Monday, December 5, 2011

Private Eye Writers of America - 2011 Shamus Awards

The Shamus Awards are given annually by the Private Eye Writers of America, celebrating the year's best in Private Eye fiction.

Here are this year's winners:

Best Hardcover PI Novel

No Mercy: a mystery (M)
by Lori Armstrong

"Well, technically there is Mercy: Mercy Gunderson, the star of this first installment of a projected new series. Mercy is an army sniper, currently on medical leave back home in South Dakota, where she is trying to figure out what to do with the family ranch, now that her father has died. But she is soon distracted by the death of a young boy or, more accurately, she is distracted by the local police's apparent lack of interest in solving the crime. And when Mercy's own nephew is murdered, she determines to get to the bottom of things.

Armstrong, author of the popular Julie Collins private-eye series, has created a grittier character in Mercy Gunderson, a combat veteran who brings her unique skills into her private life. Fans of the Collins mysteries should embrace this new novel with open arms, but the author could pick up some new readers, too, on the strength of this new heroine.-" Booklist

Best First PI Novel

In Search of Mercy (M)
by Michael Ayoob

"Winner of the Private Eye Writers of America Best First Private Eye Competition, Ayoob's outstanding debut introduces a flawed hero who transcends all the flawed hero cliches. Dexter Bolzjak found fame as a high school "phenom in hockey-mad Pittsburgh until he had a meltdown during a game at the Pennsylvania state championship in 1993. Eight years after being abducted and brutally assaulted by deranged sports fans, the 25-year-old Bolzjak sorts warehouse produce and takes care of "Job 1-maintaining his sanity. Then he meets an old drunk, Lou Kashon, who offers him big bucks to find a reclusive former movie star, Mercy Carnahan, who hasn't been seen since 1958.

Whether describing the chaos of a hockey game, creating a backstory for Mercy, or detailing the film editing process, Ayoob shows a sure hand. Filled with vivid, violent images and characters who leap off the page into the reader's imagination, this impressive novel builds to a startlingly ambiguous ending. " - Publisher's Weekly

Best Paperback Original PI Novel

Asia Hand: a Vincent Calvino crime novel (M)
by Christopher G. Moore

"The author's latest Bangkok thriller finds private investigator Vincent Calvino looking into the death of someone he knows, a man whose body was pulled from a lake. The dead man was a freelance news cameraman, and it appears that something he caught on film led to his murder. But who's the killer, and can Calvino find him before his own life is cut short?

The author, who's lived in Bangkok for more than two decades, fills the novel with authentic settings; on the other hand, his novels aren't travelogues, and he never loses sight of his characters and their story. Fans of this long-running series (this is the eleventh installment) will completely enjoy this novel, and it should also be highly recommended to readers of hard-boiled detective fiction, including series set in Bangkok (especially John Burdett's Sonchai Jitplecheep novels) as well as the classic American tough-guy authors (Raymond Chandler or, more recently, Robert B. Parker)" - Booklist

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