incessantly, at a job Kate has never understood, for a banking client she’s not allowed to know. He’s becoming distant and evasive; she’s getting lonely and bored. …[more]

Book:The Ghosts of Belfast

The Ghosts of Belfast

Stuart Neville

Fegan has been a “hard man,” an IRA killer in northern Ireland. Now that peace has come, he is being haunted day and night by twelve ghosts: a mother and infant, a schoolboy, a butcher, an RUC constable, and seven other of his innocent victims. In order to appease them, he’s going to have to kill the men who gave him orders.

As he’s working his way down the list he encounters a woman who may offer him redemption; she has borne a child to an RUC officer and is an outsider too. Now he has given Fate—and his quarry—a hostage. Is this Fegan’s ultimate mistake?

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