The Agatha Award has been recognizing mystery and crime writers who embody the works of Agatha Christie. First awarded in 1987 by the Malice Domestic Committee, they look for “mysteries that contain no explicit sex, excessive gore or gratuitous violence, and are not classified as hard-boiled.”
Every year they award novels in six categories: Best Contemporary Novel, Best Historical Novel, Best First Mystery, Best Short Story, Best Non-Fiction, and Best Children’s/YA Mystery.
Here are the winners of the 2023 Agatha Awards along with the nominees in each category.
Best Contemporary Novel
Winner: Best Contemporary Novel
A World of Curiosities
It’s spring and Three Pines is coming back alive. Even things that shouldn’t. The remnants of a tragic case have returned, bringing back memories of the tragic case that brought Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir together for the first time. The young man and woman were children when their mother was murdered. But why have they come back? To make things more complicated, a 160-year-old letter is discovered. In it, the fearful man describes bricking up a room—in the house the children were traumatized in. As the village takes down the wall, it reveals secrets, puzzles, and messages. It tells the story of revenge. But by opening that room, they released an enemy on the town and on the Chief Inspector.
Nominees: Best Contemporary Novel
Bayou Book Thief by Ellen Bryon
Death by Bubble Tea by Jennifer J. Chow
Fatal Reunion by Annette Dashofy
Dead Man’s Leap by Tina de Bellegarde
Best Historical Novel
Winner: Best Historical Novel
Because I Could Not Stop for Death
Willa Noble knew better than to leave the house when it was raining. Especially for such an important event like a job interview. She never expected Emily Dickinson to offer her a job after she showed up wet, filthy, and disheveled. But bad luck can sometimes change. What starts as employment turns to friendship, which Willa needs more than ever after her brother Henry is killed in a tragic accident. Except Willa is convinced he was murdered. With Emily’s help, the pair start to investigate, only to realize they’re caught in a deadly game of corruption that goes generations deep. And these powerful people will stop at nothing to keep their profitable secrets buried. Even if that means silencing Emily and Willa forever.
Nominees: Best Historical Novel
The Counterfeit Wife by Mally Becker
The Lindbergh Nanny by Mariah Fredericks
In Place of Fear by Catriona McPherson
Under a Veiled Moon by Karen Odden
Best First Novel
Winner: Best First Novel
Cheddar Off Dead
Cheesemonger Willa Bauer just opened her very own cheese shop, Curds and Whey, in the middle of Sonoma Valley. Her French-inspired shop is her fresh start and a dream come true. When a local food critic schedules a visit, Willa thinks it’s her chance to make sure her shop is a success. Too bad he never gives a good review. But when he shows up, nothing goes right. And the night ends with her finding the critic’s dead body stabbed with one of her cheese knives. To make things worse, Willa is the prime suspect. She’s always believed that cheese can solve any problem. Hopefully, that includes murder.
Nominees: Best First Novel
Death in the Aegean by M.A. Monnin
The Bangalore Detectives Club by Harini Nagendra
Devil’s Chew Toy by Rob Osler
The Finalist by Joan Long
The Gallery of Beauties by Nina Wachsman
Best Short Story
Winner: Best Short Story
"Beauty and the Beyotch" in Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine #29
Meryl and Elaine are best friends. Meryl is head of props and Elaine is the star of the show. Until quiet Joni shows up to a theater meeting. Meryl sees the chance to be nice to a shy girl. But Elaine sees competition. And she’ll do anything to stop Joni from stealing the spotlight. When Meryl realizes how far Elaine will go to get rid of Joni, she has to decide whether to be friends with: the Beauty or the Beyotch.
Nominees: Best Short Story
"There Comes a Time" by Cynthia Kuhn
"Fly Me to the Morgue" by Lisa Q. Mathews
"The Minnesota Twins Meet Bigfoot" by Richie Narvaez
"The Invisible Band" by Art Taylor
Winner: Best Non-Fiction
Promophobia: Taking the Mystery Out of Promoting Crime Fiction
As if writing a book wasn’t hard enough, now you have to promote it. But some of the advice out there can feel generic, outdated, or unapproachable. Now, you can learn from some of the biggest names in the industry. In this collection of essays, authors share their personal experiences about what’s worked for them and what hasn’t. From understanding your niche, social media, publicity, and more, Promophobia will be your lifeline navigating you through the highs and lows of promoting your book.
Nominees: Best Non-Fiction
The Life of Crime: Detecting the History of Mysteries and Their Creators by Martin Edwards
The Handbook to Agatha Christie: The Bloomsbury Handbook to Agatha Christie by Mary Anna Evans & J.C. Bernthal
The Science of Murder: The Forensics of Agatha Christie by Carla Valentine
Agatha Christie: An Elusive Woman by Lucy Worsley
Best Children’s/YA Mystery
Winner: Best Children’s/YA Mystery
Enola Holmes and the Elegant Escapade
Not all young women in Victorian England enjoy the same freedom as Enola Holmes. Like her friend Lady Cecily Alastair. After she’s denied a visit, Enola helps Lady Cecily escape to her secret study. Only to be found by Sherlock Holmes—Enola’s brother and the man Lady Cecily’s family hired to find her. But Lady Cecily disappeared into the streets of London before he arrived. And she’s harboring a secret. Now, Enola has to find her before her secret gets her in trouble or Sherlock returns her to her strict family. The game, once again, is afoot.
Nominees: Best Children’s/YA Mystery
Daybreak on Raven Island by Fleur Bradley
In Myrtle Peril by Elizabeth C. Bunce
#shedeservedit by Greg Herren
Sid Johnson and the Phantom Slave Stealer by Frances Schoonmaker
Featured photo: Jr Korpa / Unsplash