I’d never heard of the Arthur Ellis Awards for best crime and mystery writing in Canada until recently. The annual awards given out by the Crime Writers of Canada — on May 31 this year — have as their icon a whimsically-designed hanging man statue. Cute, no? The CWC awards ‘Arthurs’ for best crime short story, crime nonfiction, juvenile crime book, French crime book, unpublished book and best first crime novel published in the previous year. For whodunit fans of all ages, what a great way to get a leg up on our got-to-read-soon list! Now I’m all into this awards scene because the engrossing mystery I’m reading now is up for Best Crime Novel. Go Peter Robinson!
Robinson, noted for his Inspector Banks mystery series, is from Yorkshire, England but now lives in Ontario. With this new book, Before the Poison, Robinson spins a tale of a British-born film composer, Chris Lowndes, in retreat from a successful life in Hollywood. Having recently lost his beloved wife to cancer, Chris buys an old estate house in the Yorkshire Dales, the former home of a woman hanged for murder. He wonders what really happened in his house, and whether the beautiful ‘murderess’ actually committed the crime of poisoning her cold fish of a husband. He discovers a lot more than he bargained for…
The other books on the 2012 Best Crime Novel shortlist are:
A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny
Having won the Arthur Ellis best crime novel award last year with Bury Your Dead, Louise Penny makes her return to the limelight with A Trick of the Light, her seventh novel featuring the detective magic of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. “Like P.D. James, Penny shows how the tight structure of the classical mystery story can accommodate a wealth of deeply felt emotions and interpersonal drama.” (Booklist)
I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley
Set in a cosy British village at Christmas, Bradley in this novel continues his detective-in-training Flavia de Luce stories which reflect his love of the singular (I love that word) Sherlock Holmes. “We find in Flavia an incorrigible and wholly lovable detective; from her chemical experiments in her sanctum sanctorum to her outrage at the idiocy of the adult world, she is unequaled.” (Library Journal)
I’ll See you in My Dreams by William Deverell
Another in Deverell’s series of Arthur Beauchamp comic mystery stories, this one “finds the outwardly crusty, poetry-loving, wily old lawyer compelled, by new developments, to look back at his first — and most disastrous — murder trial… which went horribly wrong. Now, nearly 50 years later, he is opening old wounds but also facing a chance for redemption and reconciliation.”
The Guilty Plea by Robert Rotenberg
Famous American criminal lawyer F. Lee Bailey said: “A few lawyers are really expert in managing cases — especially criminal cases — in the courtroom. A small percentage of these are very good at making trials come alive. Robert Rotenberg is one of the few, along with Scott Turow, David, Baldacci, John Lescroat. His Guilty Plea is a crackling good read, plan to keep turning pages late into the night!”
Take a look at the other shortlists on the Crime Writers website, and come back in June to find out who won. Now, back to my book!