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NLS Minibibliographies

Agatha Award-Winning Novels

Content last modified July 2011


Mystery fans are faced with a wide range of styles in their reading. The crime solver could be a member of the police force or an amateur reluctantly drawn into investigating the fate of a victim, who might be missing or dead—or both. The styles run from hardboiled to cozy. The amount of grisly detail can vary widely from book to book. Readers of this genre need guidance to find the type of book they enjoy.

Since 1989 Malice Domestic, an annual fan convention, has honored authors of traditional mysteries with the Agatha Award, named after mystery writer Agatha Christie. Malice Domestic defines a traditional mystery as one with no explicit sex, excessive gore, or gratuitous violence.

The Agatha Award truly represents the voice of the fans. Each year those who have registered for the Malice Domestic convention are invited to submit nominations. Convention attendees vote on the submissions, and the awards are presented at a banquet.

This minibibliography lists books that have won Agatha Awards in the categories of best novel and best first novel in alphabetical order, first by author, then by title. Titles are available in braille and/or audiobook formats. Recorded titles are available on cassette, cartridge, and/or on the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD), https://nlsbard.loc.gov, which allows registered patrons to download digital talking books and audio magazines. Patrons who wish to use BARD must have a blank cartridge, a USB cord, a digital player, a computer, and a high-speed Internet connection. Some digital titles may be available only for download. Braille titles are available to registered patrons on NLS Web-Braille at www.loc.gov/nls/braille.

Murder with Peacocks
by Donna Andrews

Meg is knocking herself out trying to be a bridesmaid for the weddings of her brother, mother, and best friend. As she tries to help her ditzy relatives prepare for their various outrageous festivities, one of the guests is murdered, old crimes are uncovered, and she falls in love. 1999.

BR 13270, volume 1

BR 13270, volume 2

BR 13270, volume 3

Track of the Cat
by Nevada Barr

National park ranger Anna Pigeon is patrolling the West Texas backcountry when she discovers the body of a colleague apparently killed by a mountain lion. A disbelieving Anna tracks a human killer as conflict erupts among park employees, hunters, ranchers, and conservationists. Some descriptions of sex and some strong language. 1993.

DB 65648 (May be available only for download)

RC 65648

Murphy’s Law: A Molly Murphy Mystery
by Rhys Bowen

Ireland, 1901. Molly Murphy flees to New York City after killing a would-be rapist in her home village. She assumes an alias for passage aboard ship, but at Ellis Island she is once again accused of murder. Handsome NYPD captain Daniel Sullivan is willing to help her prove her innocence. 2001.

BR 14095, volume 1

BR 14095, volume 2

BR 14095, volume 3

Grime and Punishment: A Jane Jeffry Mystery
by Jill Churchill

Jane Jeffry’s friend Shelley Nowack hires the Happy Helper Cleaning Service, who instead of sending the regular maid sends substitute Ramona Thurgood. When Ramona is found strangled with a vacuum-cleaner cord in Shelley’s house, Jane thinks the killer could be someone in the neighborhood. 1989.

DB 68692

RC 68692

A Great Deliverance
by Elizabeth George

Inspector Thomas Lynley, the eighth Earl of Asherton, and Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers investigate the murder of a Yorkshire man. The main suspect is the victim’s daughter, who was found sitting by the headless corpse and confessed without apology. But she may have been driven to the crime by incestuous abuse.  1988.

RC 28547

Dead Man’s Island
by Carolyn G. Hart

Media magnate Chase Prescott invites his old flame, retired reporter Henrietta O’Dwyer Collins—Henrie O—to his private South Carolina island to ferret out his would-be murderer from among the family and associates assembled there. Henrie O questions fellow guests as a ferocious hurricane draws near. Some strong language. 1993.

DB 63926 (May be available only for download)

RC 63926

BR 09684, volume 1

BR 09684, volume 2

Letter from Home
by Carolyn G. Hart

Gretchen Gilman receives a letter, prompting a flood of memories about the murder of a friend’s mother. During World War II Gretchen, a thirteen-year-old cub reporter for the town paper, sought the truth and lost her innocence. Now, fifty years later, the truth finds her. 2003.

DB 57369 (May be available only for download)

RC 57369

Something Wicked
by Carolyn G. Hart

Atlanta. Mystery bookstore owner Annie Laurance, her fiancé Max, and the rest of the summer stock players know their production of Arsenic and Old Lace needs to be a hit so they can get their new theater. Instead it is plagued by sabotage and murder. Some strong language. 1988.

DB 65923 (May be available only for download)

RC 65923

Dating Dead Men
by Harley Jane Kozak

Los Angeles greeting-card artist Wollie Shelley, busy with a dating research project, dashes off to visit her institutionalized, schizophrenic brother. She finds a body on the road and fears that her sibling could be involved. As Wollie investigates, a colorful cast of characters gradually enters her life. 2004.

DB 59695 (May be available only for download)

RC 59695

Death of a Cozy Writer: A St. Just Mystery
by G.M. Malliet

British mystery writer Sir Adrian Beauclerk-Fisk invites his grown children to his wedding. The four siblings are not happy about the bride and her possible threat to their inheritance. When Sir Adrian and his eldest son are both murdered, Detective Chief Inspector Arthur St. Just investigates. Some strong language. 2008.

DB 69655

RC 69655

Bootlegger’s Daughter
by Margaret Maron

Janie Whitehead is found dead in an abandoned mill—her baby Gayle wet and hungry beside her. Eighteen years later, Gayle searches for the murderer’s motive. Family friend Deborah Knott, the daughter of a notorious former bootlegger, helps investigate, not realizing it may jeopardize her campaign for judge. Prequel to Southern Discomfort (RC 37826). Edgar Award winner. Strong language and some violence. 1992.

RC 37825

Storm Track
by Margaret Maron

North Carolina judge Deborah Knott helps detective Dwight Bryant investigate the murder of a Colleton County attorney’s promiscuous wife, who was found strangled in a room of a local motel. Meanwhile, a second killer, Hurricane Fran, is threatening the coast. Some descriptions of sex and some violence. 2000.

DB 66003

RC 66003

Up Jumps the Devil
by Margaret Maron

When a former neighbor is shot in broad daylight in his backyard, Judge Deborah Knott pays a condolence call on his widow. She hears the family version of the murder, but quickly finds out that the sheriff suspects others who have stronger motives. 1996.

RC 45837

If I’d Killed Him When I Met Him: An Elizabeth MacPherson Novel
by Sharyn McCrumb

Forensic anthropologist Elizabeth MacPherson helps her attorney brother, Bill, in a bigamy-murder case that echoes a long-ago arsenic poisoning in the defendant’s family.  Meanwhile Bill’s partner, A.P., defends a woman who killed her arrogant ex-husband and his new wife. 1995.

RC 44478

She Walks These Hills
by Sharyn McCrumb

In the Tennessee hills, elderly escaped convict Harm Sorley, who cannot remember the last forty years, tries to find his wife and baby. Like his uncle before him, Harm becomes a folk hero, but newly appointed deputy Martha Ayers feels duty-bound to track him. Meanwhile, retracing the long-ago route a pioneer girl took to escape from Indians, a graduate student encounters the girl’s ghost. Strong language. 1994.

RC 40372

The Body in the Belfry
by Katherine Hall Page

Gourmet caterer Faith Fairchild’s life is turned topsy-turvy by her marriage to the minister of a quaint New England village church. While she adores her husband and new baby, Faith finds the change from her busy life in New York to the quiet of the country hard to tolerate. But her discovery of a dead body and the ensuing investigation—and danger—make her yearn for the quiet life to return. 1990.

DB 31471 (May be available only for download)

RC 31471

The Body in the Snowdrift
by Katherine Hall Page

Caterer Faith Fairchild and her extended family gather at a ski resort in Vermont to celebrate her father-in-law’s seventieth birthday. But after Faith finds the body of a local lawyer, the chef disappears, another corpse turns up on the slopes, and the clan starts bickering. Includes recipes. 2005.

DB 61863

The Brutal Telling
by Louise Penny

Québec. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache investigates the murder of an old man found bludgeoned in a bistro. At a remote cabin purportedly owned by the deceased, Gamache and his team find a cache of rare books, priceless antiquities—and blood. Some strong language. 2009.

DB 70226

The Cruelest Month: A Three Pines Mystery
by Louise Penny

Popular Three Pines resident Madeleine Favreau dies of fright while attending a séance at the old Hadley house. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache learns that a dose of diet pills played a part in the death—but Madeleine wasn’t dieting. Meanwhile Armand deals with trouble in his ranks. Some strong language. 2007.

DB 67419

A Fatal Grace
by Louise Penny

Québec. Much-disliked businesswoman and writer CC de Poitiers is electrocuted in the middle of a frozen lake during a curling tournament in the village of Three Pines. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, from Still Life (RC 66731), arrives from Montreal and discovers links to another unsolved crime. Some strong language. 2006.

DB 67293

RC 67293

Naked Once More
by Elizabeth Peters

The author of Naked in the Ice disappeared seven years ago and has been declared legally dead. Librarian-turned-writer Jacqueline Kirby wins a competition and is hired to write a sequel. But in Pine Grove, the original author’s home town, Jacqueline begins having accidents similar to those that befell the author before her disappearance. Some strong language. 1989.

RC 30513

Bum Steer
by Nancy Pickard

Jenny Cain, the director of a civic foundation in Massachusetts, learns that “Cat” Benet intends to leave the foundation his four-million-dollar Kansas ranch. Benet wants to meet Jenny before he dies, so she flies to Kansas City—only to find that Benet has been smothered in his hospital bed. Jenny’s investigations take her to the ranch, to Dallas, and to Santa Fe. Some strong language. 1990.

RC 31491

BR 08222, volume 1

BR 08222, volume 2

The Virgin of Small Plains
by Nancy Pickard

Small Plains, Kansas. Mitch Newquist—banished from his hometown for witnessing the cover-up of a young girl’s murder—returns when his mother dies. Together with his former girlfriend, Mitch searches for the killer and uncovers disturbing secrets of the town’s most prominent men. Strong language and some violence. 2006.

DB 64701 (May be available only for download)

RC 64701

In the Bleak Midwinter
by Julia Spencer-Fleming

Clare Fergusson, an ex-military pilot and the newly appointed Episcopal priest at St. Alban’s Church in an upstate New York village, discovers an abandoned infant on the church steps. After the baby’s mother is found murdered, Clare joins police chief Russ Van Alstyne in investigating the case. Strong language.2002.

DB 61372 (May be available only for download)

RC 61372

Death on a Silver Tray
by Rosemary Stevens

London, 1805. George “Beau” Brummell is beseeched by his friend the Duchess of York to clear a ladies’ companion, whom she had recommended, of murder charges. The dreadful old Lady Wrayburn has been poisoned, and the duchess wants to avoid a scandal. 2000.

BR 13293, volume 1

BR 13293, volume 2

Birds of a Feather
by Jacqueline Winspear

London, 1930s. Wealthy Joseph Waite hires private investigator Maisie Dobbs, a former battlefield nurse, to locate his missing thirty-two-year-old daughter Charlotte. Maisie finds chilling links to Scotland Yard inspector Stratton’s latest murder case—and the Great War’s terrible legacy. 2004.

DB 67834

RC 67834

BR 15546, volume 1

BR 15546, volume 2

BR 15546, volume 3

Maisie Dobbs
by Jacqueline Winspear

Thirteen-year-old Maisie is lucky to be a maid in the home of a wealthy London suffragette who sees to her education. Maisie becomes a private investigator in 1929 after serving as a nurse during the Great War. Her first case involves a shelter for wounded veterans. 2003.

DB 67808

RC 67808

BR 15352, volume 1

BR 15352, volume 2

BR 15352, volume 3

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Posted on 2017-04-04