Autumn 2003 Mystery Book Sense 76 Top Ten

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It's not a mystery why these titles were chosen by independent booksellers as their top ten picks for the fall.

Thanks to all who contributed to the wealth of enthusiastic nominations.

Pads of the Mystery 76 are being sent in the October White Box mailing, and a downloadable PDF file is available by clicking here.

November 21 is the deadline for nominations for the January/February 2004 Book Sense 76, and Book Sense 76 Editor-in-Chief Dan Cullen encourages all stores to contribute nominations. A convenient online nomination form is available at

For more information on the Book Sense 76, including a link to all past lists, go to

Autumn 2003 Mystery Book Sense 76 Top Ten

1. TO THE BONE, by Neil McMahon (HarperCollins, $23.95, 0060529164) "Dr. Carroll Monks, emergency room physician and part-time sleuth, is back and in fine form. Mystery lovers who haven't yet discovered author Neil McMahon and his Monks books are in for a real treat!" --Susan Wasson, Bookworks, Albuquerque, NM

2. THE DEATH YOU DESERVE, by David Bowker (Minotaur, $12.95, 0312311788) "The Death You Deserve is great. It's a title that I'll definitely recommend to thriller fans looking for a fresh voice." --Meredith Whiles, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Lexington, KY

3. LAST LESSONS OF SUMMER, by Margaret Maron (Mysterious Press, $23.95, 0892967803) "This multilayered novel is rich in surprises and fun, as well as murders, relatives, and puzzles. The heroine finds her backbone as she struggles to understand and deal with the past and present. It is delicious to see her blossom in the midst of mayhem." --June Applen, The Book Mark, Atlantic Beach, FL

4. STILL LIFE WITH CROWS, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (Warner, $25.95, 0446531421) "Medicine Creek, Kansas, is slowly dying as its farming base erodes along with the land. Main Street is shuttered, and the nearest mall is 200 miles away. The few townsfolk, unused to change, are terrified when a body is found mutilated in a cornfield. What does the weird tableau symbolize? As more are unveiled, enigmatic FBI agent Pendergast arrives from New Orleans to take charge in another knockout from Preston and Child." --Barbara Peters, The Poisoned Pen, Scottsdale, AZ Also a Time Warner Audio (1586215043, Abridged Cassette)

5. THE SERPENT'S KISS: A Novel, by Mark T. Sullivan (Atria, $25, 0743439821) "A snake-bearing serial killer is on the loose in San Diego, and the more detective Seamus Moynihan and his crew find out about the case the more possible suspects they discover. Is it the internationally renowned reptile handler from the zoo? The drug dealer with a passion for 'hot herps'? Or someone with a connection to Lilith, mother of demons?" --Maryelizabeth Hart, Mysterious Galaxy Books, San Diego, CA

6. THE SMALL BOAT OF GREAT SORROWS, by Dan Fesperman (Knopf, $24, 037541472X) "Small Boat is a follow-up to Fesperman's 1999 Lie in the Dark, which featured Bosnian cop Vlado Petric. Set five years after Vlado's daring escape from Bosnia, Fesperman picks up the story in Berlin, where Vlado is enlisted by the Hague War Crimes Tribunal to find two WWII criminals from Bosnia. This is the best thriller/detective novel that I've read this year, a literary triumph from start to finish." --Barry Martin, Book'em Mysteries, South Pasadena, CA

7. EVERYONE DIES: A Kevin Kerney Novel, by Michael McGarrity (Dutton, $23.95, 0525947612) "Everyone Dies is by far the best police mystery I've read this year. Santa Fe Police Chief Kevin Kerney and his wife, Army MP Lieutenant Colonel Sara Brannon, have taken leave for the birth of their son -- a leave that turns into a nightmare as people from Kevin's professional past begin turning up dead. Will Kevin's wife and baby be the next victims?" --Bob Spear, The Book Barn, Leavenworth, KS Also a Brilliance Audio (1590867815, Abridged Cassette)

8. MORGUE MAMA: The Cross Kisses Back, by C.R. Corwin (Poisoned Pen, $24.95, 1590580745) "Morgue Mama is a real treat. The interaction between the older newspaper morgue librarian and the young, upstart crime reporter, Aubrey McGinty, was terrific. If you enjoy a chuckle or two with your mystery, you'll love this one!" --Linda Dewberry, Whodunit? Books, Olympia, WA

9. JUDGMENT CALLS, by Alafair Burke (Holt, $23, 0805073868) "Take an insider's look at Portland's Drug and Vice Division as Deputy District Attorney Samantha Kincaid deals with courtrooms, criminal investigations, and her personal life. This may be Alafair Burke's first book, but she knows her way around the justice system, and her father, James Lee Burke, has every right to be proud!" --Barbara Theroux, Fact & Fiction, Missoula, MT

10. HARD AS NAILS: A Joe Kurtz Novel, by Dan Simmons (Minotaur, $24.95, 0312305281) "A relative newcomer to the hard-boiled crime genre, Simmons explodes onto the scene with his tough-guy antihero, Joe Kurtz. In this third novel in the series, ex-private eye, ex-con Kurtz hunts a serial killer who's targeting heroin addicts, while he's evading various hit men who are out for the bounty on his head. A serious, guilty pleasure awaits!" --David Thompson, Murder by the Book, Houston, TX

To Celebrate the 100th Birthday of Georges Simenon

Harvest Trade Paperbacks has published 16 titles considered to be Simenon's best -- all featuring one of fiction's foremost detectives, Inspector Jules Maigret.

The titles include: MAIGRET AND THE BURGLAR'S WIFE ($8, 0156028409), MAIGRET AND THE MADWOMAN ($8, 0156028506), MAIGRET'S BOYHOOD FRIEND ($8, 0156028514), and MAIGRET SETS A TRAP ($8, 0156028484).

And, in a special holiday-themed collection, nine Simenon short stories are included in MAIGRET'S CHRISTMAS ($14, 0156028530).

The SOHO CRIME series includes hardcover and paperback novels featuring foreign settings, local noir, and unusual investigators. Travel to such settings as Shanghai, Paris, Madrid, and England in a series that the Wall Street Journal has praised as "some of the most exotic crime-fiction books."

Notable titles in the series include:

A LOYAL CHARACTER DANCER by Qiu Xiaolong ($13 paper, 1569473412)
MURDER IN THE SENTIER by Cara Black ($13 paper, 1569473315)
DEATH OF A NATIONALIST by Rebecca Pawel ($24, 1569473447)
DIAMOND DUST by Peter Lovesey ($13, paper, 1569473226)