The best novels, short stories, and nonfiction books have been nominated for the Agatha Awards. There are a lot of keepers such as Trust Me by Hank Phillippi Ryan and of course Louise Penny has a book nominated too. I’m going to have a particularly hard time voting for only one Best Short Story and one Best Historical Novel. Take a look. The novels are worth picking up, and you can read the short stories at malicedomestic.org/agathas.html
Best Historical Novel
- Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding by Rhys Bowen
- The Gold Pawn by LA Chandlar
- The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey
- Turning the Tide by Edith Maxwell
- Murder on Union Square by Victoria Thompson
Best Short Story
- “All God’s Sparrows” by Leslie Budewitz
- “A Postcard for the Dead” by Susanna Calkins
- “Bug Appetit” by Barb Goffman
- “The Case of the Vanishing Professor” by Tara Laskowski
- “English 398: Fiction Workshop” by Art Taylor
I’ve always read mystery short stories, sometimes in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine or Ellery Queen, occasionally in literary journals or anthologies, and often online. Short stories are difficult to write. Ask anyone who has managed to write a book and decides to contribute to an anthology. But short stories are a great way to get a taste of mystery even if you have time to read a novel.
The characters in all of the nominated short story mysteries are interesting people who are in unusual circumstances. What I wonder as I read them is what will the twist be, that aha moment where the author manages to change, in a perfectly logical way, the solution to the mystery.
In Barb Goffman’s “A Year Without Santa Claus” published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, the director of all magical New Jersey things must solve three murders so that Santa will come for Christmas.
In Edith Maxwell’s “A Questionable Death published in History and Mystery, Oh My, a Quaker midwife and her friend unravel a mystery in 1888.
In Harriette Sackler’s “Suffer the Poor” also published in History and Mystery, Oh My, tells the story of a young woman who ministers to the poor in London’s East End.
In Terrie Farley Moran’s “A Killing at the Beausoleil” published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, two friends use knitting wiles to solve a murder when they rent a condo on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
In B.K. Stevens’ “A Joy Forever” published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, is it really murder when you encourage someone to kill themselves?
All five stories are good reads. You can find links to all five at Malicedomestic.org under the Awards tag.