Honor roll: Macavity Award for Best First Mystery Novel

Each of these books has been nominated for a Macavity Award for Best First Mystery Novel. 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:Maisie Dobbs

Maisie Dobbs

Jacqueline Winspear

What do Hercule Poirot and Charlotte Gray have in common? It may be the wonderful Maisie Dobbs. Lady Rowan Compton first met Maisie when, at thirteen, she went into service as a maid at her ladyship’s Belgravia mansion. A suffragette, Lady Rowan took the remarkably smart youngster under her wing and became her patron. She encouraged Maisie to study at Cambridge, and was aided in this by Maurice Blanche, a friend often retained as an investigator by the elite of Europe when discretion and results were required. It was he who first recognized Maisie’s intuitive gifts. The outbreak of war changed everything. Maisie left for France to train as a nurse, then served at the front, where she fell in love with a handsome young doctor. After the Armistice, in the spring of 1929, Maisie hangs out her shingle: M. Dobbs, Trade and Personal Investigations. Her very first case involves suspected infidelity but turns up something else, a tombstone with only a first name—Vincent. And then she finds another. The deceased…[more]

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:In the Bleak Midwinter

In the Bleak Midwinter: A Reverend Clare Ferguson Mystery

Julia Spencer-Fleming

It’s a cold, snowy December in the upstate New York town of Millers Kill, and newly ordained Clare Fergusson is on thin ice as the first female priest of its small Episcopal church. The ancient regime running the parish covertly demands that she prove herself as a leader. However, her blunt manner, honed by years as an army pilot, is meeting with a chilly reception from some members of her congregation and Chief of Police Russ Van Alystyne, in particular, doesn’t know what to make of her, or how to address “a lady priest” for that matter.

The last thing she needs is trouble, but that is exactly what she finds. When a newborn baby is abandoned on the church stairs and a young mother is brutally murdered, Clare has to pick her way through the secrets and silence that shadow that town like the ever-present Adirondack mountains. As the days dwindle down and the attraction between the avowed priest and the married police chief grows, Clare will need all her faith, tenacity, and courage to stand fast against…[more]
Book:A Conspiracy of Paper

A Conspiracy of Paper: A Novel

David Liss

Benjamin Weaver is an outsider in eighteenth-century London: a Jew among Christians; a ruffian among aristocrats; a retired pugilist who, hired by London’s gentry, travels through the criminal underworld in pursuit of debtors and thieves.

In A Conspiracy of Paper, Weaver investigates a crime of the most personal sort: the mysterious death of his estranged father, a notorious stockjobber. To find the answers, Weaver must contend with a desperate prostitute who knows too much about his past, relatives who remind him of his alienation from the Jewish faith, and a cabal of powerful men in the world of British finance who have hidden their business dealings behind an intricate web of deception and violence. Relying on brains and brawn, Weaver uncovers the beginnings of a strange new economic order based on stock speculation—a way of life that poses great risk for investors but real danger for Weaver and his family. …[more]

Book:Murder, With Peacocks

Murder, With Peacocks: A Meg Langslow Mystery

Donna Andrews

Donna Andrews introduces a cast of quirky characters who will pull her heroine in different directions as she plans three successive summer weddings.

When Meg Langslow is roped into being a bridesmaid for the nuptials of her mother, her brother’s fiancee, and her own best friend, she is apprehensive. Getting the brides to chose their outfits and those of their bridesmaids (and not change their minds three days later), trying to capture the principals long enough to work out details, and even finding peacocks to strut around the garden during the ceremony—these are things Meg can handle. She can brush off the unfortunate oaf who is smitten with her, and take philosophically her disappointment when she learns that the only eligible man in her small Virginia town (and a delightful hunk he is) is of questionable sexual preference. But even Meg is taken aback when the unpleasant former sister-in-law of Meg’s…[more]

Book:Immoral

Immoral: A Novel

Brian Freeman

In a riveting debut thriller that has drawn comparisons to masters of the genre like Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly, Brian Freeman weaves obsession, sex, and revenge into a story that grips the reader with vivid characters and shocking plot twists from the first page to the last.

Lieutenant Jonathan Stride is suffering from an ugly case of déjà vu. For the second time in a year, a beautiful teenage girl has disappeared off the streets of Duluth, Minnesota—gone without a trace, like a bitter gust off Lake Superior. The two victims couldn’t be more different. First it was Kerry McGrath, bubbly, sweet sixteen. And now Rachel Deese, strange, sexually charged, a wild child. The media hounds Stride to catch a serial killer, and as the search carries him from the icy stillness of the northern woods to the erotic heat of Las Vegas, he must decide which facts are real and which are illusions. And Stride finds his own life changed forever by the secrets he uncovers. Secrets that stretch across time in a web of lies, death, and illicit desire. Secrets that are chillingly…immoral.

Book:The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Stieg Larsson

An international publishing sensation, Stieg Larsson’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo combines murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel.

Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pieced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption.

Book:Dating Dead Men

Dating Dead Men

Harley Jane Kozak

Los Angeles greeting-card artist and card-and-gift shop manager Wollie Shelley is dating forty men in sixty days as research for radio talk-show host and bestselling author Dr. Cookie Lahven’s upcoming book, How to Avoid Getting Dumped All the Time. Wollie is meeting plenty of eligible bachelors but not falling in love, not until she stumbles over a dead body en route to Rio Pescado–a state-run mental hospital–and is momentarily taken hostage by a charismatic “doctor” who is on the run from the Mob. Wollie fears that her beloved brother, a paranoid schizophrenic living at Rio Pescado, is involved in the murder, so rather than go to the authorities, she decides to solve the crime on her own. As she meets up with an array of small-time crooks and swaggering mobsters (many of whom are a lot more affable and only slightly more sinister than the men she’s been dating), Wollie realizes that “getting dumped” is the least of her problems. Finding true love, she discovers, sometimes means learning how…[more]

Book:The Bridge of Sighs

The Bridge of Sighs: A Novel

Olen Steinhauer

It’s August, 1948, three years after the Russians “liberated” the nation from German Occupation. But the Red Army still patrols the capital’s rubble-strewn streets, and the ideals of the Revolution are but memories. Twenty-two-year-old Detective Emil Brod finally gets his chance to serve his country, investigating murder for the People’s Militia.

The first victim is a state songwriter, but the facts point to a political motive. Emil would like to investigate further, but his colleagues in Homicide are suspicious or silent: He is on his own in this new, dangerous world.

The Bridge of Sighs launches a unique series of crime novels featuring a cast of characters in an ever-evolving landscape, the politically volatile terrain of Eastern Europe in the second half of the 20th century.

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