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October 19, 2011 / C.T. Henry

2011 Mystery and Thriller Award Winners

Need more great books for your To Be Read list? Here are this year’s award winners.  When you see the same book receive award after award, then you know that it’s a real winner.

2011 Shamus Award

The Private Eye Writers of America (PWA) confers their awards on eligible novels that feature a professional private investigator.

Best P.I. Novel

No Mercy by Lori G. Armstrong
Synopsis: Mercy Gunderson is a straight shooter with a hard edge. On medical leave from the army, she returns home to South Dakota, which isn’t much safer for her than Iraq. Arriving just after the death of her father, it is up to Mercy to decide what to do with the family ranch and try to deal with her irresponsible sister and nephew. Feeling guilty that she didn’t make it home soon enough to see her father one last time, Mercy is suddenly pulled into the local community when the body of an Indian boy is found on her land. But nobody seems to be doing anything about it, especially not the local law enforcement. When tragedy strikes again, Mercy is ready to throw all her energy into her own investigation, and she’s out for revenge. As she digs up the truth behind the shocking crimes, Mercy uncovers dark and dangerous secrets and must race to stop a killer before everything she’s fought for is destroyed forever.

Best First P.I. Novel

In Search of Mercy by Michael Ayoob
Synopsis: Dexter Bolzjak is an ex–hockey goalie who was abducted and tortured by perverted sports fans eight years ago. Now he’s muddling along in a Pittsburgh warehouse when he meets an old, terminally ill drunk named Lou Kashon. Lou wants to see his lost love, the actress Mercy Carnahan, and offers Dexter a fortune to find her. Dexter embarks on the search, retracing Mercy’s past online and on foot. Soon, Mercy begins to haunt Dexter, appearing in his dreams while flashbacks to his own traumatic experience plague his waking hours. Dexter persists and follows Mercy’s trail to New York, where he finds a voyeuristic film of the actress recorded shortly before her disappearance. Once Dexter connects that film to its source, he finds himself trapped in the ultimate nightmare.

Best Paperback Original P.I. Novel

Asia Hand by Christopher G. Moore
Synopsis: Bangkok–the Year of the Monkey. Calvino’s Chinese New Year celebration is interrupted by a call to Lumpini Park Lake, where Thai cops have just fished the body of a farang cameraman. CNN is running dramatic footage of several Burmese soldiers on the Thai border executing students. Calvino follows the trail of the dead man to a feature film crew where he hits the wall of silence. On the other side of that wall, Calvino and Colonel Pratt discover and elite film unit of old Asia hands with connections to influential people in Southeast Asia. They find themselves matched against a set of farangs conditioned for urban survival and willing to go for a knock-out punch.

2011 Macavity Award

Named for the “mystery cat” of T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, the Mystery Readers International (MRI) bestows awards in various categories.  Most of the winners are cozies.

Best Mystery Novel

Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny
Synopsis: It is Winter Carnival in Quebec City, bitterly cold and surpassingly beautiful. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has come not to join the revels but to recover from an investigation gone hauntingly wrong. But violent death is inescapable, even in the apparent sanctuary of the Literary and Historical Society–where an obsessive historian’s quest for the remains of the founder of Quebec, Samuel de Champlain, ends in murder. Could a secret buried with Champlain for nearly four hundred years be so dreadful that someone would kill to protect it? Meanwhile, Gamache is receiving disquieting letters from the village of Three Pines, where beloved Bistro owner Olivier was recently convicted of murder. “It doesn’t make sense,” Olivier’s partner writes every day. “He didn’t do it, you know.” As past and present collide in this astonishing novel, Gamache must relive a terrible event from his own past before he can begin to bury his dead.

Best First Mystery Novel

Rogue Island by Bruce DeSilva
Synopsis: Liam Mulligan is as old school as a newspaperman gets. His beat is Providence, Rhode Island, and he knows every street and alley. He knows the priests and prostitutes, the cops and street thugs. He knows the mobsters and politicians—who are pretty much one and the same. Someone is systematically burning down the neighborhood Mulligan grew up in, people he knows and loves are perishing in the flames, and the public is on the verge of panic. With the whole city of Providence on his back, Mulligan must weed through a wildly colorful array of characters to find the truth.

2011 Anthony Award

Named for mystery reviewer Anthony Boucher, the Boucheron World Mystery Convention bestows the Anthony Award in various categories.

Best Novel

Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny
Synopsis: It is Winter Carnival in Quebec City, bitterly cold and surpassingly beautiful. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has come not to join the revels but to recover from an investigation gone hauntingly wrong. But violent death is inescapable, even in the apparent sanctuary of the Literary and Historical Society–where an obsessive historian’s quest for the remains of the founder of Quebec, Samuel de Champlain, ends in murder. Could a secret buried with Champlain for nearly four hundred years be so dreadful that someone would kill to protect it? Meanwhile, Gamache is receiving disquieting letters from the village of Three Pines, where beloved Bistro owner Olivier was recently convicted of murder. “It doesn’t make sense,” Olivier’s partner writes every day. “He didn’t do it, you know.” As past and present collide in this astonishing novel, Gamache must relive a terrible event from his own past before he can begin to bury his dead.

Best First Novel

Damage Done by Hilary Davidson
Synopsis: Lily Moore, a successful travel writer, fled to Spain to get away from her troubled, drug-addicted younger sister, Claudia.  But when Claudia is found dead in a bathtub on the anniversary of their mother’s suicide, Lily must return to New York to deal with the aftermath. The situation shifts from tragic to baffling when the body at the morgue turns out to be a stranger’s. The dead woman had been using Claudia’s identity for months.  The real Claudia had vanished, reappearing briefly on the day her impostor died.  As Claudia transforms from victim to suspect in the eyes of the police, Lily becomes determined to find her before they do. Is Claudia actually missing, or is she playing an elaborate con game?  And who’s responsible for the body that was found in the bathtub?  An obsessive ex-lover?  An emotionally disturbed young man with a rich and powerful father?  Or Lily’s own former fiancé, who turns out to be more deeply involved with Claudia than he admits? As Lily searches for answers, a shadowy figure stalks her and the danger to her grows.  Determined to learn the truth at any cost, she is unprepared for the terrible toll it will take on her and those she loves.

Best Paperback Original

Expiration Date by Duane Swierczynski
Synopsis: Mickey Wade is a recently-unemployed journalist who lucked into a rent-free apartment—his sick grandfather’s place. The only problem: it’s in a lousy neighborhood—the one where Mickey grew up, in fact. The one he was so desperate to escape. But now he’s back. Dead broke. And just when he thinks he’s reached rock bottom, Mickey wakes up in the past. Literally. At first he thinks it’s a dream. All of the stores he remembered from his childhood, the cars, the rumble of the elevated train. But as he digs deeper into the past, searching for answers about the grandfather he hardly knows, Mickey meets the twelve-year-old kid who lives in the apartment below. The kid who will grow up to someday murder Mickey’s father.

2011 Barry Awards

The fan-oriented Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine presents the Barry Awards.

Best Novel

The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton
Synopsis: Michael is no ordinary young man.  Mute since a childhood tragedy, at age eighteen he discovers that he possesses a skill he would never have expected.  Whether it’s a locked door without a key, a padlock with no combination, or even an eight-hundred pound safe . . . he can open them all. It’s a talent that will make Michael a hot commodity with the wrong people, and whether he likes it or not, push him closer to a life of crime.  Until one day, when he finally sees his chance to escape, and decides to risk everything to return home to the only person he ever loved, and to unlock the secret that has kept him silent for so long.

Best First Novel

The Poacher’s Son by Paul Doiron
Synopsis:
Set in the wilds of Maine, this is an explosive tale of an estranged son thrust into the hunt for a murderous fugitive—his own father. Game warden Mike Bowditch returns home one evening to find an alarming voice from the past on his answering machine: his father, Jack, a hard-drinking womanizer who makes his living poaching illegal game. An even more frightening call comes the next morning from the police: They are searching for the man who killed a beloved local cop the night before—and his father is their prime suspect. Jack has escaped from police custody, and only Mike believes that his tormented father might not be guilty. Now, alienated from the woman he loves, shunned by colleagues who have no sympathy for the suspected cop killer, Mike must come to terms with his haunted past. He knows firsthand Jack’s brutality, but is the man capable of murder? Desperate and alone, Mike strikes up an uneasy alliance with a retired warden pilot, and together the two men journey deep into the Maine wilderness in search of a runaway fugitive. There they meet a beautiful woman who claims to be Jack’s mistress but who seems to be guarding a more dangerous secret. The only way for Mike to save his father now is to find the real killer—which could mean putting everyone he loves in the line of fire.

Best British Crime Novel

The Woodcutter by Reginald Hill
Synopsis: Wolf Hadda’s life has been a fairy tale. From his humble origins as a Cumbrian woodcutter’s son, he has risen to become a hugely successful entrepreneur, happily married to the woman of his dreams. A knock on the door one morning ends it all. Universally reviled, thrown into prison while protesting his innocence, abandoned by friends and family, Wolf retreats into silence. Seven years later, prison psychiatrist Alva Ozigbo makes a breakthrough. Wolf begins to talk, and under her guidance he is paroled, returning to his family home in rural Cumbria. But there was a mysterious period in Wolf’s youth when he disappeared from home and was known to his employers as the Woodcutter. And now the Woodcutter is back, looking for the truth—and revenge. Can Alva intervene before his pursuit of vengeance takes him to a place from which he can never come back?

Best Thriller

Thirteen Hours by Deon Meyer
Synopsis: Some would call Detective Benny Griessel a legend. Others would call him a drunk. Either way, he has trodden on too many toes over the years ever to reach the top of the promotion ladder, and now he concentrates on staying sober and mentoring the new generation of crime fighters — mixed race, Xhosa and Zulu. But when an American backpacker disappears in Cape Town, panicked politicians know who to call: Benny has just thirteen hours to save the girl, save his career, and crack open a conspiracy, which threatens the whole country.

Best Paperback Original

Fever of the Bone by Val McDermid
Synopsis: He is psychologist and criminal profiler Dr. Tony Hill’s worst nightmare—a killer driven by the most perverted hungers and unmoved by youth and innocence, a killer with a long shopping list of victims who leaves no trail. The murder-mutilation of teenager Jennifer Maidment is horrific enough on its own, but Hill quickly realizes that it’s just the beginning of a chilling campaign targeting an apparently unconnected group of young people—victims that the monster has been grooming through a social networking site. It is a case that is reawakening ghosts of Tony Hill’s past. And the longer it takes to uncover a motive and a maniac, the more innocent youth will die.

2011 Thriller Awards

The International Thriller Writers organization bestows awards for various categories at its ThrillerFest convention.

Best Hardcover Novel

The Neighbor by Lisa Gardner
Synopsis: It was a case guaranteed to spark a media feeding frenzy–a young mother, blond and pretty, disappears without a trace from her South Boston home, leaving behind her four-year-old daughter as the only witness and her handsome, secretive husband as the prime suspect. But from the moment Detective Sergeant D. D. Warren arrives at the Joneses’ snug little bungalow, she senses something off about the picture of wholesome normality the couple worked so hard to create. On the surface, Jason and Sandra Jones are like any other hardworking young couple raising a four-year-old child. But it is just under the surface that things grew murky. With the clock ticking on the life of a missing woman and the media firestorm building, Jason Jones seems more intent on destroying evidence and isolating his daughter than on searching for his “beloved” wife. Is the perfect husband trying to hide his guilt–or just trying to hide? And will the only witness to the crime be the killer’s next victim?

Best First Novel

Running from the Devil by Jamie Freveletti
Synopsis: Emma Caldridge, a chemist for a cosmetics company, is en route from Miami to Bogotá when her plane is hijacked and spins out of control into the mountains near the Venezuelan border. Thrown unhurt from the wreckage, she can do nothing but watch as guerrillas take the other passengers hostage. An endurance marathon runner, Emma silently trails the guerrillas and their captives, using her athletic prowess and scientific knowledge to stay alive. Those skills become essential when she discovers an injured passenger, secret government agent Cameron Sumner, separated from the group. Together they follow the hostages, staying one step ahead by staying one step behind. Meanwhile, as news of the hijacking breaks in Washington, the Department of Defense turns to Edward Banner, former military officer and current CEO of a security consulting firm, for help. Banner quickly sends a special task force to the crash site, intent on locating the survivors before it’s too late. But finding Emma and Sumner is only the beginning, as Banner starts to realize that Emma was on a personal mission when the plane went down. There is more to the beautiful, talented biochemist than anyone ever imagined, for in her possession is a volatile biological weapon in an ingenious disguise, one that her enemies have set for auction to the highest bidder.

Best Paperback Original

The Coldest Mile by Tom Piccirilli
Synopsis: Raised to be a thief and getaway driver, Chase left the bent life after he found his true love, Lila. For ten years he walked the straight and narrow—until Lila was murdered. Now Chase is looking for his grandfather Jonah, the stone-cold-killer con man who raised him and is the last living repository of his family’s darkest secrets. In returning to his criminal roots, Chase hopes to save Jonah’s infant daughter from the life that Chase himself can’t escape. But first he’ll need a score. Chase thinks he’s found it as a driver for a dysfunctional crime family that’s anything but organized. With the Langans’ patriarch dying, the once powerful syndicate may unravel before Chase can rip it off. If he survives the bloodbath to come, he’ll face an even uglier showdown. Because his grandfather Jonah is waiting for him at the coldest family reunion this side of hell.

2011 Hammett Prize

The North American Branch of the International Association of Crime Writers awards the Hammett Prize for literary excellence in the field of crime writing.  Eligible books must by authored by a U.S. or Canadian resident.

The Nearest Exit by Olen Steinhauer
Synopsis: Faced with the potential dissolution of his marriage and the end of his quiet, settled life, reluctant spy Milo Weaver has no choice but to return to his old job as a “tourist” for the CIA. But before he can get back to the dirty work of espionage, he has to prove his worth to his new bosses. Armed with a stack of false identities, Milo heads back to Europe, and for nearly three months every assignment is executed perfectly. Then he’s instructed to kill the fifteen-year-old daughter of Moldovan immigrants, and make the body disappear. No questions. For Milo, it’s an impossible task, but ignoring his handlers is equally untenable. Suddenly he’s in a dangerous position, caught between right and wrong, between powerful self-interested foes, between patriots and traitors—especially now that he has nothing left to lose.

2011 CWA Awards

The Crime Writers Association (CWA) bestows the Dagger Award in various categories of crime writing.  Eligible books must be published in the UK in English.

Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
Synopsis: In the 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas “32” Jones were boyhood pals in a small town in rural Mississippi. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry was the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, black single mother. But then Larry took a girl to a drive-in movie and she was never seen or heard from again. He never confessed . . . and was never charged. More than twenty years have passed. Larry lives a solitary, shunned existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion. Silas has become the town constable. And now another girl has disappeared, forcing two men who once called each other “friend” to confront a past they’ve buried for decades.

Steel Dagger for Best Thriller

The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton
Synopsis: Michael is no ordinary young man.  Mute since a childhood tragedy, at age eighteen he discovers that he possesses a skill he would never have expected.  Whether it’s a locked door without a key, a padlock with no combination, or even an eight-hundred pound safe . . . he can open them all. It’s a talent that will make Michael a hot commodity with the wrong people, and whether he likes it or not, push him closer to a life of crime.  Until one day, when he finally sees his chance to escape, and decides to risk everything to return home to the only person he ever loved, and to unlock the secret that has kept him silent for so long.

New Dagger for a Debuting Author

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
Synopsis: “As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I’m still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me. . . .”  Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love—all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may be telling you only half the story. Welcome to Christine’s life.

2011 Edgar Awards

The Mystery Writers of America (MWA) confers the Edgar Allan Poe Award.  Eligible novels must be published in the U.S. in English.

Best Novel

The Lock Artistby Steve Hamilton
Synopsis: Michael is no ordinary young man.  Mute since a childhood tragedy, at age eighteen he discovers that he possesses a skill he would never have expected.  Whether it’s a locked door without a key, a padlock with no combination, or even an eight-hundred pound safe . . . he can open them all. It’s a talent that will make Michael a hot commodity with the wrong people, and whether he likes it or not, push him closer to a life of crime.  Until one day, when he finally sees his chance to escape, and decides to risk everything to return home to the only person he ever loved, and to unlock the secret that has kept him silent for so long.

Best First Novel

Rogue Island by Bruce DeSilva
Synopsis: Liam Mulligan is as old school as a newspaperman gets. His beat is Providence, Rhode Island, and he knows every street and alley. He knows the priests and prostitutes, the cops and street thugs. He knows the mobsters and politicians—who are pretty much one and the same. Someone is systematically burning down the neighborhood Mulligan grew up in, people he knows and loves are perishing in the flames, and the public is on the verge of panic. With the whole city of Providence on his back, Mulligan must weed through a wildly colorful array of characters to find the truth.

Best Paperback Original

Long Time Coming by Robert Goddard
Synopsis: Stephen Swan is amazed when he hears that the uncle he thought had been killed in the Blitz is actually alive. For nearly four decades, Eldritch Swan has been locked away in an Irish prison and now, at last, has been released. Shocked and suspicious, Stephen listens to the old man’s story and is caught up in a tale that begins at the dawn of World War II, when Eldritch worked for an Antwerp diamond dealer with a trove of Picassos—highly valuable paintings that later disappeared. Stephen, who finds his uncle by turns devious, charming, and brazen, then meets Rachel Banner, a beautiful American who may have inherited the Picassos—and is determined to see justice done for her family. But in this tale of revenge and redemption, justice is the ultimate illusion. Eldritch, Stephen, and the woman Stephen has fallen in love with soon find themselves fighting for their lives—against sinister forces still guarding a secret that must never be revealed.

Congratulations to all the winners and nominees!  Thanks to you, we have more books to read and enjoy.

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