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October 13, 2008 / C.T. Henry

Boucheron’s Biggest Winners

Last month, I made some predictions about this year’s Boucheron winners.  I’m glad that I don’t gamble, but as I anticipated, the Baltimore-hosted convention only helped the chances of its native-daughter, Laura Lippman.  She walked away with three awards for Best Novel: the Barry, Macavity, and Anthony.  Another big winner was Tana French, who won the Barry, Macavity, and Anthony awards for Best First Novel.  In April, In the Woods also won the Edgar award for Best First Novel.  Like many mystery fans, I don’t purchase books solely based on the winners of awards.  However, I must admit the fact that these two books swept the awards at Boucheron is quite persuasive.

What the Dead Know
Laura Lippman
Anthony – Best Novel Winner | Macavity – Best Novel Winner | Barry – Best Novel Winner
Book Description: Thirty years ago, the two Bethany sisters, ages 11 and 15, disappeared from a Baltimore shopping mall. They never returned, their bodies were never found, and only painful questions remain. How do you kidnap two girls from a busy mall on a Saturday afternoon without leaving behind a single clue or witness? Now, decades later, in the aftermath of a rush-hour hit-and-run accident, a clearly disoriented woman is claiming to be Heather, the younger Bethany sister. Not a shred of evidence supports her story, and every lead she reluctantly offers takes the police to another dead end—a dying, incoherent man; a razed house; a missing grave. But there is something she knows about that terrible day . . . and about a family that disintegrated long ago, torn apart by an unthinkable tragedy and the fissures it revealed in a seemingly perfect household.

In the Woods
Tana French
Anthony – 1st Novel Winner | Macavity – 1st Novel Winner | Barry – 1st Novel Winner
Book Description: When he was twelve years old, Adam Ryan went playing in the woods one day with his two best friends. He never saw them again. Their bodies were never found, and Adam himself was discovered with his back pressed against an oak tree and his shoes filled with blood. He had no memory of what had happened. Twenty years on, Rob Ryan – the child who came back – is a detective in the Dublin police force. He’s changed his name. No one knows about his past. Then a little girl’s body is found at the site of the old tragedy and Rob is drawn back into the mystery. Knowing that he would be thrown off the case if his past were revealed, Rob takes a fateful decision to keep quiet but hope that he might also solve the twenty-year-old mystery of the woods.

Megan Abbott, who was also nominated for the Anthony award, won the Barry award for Best Paperback Original for Queenpin.  Earlier in the year, she also won the Edgar award for Best Paperback Original.   A relative newcomer, Abbott won distinction in 2006 with an Edgar nomination for Die A Little. She’s definitely got a lot of talent.

Queenpin: A Novel
Megan Abbott
Edgar – Paperback Original Winner | Barry – Paperback Original Winner | Anthony – Paperback Original Nominee
Book Description: A young woman hired to keep the books at a down-at-the-heels nightclub is taken under the wing of the infamous Gloria Denton, a mob luminary who reigned during the Golden Era of Bugsy Siegel and Lucky Luciano. Notoriously cunning and ruthless, Gloria shows her eager young protégée the ropes, ushering her into a glittering demimonde of late-night casinos, racetracks, betting parlors, inside heists, and big, big money. Suddenly, the world is at her feet — as long as she doesn’t take any chances, like falling for the wrong guy. As the roulette wheel turns, both mentor and protégée scramble to stay one step ahead of their bosses and each other.

Two P.I. novels also scored big at Boucheron.  Reed Farrel Coleman’s Soul Patch was nominated for the Barry, Macavity, and Shamus awards.  In April the novel received an Edgar nomination as well. After winning the Shamus award for Paperback Original in 2006, Coleman won this year’s Shamus award for Best P.I. Novel. In the future, look out for newcomer Sean Chercover.  His debut novel, Big City, Bad Blood, won a lot of praise from critics this year laying the groundwork for Anthony and Barry nominations for First Novel.  At Boucheron, Chercover won the Shamus award for 1st P.I. Novel.

Soul Patch (Moe Prager Mysteries)
Reed Farrel Coleman
Shamus – Best Novel Winner | Macavity – Best Novel Nominee | Barry – Best Novel Nominee | Edgar – Best Novel Nominee
Book Description: In this darkly intriguing follow-up to the Shamus and Barry winning The James Deans, ex-NYPD cop turned P.I. and entrepreneur, Moe Prager is faced with a gut-wrenching case. The apparent suicide of his old friend and NYPD Chief of Detectives, Larry McDonald, forces Moe back onto the decaying Coney Island streets he patrolled when he was in uniform. But now, beneath the boardwalk and behind the rusted and crumbling rides of the midway, he finds a trail of death, betrayal, and corruption reaching back to 1972. As Faulkner once said, “The past is never dead. It isn’t even past.”

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Big City, Bad Blood
Sean Chercover
Shamus – 1st Novel Winner | Anthony – 1st Novel Nominee | Barry – 1st Novel Nominee

Book Description: Disillusioned newspaper reporter-turned-private detective Ray Dudgeon doesn’t want to save the world; he just wants to do an honest job well.  But when doing an honest job threatens society’s most powerful and corrupt, Ray’s odds of survival make for a sucker’s bet… A simple bodyguard job for a Hollywood locations manager uncovers a rats’ nest of sexual blackmail, murder, and high-level political corruption . . . and Ray Dudgeon is caught in a war between the FBI, the Chicago police, and the mob. With the line between good and bad blurring, Ray doesn’t know who he can trust—or if he can even trust himself.

There were two books that sorely deserved awards at Boucheron but were deglected possibily because of their dark subject-matter.  The Blade Itself and The Unquiet were the best two books I’ve read this year.  Both had two nominations each at Boucheron but ultimately came away with nothing.  Please refer to my earlier posts on Marcus Sakey and John Connolly.  They are top-notch writers, and they deserve much more notoriety.

The Blade Itself: A Novel
Marcus Sakey
Barry – 1st Novel Nominee | Anthony – 1st Novel Nominee
Book Description: On the South Side of Chicago, you’re only as strong as your reputation. Danny Carter and his best friend Evan earned theirs knocking over pawnshops and liquor stores, living from score to score, never thinking of tomorrow…until, in the roar of a gun blast, everything changed.
Years later, Danny has built a new life: a legitimate career, a long-term girlfriend, and a clean conscience. He’s just like anyone else. Normal. Successful. Happy. Until then he spots his old partner staring him down in a smoky barroom mirror… Now, with all he loves on the line and nowhere to turn, Danny realizes his new life hinges on a terrible choice: How far will he go to protect his future from his past?

The Unquiet: A Thriller
John Connolly
Barry – Best Novel Nominee | Macavity – Best Novel Nominee
Book Description: Daniel Clay, a once-respected psychiatrist, has gone missing. His daughter insists that he killed himself after allegations surfaced surrounding the harm done to patients in his care. Now a killer obsessed with finding the truth about his own daughter’s disappearance is seeking revenge — and Charlie Parker finds himself trapped between those who want the truth about Clay to be revealed, and those who will go to any length — no matter the cost — to keep it hidden.

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I hope this gives you some ideas for your “To Read” list!  As always, please feel free to comment about these books or my comments.

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