Tuesday, 06 February 2024

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A hearty 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 27, 2024, during Malice Domestic 36 in Bethesda, Maryland.

Best Contemporary Mystery Novel

Wined and Died in New Orleans, by Ellen Byron (Berkley)
Helpless, by Annette Dashofy (Level Best Books)
The Weekend Retreat, by Tara Laskowski (Graydon House Books)
Case of the Bleus, by Korina Moss (St. Martins Press)
The Raven Thief, by Gigi Pandian (Minotaur Books)

Best Historical Mystery Novel

Death Among the Ruins, by Susanna Calkins (Severn House)
Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord, by Celeste Connally (Minotaur Books)
I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died, by Amanda Flower (Berkley)
Time's Undoing, by Cheryl A. Head (Dutton)
The Mistress of Bhatia House, by Sujata Massey (Soho Crime)

Best First Mystery Novel

Glory Be, by Danielle Arceneaux (Pegasus Crime)
The Hint of Light, by Kristin Kisska (Lake Union Publishing)
Dutch Threat, by Josh Pachter (Genius Book Publishing)
Crime and Parchment, by Daphne Silver (Level Best Books)
Mother-Daughter Murder Night, by Nina Simon (William Morrow)

Best Children's/Young Adult Mystery Novel

Myrtle, Means, and Opportunity, by Elizabeth C. Bunce (Algonquin Young Readers)
The Sasquatch of Hawthorne Elementary, by K. B. Jackson (Reycraft Books)
Araña and Spider-Man 2099, by Alex Segura (Marvel Press)
The Mystery of the Radcliffe Riddle, by Taryn Souders (Sourcebooks Young Readers)
Enola Holmes and the Mark of the Mongoose, by Nancy Springer (Wednesday Books)

Best Mystery Short Story

"The Knife Sharpener," by Shelley Costa (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, July/August 2023)
"A Good Judge of Character," by Tina deBellegarde, Malice Domestic 17: Murder Most Traditional, ed. by Verena Rose, Rita Owens, and Shawn Reilly Simmons (Wildside Press)
"Real Courage," by Barb Goffman (Black Cat Mystery Magazine #14)
"Ticket to Ride," by Dru Ann Love and Kristopher Zgorski, Happiness is a Warm Gun, ed. by Josh Pachter (Down & Out Books)
"Shamu, World's Greatest Detective," by Richie Narvaez, Killin' Time in San Diego, Bouchercon Anthology 2023, ed. by Holly West (Down & Out Books)

Best Mystery Nonfiction

Finders: Justice, Faith, and Identity in Irish Crime Fiction, by Anjili Babbar (Syracuse University Press)
Perplexing Plots: Popular Storytelling and the Poetics of Murder, by David Bordwell (Columbia University Press)
A Mystery of Mysteries: The Death and Life of Edgar Allan Poe, by Mark Dawidziak (St. Martins Press)
Fallen Angel: The Life of Edgar Allan Poe, by Robert Morgan (LSU Press)

Agatha Award Nominees Announced for Malice Domestic 36
Teri Duerr
Monday, 29 January 2024

Smoke Kings
by Jahmal Mayfield
Melville House, February 2024, $19.99

Jahmal Mayfield’s debut novel Smoke Kings is a slash-and-burn thriller seeping raw emotion, tension, and good intent gone bad. When Darius, a promising young black teenager enrolled to attend Rutgers, is brutally murdered without any obvious reason other than blatant, hateful racism, his older brother, Joshua, and his cousin, Nate, make a pact for revenge. They form a political action committee with their friends Rachel and Isiah to support minority political candidates across the country. The PAC is really a cover for their extracurricular activities, which is identifying, kidnapping, and forcing the descendants of the perpetrators of past racial violence to pay reparations to the descendants of the victims of that violence.

The quartet believe punishing those who have gained an advantage from past racism will balance the scales for Darius’s death and benefit minority, especially Black, communities. But with each successful operation, Nate, the team’s de facto leader, becomes more and more reckless and violent until his rage flares and sends a planned kidnapping into chaos. Afterwards, the group finds itself in a moral quandary and what seemed so obviously right when they began is seeming less certain. Things get worse when a nasty white supremacist gang and a former Alabama cop turned private eye track them down.

Smoke Kings is that rare thriller where the emotional impact of the story and characters is as important as the suspense. The tensions between the characters, particularly between Nate and Isiah add texture and realism. The story deals adroitly with cultural racism in the United States, never shirking from diverse perspectives about its causes and solutions. But Smoke Kings is, at its heart, a scorching thriller with twists and turns, secrets, character damnations and character redemptions, that will keep the most jaded reader turning its pages deep into the inky stillness of the night.


Review: "Smoke Kings" by Jahmal Mayfield
Benjamin Boulden
Tuesday, 23 January 2024

Mystery Writers of America has announced the nominees for the 2024 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, nonfiction, and television published or produced in 2023. The 78th Annual Edgar® Awards will be celebrated on Wednesday, May 1, 2024, at the New York Marriott Marquis Times Square. Congratulations to all of this year's nominees!


Flags on the Bayou, by James Lee Burke (Grove Atlantic – Atlantic Monthly Press)
All the Sinners Bleed, by S.A. Cosby (Flatiron Books)
The Madwomen of Paris, by Jennifer Cody Epstein (Penguin Random House – Ballantine Books)
Bright Young Women, by Jessica Knoll (Simon & Schuster – Simon Element – Marysue Rucci Books)
An Honest Man, by Michael Koryta (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown and Company – Mulholland Books)
The River We Remember, by William Kent Krueger (Simon & Schuster – Atria Books)
Crook Manifesto, by Colson Whitehead (Penguin Random House – Doubleday)


The Peacock and the Sparrow, by I.S. Berry (Simon & Schuster – Atria Books)
The Golden Gate, by Amy Chua (Macmillan Publishing – Minotaur Books)
Small Town Sins, by Ken Jaworowski (Macmillan Publishing – Henry Holt and Co.)
The Last Russian Doll, by Kristen Loesch (Penguin Random House – Berkley)
Murder by Degrees, by Ritu Mukerji (Simon & Schuster)


Boomtown, by A.F. Carter (Penzler Publishers - Mysterious Press)
Hide, by Tracy Clark (Amazon Publishing – Thomas & Mercer)
The Taken Ones, by Jess Lourey (Amazon Publishing – Thomas & Mercer)
Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers, by Jesse Q. Sutanto (Penguin Random House – Berkley)
Lowdown Road, by Scott Von Doviak (Hard Case Crime)


In Light of All Darkness: Inside the Polly Klaas Kidnapping and the Search for America’s Child, by Kim Cross (Hachette Book Group – Grand Central Publishing)
Number Go Up: Inside Crypto’s Wild Rise and Staggering Fall, by Zeke Faux (Penguin Random House – Crown Currency)
Tangled Vines: Power, Privilege, and the Murdaugh Family Murders, by John Glatt (Macmillan Publishers – St. Martin’s Press)
Crooked: The Roaring ’20s Tale of a Corrupt Attorney General, a Crusading Senator, and the Birth of the American Political Scandal, by Nathan Masters (Hachette Book Group – Hachette Books)
I Know Who You Are: How an Amateur DNA Sleuth Unmasked the Golden State Killer and Changed Crime Fighting Forever, by Barbara Rae-Venter (Penguin Random House – Ballantine Books)
The Lost Sons of Omaha: Two Young Men in an American Tragedy, by Joe Sexton (Simon & Schuster – Scribner)


Perplexing Plots: Popular Storytelling and the Poetics of Murder, by David Bordwell (Columbia University Press)
Spillane: King of Pulp Fiction, by Max Allan Collins & James L. Traylor (Penzler Publishers – Mysterious Press)
A Mystery of Mysteries: The Death and Life of Edgar Allan Poe, by Mark Dawidziak (Macmillan Publishing – St. Martin’s Press)
Fallen Angel: The Life of Edgar Allan Poe, by Robert Morgan (LSU Press)
Love Me Fierce in Danger – The Life of James Ellroy, by Steven Powell (Bloomsbury Publishing – Bloomsbury Academic)


“Hallowed Ground,” by Linda Castillo (Macmillan Publishers – Minotaur Books)
“Thriller,” Thriller by Heather Graham (Blackstone Publishing)
“Miss Direction,” Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, September-October 2023 by Rob Osler (Dell Magazines)
“The Rise,” Amazon Original Stories, by Ian Rankin (Amazon Publishing)
“Pigeon Tony’s Last Stand,” Amazon Original Stories, by Lisa Scottoline (Amazon Publishing)


Myrtle, Means, and Opportunity, by Elizabeth C. Bunce (Hachette Book Group – Workman Publishing – Algonquin Young Readers)
The Ghosts of Rancho Espanto, by Adrianna Cuevas (Macmillan Publishers – Farrar, Straus and Giroux BFYR)
Epic Ellisons: Cosmos Camp, by Lamar Giles (HarperCollins Publishers – Versify)
The Jules Verne Prophecy, by Larry Schwarz & Iva-Marie Palmer (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
What Happened to Rachel Riley? by Claire Swinarski (HarperCollins Publishers – Quill Tree Books)


Girl Forgotten, by April Henry (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Star Splitter, by Matthew J. Kirby (Penguin Young Readers – Dutton Books for Young Readers)
The Sharp Edge of Silence, by Cameron Kelly Rosenblum (HarperCollins Publishers – Quill Tree Books)
My Flawless Life, by Yvonne Woon (HarperCollins Publishers – Katherine Tegen Books)
Just Do This One Thing for Me, by Laura Zimmerman (Penguin Young Readers – Dutton Books for Young Readers)


“Time of the Monkey” – Poker Face, written by Wyatt Cain & Charlie Peppers (Peacock)
“I’m a Pretty Observant Guy” – Will Trent, written by Liz Heldens (ABC)
“Dead Man’s Hand” – Poker Face, written by Rian Johnson (Peacock)
“Hózhó Náhásdlii (Beauty is Restore)” – Dark Winds, written by Graham Roland & John Wirth (AMC)
“Escape from Shit Mountain” – Poker Face, written by Nora Zuckerman & Lilla Zuckerman (Peacock)


“Errand for a Neighbor,” Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, January-February 2023, by Bill Bassman (Dell Magazines)
“The Body in Cell Two,” Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, May-June 2023, by Kate Hohl (Dell Magazines)
“The Soiled Dove of Shallow Hollow,” Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, January-February 2023, by Sean McCluskey (Dell Magazines)
“It’s Half Your Fault,” Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, July-August 2023, by Meghan Leigh Paulk (Dell Magazines)
“Two Hours West of Nothing,” Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, September-October 2023, by Gabriela Stiteler (Dell Magazines)


Play the Fool, by Lina Chern (Penguin Random House – Bantam)
The Bones of the Story, by Carol Goodman (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
Of Manners and Murder, by Anastasia Hastings (Macmillan Publishers – Minotaur Books)
The Three Deaths, of Willa Stannard by Kate Robards (Crooked Lane Books)
Murder in Postscript, by Mary Winters (Penguin Random House – Berkley)


Hard Rain, by Samantha Jayne Allen (Macmillan Publishers – Minotaur Books)
An Evil Heart, by Linda Castillo (Macmillan Publishers – Minotaur Books)
Bad, Bad Seymour Brown, by Susan Isaacs (Grove Atlantic – Atlantic Monthly Press)
Past Lyingm, by Val McDermid (Grove Atlantic – Atlantic Monthly Press)
A Stolen Child, by Sarah Stewart Taylor (Macmillan Publishers – Minotaur Books)


Glory Be, by Danielle Arceneaux (Pegasus Books – Pegasus Crime)
Misfortune Cookie, by Vivien Chien (Macmillan – St. Martin’s Paperbacks)
Hot Pot Murder, by Jennifer J. Chow (Penguin Random House – Berkley)
Murder of an Amish Bridegroom, by Patricia Johns (Crooked Lane Books)
The Body in the Back Garden, by Mark Waddell (Crooked Lane Books)


Katherine Hall Page
R.L. Stine


Michaela Hamilton

2024 Edgar Allan Poe Award Nominations
Teri Duerr