The Agatha Award is presented to titles that are not as dark or bloody as the Edgars. People sometimes refer to them as cozies but I think they are becoming slightly more sophisticated than that traditional description. The nominees were recently announced. The library has or is getting all of the titles for Best Novel and Best First Novel. See if you can pick the winner.
Best Novel: (Hummmm - Davis, Malliet, Maron and Penny were all nominated last year also. Looks like Ryan is the only fresh face.)
The Diva Digs Up The Dirt by Krista Davis - Sophie Winston is looking forward to a few days off. But then a reality show turns up in her front yard, thanks to her annoying neighbor (and her ex-husband's whatever) Natasha, to give her a new garage. An odd woman shows up asking Sophie to find her missing daughter, then stalks Sophie when she turns down the job on the grounds that she's an event planner and not a detective. There are tangled - possibly fatal - relationships within the wealthy family of a man for whom Sophie plans a party. And when she attempts to replace a dead rosebush in her boyfriend Wolf's yard, she digs up more than she'd bargained for - Wolf's missing wife's purse.
A Fatal Winter by G.M. Malliet - Max—Anglican priest, former MI5 agent, and village heartthrob—investigates two deaths at Chedrow Castle. But his growing attraction to Awena Owen complicates his case, as does the recent arrival at Chedrow Castle of a raucous group of long-lost, greedy relatives, any one of whom has a motive for murder.
The Buzzard Table by Margaret Maron - Judge Deborah Knott and her husband Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Bryant are back home in Colleton County, NC. There are several new or revisiting faces as well, including Lt. Sigrid Harald. When a string of suspicious murders sets Colleton County on edge, Deborah, Dwight, and Sigrid once again work together to catch a killer, uncovering long-buried family secrets along the way.
The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny - 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. 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.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.
The Other Woman by Hank Phillippi Ryan - Investigative reporter Jane Ryland is trying to resurrect her career which was destroyed when she refused to reveal a source. She has no idea that her determination to find out who the ‘other’ woman is in random pictures of a senatorial campaign will turn out to be a convoluted story of seduction, betrayal and murder involving several ‘other’ women.
Best First Novel: Hmmm - notice the predominance of Southern states - South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Alabama and Texas. Do murders not happen elsewhere?
Lowcountry Boil by Susan M. Boyer -Private Investigator Liz Talbot is a modern Southern belle: she blesses hearts and takes names. She carries her Sig 9 in her Kate Spade handbag, and her golden retriever, Rhett, rides shotgun in her hybrid Escape. When her grandmother is murdered, Liz high-tails it back to her South Carolina island home to find the killer.
Iced Chiffon by Duffy Brown - This one takes place in Savannah. After turning the first floor of her home into a consignment ship, Reagan Summerside discovers that murder is good for business when she finds her ex-husband's new girlfriend dead in his Lexus.
A Scrapbook of Secrets by Mollie Cox Bryan - Having traded in her career as a successful investigative journalist for the life of a stay-at-home mom in picturesque Cumberland Creek, Virginia, Annie can’t help but feel that something’s missing. But she finds solace in a local “crop circle” of scrapbookers united by chore-shy husbands, demanding children, and occasional fantasies of their former single lives. And when the quiet idyll of their small town is shattered by a young mother’s suicide, they band together to find out what went wrong…
A Killer Read by Erika Chase - For the first meeting of the Ashton Corners, AL Mystery Readers and Cheese Straws Society, six friends gather in Molly Matthew's old Southern mansion-including Lizzie Turner, a reading specialist with a penchant for mysteries. But the mystery book club meeting becomes the scene of an actual murder when a stranger is shot-and nobody knows who the victim is, or how Molly' antique gun came to be used as the murder weapon.
Faithful Unto Death by Stephanie Jaye Evans - In a town where things seem to be utterly perfect at all times, readers soon learn that Sugar Land is not so very sweet after all. The core of the story centers around Walker “Bear” Wells, a former college football star who is now a minister in Sugar Land. Bear doesn’t want to get involved in the investigation; he basically just wants to pray for the deceased and help the grieving family, but clues keep cropping up and eventually Bear’s life is overrun by the crime.
There are several of these that I want to read. How about you?