Agatha Awards- Best Novel

View all Award Winners by Subject book lists; This list was last updated on 9/23/2013
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Named after Agatha Christie, these awards honour 'traditional' mystery novels published in the United States during the previous calendar year. The Award is presented at the Agatha Awards banquet during the annual Malice Domestic convention. Visit the Agatha Awards website for full list. 

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1 - 25 of 25 results
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Something Wicked
Everyone--including mystery bookstore owner Annie Laurance--loves Arsenic and Old Lace.  But something wicked is poisoned a local summer stock production as cast members stab each other in the back and props are sabotaged.  Worst of all, the star, aging Hollywood beach-blanket hunk Shane Petree, butchers his lines--while getting top billing in bed with wives and teenage daughters around town.  No wonder somebody wants to draw his final curtain.  With a little help from Miss Marple, Poirot, and Agatha the Bookstore Cat, a pompous prosecutor tries to pin a murder on Max, Annie's own leading man.  Unless Annie can prove her darling's innocence, their wedding date's off!  Invoking the tried-and-true methods of her favorite literary sleuths, Annie snoops around the greasepaint and glitter of the show-stopper scene if she doesn't watch it, because theatrical murderers never play fair.
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Naked Once More
She may be a bestselling author, but ex-librarian Jacqueline Kirby's views on the publishing biz aren't fit to print. In fact, she's thinking of trading celebrity for serenity and a house far away from fiendish editors and demented fans when her agent whispers the only words that could ever make her stay: Naked in the Ice.

Seven years ago, this blockbuster skyrocketed Kathleen Darcy to instant fame. Now the author's heirs are looking for a writer to pen the sequel. It's an opportunity no novelist in her right mind would pass up, and there's no doubting Jacqueline's sanity...until she starts digging through the missing woman's papers--and her past. Until she gets mixed up with Kathleen's enigmatic lover. Until a series of nasty accidents convince her much too late that someone wants to bring Jacqueline's story--and her life--to a premature end.
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release date: Jan 01, 1998
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I.O.U: A Jenny Cain Mystery (Jenny Cain Series)
(6 Audio Cassettes) Following the funeral, sometime sleuth Jenny Cain feels she owes it to her mother's memory and her own understanding to investigate the events that preceded her mother's mental collapse and her family's financial collapse. As all of us detective story listeners know, digging into the past can be dangerous, and so it proves for Jenny, who is nearly murdered twice. Reader Pamela Nyberg sounds like Jenny should; the cranky, impatient tone of her voice is just right. She portrays the personalities of the many townsfolk of Port Frederick, Massachusetts, well, but the New England twang proves a bit of a challenge. This listening experience won't cause you to drive off the road with excitement; but it is affecting, and Nyberg's Jenny is a character you'll come to care about. D.L.G. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine
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Bootlegger's Daughter
Attorney Deborah Knott is running for district judge in good-old-boy-ruled Colleton County, N.C.
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Dead Man's Island
Retired reporter Henrietta O'Dwyer Collins--better known as ""Henrie O""--is called in by an old lover, arrogant media tycoon Chase Prescott, to investigate a murder plot against him. Reprint. LJ.
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She Walks These Hills
Applying her psychic talents to two mysterious cases, policewoman Martha Ayers attempts to settle local superstitions about a two-hundred-year-old ghost while tracking down an escaped prisoner. Reprint. NYT.
release date: Mar 31, 1996
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If I'd Killed Him When I Met Him
When forensic anthropologist Elizabeth MacPherson becomes the official P.I. for her brother Bill's fledgling Virginia law firm, she quickly takes on two complex cases.  Eleanor Royden, a perfect lawyer's wife for twenty years, has shot her ex-husband and his wife in cold blood. And Donna Jean Morgan is implicated in the death of her Bible-thumping bigamist husband.

Bill's feminist firebrand partner, A. P. Hill, does her damnedest for Eleanor, an abused wife in denial, and Bill gallantly defends Donna Jean. Meanwhile, Elizabeth's forensic expertise, including her special knowledge of poisons, gives her the most challenging case of her career. . . .
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Up Jumps the Devil
Murder usually begins at home, and Colleton County, North Carolina, proves no exception. When truck driver and childhood neighbor Dallas Stancil is shot and killed in his own backyard, Judge Deborah Knott figures she owes his memory at least the respectful ritual of taking his widow one of her Aunt Zell's best chicken casseroles. Mistake Number One. Dallas wasn't rich, but with development eating up the farms and forests of North Carolina his land is suddenly worth a fortune. His trashy, chain-smoking third wife and grown stepchildren are all too aware of its value. Opportunistsincluding one Deborah's own brothers - are coming out of the woodwork. And she knows big money makes people do bad things. Hardworking, redneck, and salt-of-the-earth, the Stancil men have lived side-by-side with Deborah's family. When the Stancils suffer another tragedy, a long-hidden skeleton rattles its bones and jumps out of what she thought was her long-dead past. She can run the culprit back out of town or maybe get him charged with murder, but ignoring him would be Mistake Number Two. All around the changing South, Deborah sees hunting dogs, rowdy funerals, backwoods moonshine stills, and long-bed pickups clashing with BMW-driving professionals and housing tracts. With one foot in the rural past and the other in today's high-tech present, she knows her personal world is changing too. This bootlegger's daughter sits on the judicial bench and sees both sides of the law. But she also feels the tug of her roots...and the pull of her heart.
release date: Jul 01, 1998
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The Devil in Music
With flawless period detail and a dapper English detective reminiscent of Lord Peter Wimsey, Kate Ross is charming fans of Anne Perry and Elizabeth George--and earning a loyal following of mystery readers eager to accompany Julian Kestrel from adventure to satisfying adventure. Traveling on the Continent with his ex-pickpocket valet, Kestrel finds himself caught up in the mysterious and murderous world of the opera. Four years ago, the Italian marquis Ludovico Malvezzi was murdered, and Orfeo, the young English tenor he had been training for a career on the glittering operatic stage, disappeared. As Kestral is irresistibly drawn into the baffling case, he encounters suspects at every turn: a runaway wife and her male soprano lover; a liberal nobleman at odds with Italy's Austrian overlords; a mocking Frenchman with perfect pitch; a beautiful, clever widow who haunts Kestrel's dreams; and the missing Orfeo, the penniless protg who just might be a political agent. And when the killer strikes again, Kestrel's quest for answers spirals into a crescendo of passion, danger, and music as he risks becoming a ruthless murderer's next victim.
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Butchers Hill
Tess Monaghan has finally made the move and hung out her shingle as a p.i.-for-hire, complete with an office in Butchers Hill. Maybe it's not the best address in Baltimore, but you gotta start somewhere, and Tess's greyhound Esskay has no trouble taking marathon naps anywhere there's a roof. Then in walks Luther Beale, the notorious vigilante who five years ago shot a boy for vandalizing his car. Just out of prison, he says he wants to make reparations to the kids who witnessed his crime, so he needs Tess to find them. But once she starts snooping, the witnesses start dying. Is the "Butcher of Butchers Hill" at it again? Like it or not, Tess is embroiled in a case that encompasses the powers that-be, a heartless system that has destroyed the lives of children, and a nasty trail of money and lies leading all the way back to Butchers Hill.
release date: Apr 01, 2000
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Mariner's Compass
To claim an inheritance that a mysterious stranger left her, Benni must delve into the secrets of her own past--and a place she once called home.
release date: Apr 18, 2000
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Storm Track
Judge Deborah Knott blows the lid off a murder investigation with gale force winds in this newest entry in the award-winning series. As Hurricane Fran strikes the North Carolina coast, Judge Knott seeks clues to a motel murder and a determined killer finds a perfect time to strike again.
release date: Dec 15, 2002
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Murphy's Law

Murphy's Law is the captivating first entry of Rhys Bowen's New York Times bestselling Molly Murphy series

Molly Murphy always knew she'd end up in trouble, just as her mother predicted. So, when she commits murder in self-defense, she flees her cherished Ireland, and her identity, for the anonymous shores of America. When she arrives in new York and sees the welcoming promise of freedom in the Statue of Liberty, Molly begins to breathe easier. But when a man is murdered on Ellis Island, a man Molly was seen arguing with, she becomes a prime suspect in the crime.

Using her Irish charm and sharp wit, Molly escapes Ellis Island and sets out to find the wily killer on her own. Pounding the notorious streets of Hell's Kitchen and the Lower East Side, Molly make sit her desperate mission to clear her name before her deadly past comes back to haunt her new future.

Murphy's Law won the 2001 Agatha Award and was nominated for the 2002 Mary Higgins Clark Award.

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You've Got Murder
Turing Hopper is an Artificial Intelligence Personality, a mainframe computer with a mind like Miss Marple. And when her creator, Zack, begins missing work, the sentient Turing senses foul play...
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Letter From Home
World-renowned journalist G.G. Gilman does her best not to think of the past. But one day she gets a letter—sent from the small Oklahoma town where she grew up—that brings it all back. Memories of people she had once known and loved dearly—and of the sultry summer when her life changed forever.
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Birds of a Feather
Jacqueline Winspear's marvelous and inspired debut, Maisie Dobbs, won her fans from coast to coast and raised her intuitive, intelligent, and resourceful heroine to the ranks of literature's favorite sleuths. Birds of a Feather finds Maisie Dobbs on another dangerously intriguing adventure in London "between the wars." It is the spring of 1930, and Maisie has been hired to find a runaway heiress. But what seems a simple case at the outset soon becomes increasingly complicated when three of the heiress's old friends are found dead. Is there a connection between the woman's mysterious disappearance and the murders? Who would want to kill three seemingly respectable young women? As Maisie investigates, she discovers that the answers lie in the unforgettable agony of the Great War.
release date: May 30, 2006
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The Body in the Snowdrift

Caterer Faith Fairchild has a bad feeling about her father-in-law's decision to celebrate his seventieth birthday with a family reunion ski week at the Pine Slopes resort in Vermont -- the Fairchilds' favorite getaway since Faith's husband, the Reverend Thomas Fairchild, was a toddler. At first her unease seems unfounded -- until Faith comes across a corpse on one of the cross-country trails, the apparent victim of a heart attack.

Then one catastrophe follows another: the mysterious disappearance of the Pine Slopes' master chef, a malicious prank at the sports center, a break-in at the Fairchild condo, the sabotage of a chairlift. And when a fatal "accident" with the snow-making machines stains the slopes blood red, Faith realizes she'll have to work fast to solve a murderous puzzle -- because suddenly not only are the reunion and the beloved resort's future in jeopardy . . . but Faith's life is as well.

release date: May 29, 2007
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The Virgin of Small Plains
Small Plains, Kansas, January 23, 1987: In the midst of a deadly blizzard, eighteen-year-old Rex Shellenberger scours his father's pasture, looking for helpless newborn calves. Then he makes a shocking discovery: the naked, frozen body of a teenage girl, her skin as white as the snow around her. Even dead, she is the most beautiful girl he's ever seen. It is a moment that will forever change his life and the lives of everyone around him. The mysterious dead girl–the “Virgin of Small Plains”–inspires local reverence. In the two decades following her death, strange miracles visit those who faithfully tend to her grave; some even believe that her spirit can cure deadly illnesses. Slowly, word of the legend spreads.

But what really happened in that snow-covered field? Why did young Mitch Newquist disappear the day after the Virgin's body was found, leaving behind his distraught girlfriend, Abby Reynolds? Why do the town's three most powerful men–Dr. Quentin Reynolds, former sheriff Nathan Shellenberger, and Judge, Tom Newquist–all seem to be hiding the details of that night?

Seventeen years later, when Mitch suddenly returns to Small Plains, simmering tensions come to a head, ghosts that had long slumbered whisper anew, and the secrets that some wish would stay buried rise again from the grave of the Virgin. Abby–never having resolved her feelings for Mitch–is now determined to uncover exactly what happened so many years ago to tear their lives apart.

Three families and three friends, their worlds inexorably altered in the course of one night, must confront the ever-unfolding consequences in award-winning author Nancy Pickard's remarkable novel of suspense. Wonderfully written and utterly absorbing, The Virgin of Small Plains is about the loss of faith, trust, and innocence . . . and the possibility of redemption.


From the Hardcover edition.
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A Fatal Grace

CC de Poitiers managed to alienate everyone in the hamlet of Three Pines, right up to the moment she died. When Chief Inspector Armand Gamache begins his investigation, it seems like an impossible murder: CC was electrocuted on a frozen lake, in front of the entire town, during the annual curling tournament. With compassion and courage, Gamache digs beneath the idyllic surface of village life to find long buried secrets, while his own enemies threaten to bring something even more chilling than the bitter winter winds to Three Pines.

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The Cruelest Month

"Many mystery buffs have credited Louise Penny with the revival of the type of traditional murder mystery made famous by Agatha Christie. . . . The book's title is a metaphor not only for the month of April but also for Gamache's personal and professional challenges---making this the series standout so far." --Sarah Weinman

Welcome to Three Pines, where the cruelest month is about to deliver on its threat.
It's spring in the tiny, forgotten village; buds are on the trees and the first flowers are struggling through the newly thawed earth. But not everything is meant to return to life. . .
When some villagers decide to celebrate Easter with a séance at the Old Hadley House, they are hoping to rid the town of its evil---until one of their party dies of fright. Was this a natural death, or was the victim somehow helped along?
Brilliant, compassionate Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec is called to investigate, in a case that will force him to face his own ghosts as well as those of a seemingly idyllic town where relationships are far more dangerous than they seem.

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The Cruelest Month

Chaos is coming, old son.

With those words the peace of Three Pines is shattered. Everybody goes to Olivier's Bistro―including a stranger whose murdered body is found on the floor. When Chief Inspector Gamache is called to investigate, he is dismayed to discover that Olivier's story is full of holes. Why are his fingerprints all over the cabin that's uncovered deep in the wilderness, with priceless antiques and the dead man's blood? And what other secrets and layers of lies are buried in the seemingly idyllic village?

Gamache follows a trail of clues and treasures―from first editions of Charlotte's Web and Jane Eyre to a spiderweb with a word mysteriously woven in it―into the woods and across the continent, before returning to Three Pines to confront the truth and the final, brutal telling.

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Bury Your Dead

"Few writers in any genre can match Penny's ability to combine heartbreak and hope." Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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.

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Three-Day Town
Three-Day Town is the winner of the Agatha award for best novel.

After a year of marriage, Judge Deborah Knott and Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Bryant are off to New York City for a long-delayed honeymoon. January might not be the perfect time to take a bite of the Big Apple, but Dwight's sister-in-law has arranged for them to stay in her Upper West Side apartment for a week.

Deborah had been asked to deliver a package to Lieutenant Sigrid Harald of the NYPD from Sigrid's Colleton County grandmother. But when the homicide detective comes to pick it up, the package is missing and the building's super is found murdered. Now despite their desire to enjoy a blissful winter getaway, Deborah and Dwight must team up with Lt. Harald to catch the killer before he strikes again.
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The Beautiful Mystery

The brilliant new novel in the New York Times bestselling series by Louise Penny, one of the most acclaimed crime writers of our time


No outsiders are ever admitted to the monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups, hidden deep in the wilderness of Quebec, where two dozen cloistered monks live in peace and prayer. They grow vegetables, they tend chickens, they make chocolate. And they sing. Ironically, for a community that has taken a vow of silence, the monks have become world-famous for their glorious voices, raised in ancient chants whose effect on both singer and listener is so profound it is known as "the beautiful mystery."

But when the renowned choir director is murdered, the lock on the monastery's massive wooden door is drawn back to admit Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir of the Sûreté du Québec. There they discover disquiet beneath the silence, discord in the apparent harmony. One of the brothers, in this life of prayer and contemplation, has been contemplating murder. As the peace of the monastery crumbles, Gamache is forced to confront some of his own demons, as well as those roaming the remote corridors. Before finding the killer, before restoring peace, the Chief must first consider the divine, the human, and the cracks in between.

The Beautiful Mystery is the winner of the 2012 Agatha Award for best novel, the 2013 Anthony Award for best novel and the 2013 Macavity Award for best novel.

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