The annual Shots of the Year Awards selected by Shots Magazine’s Mike Ripley are announced in the December edition of his Getting Away With Murder column, and are as follows:
Crime Shot of the Year: the zany, frantic and utterly enthralling Death On Demand by Paul Thomas [Bitter Lemon Press] which saw the return of maverick Maori detective Tito Ihaka and showed that the Godfather of crime writing in New Zealand is back with a vengeance.
Thriller Shot of the Year: Tatiana by Martin Cruz Smith [Simon & Schuster]. Whistle-blowing journalists, oligarchs, corrupt policemen and an outrageous political scam in contemporary Russia with, in Arkady Renko, one of the great fictional heroes of the last thirty years.
Historical Shot of the Year: This was the closest one to call with some seriously good historical thrillers from D. J. Taylor, Sam Eastland and John Lawton, but the title goes to Dead Man’s Land by Rob Ryan [Simon & Schuster] which gloriously dared to put Dr Watson (and an off-stage Sherlock Holmes) on the Western Front during WWI in an engaging mystery which also says much about the role and status of women at the time. Ryan’s tour-de-force narrowly pipped Andrew Taylor’s Scent of Death set, intriguingly, in colonial New York.
Comic Shot of the Year: Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen [Sphere]. After a few quiet years by his standards, Hiaasen has recently reasserted himself as the crime king of belly laughs, most of them in deliciously bad taste. With Bad Monkey he is back on top form even if the title character (a veteran animal actor from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies) hardly gets a look in.
Debut Shot of the Year: City of Blood by M.D. Villiers [Harvill Secker]. A quite stunning first novel but visiting the parts of Johannesburg described here without a heavily-armed escort is not recommended. Martie de Villiers has created a formidable detective duo (one white, one Zulu) and enhanced South Africa’s growing reputation as a major player on the international crime writing scene.
Shot in Translation: (from the Italian) Everyone in their Place by Maurizio de Giovanni [Europa]. Fascinating mix of Christie-like whodunit and spooky thriller set in 1931 Naples. Police detectives Ricciardi (who has a sixth sense and ‘sees dead people’) and the weight-conscious Maione make a great team, contending with a summer heat-wave, Fascist politics, the attractions of several females, the aristocracy, a curious OVRA (Mussolini’s Gestapo) agent and a society murder.
Reissue Shot of 2013: Blue Octavo by John Blackburn [Valancourt]. Great to see this 1963 mystery set in the world of antiquarian book dealers back in print. A disgracefully-forgotten author in his native Britain, Blackburn’s reputation is thankfully being rescued by enthusiastic American fans.