Agatha Awards
2018 (Best Contemporary Novel)
Mardi Gras Murder: A Cajun Country Mystery (Cajun Country Mysteries)
Book Jacket   Ellen Byron
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Wish you were in Louisiana for Mardi Gras? Wish again.Major flooding has dumped piles of trash and an unidentified body in St. Pierre Parish. Maggie Crozat's boyfriend, Bo Durand, is a detective for the Pelican Police Department, but although Maggie's nose for murder (Body on the Bayou, 2016, etc.) makes her curious about the anonymous corpse, she's so busy that she pushes it to the back of her mind until Bo tells her the death was no accident. Replacing her Gran, who feels poorly, Maggie is roped into judging the Miss Pelican Mardi Gras Gumbo Queen Pageant, a chore that quickly entangles her in another murder. The other judges are Constance Damboise and her husband, Gerard, the stuffy, snobbish president of the historical society; convenience store owner Robbie Metz; and star beauty products sales rep Maureen "Mo" Heedles, a vivacious woman with an outsize personality. Constance and Gerard are already squabbling over an exhibit featuring the orphan trains that carried children from the North in search of a better life in Louisiana. While the pageant mothers do their best to influence the judges, Gerard is certain that Belle Tremblay will win because she's an attractive girl from one of the area's finest families. Maggie is literally nudged into the case when Gerard runs into the back of her car and mutters, "Lies. Secrets," before he keels over dead. Then she's asked to restore a picture at the plantation where she works part time, and beneath the peeling painting she finds another one that references a possible treasure site. On top of everything else, Maggie must prepare for Mardi Gras, deal with her father's obsession with the perfect gumbo, and figure out why Bo's been so distant lately.Byron embeds her tricky mystery in an amusing and informative tale of Cajun life and the logistical travails of Mardi Gras. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
2018 (Best Historical Novel)
The Widows of Malabar Hill
Book Jacket   Sujata Massey
2018 (Best First Novel)
A Ladys Guide to Etiquette and Murder
 Dianne Freeman
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A Victorian lady's sense of self-worth is much improved when she takes control of her life.Frances Price, Countess of Harleigh, is making a bold attempt to gain some independence. Frances, the daughter of a wealthy American family, did not marry for love, but her husband, Reggie, loved and freely spent her money while she cared for their daughter, Rose. A year ago, Alicia Stoke-Whitney came to Frances' room to announce that Reggie had died in her bed. To avoid scandal, Frances asked George Hazelton, her best friend Fiona's brother, to help move his body. Since then, despite opposition from Reggie's brother, Graham, and his wife, Delia, who badly need Frances' money, she's rented a house in London. Frances is startled to discover that her neighbor is George Hazelton and further shaken by a visit from Inspector Delaney of the Metropolitan Police, who's investigating a rumor that her husband did not die of a heart attack. Her next surprise is the arrival of her sister Lily with her Aunt Hetty, who's taking the place of her mothera welcome reliefwhile Frances launches Lily in society. She also gets a check for a hefty sum she badly needs because Graham has gone to court to get her money and her account has been frozen until the case is decided. Frances' social circle is already buzzing over a series of robberies at fashionable parties and balls. When someone dumps a valuable bracelet in her reticule at the Stoke-Whitney ball, she enlists the help of Hazelton, who has reasons of his own to find the thief. As she worries about the investigation of Reggie's death and vets her sister's suitors, all of whom had opportunities to steal the valuables, she learns more and more about Hazelton while fighting her strong feelings of attraction toward him. A murder in her garden just adds to her problems, and now she must find the strength to overcome them.Despite its heroine's many problems, this lighthearted debut tale of mystery, love, and a delightful sleuth will leave you wanting morewhich is presumably just what Freeman has in mind. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
  Book Jacket
2018 (Best Nonfiction)
Mastering Plot Twists:
 Jane K. Cleland
  Book Jacket
2018 (Best Childrens)
Potion Problems (Just Add Magic)
Book Jacket   Cindy Callaghan
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781534417403 This sequel picks up a few weeks after the conclusion of Just Add Magic. Now, seventh graders Kelly, Darbie, and Hannah must save their cooking class from shutting down, prevent their frenemy from exposing their Secret Recipe Book, and help their potions advisor keep her store open. Callaghan combines magic and mystery with humor and high jinks in this quick, plot-driven read. Recipes appended. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
2017 (Best Contemporary Novel)
Glass Houses
Book Jacket   Louise Penny
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A dark, still figure, wearing long black robes and a hood, appears on the charming village green of Three Pines, a small Qubec town; though at first it seems scary but harmless, it turns out to be something much more sinister. The strange figure's appearance coincides with a Halloween party at the local bistro, attended by the usual villagers but also four out-of-town guests. They are friends from the Universit de Montral who meet for a yearly reunion at the BB in Three Pines. But this event actually happened months ago, and village resident Armand Gamache, now head of the Sret du Qubec, is recounting the story from the witness stand in a courtroom suffering from oppressive summer heat. Gamache's testimony becomes narrative, explaining how over the course of a few days the masked man grew into a fixture on the village green and morphed slowly into an omen. Gamache's son-in-law and second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, is asked to research the "dark thing's" back story after one of the BB guests, a journalist, mentions that the figure reminds him of story he did on an old Spanish tradition, that of the "debt collector." It becomes clear, as Gamache relays the events leading up to murder, that "someone in the village had done something so horrific that a Conscience had been called." But did the dark thing come for a villager or for one of their guests? Conscience is an overarching theme in Penny's latest, seeping into the courtroom narrative as Gamache grapples with an enemy much larger than the dark thing, a war he took on as the new Chief Superintendent. His victory depends on the outcome, and the path, of this murder trial. While certain installments in Penny's bestselling series take Gamache and his team to the far reaches of Qubec, others build their tension not with a chase but instead in the act of keeping stillthis is one such book. The tension has never been greater, and Gamache has sat for months waiting, and waiting, to act, with Conscience watching close by. A meticulously built mystery that follows a careful ascent toward a breaking point that will leave you breathless. It's Three Pines as you have never seen it before. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
2017 (Best Historical Novel)
In Farleigh Field
 Rhys Bowen
  Book Jacket
2017 (Best First Novel)
Hollywood Homicide
 Kellye Garrett
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A stone-broke actress struggles to land the reward for solving a cold case.Since her stint as spokeswoman for Chubby's Chicken, a time when she was identified by the catchphrase "Don't think so, boo," Dayna Anderson has been the perpetual "Don't I know you?" girl, getting asked that same question by everyone from strangers on the LA streets to bros turning her down for barista gigs. Now if only that almost-recognition could somehow be turned into income for Dayna, who can't fill her car with gas, let alone help her folks back home avoid foreclosure on her childhood home. As her hopes of finding a job diminish by the day, Dayna hatches a half-baked scheme to earn the $15,000 reward offered for help solving a murder case, which she sees advertised on her daily constitutionalthat is, her walk to get a can of gas to rescue her car. It's not like Dayna's a stranger to the crime. She actually saw it take place, or at least parts of it. She remembers it all too well, because it happened the last night she talked with Omari Grant, a guy she's known since high school and who she's pretty sure was trying to move her out of the friend zone. The deceased is Haley Joseph, a college student whose life doesn't seem too far from Dayna's own until she starts digging around and begins to uncover multiple motives for Haley's murder. With her friend and self-proclaimed future reality star Sienna Hayes at her side, Dayna relies on turning her smarts and resourcefulness into answers and collecting the cash before her parents' house is gone for good. Veteran TV writer Garrett uses her Cold Case experience to inform her debut, which sets up more than one charming character and isn't afraid to go cynical on all things LA. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
  Book Jacket
2017 (Best Nonfiction)
From Holmes to Sherlock: The Story of the Men and Women Who Created an Icon
Book Jacket   Mattias Bostrom
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A spirited account of how Sherlock became a household name.Arthur Conan Doyle's literary creation was, of course, a hit from the moment he first bowed in 1887, with eager readers awaiting his every move in the pages of The Strand and books for the next couple of decades. But Holmes, writes Swedish Sherlock-ian Bostrm, might have remained a musty artifact from the Victorian past had not a small army of fans and creators taken pains to keep him updated. If it's true that every generation needs a fresh translation of Homer, then it seems that every generation has also gotten its own Sherlock. As a creator of the beloved Benedict Cumberbatch/Martin Freeman vehicle observed, "to prove Holmes immortalit's essential he's not preserved in Victorian aspicbut allowed to live again!" Bostrm takes the story from Conan Doyle's pen all the way up to the most recent emanations, not just the Cumberbatch-ian Sherlock, but also Jonny Lee Miller's Sherlock on the CBS drama Elementary. By the end of the second season, Miller had "beat the record for the actor who had portrayed Sherlock Holmes the most times in films or on television." Take that, Basil Rathbone! Of course, old Basil played his generational role, as did the dutiful screenwriters and film executives who marshalled Holmes into the Allied ranks during World War II, an ideological struggle "woven into a number of film series that were already underwayregardless of whether they were about Tarzan or starred the comedy duo of Abbott and Costello." Indeed, Bostrm's weaving of the Holmes story into the larger one of popular culture and the mass-entertainment industry is the best part of this very good book. For fans of literature, film history, and Conan Doyle alike, a fine complement to the best works of Sherlock-iana. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
2017 (Best Childrens)
Sydney Mackenzie Knocks Em Dead
Book Jacket   Cindy Callaghan
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A haunted house helps Sydney make friends in a new community.Eighth grader Sydney Mackenzie, a white girl, arrives home from school one day to the horrifying news that her parents have decided to move across the country to Delaware. She is forced to leave her life in LA so that her parents can run a recently inherited family-owned cemetery business. After a cross-country drive, her family finally arrives in the small town of Buttermilk River Cove, population 800. Their home is something out of a scary movie: an old, weathered Victorian, with cemetery plots serving as the front lawn. Sydney decides she must do her best to communicate her California cool to the kids at her new school. She quickly learns that the local kids couldn't care less about her being from California and are more intrigued about her living at the town cemetery. After admitting to some new friends that she believes her house is haunted, Sydney has a sance to investigate. What comes next is an unveiling of a deeper story about the Underground Railroad. Callaghan creates two stories; what at first seems to be a "new city-girl in a small town" story slowly slips from Sydney's desperation to make friends into the haunting tale of the ghost of an enslaved girl that seems to communicate with Sydney. The story's ending feels more than a bit contrived, stumbling badly with a tragic attempt at humor that makes a mockery of slavery and undermines what is mostly a solid book. A deeply flawed story of hidden history literally buried within a small white town. (author's note, recipes) (Mystery. 9-13) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781481465694 Southern California snob Sydney is horrified when her family inherits a cemetery business in Delaware and moves into a house on the grounds. Her new local friends are fascinated by the rumored-to-be-haunted home, so Sydney reluctantly holds a siance and discovers a mystery involving a slave girl and the Underground Railroad. The middle-school mystery's forced tween humor melds awkwardly with its more serious issues. (c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
2016 (Best Contemporary)
A Great Reckoning
 Louise Penny
  Book Jacket
2016 (Best Historical)
The Reek of Red Herrings
 Catriona McPherson
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Dandy Gilver and her gentleman sidekick, Alec Osborne, take to the wintry coast of Scotland in their fifth investigation (A Deadly Measure of Brimstone, 2014, etc.).A prosperous merchant summons Gilver and Osborne with an unpleasant mystery: the barrels of herring he wholesales have turned up containing human remains. Desperate to keep the news out of the public eye, he dispatches Dandy and Alec to his source: Gamrie, a tiny fishing village clinging precariously to the cliffs over the North Sea. Presenting themselves as philologists, Dandy and Alec have license to ask nosy questions about not only the folk traditions and Scottish vernacular peculiar to these insular fisherfolk, but also any mysterious deaths or strangers come to town. Their dogged investigation uncovers a host of colorful characters: an exceedingly sanctimonious parson, a couple of Bohemian painters, a most uncanny pair of taxidermists, and the hearty young girls who follow the boats to gut and pack the herring. Dandy and Alec close in on the murderer just as a vicious storm closes in on Christmas Eve. The ending, telegraphed a bit early in the story, is fully gothica grisly shocker but also a tidy piece of justice. The detectives are stalwart stock characters of interwar Britain, but the setting of this cozy thriller is vividly detailed and full of creeping menace. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
  Book Jacket
2016 (Best First)
The Semester of Our Discontent
Book Jacket   Cynthia Kuhn
2016 (Best Nonfiction)
Mastering Suspense, Structure, and Plot: How to Write Gripping Stories that Keep Readers on the Edge of Their Seats
Book Jacket   Jane K. Cleland
2016 (Best Childrens)
The Secret of the Puzzle Box: The Code Busters Club
 Penny Warner
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781512403077 The diverse Code Busters kids are excited for their field trip to Angel Island, the Ellis Island of the west. Japanese American Mika hopes to find a secret message left by her ancestor, but the kids also uncover forged historical artifacts. New elements such as Japanese puzzle boxes keep this sixth interactive-mystery installment fresh. Key and puzzle solutions are appended. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
  Book Jacket
2015 (Best Contemporary)
Long Upon the Land
 Margaret Maron
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2015 (Best Historical)
Dreaming Spies:
Book Jacket   Laurie R. King
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. An ocean voyage to Japan lands Sherlock Holmes and his amanuensis and wife, Mary Russell (Garment of Shadows, 2012, etc.), in the middle of a tangled web of blackmail. Most of the passengers aboard the Thomas Carlyle are tedious English types, but there are some interesting exceptions: the Earl of Darley, whom Holmes has already spotted as an amateur blackmailer; his well-turned-out second wife, Lady Charlotte Bridgeford Darley; his gossipy son, Viscount Thomas Darley; Haruki Sato, an NYU-trained economist who comes from a family of acrobats; and a poltergeist intent on playing tricks with the guests' belongings. It's not long before Haruki-san and Russell have bonded over lessons in Japanese language and culture, and not long after that, the young Japanese woman persuades Holmes to follow a trail she lays in Japan. The trail, which involves a good deal of more intensive learning and a fair amount of testing for Holmes and Russell, leads to a most unusual request from the highest levels. Can they retrieve a precious volume the emperor of Japan gave King George V a year ago, a volume now offered for sale to the emperor by none other than the blackmailing Lord Darley? Holmes and Russell come close to completing their mission in Japan, but their treasure hunt won't end until they're back in Russell's beloved Oxford, along with the requisite members of the shipboard cast. Holmes is consistently upstaged by Russell, but King, whose strengths are historical evocation rather than tightly knit plotting (The Bones of Paris, 2013, etc.), manages more surprises than usual in this graceful exercise in cultural tourism-cum-intrigue. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
2015 (Best First)
On The Road with Del and Louise
Book Jacket   Art Taylor
2015 (Best Nonfiction)
The Golden Age of Murder
 Martin Edwards
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Engrossing if occasionally glacial study of the Detection Club, a gathering of British mystery writers who defined the genre. Himself a writer of crime thrillers, Edwards (The Frozen Shroud, 2013, etc.) comes to the club naturallythough long past its golden age, which ended 65-odd years ago. The original circle, founder Anthony Berkeley projected, would have 13 membersa resonant number that eventually expanded threefold to include such luminaries as Dorothy Sayers, G.K. Chesterton, and Agatha Christie. At the heart of Edwards' study is the observation that the membership constituted a body of amateur detectives who were not only capable of musing out the facts behind such mysteries as "an ingenious murder committed by means of chocolates injected with nitrobenzene," but who also embraced true-crime scenarios and made them part of their work, sometimes to the point of courting libel lawsuits. As Edwards writes, with a suitably enticing hook, "Why was Christie haunted by the drowning of the man who adapted her work for the stage? What convinced Sayers of the innocence of a man convicted of battering his wife to death with a poker?" Having set up a fleet of questions, Edwards proceeds to answer them with murder-laced aplomb. He has a nicely naughty sense of humor about it, too, for the well-heeled Detection Club members often poked into business that was more than a little infra dig. As the author writes of one case, a lecherous perp "claimed he was merely offering Irene career advice, although what he knew of testing valves was not reported." Yet, when the tale turns tragicnot just because of awful crimes, but also because of sad developments in the lives of Sayers and other membersEdwards writes appropriately and well. Fans of Father Brown, Hercule Poirot, or Lord Peter Wimsey will find much of value in this bookwhich, though long and sometimes too slow, leaves readers wanting more. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
  Book Jacket
2015 (Best Childrens)
Andi Unstoppable
 Amanda Flower
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2014 (Best Contemporary)
Truth be told
Book Jacket   Hank Phillippi Ryan
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Foreclosure fraud entwines with a 20-year-old murder case in the latest knotty, engrossing mystery-thriller by an award-winning Boston journalist. These days, foreclosures have become a too-frequent fixture of what some label "Depression Redux" and others name "The New Normal." It's not so normal, however, to find a dead realtor in a foreclosed house. Even if that were all that engaged the attention of Boston PD detective Jake Brogan and investigative reporter Jane Ryland, they'd probably be too busy to spend much time on their covertly ardent, professionally awkward romance. But Brogan's also got his hands full dealing with an out-of-the-blue confession to a murder that happened two decades agoa confession that, much as he'd like to believe it, doesn't feel right. Meanwhile, the dead realtor pushes Ryland's inquiry into the foreclosure plague toward suspicious behavior at a local bank, especially by one of its well-intentioned employees who may be in over her head. In the third installment of her series about Ryland and Brogan, Ryan shows greater agility in weaving seemingly disparate plot strands into a crafty storyline, though at times it takes a while for the story to move aheadfor which a generous reader might blame the characters more than the author. ("Can you keep a secret?" comes up a little too frequently.) But those characters, including a hip defense attorney introduced to create some tension between Jake and Jane, are engaging enough to keep the reader flipping pages. Ryan seasons her mix with vivid Boston local color and caustic observations on new mediawhich one would expect from a journalist who's won even more awards for her TV reporting than she has for her mysteries. (Where on earth does she keep those thirty Emmys?) Ryland and Brogan are such a cute couple that you wonder how long it'll be before somebody makes a TV series out of them. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
2014 (Best Historical)
Queen of hearts
Book Jacket   Rhys Bowen
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Being 35th in line for the British throne is no guarantee of a peaceful life for an inveterate amateur sleuth. Lady Georgiana "Georgie" Rannoch has had much better luck solving mysteries than finding security. Poor as a church mouse, she continues to struggle while her glamorous actress mother, Claire Daniels, roams Europe shedding husbands and lovers. Claire drops into Georgie's life, pressing her to accompany her to Reno for a quickie divorce so she can marry her wealthy German lover. A fast shopping trip for some decent clothes, and Georgie and her remarkably inept maid, Queenie, are on the Berengaria headed for New York. Georgie is thrilled to discover that her mother's unofficial fiance, Darcy O'Mara, an Irish aristocrat with many secretive jobs, is on board trying to capture a jewel thief. Dining at the captain's table, Claire and Georgie, her marriage plans on hold until Darcy can make his fortune, meet fabulously wealthy filmmaker Cy Goldman, fresh from buying more treasures for his California mansion. Also at the table are his mistress, movie star Stella Brightwell; Promila, an Indian princess whose ruby is soon stolen; and the notorious Wallis Simpson, who may also be traveling in search of a divorce. All of them but Mrs. Simpson and Promila end up in Hollywood, where Cy talks Claire into starring in his new movie and even offers the handsome Darcy a job. Suspecting Stella of being the jewel thief, Darcy is especially pleased to accept an invitation that reunites most of the leading characters at Cy's hideous country castle. Georgie finds herself back in the familiar role of sleuth when Cy is murdered and the only suspects are the staff and the guests. Georgie's charming eighth (Heirs and Graces, 2013, etc.) subordinates its modest mystery to romance, local color and historical tidbits. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
2014 (Best First)
Well Read,Then Dead
 Rhys Bowen
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2014 (Best Nonfiction)
Writes of Passage: Adventures on the Writers Journey
 Hank Phillippi Ryan
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2014 (Best Childrens)
The mummyandapos;s curse
Book Jacket   Penny Warner
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781606844595 Code Busters Cody, Luke, Quinn, and M.E. are innocently exploring the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum when they find that one of the priceless artifacts has been swapped out for a fake. To catch the forger, they'll have to use all their resources (including lots of toilet paper). This readable fourth installment includes the usual interactive puzzles (solutions appended) and facts about ancient Egypt. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
2013 (Best Contempory)
The Wrong Girl
Book Jacket   Hank Phillippi Ryan
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A young woman's murder, which orphans two children, gives a reporter a story she can't resist. Jane Ryland has finally settled into her role as reporter at the Register when her old co-worker Tuck approaches Jane about an off-the-clock investigation she'd like Jane to take on. Thanks to the people at Brannigan Family and Children Services, Tuck was recently reunited with her birth mother, but some details of the reunion have made Tuck suspicious that she may in fact be the wrong girl, matched with a mother who isn't her own. Jane's former and potentially future flame Detective Jake Brogan is saddled with another case that involves working with the child welfare system when he's called in to investigate a murder that leaves two children without a family. Getting wind of the case, Jane schemes to get information out of Jake, his partner, Detective DeLuca, and the staff at the Department of Family Services. Though most folks seem wise to Jane's tricks, she's sure she can find a weak link in the chain that will lead her to some clues to investigate. All this drama distracts Jane from Tuck's quest but doesn't stop some of the staff at the Brannigan from doing a bit of investigating of their own. Threads of the story are woven together in a net that threatens to ensnare Jane if she can't unravel them first. The complex storyline, which approaches child welfare from many different angles, provides Ryan (The Other Woman, 2012, etc.) with a plot that never allows the reader a moment of breathing room.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
2013 (Best Historical)
A question of honor
 Charles Todd
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Ten years after an army officer apparently killed five people, deserted his regiment and died in Afghanistan, he's back to bedevil nursing sister Bess Crawford, and vice versa. Asked to accompany Lt. William Standish's wife, Mary, home from India after the death of her 6-year-old daughter, Alice, in 1908, Lt. Thomas Wade not only agrees but wins praise from all hands for his kindness, sensitivity and consideration. So it's all the more shocking to hear that during his brief stay in England, he allegedly killed an entire family in Hampshire and then murdered his parents in cold blood before returning to the regiment commanded by Bess's father, Col. Richard Crawford. What's even more astonishing is that as the Great War limps on long after Wade's body has been spotted deep in the Khyber Pass, Subedar Shanti Gupta tells Bess just before he dies of his wounds in France that he's spotted Wade alive and serving in His Majesty's troops. Bess' mission is clear. In order to clear her father's regiment of the stain of Wade's desertion, she needs to find Wade under whatever false name he's using. In order to expunge the stain of his murders, she needs to satisfy herself whether he really killed Henry and Isabella Caswell and their daughter Gwendoline. All this while Bess is still on active duty, dealing with the horrific wounds inflicted by the war. This time around, however, Todd (An Unmarked Grave, 2012, etc.) keeps the front at a greater distance than usual, passing lightly over much of Bess' service. The war's relation to the mystery is equally discontinuous, so that anecdotes of Bess' nursing provide the same sort of background as the heroine's domestic life or romantic entanglements in less-fraught whodunits. Despite some loose threads unsatisfyingly tied up, the mystery is as strong as any Bess has confronted.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2013 (Best First)
Death al dente
 Leslie Budewitz
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2013 (Best Nonfiction)
The hour of peril : the secret plot to murder Lincoln before the Civil War
Book Jacket   Daniel Stashower
2013 (Best Childrens)
Escape from Mr. Lemoncelloandapos;s library
Book Jacket   Chris Grabenstein
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780375870897 Quirky game-maker Luigi Lemoncello has created the ultimate game for a lock-in at the town's new library. Kyle and his friends and classmates must solve literary and logic puzzles to escape the coolest library ever in this charming Charlie and the Chocolate Factoryesque tale. Clever and filled with humorous puns, the narrative subtly reveals the real winners and losers. (c) Copyright 2013. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. When a lock-in becomes a reality game, 12-year-old Kyle Keeley and his friends use library resources to find their way out of Alexandriaville's new public library. The author of numerous mysteries for children and adults turns his hand to a puzzle adventure with great success. Starting with the premise that billionaire game-maker Luigi Lemoncello has donated a fortune to building a library in a town that went without for 12 years, Grabenstein cleverly uses the tools of board and video games--hints and tricks and escape hatches--to enhance this intricate and suspenseful story. Twelve 12-year-old winners of an essay contest get to be the first to see the new facility and, as a bonus, to play his new escape game. Lemoncello's gratitude to the library of his childhood extends to providing a helpful holographic image of his 1968 librarian, but his modern version also includes changing video screens, touch-screen computers in the reading desks and an Electronic Learning Center as well as floor-to-ceiling bookshelves stretching up three stories. Although the characters, from gamer Kyle to schemer Charles Chiltington, are lightly developed, the benefits of pooling strengths to work together are clear. Full of puzzles to think about, puns to groan at and references to children's book titles, this solid, tightly plotted read is a winner for readers and game-players alike. (Mystery. 9-13)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
2012 (Best Novel)
The Beautiful Mystery:
 Louise Penny
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A prior's murder takes Quebec's Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his sidekick, Inspector Jean-Guy Beauvoir, inside the walls of the monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loupes. The Gilbertine order, long extinct except for the two dozen brothers who live on an island apart from the rest of the world, enforces silence on its members. In the absence of speech, a raised eyebrow or averted gaze can speak intense hostility. Now someone has found a new way to communicate such hostility: by bashing Frre Mathieu, the monastery's choirmaster and prior, over the head. Gamache and Beauvoir soon find that the order is devoted heart and soul to Gregorian chant; that its abbot, Dom Philippe, has recruited its members from among the ranks of other orders for their piety, their musical abilities and a necessary range of domestic and maintenance skills; and that an otherworldly recording the brothers had recently made of Gregorian chants has sharply polarized the community between the prior's men, who want to exploit their unexpected success by making another recording and speaking more widely of their vocation, and the abbot's men, who greet the prospect of a more open and worldly community with horror. Nor are conflicts limited to the holy suspects. Gamache, Beauvoir and Sret Chief Superintendent Sylvain Franoeur, arriving unexpectedly and unwelcome, tangle over the proper way to conduct the investigation, the responsibility for the collateral damage in Gamache's last case (A Trick of the Light, 2011, etc.) and Beauvoir's loyalty to his two chiefs and himself in ways quite as violent as any their hosts can provide. Elliptical and often oracular, but also remarkably penetrating and humane. The most illuminating analogies are not to other contemporary detective fiction but to The Name of the Rose and Murder in the Cathedral.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2012 (Best First)
Lowcountry boil : a Liz Talbot mystery
 Susan M. Boyer
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2012 (Best Nonfiction)
Books to Die For: The Worlds Greatest Mystery Writers on the Worlds Greatest Mystery Novels
Book Jacket   John Connolly
2012 (Best Childrens)
The Code Busters Club, Case #1: The Secret of the Skeleton Key
Book Jacket   Penny Warner
2012 (Best Historical)
Dandy Gilver and an Unsuitable Day for a Murder
 Catriona McPherson
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. An upper-class sleuth finds herself entangled in a family feud. Dandy Gilver is asked to come to Dunfermline, Scotland, to find a missing young woman. Mirren, the youngest Aitken, has gone missing, and the family fears that she's run off with Dougie, scion of their bitter rivals the Hepburns. Each family owns a department store, and several generations ago the former friends had a falling-out when an Aitken pinched a Hepburn girl. Today the stores are wildly different, reflecting the personalities of each family: the Aitkens stodgy and old-fashioned, the Hepburns a paean to 1920s fashion. Dandy arrives on the day of Aitken's 50th year anniversary. While she's attending the celebrations at the store, she finds Mirren shot dead. Her mother Abigail confesses to the crime but is soon discounted as a suspect. The police suspect Dandy herself of involvement when she discovers Dougie's body on top of the Aitken store elevator. Both families and the police call the deaths suicides and blame each other. Their certainty threatens to put Dandy out of a job. But her instincts tell her that there's much more to the mystery, and she and her partner Alec continue to dig up family secrets, revealing some horrifying information worthy of murder. McPherson (Dandy Gilver and the Proper Treatment of Bloodstains, 2011, etc.) continues her impressively precise imitation of Golden Age models--right down to the appended family tree, which is quite necessary to help sort everything out. ]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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