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:Grime and Punishment

Grime and Punishment: A Jane Jeffry Mystery

Jill Churchill

It’s So hard to Kill Good Help These Days…

With three kids to raise on her own, Jane Jeffry sometimes needs a hand with the housework. But many of her complaining neighbors believe that the “Happy Helper” cleaning lady they all share wouldn’t know a dustball if she was choking on it. That hardly seems reason enough, however, to do the disreputable domestic in.

So when the charwoman in question is discovered strangled to death with a vacuum cleaner cord, Jane decides to dig up the real dirt—if the tenacious single mom can find any time to spare between her PTA meetings and car-pooling duties. But despite her busy schedule, Jane is determined to tidy up the whole murderous mess—even if it means provoking a killer who may live as close as next door.

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: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.

Book:The Mother Shadow

The Mother Shadow

Melodie Johnson Howe

Maggie Hill has just turned thirty-five and doesn’t have much to show for it, save a short-lived writing career and a broken marriage. Things don’t get any better when her latest temporary employer, the wealthy Ellis Kenilworth, puts a bullet through his head, leaving Maggie to carry out the freshly written, shocking codicil to his will. The surviving Kenilworths, it appears, have more on their minds than grieving.

Enter Claire Conrad, a brilliant detective whose reasoning is as elegant as her attire. Maggie and Claire team up and, with a little help from Claire’s sexy butler, discover some dirty linen and more than one skeleton in the Kenilworth family closet.

Book:A Question of Guilt

A Question of Guilt

Frances Fyfield

Book:The Mark Twain Murders

The Mark Twain Murders: A Beth Austin Mystery

Edith Skom

Skulduggery was afoot in the campus library at Midwestern University. Sinister students were razoring pages from periodicals and stealing obscure essays for their term papers. A bookish thief was making a bundle smuggling out valuable first editions for resale. And in the South Tower, a killer was stalking a coed.

Even so, Professor Beth Austin was shocked—and intrigued—to find a handsome FBI agent in the English Department. Soon they had joined forces, delving into the lives of her eccentric colleagues…and straying into the dark shadows of the groves of academe where someone’s hands were stained with blood.

Book:Working Murder

Working Murder: A Henry Holt Mystery

Eleanor Boylan

Clara Gamadge puts down the phone with a tremor of excitement. Only a year ago that call would have come to her husband, gifted sleuth Henry Gamadge. Now Henry is dead, and Clara is summoned to deal with the latest convulsion in an old family tragedy.

Haunted by the never-explained disappearance fifty years ago of her lovely daughter, Ellen, Clara’s Aunt May ignores a kindly anonymous letter advising her to let Ellen rest, or live, in peace—and suddenly dies. And so begins Clara’s first solo case, a tragic, twisting tale that winds far into the past—back to Prohibition, bitter family feuds, secret love affairs, and a cherished, laughing girl.

In this lively puzzle, author Eleanor Boylan, whose own aunt Elizabeth Daly wrote eight Henry Gamadge mysteries, does her aunt—and her readers—proud.

Book:Dead Men Don't Give Seminars

Dead Men Don't Give Seminars

Dorothy Sucher

Book:Goodbye, Nanny Gray

Goodbye, Nanny Gray: A Superintendent Bone Mystery

Susannah Stacey

Miss Pheobe Gray was the model of a proper English nanny until she inherits a fortune. Then she is the model of a proper dead English nanny, and Superintendent Bone must discover if she was murdered for money—or something else.

Book:J. Alfred Prufrock Murders

J. Alfred Prufrock Murders: A Benbow and Wingate Mystery

Corinne Holt Sawyer

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