First Category 76 Top Ten of the New Year Announced

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Dear Booksellers,

As always, thank you for all the great recommendations. A few very deserving mysteries you e-mailed me about are due in March, so we may have enough for another mystery 76 top ten.

And look for more category 76s soon; go to for a schedule and nomination deadlines. Thanks again!

[email protected]

Book Sense Mystery 76 Top Ten -- #1 of 2003

1. FACELESS KILLERS, by Henning Mankell (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, $13 paper, 1400031575) "This involves the brutal murder of a couple in an isolated farmhouse, a police investigation with no clues, and an assumption that this is a random, motiveless killing. I have read most of Mankell's Inspector Wallender books, loved them all, and am thrilled about these reissued editions." -- Helen Sinoradzki, Annie Bloom's Books, Portland, OR (Black Lizard will reissue more of Mankell's books in the coming months; also out right now is ONE STEP BEHIND.)

2. BLACK OUT, by John Lawton (Penguin, $6.99 paper, 0142002763) "During the 1944 London Blitz, some bodies of Polish and German scientists turn up, and Scotland Yard's Frederick Troy must find out who is killing these men and why. Worse, the key suspect has an ironclad alibi provided by the highest levels of the Allied Command." -- Dick Sandvik, Paulina Springs Book Company, Sisters, OR (Also just out: his latest, OLD FLAMES, from Atlantic Monthly Press.)

3. CLOSE TO HOME, by Peter Robinson (Morrow, $24.95, 0060198788; Feb. 4) "Chief Inspector Banks, in Greece getting over his recent split with his colleague Annie, returns to England when a boy's bones are discovered -- the bones of an old childhood friend. Meanwhile, Annie is investigating an oddly similar case in this utterly engrossing mystery." -- Betsy Burton, The King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, UT

4. JUSTICE HALL, by Laurie R. King (Bantam; $6.99 paper, 0553581112; Feb. 4) "In this latest installment of the series featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, King has written the consummate English country house mystery. This is Laurie King writing at her considerable best, which means this is definitely one of the finest crime novels of this, or any, year." -- Dean James, Murder By The Book, Houston, TX

5. DESERT WIVES: A Lena Jones Mystery, by Betty Webb (Poisoned Pen Press, $24.95, 1590580303) "Jones goes undercover in a community practicing polygamy to clear a client of murder charges and makes some horrific discoveries about the practice. The best fiction helps us understand our real world better, and this book accomplishes that." -- Maryelizabeth Hart, Mysterious Galaxy, San Diego, CA

6. THE FALLS: An Inspector Rebus Novel, by Ian Rankin (St. Martin's, $7.50 paper, 0312982402; Feb.) "Rankin's books sneak up on you, since, at first, they seem like 'just' really smart police procedurals. But they are also about complicated people and beautiful and scary places. This is one of his very best." --Pat Kehde, Raven Bookstore, Lawrence, KS (Just out: Rebus' latest, RESURRECTION MEN, from Little Brown.)

7. THE GUARDS, by Ken Bruen (St. Martin's/Minotaur, $23.95, 0312303556) "This is a great Irish noir: lyrical, lovely, and lethal. P.I. Jack Taylor's voice is so common, poetic, and utterly real, and I can't wait for more in this new series set in Galway." -- Anne Whalen, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA

8. THE JAZZ BIRD, by Craig Holden (Pocket, $6.99 paper, 0743418816) "The best book yet by a very talented writer. Based on the real-life murder trial of George Remus, the story brings alive the world of the 1920s, bootlegger Remus, his high society wife, and the murder that was the scandal of the day." -- Dave Kaverman, Little Professor Book Company, Ft. Wayne, IN

9. BLUEBERRY MUFFIN MURDER, by Joanne Fluke (Kensington, $6.50 paper, 1575667223; Feb.) "Hannah Swensen is set to bake up a storm in preparation for the annual Winter Carnival, but a famous lifestyle maven is found lying dead with one of Hannah's famous blueberry muffins in her hand. A great read for all cozy and cooking fans." -- Linda Bivens, Crime Time Books, Pasadena, CA

10. BEAT UNTIL STIFF, by Claire M. Johnson (Poisoned Pen Press, $24.95, 1590580400) "Mary Ryan was a cranky and sarcastic pastry chef even before she found the body of the dead prep chef! Now, she dreads the call to her ex-husband detective. A wonderful first mystery filled with a fascinating look inside the restaurant world." -- Sheri Kraft, Alibi Books, Glenview, IL

A few more gems some independent booksellers love:

THE POISONED ROSE, by D. Daniel Judson (Bantam, $6.50 paperback original; 0553584197) "If you like your P.I. novels darker than dark, in the tradition of Pelecanos, Rankin, and Lehane, don't pass up D. Daniel Judson!" -- David Thompson, Murder By The Book, Houston, TX

A MATTER OF TIME, by David Manuel (Paraclete Press, $23, 1557253056) "This is the third in the Faith Abbey series featuring Brother Bartholomew. It has real crime, memories of a past romance, a lot of talking to God, and a chase scene ending on the high seas!" -- Mary Jane Weber, Town Book Store, Westfield, NJ

THE HIRED GUN, by Matthew Branton (Justin, Charles & Co., $24.95, 1932112030) "The hit men and their associates are all very interesting characters, but the dialogue and the thought processes are even more interesting." -- Herman Roy, Read All About Bookstore, Boerne, TX

THE CURSE OF THE ROYAL RUBY, by Rodney Johnson (Uglytown, $10.95, 0966347390) "Lakota teenager Rinnah Two Feathers is a Trixie Belden for a new generation. She and her buddies, Tommy Red Hawk and Meagen Paige, are drawn into a mystery involving a mysterious drowned woman, a more mysterious note, and a legendary missing jewel." -- Maryelizabeth Hart, Mysterious Galaxy, San Diego, CA


Several previous mystery 76 picks are just out in paperback:

BLACKWATER SOUND, by James Hall (St. Martin's); THE JASMINE TRADE, by Denise Hamilton (Pinnacle); HELL TO PAY, by George P. Pelecanos (Warner); BLINDSIGHTED, by Karin Slaughter (HarperTorch); and CLOSING TIME, by Jim Fusilli (Berkley Prime Crime).

For a downloadable PDF file of this Mystery 76, click here.