As promised, I am going to give you the nominees for Best First Novel and the Mary Higgins Clark Award. I just have time and space to give a really brief sentence on plot so you can decide if you want to investigate further.
Best First Novel Nominees:
Dry Bones in the Valley by Tom Bouman. Kind of rough and noir. A loner detective in rural PA would rather be hunting or fishing but instead - he has to investigate a murder. Change is coming with drugs and oil drilling.
Invisible City by Julia Dahl. This work appears to be the first in a series. It takes place inside the Hasidic Jewish community in New York. A woman's body is found in a dump yard. Investigating this for the newspaper is a young female whose Hasidic mother abandoned her with her Christian father in Florida.
The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens. Many things going on in this one however, reviewers all loved it. A 21 year old college student is writing a biographical piece on an elderly individual for a writing class. The person he chooses is a Vietnam vet/convicted rapist and murderer who is dying of pancreatic cancer. He becomes a sleuth while trying to take care of an autistic brother.
Bad Country by C. B. McKenzie. One reviewer called it 'desert noir'. A former rodeo cowboy turned private investigator has a body turn up in his backyard. Deep and twisty and dark.
Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh. A genre blending rough and quirky ride. An NYC garbageman becomes a paid assassin after a dirty bomb goes off in NYC. He is faced with a moral dilemma when an Evangelist wants his daughter killed because of secrets.
Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver. Perhaps the start of another series in Britain during the 1930's. Amory Ames has been married for 5 years to a playboy. Her ex fiancee asks her to accompany him on vacation to attempt to stop his sister from marrying a playboy. That playboy is murdered and her ex-fiancee is a suspect. Ames must investigate.
The Mary Higgins Clark Award - for books written in her genre
A Dark and Twisted Tide by Sharon Bolton. This is the 4th in the Lacey Flint series. Lacey changed from being a Detective to being in the Marine Police thinking it would be a quieter job. Unfortunately, someone is leaving her presents and one of them is a dead body.
The Stranger You Know by Jane Casey. This is the 4th in the Maeve Kerrigan series. Maeve is a 28 year old London Detective Constable. In the series, you see her trying to survive in a male-dominated police department. In this title, Maeve is asked to investigate what appears to be some serial murders. The clues start to point to her partner, DCI Josh Derwent who is sexist and disagreeable. Maeve thinks he is obnoxious but can't believe he is a murderer.
Invisible City by Julia Dahl. Described above as a Best First Novel nominee.
Summer of the Dead by Julia Keller. This is the 3rd in the Bell Elkins series. This series has a very strong sense of place and the place is the rundown community of Acker's Gap, West Virginia. Bell is struggling with her sister's return after 30 years in prison for killing their abusive father and then an elderly man is murdered in his driveway. I have read this one and it made me go back and read the first 2 but then, the Appalachian area has always interested me.
The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day. Amelia Enmet is a sociology professor had been shot by one of her students for some unknown reason and then, he killed himself. Now, a year has passed and she is back to work. Psychologically she is having trouble dealing with stares and whispers. Then, Nath Barber, her Teaching Assistant tells her he wants to do his dissertation on her attack. Together, they try to understand the dark and challenging past.
There you go. The two groups of nominees. There are some good stories here and all are at the library.