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Critiquing some of the most interesting recent crime, mystery, and thriller releases. Click on the individual covers to read more.













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With just over a month still to go before the opening of this year’s Killer Nashville conference (August 22-25), organizers today released their registers of finalists for the 2019 Silver Falchion Awards. There are 10 categories of contenders, including the following two.

Mystery:
Unholy Secrets, by Delphine Boswell (CreateSpace)
The Burial Place, by Larry Enmon (Crooked Lane)
The Shadows We Hide, by Allan Eskens (Mulholland)
Star Struck, by Mike Faricy (Credit River e-book)
Killing in C Sharp, by Alexia Gordon (Henery Press)
A Knife in the Fog, by Bradley Harper (Seventh Street)
River of Secrets, by Roger Johns (Minotaur)
A Dying Note, by Ann Parker (Poisoned Pen Press)
Deadly Solution, by Keenan Powell (Level Best)
Dying for a Deal, by Cindy Sample (CreateSpace)

Thriller:
Yesterday’s News, by R.G. Belsky (Oceanview)
The War Beneath, by Timothy S. Johnston (ChiZine)
Fractured, by Thomas Kelso (Jolly Robin Press)
Illegal Holdings, by Michael Niemann (Coffeetown Press)
The Consultant, by Tj O’Connor (Oceanview)
City of Grudges, by Rick Outzen (SelectBooks)
A Knife’s Edge, by Eliot Parker (Headline)
Scourge, by Charley Pearson (Ingram Spark)
Naked Truth, by Rick Pullen (Koehler)
The Dark and the Dead, by Dana J. Summers (CreateSpace)

You can find the full list of Silver Falchion nominees here.

According to press materials, “Since 2008, the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Awards have recognized the best stories from the previous year told through various media utilizing the elements of mystery, thriller, and/or suspense. Judges are professional writers, book reviewers, librarians, academics, and—in specialized cases—specific industry peers. Focus is on quality, not popularity.”

Today’s news about the Silver Falchion nominees comes six weeks after Killer Nashville announced its nominees for the annual Claymore Award, given to the authors of “unpublished English-language manuscripts containing elements of thriller, mystery, crime, or suspense …”
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This evening, during opening ceremonies for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate, England, it was announced that Northern Ireland writer Steve Cavanagh’s latest book, Thirteen (Hachette), has won the 2019 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award. As Mystery Fanfare explains, “The prize was created to celebrate the very best in crime fiction and is open to UK and Irish crime authors …” 2019 marks the 15th year this commendation has been presented.

The other five books shortlisted for the 2019 award were Broken Ground, by Val McDermid (Little, Brown); Snap, by Belinda Bauer (Transworld); London Rules, by Mick Herron (John Murray); The Quaker, by Liam McIlvanney (HarperCollins); and East of Hounslow, by Khurrum Rahman (HarperCollins).

The longlist of this year’s nominees was broadcast in April, with the shortlist disseminated a month later.

Cavanagh’s Thirteen, a legal thriller, is scheduled to be released in the States on August 13, by Flatiron Books.
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Canada has lost one of its most honored detective novelists. Quill & Quire reports that “Howard Engel, the author of the beloved Benny Cooperman series of mysteries,” died this last Monday night at age 88. Cause of death was apparently pneumonia, which Engel caught while he was recovering from a stroke. Q&Q goes on to recall:
Born in 1931 in the Ontario city of St. Catharines, Engel worked as a producer at the CBC before publishing the first of the Cooperman mysteries, The Suicide Murders, in 1980. “No crime fiction novel had ever been set in Canada with a Canadian hero before Howard did it,” wrote Cynthia Good in 2010 on the occasion of his being presented the Jewish Book Award for Lifetime Achievement. East of Suez, the 14th Cooperman mystery, was published in 2008. Engel’s final novel, the historical fiction City of Fallen Angels, appeared in 2014.

In addition to his Cooperman mysteries, Engel also wrote fiction and non-fiction, including a memoir,
The Man Who Forgot How to Read, detailing his experience suffering alexia sine agraphia, a neurological condition that robbed him of the ability to read while retaining the ability to write.

Engel was the recipient of the Arthur Ellis Award and the Derrick Murdoch Award, and was the first crime writer to receive the Writers’ Trust of Canada Matt Cohen Award. In 2007, he was invested into the Order of Canada. He was also the recipient of the Grand Master Award from the Crime Writers of Canada, an organization he founded.
Two other Engel novels I think are worth mentioning, if only because they feature prominently on my office bookshelves: Murder in Montparnasse (1992) and Mr. Doyle and Dr. Bell (1997). He also produced the 1996 non-fiction work Lord High Executioner: An Unashamed Look at Hangmen, Headsmen, and Their Kind.

FOLLOW-UP: There’s some confusion as to how many Benny Cooperman novels Engel wrote. Goodreads puts the number at 14, but Toronto-based Cormorant Books—which published the last entry in the series, Over the River (2018)—calls that work the 15th Cooperman yarn. Can anyone out there clear up this mystery?

READ MORE:Howard Engel, Author of the Benny Cooperman Detective Series, Dead at 88,” by Jane van Koeverden (CBC).
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• Sad news from The New York Times: “Andrea Camilleri, who took a late-career stab at writing a mystery novel and came up with the Inspector [Salvo] Montalbano detective series, which became wildly successful in Italy and was the basis for a popular television series, died on Wednesday morning in a hospital in Rome. He was 93.” (This comes a month after the author experienced cardiac arrest.) The International Crime Fiction Research Group calls Camilleri “one of the most influential authors of crime fiction in Europe. With his novels widely translated and adapted across the continent, he has come to represent the quintessential European Author.” Mark Lawson, in The Guardian, recalls that Camilleri “considered it his duty to speak out against the dark politics by which his country was often seduced, regularly appearing as a pundit on Italian TV shows where he was torrentially opinionated, intelligent and witty. Camilleri became so recognisable that, unusually for a novelist, he was impersonated by satirists and comedians.” Lawson adds: “There will be at least one more novel. In our [2012] interview, he told me that—as Agatha Christie did with Hercule Poirot in Curtain—he had deposited with his publisher Riccardino, a final novel in which Montalbano is ‘finished off’ that was to only be published posthumously.”

• Our condolences go out, too, to the family of Seattle resident and writer Andi Schecter, who passed away earlier this week at age 66 as a result of glioblastoma. Editor-blogger Janet Rudolph observes: “Andi was a powerful force in both the mystery and science fiction communities,” who had chaired both a Bouchercon convention (in Seattle in 1994) and two different Left Coast Crime gatherings (in 1997 and 2007). January Magazine editor Linda L. Richards, for whom she wrote several book reviews over the years, offers this remembrance. (Hat tip to The Gumshoe Site.)

• Florida journalist Craig Pittman has an excellent new piece in CrimeReads, which looks back at the 1984-1990 NBC-TV series Miami Vice and how changed the future of the city in which it was shot.

• Late fall, I mentioned here that screenwriter Todd Alcott had assembled a gallery of “digital mash-ups” combining vintage paperback covers with classic songs by David Bowie, Elvis Costello, and others. What I failed to notice was that the Web site on which those covers appeared, Open Culture, later posted a second set of reimagined covers, based on Bob Dylan songs such as “Like a Rolling Stone” and “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.” Check those out here.

• In May, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine contributor Kevin Mims examined author Herman Wouk’s contributions to the legal-thriller genre. Now, Mims has posted a remembrance of Arkansas author Douglas C. Jones and how he created the “alternate history trial novel.” To learn more about Jones’ career, see this entry I wrote about him for the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture.

• Bouchercon 2019 is still more than three months away (October 31-November 3, in Dallas, Texas), but word is already out that Jenn and Don Longmuir will receive the 2019 David Thompson Memorial Special Service Award during that convention. “The Longmuirs have been fixtures in the crime fiction community for more than a quarter-century,” reads a news release carried by Mystery Fanfare. “The couple owns and runs Scene of the Crime Books in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, and they have been book room organizers, book sellers and attendees at mystery conventions across North America. Don also served on the Bouchercon Board for five years.” The David Thompson Award, named in honor of a Texas bookstore owner and crime-fiction publisher who died in 2010, will be presented to the Longmuirs during Bouchercon 2019’s opening ceremonies, on Thursday, October 31.

This comes from In Reference to Murder:
There’s a call for papers for “The Absurdity of Racism: an International Chester Himes Conference” to be held June 4-5, 2020, at the American University of Paris. As the organizers note, “always controversial, combative and daring, Himes carved a niche for himself in the worlds of crime fiction and protest literature while negotiating the ‘quality of hurt’ of his black American and European expatriate worlds.”

Abstracts of 250 words, accompanied by a very brief bio, should be sent by October 15.
• You knew something like this was inevitable, right? “In a competitive situation,” reports Deadline, “Amazon has landed the rights to develop a script-to-series drama based on the Jack Reacher character from Lee Child’s bestselling book series, from Scorpion creator Nick Santora. The project will be a co-production of Amazon Studios, Skydance Television and Paramount Television.”

• The Killing Times says Luther creator “Neil Cross, has had a new drama commissioned by ITV. Because the Night is described as a ‘chilling and suspenseful four-part story of murder—and perhaps ghosts—which exposes the quiet terror of a man trying to escape his past.’ The series is inspired by the novel Burial, also written by Cross.”

• And Episode 2 of Paperback Warrior’s new podcast recalls “the origins of the paperback book in 1939. Our feature is the widely successful publisher Fawcett Gold Medal, a cornerstone of crime-noir in the ’50s, ’60s and early ’70s. We also look at Black Wings Has My Angel, by Lewis Elliott Chaze, and the debut ‘MacMorgan’ novel by Randy Wayne White.” Listen here.
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To my knowledge, there’s no agreed-upon limit as to how many works can appear on a “shortlist” of nominees for book awards. But to judge by its press materials, Sisters in Crime Australia is feeling a tad guilty about putting 25 titles into the running for its 19th Davitt Awards, honoring crime books by Australian women. “[W]ith 127 books in contention,” says Davitt judges “wrangler” Jacqui Horwood, “the six judges were overwhelmed with so much outstanding writing to choose from. Many authors are serial offenders.”

I won’t list all of this year’s award rivals (there are five categories), but here are the nine works vying for the Adult Crime prize:

This I Would Kill For, by Anne Buist (Text)
Second Sight, by Aoife Clifford (Simon & Schuster)
Redemption Point, by Candice Fox (Penguin Random House)
Mine, by Susi Fox (Penguin Random House)
The Lost Man, by Jane Harper (Pan MacMillan Australia)
Wintering, by Krissy Kneen (Text)
The Killing of Louisa, by Janet Lee (University of Queensland Press)
The Rúin, by Dervla McTiernan (HarperCollins Australia)
Live and Let Fry, by Sue Williams (Text)

Click here to find the full inventory of 2019 Davitt Award nominees.

Winners will be declared during a “gala dinner” on Saturday, August 31, at South Melbourne’s Rising Sun Hotel.
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Sadly, the closest I got to this year’s ThrillerFest in New York City (July 9-13) was viewing the many photos from there that author Lee Goldberg posted on his Facebook page. But at least I can fill you in on who won the 2019 Thriller Awards, given out during a celebratory banquet last evening. (Hat tip to The Gumshoe Site.)

Best Hardcover Novel: Jar of Hearts, by Jennifer Hillier (Minotaur)

Also nominated: November Road, by Lou Berney (Morrow); Paper Ghosts, by Julia Heaberlin (Ballantine); Pieces of Her, by Karin Slaughter (Morrow); and The Cabin At the End of the World, Paul Tremblay (Morrow)

Best First Novel:
The Chalk Man, by C.J. Tudor (Crown)

Also nominated: The Terminal List, by Jack Carr (Atria/Emily Bestler); Need to Know, by Karen Cleveland (Ballantine); Caged, by Ellison Cooper (Minotaur); and Something in the Water, by Catherine Steadman (Ballantine)

Best Paperback Original Novel:
The Lost Man, by Jane Harper (Pan Macmillan Australia)

Also nominated: The Good Samaritan, by John Marrs (Thomas & Mercer); The Naturalist, by Andrew Mayne (Thomas & Mercer); Gone Dark, by Kirk Russell (Thomas & Mercer); and Mister Tender’s Girl, by Carter Wilson (Sourcebooks Landmark)

Best Short Story:
“Nana,” by Helen Smith (from Killer Women: Crime Club
Anthology #2
; Killer Women)

Also nominated: “The Victims’ Club,” by Jeffery Deaver (Amazon Original); “10,432 Serial Killers (in Hell),” by Emily Devenport (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine); “Window to the Soul,” by Scott Loring Sanders (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine); and “Tough Guy Ballet,” by Duane Swierczynski (from For the Sake of the Game: Stories Inspired by the Sherlock Holmes Canon, edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger; Pegasus)

Best Young Adult Novel:
Girl At the Grave, by Teri Bailey Black (Tor Teen)

Also nominated: The Lies They Tell, by Gillian French (HarperTeen); Warcross, by Marie Lu (Penguin Young Readers); People Like Us, by Dana Mele (Penguin Young Readers); and The Perfect Candidate, by Peter Stone (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

Best E-book Original Novel:
Pray for the Innocent, by Alan Orloff (Kindle Press)

Also nominated: Murder on the Marshes, by Clare Chase (Bookouture); Executive Force, by Gary Grossman (Diversion); The Reunion, by Samantha Hayes (Bookouture); and The Memory Detective, by T.S. Nichols (Alibi)

ThrillerMaster Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient:
John Sandford

Silver Bullet Award Recipient: Harlan Coben

Thriller Legend Award Recipient: Margaret Marbury

ThrillerFan Award Recipient: Bookseller “Mystery Mike” Bursaw
Congratulations to the victors and other contenders alike!
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Today is Bastille Day (aka French National Day), commemorating the July 14, 1789, public storming of Paris’ Bastille Saint-Antoine, a fortress-prison that was seen as symbolizing King Louis XVI’s increasingly oppressive and oblivious monarchy. Consider this a perfect occasion to revisit the large collection of beautiful French book fronts I put together four years ago for my other blog, Killer Covers.
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• In The Rap Sheet’s last news wrap-up, I noted that Season 4 of Grantchester will premiere in the States this coming Sunday night, July 14, as part of PBS-TV’s Masterpiece Mystery! lineup. Now comes word, courtesy of The Killing Times, that ITV, the British network behind that cozyish historical crime series, has renewed Grantchester for yet another year. “The show’s fifth season,” says The Killing Times, “is set in 1957, the year Prime Minister Harold Macmillan told the British people that they had ‘never had it so good.’ For many of the residents of Grantchester, it really will feel like they’re in a delightful new Eden, but for all the talk of paradise on earth and faith-in-action, Geordie Keating (Robson Green) knows that trouble is never far away.”

• American film director Brian De Palma (Carrie, Scarface, The Untouchables, The Black Dahlia, etc.) will release his first novel—to be published by Hard Case Crime—in March 2020, according to Entertainment Weekly. Titled Are Snakes Necessary?, and co-authored with Susan Lehman, the book is said to be a “‘a blistering political satire’ that doubles as a female revenge thriller.” Hard Case provides this plot brief:
When the beautiful young videographer offered to join his campaign, Senator Lee Rogers should’ve known better. But saying no would have taken a stronger man than Rogers, with his ailing wife and his robust libido. Enter Barton Brock, the senator’s fixer. He’s already gotten rid of one troublesome young woman—how hard could this new one turn out to be? Pursued from Washington, D.C., to the streets of Paris, 18-year-old Fanny Cours knows her reputation and budding career are on the line. But what she doesn’t realize is that her life might be as well …
EW quotes Hard Case editor Charles Ardai as calling Are Snakes Necessary? “not just a great crime story, it’s a sharp, ruthless look at the state of affairs—both political and extramarital—in our turbulent modern era.” That certainly sounds promising.

Margery Allingham’s renown lives on, thanks i part to a decision regarding the future of an annual short-story competition named after her. This note comes from Shotsmag Confidential: “The Margery Allingham Society has agreed with the [British] Crime Writers’ Association that the popular short mystery competition will run for at least another five years, until 2024. The Society, set up to honour and promote the writings of the great Golden Age author whose well-known hero is Albert Campion, works with the CWA to operate and fund the writing competition that opens for entries in the autumn on the CWA’s website and closes every February.” It was only this last May that the winner of the 2019 Margery Allingham Short Story Competition was announced: Ray Bazowski, for “A Perfect Murderer.”

• Blogger, genre historian, and authorCurtis Evans seems more than moderately thrilled by news that Freeman Wills Crofts’ Golden Age mysteries starring Inspector French are the inspiration for a forthcoming TV series. “I have read the script of what is to be the first episode,” Evans explains in The Passing Tramp, “based on a Crofts novel which I write about extensively in my 2012 book about Crofts, John Street, and JJ Connington, and I am excited about the whole thing. Crofts readers will be able to tell just from this article that there are changes being made for the adaptation, changes which will be forthrightly aired here, but I think fans of the book will be pleased, as well as mystery fans more generally.” In a follow-up to that original post, Evans interviews Brendan Foley, the program’s writer.

• With Donald Trump’s outrageous and dangerous “nationwide immigration enforcement operation … targeting migrant families” apparently taking place this weekend—his latest ploy to gin up support among his radical base, no matter the damage it does to families as well as America’s reputation—it seems an appropriate time to point readers toward Oline H. Cogdill’s list of “mysteries that include immigrants in their solid plots.” Included among her choices are works by Ragnar Jónasson, Denise Hamilton, and Dennis Lehane.

• And while we’re on the subject of lists, check out Mystery Tribune’s picks of the “Top 10 Great Brazilian Crime Fiction Books.” Several of those works were composed by two authors well represented on my own bookshelves: Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza and Leighton Gage.

• Oh, and author John Galligan offers this CrimeReads piece identifying “8 Novels You Won’t Find in the Crime Section,” but that nonetheless belong there, given their subject matter. Yes, Jim Harrison’s Brown Dog (2013) is among them.

HBO has chosen September 9 as the date on which its gritty George Pelecanos/David Simon-created drama series, The Deuce, will return for its third and final season. As Deadline explains, the show “chronicles the establishment of the porn industry in the decidedly pre-Disney Times Square of the early 1970s through legalization, the rise of HIV, the cocaine epidemic and the big business of the mid-1980s, with the changing real estate market about to bring the deadly party to a close.” James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal star.

• A premiere date has been set, too, for Stumptown, the ABC-TV detective series I wrote about not long ago. Based on graphic novels by Greg Rucka, this hour-long show stars Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother, Friends from College) as Dex Parios, “a sharp-witted army veteran who becomes a private investigator in Portland, Oregon.” ABC will premiere Stumptown on September 25, at 10 p.m.

• Way to kick a dead man while he’s down! In its newest installment of a series revisiting Edgar Allan Poe Award winners from the past, Thomas Wickersham recalls The Rheingold Route, Arthur Maling’s 1979 “espionage novel without spies.” Wickersham remarks: “It is a pity when a book’s place in history is to languish all but forgotten besides its title on a list of awards. It is sadder still to revisit such a book and find that its place in obscurity is earned.” Maybe, though, as Wickersham himself suggests, The Rheingold Route “was a book of its time.” Back in ’79, Kirkus Reviews was much more generous to the novel, calling it “tautly plotted, distinctively populated, convincingly romantic—perfect material for a Hitchcock film or an all-in-one-sitting late-night read.” Author Maling passed away in 2013.

• The Staunch Prize, launched last year to salute thriller novels “in which no woman is beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped, or murdered,” has been criticized recently by authors objecting to organizers’ insinuations that their fiction may bias rape juries and trials. In the UK’s Guardian, prize-winning author Sarah Hilary (Never Be Broken) calls the Staunch Prize “not a prize so much as a gagging order,” and she goes on to say: “Violence against women takes many forms, perhaps the most insidious of which is censorship. We’re discouraged from going to the police in case we’re not believed, taught to expect resistance to our version of events, silenced by shame or fear. This prize reinforces all those negative messages, and ignores the very real good that crime fiction can do by reflecting the violent reality of many women’s lives.” Meanwhile, Edinburgh’s Kaite Walsh (The Unquiet Heart), who was herself raped as a younger woman, opines: “I can’t write about a world without rape because I don’t live in one. I won’t sanitise my writing in service of some fictional, feminist utopia. And while I indulge in fictional universes that let me escape, write the world the way I wish it was, my work lies in marrying my imagination with the ugly truth, challenging myself to explore the friction in the places where they collide. I wanted to write someone whose story didn’t end with rape, or even begin with it—but included it as just another bump in the road that has to be dealt with, worked through and lived with.”

• I wouldn’t normally bother with the right-wing “news” site Breitbart. But Gigi Garner, daughter of the late actor James Garner, recommended this Independence Day Breitbart tribute to her father, which touts his 1974-1980 NBC-TV series The Rockford Files as “the most American television show ever made.” Contributor John Nolte lays out a variety of reasons why he believes Garner’s private eye, Jim Rockford, was “TV’s great American,” including:
He’s a gentleman and chivalrous to the ladies—a real Neanderthal who opens car doors, lights cigarettes, steps into harm’s way to protect them, and yet still treats them as equals.

He’s a reluctant hero who keeps his virtues to a minimum “because they’re easier to keep track of.” In other words, he’s not a pompous virtue-signaler. …

Above all, Jim Rockford is first, last, and always his own man. His independence, his unwillingness to conform to anyone’s idea of how he should live his life, work his profession, or bow to authority is as American as it gets. He doesn’t tell anyone else how to live their life, and as long as you don’t cross that busybody line with him, there won’t be a problem.
Nolte goes out of his way to suggest that Rockford was one of those government-hating “real Americans” Sarah Palin was always spouting off about. I wonder if he realizes Garner was a self-described “‘bleeding-heart liberal,’ one of those card-carrying Democrats that Rush Limbaugh thinks is a communist. And I’m proud of it.”

• OK, a show of hands: Who remembers actor George Kennedy’s 1975-1976 CBS-TV series, The Blue Knight, based on Joseph Wambaugh’s 1973 novel of the same name? I just noticed that five of that program’s two-dozen episodes are available on YouTube. It’s best to watch them now, before they’re scrubbed from the site.

Registration is already open for readers and writers hoping to attend the 2012 Left Coast Crime convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Guests of Honor that year will be novelists Mick Herron and Catriona McPherson. Don’t forget about LCC 2020, either, which is scheduled to be held in San Diego, California.

• In advance of the Veronica Mars TV revival series, which begins airing on July 26 on Hulu, the Web site Vox chooses the best and worst episodes from among the show’s original, 2004-2007 run; the 2014 film based on the program also joins the ranking. When you’re done reading through all of those, look back at Cameron Hughes’ 2008 piece about Veronica Mars, posted in The Rap Sheet.

• Finally, a belated (and posthumous) “happy birthday” to composer Earle Hagan, who “would have turned 100 years old on July 9,” as Variety notes. Among his many contributions to popular culture, Hagan gave us the themes for The Andy Griffith Show, I Spy, The Mod Squad, and The New Perry Mason.
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This year’s Deadly Ink Mystery Conference is scheduled for August 2-4 in Parsippany, New Jersey. Among the highlights of that convention will be the presentation of the 2019 David Award, named in honor of early Deadly Ink supporter David G. Sasher. Here are the nominees:

Yesterday’s News, by R.G. Belsky (Oceanview)
Died in the Wool, by Peggy Ehrhart (Kensington)
The Consultant, by Tj O’Connor (Oceanview)
Misty Treasure, by Linda Rawlins (Riverbench)
Second Story Man, by Charles Salzberg (Down & Out)
Feral Attraction, by Eileen Watkins (Kensington)

Just one mystery here: Deadly Ink’s Web site says this commendation will be given to “the best mystery published in 2018.” Yet according to Amazon, Salzberg’s novel came out in November 2017. Maybe the eligibility period isn’t quite as rigid as it seems.

(Hat tip to Mystery Fanfare.)

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