2023 Edgar Award Nominees
There was some exciting news in the publishing world recently. The Mystery Writers of America announced their new 2023 Edgard Award nominees. Congratulations to all those selected. To learn more about the awards, visit their website here.
The Best Novel
Gage Chandler is descended from kings. That’s what his mother always told him when he was a child. Years later, he is a true crime writer, with one grisly success—and a movie adaptation—to his name, along with a series of subsequent less notable efforts. But now he is being offered the chance for the big break: to move into the house where a pair of briefly notorious murders occurred, apparently the work of disaffected teens during the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. Chandler finds himself in Milpitas, California, a small town whose name rings a bell—his closest childhood friend lived there, once upon a time. He begins his research into the murders with diligence and enthusiasm, but soon the story leads him into a puzzle he never expected—back into his own work and what it means, back to the very core of what he does and who he is.
When the body of reality TV star Desiree Pierce is found on a playground in the Bronx the morning after her twenty-fifth birthday party, the police and the media are quick to declare her death an overdose. A tragedy, certainly, but not a crime.
Yet Columbia grad student Lena—principled, headstrong, and allergic to the spotlight—knows that can’t be the case. Despite the bitter truth that the two hadn’t spoken in two years, they were half-sisters. Lena knew Desiree. And Desiree would never travel above 125th Street. Something is very wrong with the facts. So why is no one listening?
While the two sisters had been torn apart by Desiree’s partying and by their difficult father, Lena becomes determined to find justice for Desiree. Even if that means untangling her family’s darkest secrets—or ending up dead herself.
In the late 1970s, The Outfit has the entire city of Chicago in its hands. Tony Accardo is its fearless leader. Nicky Passero is his loyal soldier, though no one knows he has a direct line in to the boss of bosses. When the Christmas gift Accardo got for his wife, an inscribed bracelet with gold and diamond inlay, is stolen along with other items in a jewelry heist, Nicky is charged with tracking down and returning all of the items—by whatever means necessary.
Forced into an impossible situation, Nicky must find a way to carry out Accardo's increasingly unhinged instructions and survive the battle for control of Chicago. What Accardo doesn't know: Nicky has a secret which has made his life impossible and has put him in the pocket of the FBI.
Buried in debt due to his young daughter’s illness, his marriage at the brink, Mario reluctantly takes a job as a hitman, surprising himself with his proclivity for violence. After tragedy destroys the life he knew, Mario agrees to one final job: hijack a cartel’s cash shipment before it reaches Mexico. Along with an old friend and a cartel-insider named Juanca, Mario sets off on the near-suicidal mission, which will leave him with either a cool $200,000 or a bullet in the skull. But the path to reward or ruin is never as straight as it seems. As the three complicated men travel through the endless landscape of Texas, across the border and back, their hidden motivations are laid bare alongside nightmarish encounters that defy explanation. One thing is certain: even if Mario makes it out alive, he won’t return the same.
Notes on an Execution
Ansel Packer is scheduled to die in twelve hours. He knows what he’s done, and now awaits execution, the same chilling fate he forced on those girls, years ago. But Ansel doesn’t want to die; he wants to be celebrated, understood.
Through a kaleidoscope of women—a mother, a sister, a homicide detective—we learn the story of Ansel’s life. We meet his mother, Lavender, a seventeen-year-old girl pushed to desperation; Hazel, twin sister to Ansel’s wife, inseparable since birth, forced to watch helplessly as her sister’s relationship threatens to devour them all; and finally, Saffy, the detective hot on his trail, who has devoted herself to bringing bad men to justice but struggles to see her own life clearly. As the clock ticks down, these three women sift through the choices that culminate in tragedy, exploring the rippling fissures that such destruction inevitably leaves in its wake.
Best First Novel
Portrait of a Thief
Grace D. Li
History is told by the conquerors. Across the Western world, museums display the spoils of war, of conquest, of colonialism: priceless pieces of art looted from other countries, kept even now.
Will Chen plans to steal them back.
A senior at Harvard, Will fits comfortably in his carefully curated roles: a perfect student, an art history major and sometimes artist, the eldest son who has always been his parents' American Dream. But when a mysterious Chinese benefactor reaches out with an impossible—and illegal—job offer, Will finds himself something else as well: the leader of a heist to steal back five priceless Chinese sculptures, looted from Beijing centuries ago.
His crew is every heist archetype one can imagine—or at least, the closest he can get. A con artist: Irene Chen, a public policy major at Duke who can talk her way out of anything. A thief: Daniel Liang, a premed student with steady hands just as capable of lockpicking as suturing. A getaway driver: Lily Wu, an engineering major who races cars in her free time. A hacker: Alex Huang, an MIT dropout turned Silicon Valley software engineer. Each member of his crew has their own complicated relationship with China and the identity they've cultivated as Chinese Americans, but when Will asks, none of them can turn him down.
Because if they succeed? They earn fifty million dollars—and a chance to make history. But if they fail, it will mean not just the loss of everything they've dreamed for themselves but yet another thwarted attempt to take back what colonialism has stolen.
More Than You'll Ever Know
An evocative drama about a woman caught leading a double life after one husband murders the other, and the true-crime writer who becomes obsessed with telling her story—this masterful work of literary suspense marks the debut of an extraordinary new writer
The dance becomes an affair, which becomes a marriage, which becomes a murder...
In 1985, Lore Rivera marries Andres Russo in Mexico City, even though she is already married to Fabian Rivera in Laredo, Texas, and they share twin sons. Through her career as an international banker, Lore splits her time between two countries and two families—until the truth is revealed and one husband is arrested for murdering the other.
In 2017, while trawling the internet for the latest, most sensational news reports, struggling true-crime writer Cassie Bowman encounters an article detailing that tragic final act. Cassie is immediately enticed by what is not explored: Why would a woman—a mother—risk everything for a secret double marriage? Cassie sees an opportunity—she’ll track Lore down and capture the full picture, the choices, the deceptions that led to disaster. But the more time she spends with Lore, the more Cassie questions the facts surrounding the murder itself. Soon, her determination to uncover the truth could threaten to derail Lore’s now quiet life—and expose the many secrets both women are hiding.
Rita Todacheene is a forensic photographer working for the Albuquerque police force. Her excellent photography skills have cracked many cases—she is almost supernaturally good at capturing details. In fact, Rita has been hiding a secret: she sees the ghosts of crime victims who point her toward the clues that other investigators overlook.
As a lone portal back to the living for traumatized spirits, Rita is terrorized by nagging ghosts who won’t let her sleep and who sabotage her personal life. Her taboo and psychologically harrowing ability was what drove her away from the Navajo reservation, where she was raised by her grandmother. It has isolated her from friends and gotten her in trouble with the law.
And now it might be what gets her killed.
When Rita is sent to photograph the scene of a supposed suicide on a highway overpass, the furious, discombobulated ghost of the victim—who insists she was murdered—latches onto Rita, forcing her on a quest for revenge against her killers, and Rita finds herself in the crosshairs of one of Albuquerque’s most dangerous cartels.
Don't Know Tough
In Denton, Arkansas, the fate of the high school football team rests on the shoulders of Billy Lowe, a volatile but talented running back. Billy comes from an extremely troubled home: a trailer park where he is terrorized by his mother’s abusive boyfriend. Billy takes out his anger on the field, but when his savagery crosses a line, he faces suspension.
Without Billy Lowe, the Denton Pirates can kiss their playoff bid goodbye. But the head coach, Trent Powers, who just moved from California with his wife and two children for this job, has more than just his paycheck riding on Billy’s bad behavior. As a born-again Christian, Trent feels a divine calling to save Billy—save him from his circumstances, and save his soul.
Then Billy’s abuser is found murdered in the Lowe family trailer, and all evidence points toward Billy. Now nothing can stop an explosive chain of violence that could tear the whole town apart on the eve of the playoffs.
Erin E. Adams
Liz Rocher is coming home . . . reluctantly. As a Black woman, Liz doesn’t exactly have fond memories of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a predominantly white town. But her best friend is getting married, so she braces herself for a weekend of awkward, passive-aggressive reunions. Liz has grown, though; she can handle whatever awaits her. But on the day of the wedding, somewhere between dancing and dessert, the couple’s daughter, Caroline, disappears—and the only thing left behind is a piece of white fabric covered in blood.
As a frantic search begins, with the police combing the trees for Caroline, Liz is the only one who notices a pattern: A summer night. A missing girl. A party in the woods. She’s seen this before. Keisha Woodson, the only other Black girl in Liz’s high school, walked into the woods with a mysterious man and was later found with her chest cavity ripped open and her heart removed. Liz shudders at the thought that it could have been her, and now, with Caroline missing, it can’t be a coincidence. As Liz starts to dig through the town’s history, she uncovers a horrifying secret about the place she once called home. Children have been going missing in these woods for years. All of them Black. All of them girls.
Best Paperback Original
A Familiar Stranger
A. R. Torre
Lillian Smith leads an unexceptional life, writing obituaries and killing time with her inattentive husband and disconnected son. Then she meets David, a handsome stranger, in a coffee shop. Lured into an affair, she invents a new persona, one without strings, deadlines, or brooding husbands.
Lillian has never felt so reckless, unpredictable, or wanted. But as her affair with David intensifies, she withdraws from everything that’s real, even her closest friend. When evidence of her life as a secret lover finds its way onto her son’s social media, she risks ruining much more than her marriage or reputation.
As lies beget lies, Lillian’s two worlds spiral dangerously out of control. And betrayals run deeper than she imagines. Because Lillian isn’t the only one leading a double life.
New York, 1880. Elizabeth van den Broek is the only female reporter at the Herald, the city’s most popular newspaper. Then she and her bohemian friend Carlotta Ackerman find a woman’s body wrapped like a mummy in a freshly dug hole in Central Park—the intended site of an obelisk called Cleopatra’s Needle. The macabre discovery takes Elizabeth away from the society pages to follow an investigation into New York City’s darkest shadows.
When more bodies turn up, each tied to Egyptian lore, Elizabeth is onto a headline-making scoop more sinister than she could have imagined. Her reporting has readers spellbound, and each new clue implicates New York’s richest and most powerful citizens. And a serial killer is watching every headline.
Now a madman with an indecipherable motive is coming after Elizabeth and everyone she loves. She wants a good story? She may have to die to get it.
When novelist Andy Drake returns to his hometown to care for his ailing father, a reconnection with his childhood friend Rachel escalates into a secret love affair. For Rachel, struggling to maintain the facade of a picture-perfect life, it’s an escape from an emotionally abusive marriage. Then Andy receives an anonymous note warning him to end the affair. Or else.
Whoever’s been watching is going to make Andy pay. Weeks later, Rachel’s husband, David, is shot to death. Rachel and her two young sons vanish without a trace. One misstep, one careless reveal, and Andy could look as guilty as sin. Clue by clue, as his investigation into the mystery unfolds, Andy discovers that he and Rachel weren’t the only ones keeping secrets.
Nothing in this quiet neighborhood is as it seems. No one peeking from behind the curtains of their homes can be trusted. And the worst is yet to come. Because David isn’t the only one who will die.
On a Quiet Street
Seraphina Nova Glass
The perfect neighborhood can be the perfect place to hide…
Who wouldn’t want to live in Brighton Hills? This exclusive community on the Oregon coast is the perfect mix of luxury and natural beauty. Stunning houses nestle beneath mighty Douglas firs, and lush backyards roll down to the lakefront. It’s the kind of place where neighbors look out for one another. Sometimes a little too closely…
Cora thinks her husband, Finn, is cheating—she just needs to catch him in the act. That’s where Paige comes in. Paige lost her son to a hit-and-run last year, and she’s drowning in the kind of grief that makes people do reckless things like spying on the locals, searching for proof that her son’s death was no accident…and agreeing to Cora’s plan to reveal what kind of man Finn really is. All the while, their reclusive new neighbor, Georgia, is acting more strangely every day. But what could such a lovely young mother possibly be hiding?
Max Allan Collins
The professional hitman known as Quarry—star of the Cinemax TV miniseries of the same name—has put killing behind him. But after a beautiful writer of true-crime bestsellers drops by to announce he's the subject of her next book, killers descend to give him some of his own deadly medicine, forcing Quarry to journey into his bloody past to find the answers—and settle old scores.
Best Fact Crime
On May 31, 2014, in the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha, Wisconsin, two twelve-year-old girls attempted to stab their classmate to death. Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier’s violence was extreme, but what seemed even more frightening was that they committed their crime under the influence of a figure born by the internet: the so-called “Slenderman.” Yet the even more urgent aspect of the story, that the children involved suffered from undiagnosed mental illnesses, often went overlooked in coverage of the case.
Slenderman: Online Obsession, Mental Illness, and the Violent Crime of Two Midwestern Girls tells that full story for the first time in deeply researched detail, using court transcripts, police reports, individual reporting, and exclusive interviews. Morgan and Anissa were bound together by their shared love of geeky television shows and animals, and their discovery of the user-uploaded scary stories on the Creepypasta website could have been nothing more than a brief phase. But Morgan was suffering from early-onset childhood schizophrenia. She believed that she had seen Slenderman long before discovering him online, and the only way to stop him from killing her family was to bring him a sacrifice: Morgan’s best friend Payton “Bella” Leutner, whom Morgan and Anissa planned to stab to death on the night of Morgan’s twelfth birthday party. Bella survived the attack, but was deeply traumatized, while Morgan and Anissa were immediately sent to jail, and the severity of their crime meant that they would be prosecuted as adults. There, as Morgan continued to suffer from worsening mental illness after being denied antipsychotics, her life became more and more surreal.
Tell Me Everything
Erika Krouse has one of those faces. “I don’t know why I’m telling you this,” people say, spilling confessions. In fall 2002, Erika accepts a new contract job investigating lawsuits as a private investigator. The role seems perfect for her, but she quickly realizes she has no idea what she’s doing. Then a lawyer named Grayson assigns her to investigate a sexual assault, a college student who was attacked by football players and recruits at a party a year earlier. Erika knows she should turn the assignment down. Her own history with sexual violence makes it all too personal. But she takes the job anyway, inspired by Grayson’s conviction that he could help change things forever. And maybe she could, too.
Over the next five years, Erika learns everything she can about P. I. technique, tracking down witnesses and investigating a culture of sexual assault and harassment ingrained in the university’s football program. But as the investigation grows into a national scandal and a historic civil rights case that revolutionizes Title IX law, Erika finds herself increasingly consumed. When the case and her life both implode at the same time, Erika must figure out how to help win the case without losing herself.
On March 9, 1977, Washington, DC, came under attack. Seven men stormed the headquarters of B’nai B’rith International, quickly taking control of the venerable Jewish organization’s building and holding more than a hundred employees hostage inside. A little over an hour later, three more men entered the Islamic Center of Washington, the country’s biggest and most important mosque, and took hostages there. Two others subsequently penetrated the municipal government’s District Building, a few hundred yards from the White House. When the gunmen there opened fire, a reporter was killed, and city councilor Marion Barry, later to become the mayor of Washington, DC, was shot in the chest. The deadly standoff brought downtown Washington to a standstill.
The attackers belonged to the Hanafi movement, an African American Muslim group based in DC. Their leader was a former jazz drummer named Hamaas Abdul Khaalis, who had risen through the ranks of the Nation of Islam before feuding with the organization’s mercurial chief, Elijah Muhammad, and becoming Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s spiritual authority. Like Malcolm X, Khaalis paid a price for his apostasy: in 1973, seven of his family members and followers were killed by Nation supporters in one of the District’s most notorious murders. As Khaalis and the hostage takers took control of their DC targets four years later, they vowed to begin killing their hostages unless their demands were met: the federal government must turn over the killers of Khaalis’s family, the boxer Muhammad Ali, and Elijah’s son Wallace so that they could face true justice. They also demanded that the American premiere of Mohammad: Messenger of God—a Hollywood epic about the life of the prophet Muhammad financed and supported by the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddhafi—be canceled and the film destroyed. Shahan Mufti’s American Caliph gives the first full account of the largest-ever hostage taking on American soil and of the tormented man who masterminded it. Informed by extensive archival research and hundreds of declassified FBI files, American Caliph tracks the battle for control of American Islam, the international politics of religion and oil, and the hour-to-hour drama of a city facing a
Boston had its Strangler. California had the Zodiac Killer. And in the depths of the Great Depression, Cleveland had the Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run.
On September 5th, 1934, a young beachcomber made a gruesome discovery on the shores of Cleveland’s Lake Erie: the lower half of a female torso, neatly severed at the waist. The victim, dubbed “The Lady of the Lake,” was only the first of a butcher’s dozen. Over the next four years, twelve more bodies would be scattered across the city. The bodies were dismembered with surgical precision and drained of blood. Some were beheaded while still alive.
Terror gripped the city. Amid the growing uproar, Cleveland’s besieged mayor turned to his newly-appointed director of public safety: Eliot Ness. Ness had come to Cleveland fresh from his headline-grabbing exploits in Chicago, where he and his band of “Untouchables” led the frontline assault on Al Capone’s bootlegging empire. Now he would confront a case that would redefine his storied career.
Award-winning author Daniel Stashower shines a fresh light on one of the most notorious puzzles in the annals of crime, and uncovers the gripping story of Ness’s hunt for a sadistic killer who was as brilliant as he was cool and composed, a mastermind who was able to hide in plain sight. American Demon reconstructs this ultimate battle of wits between a hero and a madman.
In May 1996, two skilled backcountry leaders, Lollie Winans and Julie Williams, entered Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park for a week-long backcountry camping trip. The free-spirited and remarkable young couple had met and fallen in love the previous summer while working at a world-renowned outdoor program for women. During their final days in the park, they descended the narrow remnants of a trail and pitched their tent in a hidden spot. After the pair didn’t return home as planned, park rangers found a scene of horror at their campsite, their tent slashed open, their beloved dog missing, and both women dead in their sleeping bags. The unsolved murders of Winans and Williams continue to haunt all who had encountered them or knew their story.
When award-winning journalist and outdoors expert Kathryn Miles begins looking into the case, she discovers conflicting evidence, mismatched timelines, and details that just don’t add up. With unprecedented access to crucial crime-scene forensics and key witnesses—and with a growing sense of both mission and obsession—she begins to uncover the truth. An innocent man, Miles is convinced, has been under suspicion for decades, while the true culprit is a known serial killer, if only authorities would take a closer look.
Best Young Adult
Pretty Dead Queens
After the death of her mom (screw cancer), seventeen-year-old Cecelia Ellis goes to live with her estranged grandmother, a celebrated author whose Victorian mansion is as creepy as the murder mysteries she writes. On the surface, life is utterly ordinary in the California coastal town . . . until the homecoming queen is murdered. And she’s not Seaview’s first pretty dead queen.
With a copycat killer on the loose, Cecelia throws herself into the investigation, determined to crack the case like the heroines in her grandmother’s books. But the more Cecelia digs into the town’s secrets, the more she worries that her own mystery might not have a storybook ending.
Eva V. Gibson
Dave is spending his final summer before college working at Frightmares House of Horrors, a struggling haunted house attraction held together by malfunctioning killer clown mannequins, a cheap replica Annabelle doll, and a lot of improvising.
After a particularly disastrous shift ends in an employee walkout, Dave reluctantly takes over a role for his friend, however, he makes a horrifying discovery—a real dead body, hidden on set. But when Dave returns with help, the body is gone.
Though the killer covered their tracks, Dave realizes they must know what he saw. Could he be their next target?
The Black Girls Left Standing
Sixteen-year-old Beau Willet has dreams of being an artist and one day leaving the Chicago projects she’s grown up in. But after her older sister, Katia, is killed by an off-duty police officer, Beau knows she has to clear her sister’s name by finding the only witness to the murder; Katia’s no-good boyfriend, Jordan, who has gone missing. If she doesn't find him and tell the world what really happened, Katia's death will be ignored, like the deaths of so many other Black women who are wrongfully killed.
With the help of her friend, Sonnet, Beau sets up a Twitter account to gather anonymous tips. But the more that Beau finds out about her sister's death, the more danger she finds herself in. And with a new relationship developing with her childhood friend, Champion, and the struggle to keep her family together, Beau is soon in way over her head. How much is she willing to risk to clear her sister's name and make sure she's not forgotten?
The Red Palace
Joseon (Korea), 1758. There are few options available to illegitimate daughters in the capital city, but through hard work and study, eighteen-year-old Hyeon has earned a position as a palace nurse. All she wants is to keep her head down, do a good job, and perhaps finally win her estranged father's approval.
But Hyeon is suddenly thrust into the dark and dangerous world of court politics when someone murders four women in a single night, and the prime suspect is Hyeon's closest friend and mentor. Determined to prove her beloved teacher's innocence, Hyeon launches her own secret investigation.
In her hunt for the truth, she encounters Eojin, a young police inspector also searching for the killer. When evidence begins to point to the Crown Prince himself as the murderer, Hyeon and Eojin must work together to search the darkest corners of the palace to uncover the deadly secrets behind the bloodshed.
Lock the Doors
The truth won't stay hidden behind locked doors.
A brand new addictive, psychological thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of 14 WAYS TO DIE—for fans of Karen McManus, Holly Jackson, and Lisa Jewell.
Tom's family has moved into their dream home. But pretty soon he starts to notice that something is very wrong—there are strange messages written on the wall and locks on the bedroom doors. On the OUTSIDE.
The previous owners have moved just across the road and they seem like the perfect family. Their daughter Amy is beautiful and enigmatic but Tom is sure she's got something to hide. And he isn't going to stop until he finds the truth behind those locked doors. . .
Will their dream home become a nightmare?
The Swallowtail Legacy 1: Wreck at Ada's Reef
Michael D. Beil
Twelve-year-old Lark Heron-Finch is steeling herself to spend the summer on Swallowtail Island off the shores of Lake Erie. It's the first time she and her sister will have seen the old house since their mom passed away. The island's always been full of happy memories—and with a step father and his boys and no mom, now everything is different.
When Nadine, a close family friend, tells Lark about a tragic boat accident that happened off the coast many years before, Lark's enthralled with the story. Nadine's working on a book about Dinah Purdy, Swallowtail's oldest resident who had a connection to the crash, and she's sure that the accident was not as it appeared. Impressed by Lark's keen eye, she hires her as her research assistant for the summer.
And then Lark discovers something amazing. Something that could change Dinah's life. Something linked to the crash and to her own family's history with Swallowtail. But there are others on the island who would do anything to keep the truth buried in the watery depths of the past.
The Area 51 Files
Julie Buxbaum; Lavanya Naidu (Illustrator)
When Sky Patel-Baum is sent to live with her mysterious uncle, she didn’t imagine she’d end up here: Area 51. A top-secret military base with a bajillion rules and so classified not even the president knows its secrets.
Also, it turns out the place is full of aliens. Lots and lots of aliens. But they prefer to be called Break Throughs, thank you very much.
As Sky sets out to explore her extraordinary new home with her pizza-obsessed pet hedgehog Spike, she meets her otherworldly next-door neighbor Elvis and his fluffy pup, Pickles. But something mysterious is afoot in Area 51. Some of the Break Throughs have gone missing… at the exact same time Sky arrived.
Where could they be? How can Sky and her uncle convince everyone they had nothing to do with the disappearance? And why does the macaroni and cheese at Area 51 Middle have eyeballs in it? New best friends Sky, Elvis, Spike, and Pickles try to crack the case, but the clock is ticking…
Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen: the Seaside Corpse
Murder on the Safari Star: Adventures on Trains #3
M. G. Leonard; Sam Sedgman; Elisa Paganelli (Illustrator)
Following his adventure on the California Comet, artist and amateur sleuth Hal Beck is looking forward to another railway journey with Nat, his journalist uncle—this time riding the historic Safari Star through South Africa. Then the already eventful journey becomes even more so when one of their fellow passengers dies on board!
Accident . . . or murder?
With help from a new friend, Winston (and his mongoose, Chipo), Hal is determined to figure out if a murder has really taken place and, if so, who among a long list of suspects is the killer—all before the Safari Star arrives at its final destination.
Chester Keene Cracks the Code
Chester Keene takes great comfort in his routines. After school Monday to Thursday is bowling, and Friday, the best of days, is laser tag! But most special of all is when Chester gets secret spy messages from his dad, who is always on covert government assignments, which is why Chester has never met him.
Then, one day at lunch, Chester’s classmate Skye approaches him with a clue. They’ve been tasked with a complex puzzle-solving mission. Chester takes their assignments very seriously, but Skye treats it like a big game. Skye proves to be a useful partner and good company, even if her haphazard, free-wheeling ways are disruptive to Chester’s carefully curated schedule.
As Chester and Skye get closer to their final clue, they discover the key to their spy assignment: they have to stop a heist! But cracking this code might lead to a discovery Chester never saw coming.
The Simon & Schuster Mary Higgins Clark Award
Because I Could Not Stop for Death
Willa Noble knew it was bad luck when it was pouring rain on the day of her ever-important job interview at the Dickinson home in Amherst, Massachusetts. When she arrived late, disheveled with her skirts sodden and filthy, she'd lost all hope of being hired for the position. As the housekeeper politely told her they'd be in touch, Willa started toward the door of the stately home only to be called back by the soft but strong voice of Emily Dickinson. What begins as tenuous employment turns to friendship as the reclusive poet takes Willa under her wing.
Tragedy soon strikes and Willa's beloved brother, Henry, is killed in a tragic accident at the town stables. With no other family and nowhere else to turn, Willa tells Emily about her brother’s death and why she believes it was no accident. Willa is convinced it was murder. Henry had been very secretive of late, only hinting to Willa that he'd found a way to earn money to take care of them both. Viewing it first as a puzzle to piece together, Emily offers to help, only to realize that she and Willa are caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse that reveals corruption in Amherst that is generations deep. Some very high-powered people will stop at nothing to keep their profitable secrets even if that means forever silencing Willa and her new mistress....
The Woman in the Library
Ned Kelly award winning author Sulari Gentill sets this mystery-within-a-mystery in motion with a deceptively simple, Dear Hannah, What are you writing? pulling us into the ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library.
In every person's story, there is something to hide...
The tranquility is shattered by a woman's terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers, who'd happened to sit at the same table, pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning—it just happens that one is a murderer.
Sulari Gentill delivers a sharply thrilling read with The Woman in the Library, an unexpectedly twisty literary adventure that examines the complicated nature of friendship and shows us that words can be the most treacherous weapons of all.
The Disinvited Guest
Lucy Harper still has traumatic memories and lingering health problems from the 2020 pandemic. So, when a new virus surfaces years later, she and her husband, Reed, seek refuge on his family’s private island off the coast of Maine. Ostensibly safely sequestered with their five closest friends and family, Lucy should feel at ease. So why does she feel the weight of the island’s dark history pushing down on the group?
As Lucy uncovers Reed’s family secrets and the island’s history as a quarantine hospital for typhus patients, she becomes obsessed with the past and feels her own grip on reality slipping. Tempers flare, strange signs appear in the woods, and accidents turn deadly. Is the island haunted by the dead? Or is someone amongst the living taking their revenge?
A Dreadful Splendor
B. R. Myers
In Victorian London, Genevieve Timmons poses as a spiritualist to swindle wealthy mourners—until one misstep lands her in a jail cell awaiting the noose. Then a stranger arrives to make her a peculiar offer. The lord he serves, Mr. Pemberton, has been inconsolable since the tragic death of his beautiful bride-to-be. If Genevieve can perform a séance persuasive enough to bring the young lord peace, she will win her freedom.
Soothing a grieving nobleman should be easy for someone of Genevieve’s skill, but when she arrives at the grand Somerset Park estate, Mr. Pemberton is not the heartbroken lover she expected. The surly—yet exceedingly handsome—gentleman is certain that his fiancée was murdered, even though there is no evidence. Only a confession can bring justice now, and Mr. Pemberton decides Genevieve will help him get it. With his knowledge of the household and her talent for illusion, they can stage a haunting so convincing it will coax the killer into the light. However, when frightful incidents befall the manor, Genevieve realizes her tricks aren’t required after all. She may be a fake, but Somerset’s ghost could be all too real…
Never Name the Dead
D. M. Rowell
Mud discovers a tribe in disarray. Fracking is damaging their ancestral lands, Kiowa families are being forced to sell off their artifacts, and frackers have threatened to kill her grandfather over his water rights. When Mud and her cousin Denny discover her grandfather missing, accused of stealing the valuable Jefferson Peace medal from the tribe museum—and stumble across a body in his work room—Mud has no choice but to search for answers.
Mud sets out into the Wildlife Refuge, determined to clear her grandfather's name and identify the killer. But Mud has no idea that she's about to embark on a vision quest that will involve deceit, greed, and a charging buffalo—or that a murderer is on her trail.
The G.P. Putnam’s Sons Sue Grafton Memorial Award
Mark de Castrique
When someone murders one of her boarders, Ethel springs into action—much to the surprise of her double-first-cousin-twice-removed, Jesse, who has recently come to stay with her while he attends university. As he watches her photograph the crime scene, conceal evidence, and speed-dial the Secret Service Director, Jesse realizes that there's much more to Ethel than appearances suggest.
When Jesse is assaulted and the gym bag full of cash Ethel had hidden is stolen from the basement, the pair decides it's time to launch their own unofficial investigation. With no one to trust but each other, this unlikely duo learns that the only thing truly worth risking your life for is family.
An Unforgiving Place
While enjoying a rare weekend off from her duties as an agent with the Investigative Services Branch, Felicity Harland learns that a young couple has turned up dead in Gates of the Arctic National Park. Harland recruits her partner, ex-Navy SEAL Ferdinand “Hux” Huxley, to join her in the investigation.
After processing the peculiar scene where the couple perished, Harland and Hux decide that this was no tragic accident. They soon hear about a man living off the land, recruiting couples to his “fertility cult” in the Arctic. Could this survivalist have played a role in the couple’s death? Determined to get to the truth before someone else meets a similar fate, Harland and Hux venture deep into the backcountry to find the cult’s campsite. But what they find there tests their relationship in ways they never imagined—and thrusts them into a dangerous and deadly game.
Alice Vega has made a career of finding the missing and vulnerable against a ticking clock, but she's never had a case like that of Zeb Williams, missing for thirty years. It was 1984, and the big Cal-Stanford football game was tied with seconds left on the clock. Zeb Williams grabbed the ball and ran the wrong way, through the marching band, off the field, and out of the stadium. He disappeared into legend, replete with Elvis-like sightings and a cult following.
Zeb's cold trail leads Vega to southern Oregon, where she discovers an anxious community living under siege by a local hate group called the Liberty Boys. As Vega starts digging into the past, the mystery around Zeb's disappearance grows deeper, and the reach of the Liberty Boys grows more disturbing. Everyone has something to hide, and no one can cut to the truth like Alice Vega. But this time, her partner Max Caplan has his own problems at home, and the trouble Vega finds might be too much for her to handle.
Secrets Typed in Blood
illing up the pages of pulp detective magazines with gruesome tales of revenge. Now someone is bringing her stories to life and leaving a trail of blood-soaked bodies behind. With the threat of another murder looming, and reluctant to go to the police, Holly turns to the best crime-solving duo in or out of the pulps, Willowjean “Will” Parker and her boss, famed detective Lillian Pentecost.
The pair are handed the seemingly-impossible task of investigating three murders at once without tipping off the cops or the press that the crimes are connected. A tall order made even more difficult by the fact that Will is already signed up to spend her daylight hours undercover as a guileless secretary in the hopes of digging up a lead on an old adversary, Dr. Olivia Waterhouse.
But even if Will is stuck in pencil skirts and sensible shoes, she’s not about to let her boss have all the fun. Soon she’s diving into an underground world of people obsessed with murder and the men and women who commit them. Can the killer be found in the Black Museum Club, run by a philanthropist whose collection of grim murder memorabilia may not be enough to satisfy his lust for the homicidal? Or is it Holly Quick’s pair of editors, who read about murder all day, but clearly aren’t telling the full story?
Behind the Lie
A transplant to the upstate New York hamlet of Sylvan, all Laney wants is a quiet life for herself and her son. But things rarely remain calm in Laney’s life.
When one neighbor, a Russian immigrant, is shot, and his Ukrainian wife disappears—along with Laney’s best friend—at her neighborhood summer block party, Laney will need all her skills as a PI to solve a mystery that reaches far beyond her small town.
As people closest to Laney fall under suspicion, the local authorities, and her colleagues, question her own complicity. And then there’s fifteen-year-old Alfie, her complicated, enigmatic son, obviously hiding something. Even as Laney struggles to bury evidence of her boy’s involvement, his cagey behavior rings every maternal alarm.
Laney’s personal life unravels as she’s drawn into her friend’s dark secrets, and she must ask herself: how far would a wife and mother go to keep her family from ruin? One woman’s desperation is another’s downfall, and with treachery blazing hot as the searing summer sun, Laney realizes she and Alfie are in danger and she must fight to save lives, her own and her son's included.
Best Television Episode Teleplay
“One Mighty and Strong” – Under the Banner of Heaven, Written by Brandon Boyce (Hulu/FX)
“Episode 1” – Magpie Murders, Written by Anthony Horowitz (Masterpiece/PBS)
“Episode 1″ – Karen Pirie, Written by Emer Kenny (BritBox)
“When Harry Met Fergus” – Harry Wild, Written by David Logan (Acorn TV)
“The Reagan Way” – Blue Bloods, Written by Siobhan Byrne O’Connor (CBS)
“Eighteen Wheels A Predator” – Law & Order: SVU, Written by Brianna Yellen, Kathy Dobie & Monet Hurst-Mendoza (NBC Universal)
ROBERT L. FISH MEMORIAL AWARD
“Dogs in the Canyon” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Mark Harrison (Dell Magazines)
The Lilian Jackson Braun Memorial Award
The Shadow of Memory by Connie Berry (Crooked Lane Books)
Buried in a Good Book by Tamara Berry (Sourcebooks – Poisoned Pen Press)
Smile Beach Murder by Alicia Bessette (Penguin Random House – Berkley)
Desert Getaway by Michael Craft (Brash Books)
The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood (Sourcebooks – Poisoned Pen Press)
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