Lou Berney, whose third novel, The Long and Faraway Gone, won the 2016 Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original, hit the awards trifecta at this past weekend’s Bouchercon World Mystery Convention in New Orleans. His gripping mystery about the legacy of two unsolved crimes in Oklahoma City garnered the Anthony and Barry Awards for Best Paperback Original and earned the Macavity Award for Best Mystery Novel.
Glen Erik Hamilton took home two Best First Novel awards (an Anthony and a Macavity) for his gritty debut, Past Crimes. Another double winner was Megan Abbott, whose The Little Men: A Bibliomystery from Mysterious Press won an Anthony and a Macavity for Best Short Story.
On the nonfiction side, Martin Edwards’s Edgar Award–winning The Golden Age of Murder snagged a Macavity Award in the Best Critical/Biographical category, beating out Val McDermid’s Forensics, which instead won the Anthony for Best Critical or Nonfiction Work.
The Anthony Awards, named for the late New York Times critic Anthony Boucher, are voted on by Bouchercon attendees. The Barry Awards, named for late mystery reviewer Barry Gardner, are chosen by the editors of Deadly Pleasures magazine, and the Macavity Awards, named for T.S. Elliot’s “mystery cat,” are presented by members of Mystery Readers International.
Check out below LJ‘s and School Library Journal‘s full reviews of the winners (where available).
Anthony Awards 2016
Holm, Chris. The Killing Kind. Mulholland: Little, Brown. Sept. 2015. 320p. ISBN 9780316259538. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780316259507. F
Michael Hendricks is a hit man who kills only other hit men. As a military special op assassin in Afghanistan, he was declared dead, leaving his childhood sweetheart Edie to marry someone else and him to reinvent himself. Hendricks’s guilt at what he did as a soldier drives him to kill killers—for ten times the killer’s fee. Unfortunately, many of his victims are mob-connected, and the organization hires Edelmann, a nasty piece of work, to eliminate Hendricks. Charlotte Thompson, an FBI agent, also is pursuing Hendricks. Events come to a head at a casino at which all three converge, only to emerge from the carnage to meet again for a fiery climax at Edie’s home. VERDICT Holm’s “Collector” trilogy, which blended urban fantasy with pulp crime fiction, featured an unusual but likable antihero, and so it is the same here with both Hendricks and his crippled war buddy Lester, who helps him with computer wizardry. The ending slips into melodrama, but the wild and furious action, the unusual plot featuring assassin versus assassin, and the memorable characters all keep the reader racing through this skillfully told tale of vengeance. (Xpress Reviews, 8/6/16)—Roland Person, formerly with Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale
Best First Novel
Hamilton, Glen Erik. Past Crimes: A Van Shaw Novel. Morrow. Mar. 2015. 336p. ISBN 9780062344557. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062344571. F
Iraq War veteran Army Ranger Van Shaw, recuperating from wounds received while serving in Afghanistan, receives a letter from his grandfather Dono, with whom Van has not communicated for many years, asking Van to come home. He dutifully does so, but only moments after his grandfather has been shot—he finds Dono bleeding profusely on the kitchen floor, barely alive. Dono has lived a larcenous life of mostly genteel, nonconfrontational crime, but things have taken a suddenly dangerous, possibly fatal turn. Van gets the unconscious Dono to the hospital and sets out to discover who shot him and why. Armed with his military training (and some criminal skills taught him as a boy by Dono), Van follows a trail that leads deeper into his grandfather’s life—and closer to uncovering what drove Dono to reach out after years of silence. Verdict In his outstanding debut, Hamilton has created a tough and intriguing character in Van Shaw, one that will appeal to fans of Lee Child’s “Jack Reacher” series. (Xpress Reviews, 2/19/15)—Vicki Gregory, Sch. of Information, Univ. of South Florida, Tampa
Best Critical or Nonfiction Work
McDermid, Val. Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell Us About Crime. Grove. 2015. 320p. ISBN 9780802123916. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780802191052. Crime
Using historical examples, author McDermid (Killing the Shadows) brings to life the various subspecialties within forensic science to show how, and how well, the theories work in practice. The distinct treatment—one chapter on entomology, the next on pathology, and so on—and the juxtaposition within the chapters of histories and case studies produces the experience of reading an introductory forensic science textbook, minus all the colorful photos and elucidative marginalia. While this might leave academic readers feeling shortchanged, average readers will be more than satisfied with a no-frills primer. Additionally, McDermid’s experience as a crime writer and former journalist allows her to present the facts of the individual illustrative cases in compelling ways. Currency of the material is ensured through the use of recent court cases and consultation with practicing forensic scientists. VERDICT This title will primarily be relevant to readers with a general interest in forensic science/criminalistics, casual academics, true crime aficionados, and fans of McDermid’s other works.(LJ 6/15/16)—Ricardo Laskaris, York Univ. Lib., Toronto
Best Young Adult Novel
Charbonneau, Joelle. NEED. HMH Books for Young Readers. 2015. 352p. ISBN 9780544416697. $17.99. Mys
Gr 7 Up—When a new social network pops up promising to fulfill any need, 16-year-old Kaylee Dunham knows it’s too good to be true. It’s one thing to deliver new phones, computers, or sports equipment, but how can an anonymous site give Kaylee what she needs—a kidney for her little brother? Kaylee joins NEED to please her best and only friend, Nate, but starts to worry when NEED begins asking users to complete tasks in exchange for getting what they want. The tasks seem harmless enough at first, until a student turns up dead, and Kaylee finds out the lengths to which some people will go to get what they think they need. Charbonneau delivers a tightly paced thriller packed with enough tension to keep teens hooked until the dramatic finale. Readers will root for Kaylee as she faces down hateful classmates, a mother who doesn’t trust her, and an out-of-control social network bent on turning everyone she knows into a killer. Told through the perspective of multiple students entangled in NEED, this work raises interesting questions about the real-life dangers that could arise from operating anonymously online. Well-defined conflict and plenty of action also make this a good choice for reluctant readers. VERDICT A taut mystery sure to elicit discussion. (SLJ 10/1/15)—Kimberly Ventrella, Southwest Oklahoma City Lib.
Barry Awards 2016
Box, C.J. Badlands. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. 2015. 384p. ISBN 9780312583217. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466881501. Mys
After the events of 2014’s The Highway, Cassie Dewell leaves behind dark memories of Montana, the death of her partner, and the escape of the mass murderer known as the Lizard King, to take a new job as a special investigator in the Grimstad, ND, police department. Thanks to hydraulic fracture drilling, or fracking, Grimstad has been transformed into an oil boomtown with the social problems of any large city. Cassie is quickly embroiled in the investigation of a car crash, drugs, a gang war, and corrupt police officers. It is her job to determine how all these are tied together and what part a 12-year-old special-needs boy named Kyle plays in the tangled story. Cassie’s keen observations, nerves of steel, and Kyle’s bravery solve the mystery and bring a new beginning for both Cassie and Kyle. As for the Lizard King, the hunt continues. Keep an eye open out there. VERDICT Fracking brings new energy to the surface, and Box does the same with another intriguing character whom Joe Pickett fans will want to know better. Suspenseful—you can’t put it down. (LJ 4/15/15)—Patricia Ann Owens, formerly with Illinois Eastern Community Colls., Mt. Carmel
Best First Novel
Khan, Ausma Zehanat. The Unquiet Dead. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Jan. 2015. 336p. ISBN 9781250055118. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466858312. Mys
In Toronto, Det. Esa Khattak and Sgt. Rachel Getty work for the community policing section and are called in when there may be a sensitive aspect to a case. Investigating the supposedly accidental death of Christopher Drayton, the two officers soon uncover details that lead them to believe the man may have actually been a Bosnian war criminal involved with the Srebrenica massacre of 1995. With a large Bosnian refugee community in Toronto, the case is especially touchy. Mysteriously threatening letters that appeared on the victim’s doorstep and the presence of a gold-digging fiancée add to the suspicion. As Khattak and Getty interview imams and neighbors and sort out what justice really means, they are forced to navigate the lingering effects of a horrible conflict and their own broken lives. VERDICT Flashbacks to the Bosnian War and glimpses into the personal tragedies of Khattak and Getty make this debut by a former law professor with a specialty in Balkan war crimes even more compelling and hauntingly powerful. Readers of international crime fiction will be most drawn to the story, but anyone looking for an intensely memorable mystery should put this book at the top of their list. (LJ 12/14)—Melissa DeWild, BookOps, New York P.L.
Stevens,Taylor. The Mask: A Vanessa Michael Monroe Novel. Crown. 2015. 352p. ISBN 9780385348980. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9780385348973. F
Stevens’s new series entry (after The Catch) starts with a woman in love. Vanessa Michael Munroe reconnects with her lover Miles Bradford in Japan, where he is working as a security consultant. Bradford has been brought in to weed out a corporate spy. Despite Munroe’s pleas, Bradford remains adamant that she can’t help him in his current assignment, so she plays the dutiful girlfriend. But all that goes south when a woman is killed at the office and the murder weapon just happens to be Bradford’s belt. He’s arrested and Munroe rages at the knowledge that her boyfriend has been keeping secrets from her. Luckily, our heroine is used to channeling her rage. She will have to outhink, outfox, and outfight the forces that are determined to make sure Bradford is convicted of murder. VERDICT Stevens delivers nonstop action and some finally requited romance that will please series fans. Highly recommended for all thriller junkies who love unconventional protagonists such as Lisbeth Salander and Jason Bourne. (LJ 6/15/15.)—Susan Moritz, Silver Spring, MD
Macavity Awards 2016
Best Mystery Novel
Berney, Lou. The Long and Faraway Gone. Morrow.
Best First Mystery Novel
Hamilton, Glen Erik. Past Crimes. Morrow. (LJ Xpress Reviews, 2/19/15)
Edwards, Martin. The Golden Age of Murder: The Mystery of the Writers Who Invented the Modern Detective Story. HarperCollins. 2015. 528p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780008105969. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780008105976. LIT
Crime novelist Edwards (the “Lake District” mysteries) here examines the “Detection Club,” a group of famous writers who changed the way detective novels are conceived. The ranks of the club included such seminal authors as Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, whose lives were as enigmatic and fascinating as their novels. In writing about the authors themselves, Edwards takes a distinct look at the genre and its various influences and well captures the turbulent culture and its effect on these genuinely riveting figures who helped to shape the crime genre. The book’s playful charm makes it much more enjoyable than a straightforward biography or genre piece. VERDICT As popular as detective fiction is, most readers are unaware of the influence “golden age of murder” writers have had on the books, films, and television shows we love. This solid work will appeal primarily to fans of the genre but will also be of interest to literary historians and enthusiasts of literary biographies. (LJ 6/15/15)
Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award
Calkins, Susanna. The Masque of a Murderer. Minotaur: St. Martin’s.