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:A Great Deliverance

A Great Deliverance

Elizabeth George

To this day, the low, thin wail of an infant can be heard in Keldale’s lush green valleys. Three hundred years ago, as legend goes, the frightened Yorkshire villagers smothered a crying babe in Keldale Abbey, where they’d hidden to escape the ravages of Cromwell’s raiders.

Now into Keldale’s pastoral web of old houses and older secrets comes Scotland Yard Inspector Thomas Lynley, the eighth earl of Asherton. Along with the redoubtable Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers, Lynley has been sent to solve a savage murder that has stunned the peaceful countryside. For fat, unlovely Roberta Teys has been found in her best dress, an axe in her lap, seated in the old stone barn beside her father’s headless corpse. Her first and last words were “I did it. And I’m not sorry.”

Yet as Lynley and Havers wind their way through Keldale’s dark labyrinth of secret scandals and appalling crimes, they uncover a shattering series of revelations that will reverberate through this tranquil English valley—and in their own lives as well.

Book:Dealing in Murder

Dealing in Murder: A Molly Doyle Mystery

Elaine Flinn

Elizabeth Porter was a top-of-the-lineManhattan antiques dealer until her ex-husband and his lover’s flagrantly criminal scam left her reputation in tatters. Now, using a new name, Molly Doyle, she’s starting over a continent away in a rundown antiques shop in cozy Carmel, California. Molly is determined to make the best of it. But the early antiques bird sometimes gets more than the worm, and one prompt arrival places her at a murder site with a corpse in her arms. After she turns up at a second seemingly unrelated death, the abrasive new police chief considers Molly the prime suspect. Now the only way to clear her name is for Molly to find her own path to a killer, which will leave her either exonerated … or dead.

Book:A Witness Above

A Witness Above: A Frank Pavlicek Mystery

Andy Straka

Thirteen years ago, Frank Pavlicek left the NYPD under less than ideal circumstances. Now, the divorced father of a teenage daughter, he works as a private investigator in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he indulges his passion for falconry – and tries to live outside the shadow of his past.

Frank is hunting with his red-tailed hawk, Armistead, when he finds it. A teenage boy’s body – barely concealed behind a pile of brush in a part of the forest Frank recently visited with his daughter, Nicole. It’s a truly gruesome crime scene – one of the many things Frank doesn’t miss about working homicide in the big city.

But what Frank finds in the dead boy’s wallet is even more disturbing: Nicole’s phone number, scribbled in ink on the edge of a bill. He pockets the evidence and flees. Days later, his daughter is in jail. His past is coming back to haunt him. And his reputation – and life – are on the line…

Book:Revenge of the Gypsy Queen

Revenge of the Gypsy Queen

Kris Neri

Families: Can’t live with ‘em, can’t kill ‘em…

The beleaguered daughter of eccentric Hollywood stars, mystery writer Tracy Eaton is no stranger to wacky people, especially within her family. So when her sister-in-law’s wedding becomes a three-ring circus, Tracy is nonplussed, even when the bride is kidnapped.

Her snoot, bickering in-laws refuse to call the police and insist on paying the ransom, but Tracy knows that if justice is gong to prevail, it will definitely need her help. Because…the groom is riding around in a bulletproof limo; sweet, lovable Uncle Philly—a con artist if ever there was—has disappeared; and there are strange happenings at the engaged couple’s upscale restaurant: the Gypsy Princess. It will take all of Tracy’s innate nosiness and nerve to get to the shocking truth—and the Eaton family secret.

Book:Lowcountry Boil

Lowcountry Boil: A Liz Talbot Mystery

Susan M. Boyer

Private Investigator Liz Talbot is a modern Southern belle: she blesses hearts and takes names. She carries her Sig 9 in her Kate Spade handbag, and her golden retriever, Rhett, rides shotgun in her hybrid Escape. When her grandmother is murdered, Liz high-tails it back to her South Carolina island home to find the killer.

She’s fit to be tied when her police-chief brother shuts her out of the investigation, so she opens her own. Then her long-dead best friend pops in and things really get complicated. When more folks start turning up dead in this small seaside town, Liz must use more than just her wits and charm to keep her family safe, chase down clues from the hereafter, and catch a psychopath before he catches her.

Book:Bubbles Unbound

Bubbles Unbound

Sarah Strohmeyer

Meet Bubbles, the irrepressible heroine of this irresistibly entertaining new mystery series-a tall, blond, and gorgeous, local bleach-blonde with a wacky family, a hot potential lover, and a bad case of murder.

Convinced there’s more to life than giving blue dye jobs at Sandy’s House of Beauty, Bubbles Yablonsky has done what few in Lehigh, PA, would dare: she’s gone back to school. And if her day gig, journalism classes, and on-the-job training at a local paper aren’t enough, there’s always her family to liven things up-from her bottom-feeding, social-climbing ex-husband to her precocious teenage daughter to her gun-toting mother, who just escaped from the Polish Old Folks Apartments.

But when Bubbles stumbles on a crime scene on the way home from an assignment, she is suddenly up to her roots in a nasty murder investigation . . . with suspects ranging from a greedy steel tycoon to a sexy photographer named Stiletto. It could be…[more]

Book:Sympathy for the Devil

Sympathy for the Devil: A Madeline Bean Mystery

Jerrilyn Farmer

Madeline Bean, caterer to the stars, is in the middle of the biggest job of her career. She and her partner Wesley have pulled off Hollywood’s most outrageous A-list Halloween party for notorious producer Bruno Huntley, complete with an eerie fortuneteller who is astonishingly accurate, and exotic food that’s to die for. Before long, Bruno is thrashing and writhing out on the dance floor. Just one problem: he’s not standing up, And soon, he’s not even breathing.

The newly late Mr. Huntley was poisoned, that’s certain. But the number of suspects with a yen to send Bruno to the devil could fill an audition for extras in the next Quentin Tarantino flick. When Wesley is arrested for the murder because of a long-standing dispute with the maniacal mogul, Madeline knows he couldn’t be guilty. But to prove it, she has to wade through the muck of a mudslinging family, outrun a pair of crazed canines, dodge a pair of well-aimed bullets, and expose a slew of secrets that could put a soap opera to shame. Somebody’s cooked up a murder, and it’s up to Madeline to find out who—before she faces a fadeout of her own.

Book:Death in Bloodhound Red

Death in Bloodhound Red

Virginia Lanier

Jo Beth Siddon is a bloodhound trainer with a special talent for harrowing search-and-rescue missions, and a bad habit for mouthing off to deputies who refuse to take orders from a woman.She has seen her share of trouble: moonshiners poking guns at her head, crooked cops, and an abusive ex-husband with a terrible temper. Then she’s suspected of murder and finds herself treading a quagmire as thick and treacherous as the Okefenokee Swamp. If she can’t prove her innocence, she might lose not only the thriving business she loves, but the freedom and independence she’s fought for all her life.

Book:Death Comes as Epiphany

Death Comes as Epiphany: A Catherine LeVendeur Mystery

Sharan Newman

Catherine LeVendeur is a young scholar come to conquer her sin of pride at the Convent of the Paraclete, famous for learning, prayer, and its abbess, the fabled Heloise. When a manuscript the convent produced for the great Abbe Suger disappears, rumors surface saying the book contains sacrilegious passages and will be used to condemn Heloise’s famous lover, Peter Abelard.

To save her Order, and protect all she holds dear, Catherine must find the manuscript and discover who altered the text. She will risk disgrace, the wrath of her family and the Church, and confront an evil older than Time itself—and, if she isn’t careful, lose her immortal soul.

With Death Comes As Epiphany, the first in the Catherine LeVendeur mystery series, medievalist Sharan Newman has woven dark mystery and sparkling romance into a fascinating and richly detailed tapestry of everyday life in twelfth-century France, and one of the most moving love stories of all time: Abelard and Heloise.

Book:The Killings at Badger's Drift

The Killings at Badger's Drift: An Inspector Barnaby Mystery

Caroline Graham

Badger’s Drift is the ideal English village, complete with vicar, bumbling local doctor, and kindly spinster with a nice line in homemade cookies. But when the spinster dies suddenly, her best friend kicks up an unseemly fuss, loud enough to attract the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby. And when Barnaby and his eager-beaver deputy start poking around, they uncover a swamp of ugly scandals and long-suppressed resentments seething below the picture-postcard prettiness.

In the grand English tradition of the quietly intelligent copper, Barnaby has both an irresistibly dry sense of humor and a keen insight into what makes people tick. Badger’s Drift marks Barnaby’s debut.

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