The Agatha Best Contemporary Novel Nominees

Hi. Barb here.

Yesterday, Leslie Budewitz, an Agatha-nominee for Best First Novel blogged about her novel and those of all of her fellow nominees. I thought is was such a great idea, I’m borrowing it today. It’s easy for me to comment on all the nominated books, because I love all my fellow nominees’ books and (with one exception, noted below) would have read all of them anyway.

The Agatha Awards honor the “traditional mystery.” That is to say, books best typified by the works of Agatha Christie as well as others. The are given in six categories: Best Contemporary. Best Historical, Best First, Best Short Story, Best Nonfiction and Best Children’s/Young Adult. The winners will be announced at the 2013 Agatha Awards banquet to be held at the Malice Domestic conference on Saturday, May 3, 2014.

And the Agatha nominees for Best Contemporary Novel published in 2013 are:

Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer-Fleming

throughtheevildaysMany Maine Crime Writers blog readers (and readers everywhere) are familiar with Julia.

Here’s the blurb.

In Through the Evil Days, New York Times bestselling author Julia Spencer-Fleming raises the stakes for Russ and Clare, putting their new marriage, their unborn child, a missing teen, and their very own lives on the line.

Julia’s been on my “don’t ask any questions, just buy it in hardcover as soon as it comes out,” list for years. I loved this book, stayed up way too late to finish it and marveled at how Julia keeps this series so fresh after eight books.

Pagan Spring by G.M. Malliet

paganspringThe one fellow nominee who’s books I previously hadn’t read was G.M. Malliet. I’m glad that’s changed, now and forever.

Here’s the blurb.

G. M. Malliet has charmed mystery lovers, cozy fans, and Agatha Christie devotees everywhere with Wicked Autumn and A Fatal Winter, the critically-acclaimed mysteries that introduced former spy turned cleric Max Tudor. Now, Max returns to the small English village of Nether Monkslip, where some new residents cause quite a stir.

You’d think with a setting like the English village of Nether Monkslip and a protagonist who is an Episcopal priest, these books would be as cozy as they come. (Julia’s protagonist is also an Episcopal priest. My friends have been joking about me sitting between the two of them on the Agatha nominees panel at Malice.) But give the priest a background at MI5, and a love interest whose spiritual leanings are decidedly not high church, and it all gets very interesting.

How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny

howthelightgetsinIf you haven’t read every single book in Louise Penny’s magnificent series, go do it right now!

Here’s the blurb.

Christmas is approaching, and in Québec it’s a time of dazzling snowfalls, bright lights, and gatherings with friends in front of blazing hearths. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache discovers that a missing woman was once one of the most famous people not just in North America, but in the world, though she now goes unrecognized by virtually everyone.

Louise Penny’s book The Trick of the Light is one of my desert island reads and her series continues just a strong with this one. I am awed to even be on a list with her.

The Wrong Girl by Hank Phillippi Ryan

wronggirlHank Phillippi Ryan’s body of work was another I knew well before we ended up together on the Agatha nominee list. I’ve been a fan of both her series.

Here’s the blurb.

Does a respected adoption agency have a frightening secret? Tipped off by a determined ex-colleague on a desperate quest to find her birth mother, Boston newspaper reporter Jane Ryland begins to suspect that the agency is engaging in the ultimate betrayal—reuniting birth parents with the wrong children.

For my money The Wrong Girl is Hank’s best book yet. I was so engrossed, I just kept turning the pages. I completely recommend it.

Clammed Up by Barbara Ross

Clammed Up coverIn case you just started reading this blog today, here is the blurb.

Summer has come to Busman’s Harbor, Maine, and tourists are lining up for a taste of authentic New England seafood, courtesy of the Snowden Family Clambake Company. But there’s something sinister on the boil this season. A killer has crashed a wedding party, adding mystery to the menu at the worst possible moment. . .

What can I say, except that I’m thrilled to be on this list with some of my writing heroes. Clammed Up is the only paperback original and the only first-in-series on the list. I’m still not sure how it happened, but I’m going to enjoy the whole ride.

About Barbara Ross

Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries. Her books have been nominated for multiple Agatha Awards for Best Contemporary Novel and have won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. She lives in Portland, Maine. Readers can visit her website at
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24 Responses to The Agatha Best Contemporary Novel Nominees

  1. Gram says:

    I read all of those authors on the list and enjoy them. Good luck to all.

  2. Julie says:

    Great list, great company. So glad to see this post. And THRILLED that you are on the list Barb. Wonderful company, and a well deserved nomination. I am SO looking forward to Malice this year!

  3. John Clark says:

    And proud you should be for your nomination.

  4. Mary Anne Sullivan says:

    Hi Barb! So excited that Clammed Up is on the list of nominees! Yahoo! I also am an avid fan of Louise Penny. Just discovered G. M. Malliet and really love the village of Nether Monkslip. Great list but so excited that you’re on the list. I’ll raise a cup of tea to you this morning.

  5. Hurray! And congratulations… Enjoying the ride with you, my dear! xooxo You know I am on your team of HUGE fans.

    • Barb Ross says:

      It’s been a long road, Hank from when we first sat in Dayne Lamb’s class to both having September books last year to this…. A fun and interesting road.

  6. sandy gardner says:

    congratulations to all!

  7. Ronna Lord says:

    Read all but two of these and agree that they are winners. Just got CLAMMED UP yesterday . Pre ordered BOILED OVER too. Excited to start reading them!!

  8. Lil Gluckstern says:

    It’s so nice to see your book on that list. It shows the variety of books that can please any number of people. I’ve read them all and they are all different. I keep bugging my local for “Boiled Over.” Good luck to all of you.

  9. You can tell I don’t get Google alerts because I didn’t see this until today, Barb!

    It’s a terrific group to be a part of and I’m so looking forward to Malice – some for the pleasure of being on a panel with you and the others, but also for the thrill of getting out of New England after this ling, hard winter!

  10. Long. Long hard winter. A ling hard winter would be when we’re all reduced to eating salted fish from Iceland.

  11. Lisa Fernow says:

    I have just read The Wrong Girl and can say it definitely belongs on this list. It has a great premise, a clever plot and a satisfying ending.

  12. Pingback: The Agatha Best Short Story Nominees | Wicked Cozy Authors

  13. Rushing rushing rushing to finish my reading — but they are all so good, I want to slow down and savor them! Good luck to all!

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