Friday, 27 January 2023

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Congratulations to all the nominees of this year's Agatha Awards! The Agatha Awards celebrate traditional mysteries, loosely defined as mysteries that contain no explicit sex, excessive gore, or gratuitous violence. Winners will be announced Saturday, April 29, 2023, during Malice Domestic 35.

Best Contemporary Novel

Bayou Book Thief, by Ellen Byron (Berkley Prime Crime)
Death By Bubble Tea, by Jennifer J. Chow (Berkley)
Fatal Reunion, by Annette Dashofy (Level Best Books)
Dead Man's Leap, by Tina de Bellegarde (Level Best Books)
A World of Curiosities, by Louise Penny (Minotaur)

Best Historical Novel

The Counterfeit Wife, by Mally Becker (Level Best Books)
Because I Could Not Stop for Death, by Amanda Flower (Berkley)
The Lindbergh Nanny, by Mariah Fredericks (Minotaur)
In Place of Fear, by Catriona McPherson (Mobius)
Under a Veiled Moon, by Karen Odden (Crooked Lane Books)

Best First Novel

Cheddar Off Dead, by Korina Moss (St. Martin’s)
Death in the Aegean, by M. A. Monnin (Level Best Books)
The Bangalore Detectives Club, by Harini Nagendra (Constable)
Devil’s Chew Toy, by Rob Osler (Crooked Lane Books)
The Finalist, by Joan Long (Level Best Books)
The Gallery of Beauties, by Nina Wachsman (Level Best Books)

Best Short Story

"Beauty and the Beyotch," by Barb Goffman (Sherlock Holmes Magazine, February 2022)
"There Comes a Time," by Cynthia Kuhn, Malice Domestic Murder Most Diabolical (Wildside Press)
"Fly Me to the Morgue," by Lisa Q Mathews, Malice Domestic Mystery Most Diabolical (Wildside Press)
"The Minnesota Twins Meet Bigfoot," by Richie Narvaez, Land of 10,000 Thrills, Bouchercon Anthology (Down & Out Books)
"The Invisible Band," by Art Taylor, Edgar & Shamus Go Golden (Down & Out Books)

Best Nonfiction

The Life of Crime: Detecting the History of Mysteries and Their Creators, by Martin Edwards (HarperCollins)
The Handbook to Agatha Christie: The Bloomsbury Handbook to Agatha Christie, by Mary Anna Evans and J. C. Bernthal (Bloomsbury Academic)
The Science of Murder: The Forensics of Agatha Christie, by Carla Valentine (Sourcebooks)
Promophobia: Taking the Mystery Out of Promoting Crime Fiction, by Diane Vallere Ed. (Sisters in Crime)
Agatha Christie: An Elusive Woman, by Lucy Worsley (Pegasus Crime)

Best Children's/YA Mystery

Daybreak on Raven Island, by Fleur Bradley (Viking Books for Young People)
In Myrtle Peril, by Elizabeth C. Bunce (Algonquin Young Readers)
#shedeservedit, by Greg Herren (Bold Strokes Books)
Sid Johnson and the Phantom Slave Stealer, by Frances Schoonmaker (Auctus Publishers)
Enola Holmes and the Elegant Escapade, by Nancy Springer (Wednesday Books)

Malice Domestic Agatha Award Nominees
Mystery Scene
Friday, 27 January 2023

Holocaust Remembrance Memorial photo by Ted Eytan

The UN General Assembly designated January 27—the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau—as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day to honor the victims of the Nazi era, including the Jewish, Roma and Sinti, Slavs, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ individuals, and political dissidents, and recommit to preventing future genocides. Today marks 78 years since the liberation of prisoners at Auschwitz-Birkenau and the UN has has dedicated this year's theme to "Home and Belonging."

"'Home and Belonging' highlights the humanity of the Holocaust victims and survivors, who had their home and sense of belonging ripped from them by the perpetrators of the Holocaust. The violence of exclusion began with disinformation and hate speech that lent support to systemic injustice and discrimination, and marginalization and ended with genocidal killing," says a statement from the United Nations. "The theme reminds us of our responsibility to respond with humanity to the victims of atrocity crimes, to counter hate speech, antisemitism, Holocaust distortion and denial, and prejudice—to do all we can to prevent genocide."

One of the most meaningful ways to remember and understand an event has always been through the telling of stories—a way to bring to life the times, issues, and feelings of people and places beyond our own experiences. Here are 5 mysteries and thrillers that touch on the themes of the Holocaust and WWII.

The Huntress by Kate Quinn

The Huntress
by Kate Quinn

In this novel about war, revenge, redemption, and justice Kate Quinn tells the tale of an Austrian woman with a mysterious past, the stepdaughter who is curious about her, and the stories of the other people whose lives she's touched. Quinn seamlessly weaves several different timelines and characters together until they collide. Despite being an intimidatingly long novel, it is brilliantly paced, impeccably researched, and impossible to put down.




Code Name Hélène
by Ariel Lawhon

Four hundred and forty pages of an epic, delicious, incredibly true, unbelievably brave account of the life of Nancy Grace Augusta Wake, a fierce fighter for the French resistance. Ariel Lawhon's Code Name Hélène is an exhilarating journey in the forests of France fighting Nazis, unpacking shipments of weapons dropped by the British, and getting others out of terrible situations. Nancy is a hero, a warrior, a glamorous woman, a wealthy wife, a trained killer, an expert at codes, and someone who unquestionably risks everything to pursue what she knows is right. 



King of Diamonds by Simon TolkienThe King of Diamonds
by Simon Tolkien

Set in the early 1960s in England, this is a provocative, cautionary tale featuring Detective Inspector Bill Trave on the hunt for truth after the murder of his ex, a woman with a wealthy diamond merchant family. Author Simon Tolkien, himself a successful London barrister, begins his story in the Old Bailey courthouse, but Diamonds is no sedentary courtroom drama. Thoughtful and complex, this one is sure to intrigue and satisfy discriminating fans of sophisticated mysteries as Trave digs into a family’s sordid past to ask difficult questions that lead to horrible truths involving World War II, Jewish diamond merchants, and the Holocaust.



Mother Daughter Traitor Spy by Susan Elia MacNealMother Daughter Traitor Spy
by Susan Elia MacNeal

Based on a real-life duo, the fictional Violet "Vi"  and Veronica Grace, are a mother-daughter spy team who infiltrate Los Angeles Nazi groups in the 1940s to stop a flood of antisemitic propaganda from turning the tide of sentiment at home against the war. Susan Elia MacNeal takes spins a unique angle on WWII, and while not a Holocaust novel, she focuses her lens on the battle against white nationalism and antisemitism closer to home in the United States. In doing so, she draws parallels between Vi and Veronica's time and our own.



The Reckoning by Sam BourneThe Final Reckoning
by Sam Bourne

Sam Bourne juggles several plots and dozens of characters with ease in The Final Reckoning, never losing the reader among the novel's many names, time periods, or character motivations. It tells the story of Gershon Matzkin, a young, Jewish resistance fighter during WWII, as his life is slowly revealed through the journey of lawyer Tom Byrne, who is hired to deal with the delicate optics of Matzkin's death after the now-elderly Matzkin is mistaken for a terrorist and shot outside the United Nations. Bourne’s searing descriptions of the Holocaust are well-researched, moving, and not soon forgotten.


5 Reads for International Holocaust Remembrance Day
Teri Duerr
Tuesday, 24 January 2023

City Under One Roof by Iris Yamashita

City Under One Roof
by Iris Yamashita
Berkley, January 2023, $27

When body parts (primarily booted feet) start washing ashore along the Alaskan coastline, the authorities take notice, but decide that said parts must have come from the bodies of suicides or accident victims. But when a foot and a hand appear near the edge the odd little tourist trap Point Mettier (population 205), it is intriguing enough to visiting Anchorage Police Detective Cara Kennedy to investigate on her own.

Shortly after introducing herself to local law enforcement, she pursues her investigation—partly for personal reasons,which are revealed in due time—with laser focus. Her search only intensifies when she becomes trapped in Point Mettier by the weather, with only a sketchy idea of when she’ll be able to leave. Her major problem now is that every piece of information she gleans about the secretive denizens of this little Alaskan town only serves to muddy the already murky waters surrounding the case.

Already an accomplished screenwriter, Iris Yamashita puts her own spin on various thriller/mystery tropes in her excellent debut, among them the locked-room mystery (here, an isolated city, literally locked down by a storm), the the quirky Alaskan town (shades of Insomnia, Northern Exposure, and 30 Days of Night) where secrets abound (a la Our Town and Twin Peaks), and the small-town police officer with her back against the wall (anyone else remember that seventies TV movie gem Isn’t It Shocking?).

Clever and claustrophobic, dark and atmospheric, the well-crafted, expertly executed City Under One Roof is crime fiction at its best. It's a perfect winter read, guaranteed to hold your attention rapt through several long, cold nights.

Hank Wagner Hank Wagner's frequent contributions to Mystery Scene include profiles of Peter Abrahams, David Morrell, and Dana Stabenow, as well as regular book reviews and a paperback thriller column. Hank lives in northwestern New Jersey with his wife and four daughters. His work has appeared in Cemetery Dance, Crime Spree, Hellnotes, and Jazz Improv, and he is a coauthor of The Complete Stephen King Universe (2006) and Prince of Stories: A Guide to the Many Worlds of Neil Gaiman (2008). His latest effort, co-edited with David Morrell is Thrillers: 100 Must Reads (2010), an Edgar, Anthony, and Macavity award finalist.

Review: "City Under One Roof"
Hank Wagner