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beltie prize

The Third Annual Beltie Mystery Prize Finalists!

Time flies when you’re having fun reading. It seems like just yesterday we announced the 2019 finalists for the Beltie Prize. Now, here we are again a year later with another list chock full of thrills and chills. Check ‘em out, see what you think. Then come out to CRIME SCENE, our first Mystery festival, on February 8th to see who takes home the prize. Hint… Pete doesn’t know yet.

But now, without further ado, here are the finalists for the 2020 Beltie Mystery Prize:

William Boyle – A Friend is a Gift You Give Yourself (Pegasus Books)
This has it all. Great characters- 2 ex-porn star best friends, a feisty fourteen year old, and a psycho with a sledge hammer, too name only a few, dialogue that tickles the ear, and, a sense of place so vivid you’ll think your reading in 3-D. Then there’s the plot revolving around 500,000 dollars in a briefcase followed by a frisky octogenarian looking for his ’62 stolen Impala plus lots, lots, more. Yowza!

Martin Clark – The Substitution Order (Knopf)
Sometimes in life you can only take so much before it’s time to punch back. Such is the case with Kevin Moore, newly disbarred lawyer, who is being pushed into an insurance scam he wants no part of. What to do? What to do? Why, turn the scheme around, finagle a few things, use all the friends he has, and leave us, the reader, smiling at the end. A smart, savvy, story written by an ex-judge who knows what he’s writing about.

Jake Hinkson – Dry County (Pegasus Crime)
This is a dark, moody, meditation on politics and power in small town America. Richard Weatherford is a well respected preacher with secrets he never thought would get out. Now he and his wife have to determine how far they will go protect their family and most of all, Richard’s reputation.

Ed Lin – 99 Ways to Die (SOHO Crime)
Set in Taiwan and Taipai’s Shilin Night Market this is a gastronomic wet dream as well as an riveting, fun, mystery revolving around culinary experimentation and high-tech blackmail. It’s an energetic quick read that was entertaining as all-get-out from beginning to end. Get some take-out before you begin or you’ll be sorry.

Jamie Mason – The Hidden Things (Gallery Books)
A sneaky good look at the dirty underworld of Art where money, and only money, talks and the consequences of that greed. It starts with a video going viral of a teenager fighting off an assailant in the foyer of her house. In the corner is a quick peek of a painting on the wall, a long missing painting that only a few recognize… and it only gets better from there.

Tim Mason – The Darwin Affair (Algonquin)
For all you science phobic readers out there, don’t let the title deter you. This is a Victorian era pot boiler par excellence that you can’t put done. Someone is killing off prominent supporters of Charles Darwin and his new theory of evolution to stop its malignant spread. it’s up to Charles Field, a Shakespeare spouting police inspector, to protect those targeted, including Prince Albert who doesn’t always take kindly to the inspector’s presence. Giddy good fun!

S.J. Rozan – Paper Son (Pegasus Crime)
An excellent P.I. novel featuring Lydia Chin and her partner Bill Smith. Usually this series takes place in NYC’s Chinatown but Lydia’s mother smothers Lydia with a familial guilt trip that takes her and Bill to Mississippi to help a relative in trouble, a relative from a side of the family she never knew existed.

Craig Russell – The Devil Aspect (Doubleday)
Czechoslovakia 1935, a Jack the Ripper copycat, a psychologist disciple of Jung, and a secluded sanatorium for the criminally insane are the main ingredients in this compulsively readable story that ends in a twist that would make Linda Blair (The Exorcist) proud.

Pick up a copy of any of these titles in McIntyre’s Books, and save the date for CRIME SCENE Bookfest!

More About Pete Mock, The Chief & Only Chooser of the Beltie Prize:

We thought that given his prestigious status as Guru you might like to know a bit more about him. We added in a write-up from last year’s announcement because it’s too good not to share one more time. Now, let’s get to know a bit more about Pete:Pete Mock in the mystery room

Tell us about how you keep track of the 100 mysteries you read each year?
I don’t really keep a log. For The Beltie Prize I do keep what I call my super long list which is any book that stood out for me and which I consider when it comes time to whittle things down to the final eight. This past year I had 37 titles on that list.

That’s a lot of reading! Where do they grow readers like this?
Born in Vermont, grew up in New Hampshire, have lived in Chapel Hill since the 9th grade.

Where do you live exactly, now?
I live in Chatham county with a Chapel Hill address.

When did you first discover you loved to read?
I’ve been a reader since at least five years old. I remember reading Charlotte’s Web to my siblings when I was six.

Who are your favorite all-time writers?
Mystery-wise, James Lee Burke (one of the best writer’s in this country bar none), Jo Nesbo, and Mo Hayder. My favorite mystery ever is probably is Go With Me by Castle Freeman. Great plot, spot-on dialogue, and an ending that made me smile. Other than mysteries: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, historian Russell Shorto, Robert Penn Warren for All the King’s Men.

Why are you drawn to mysteries/suspense?
I love the suspense and intrigue. I grew up reading my dad’s books and he was always getting Robert Ludlum, Fredrick Forsyth, Ken Follett and I’ve never stopped. Instead of television, I relax with a good mystery/thriller.

Are there any true-crime stories (especially ones locally) that would make a good mystery novel?
My favorite would be a Carl Hiaasenesque frolic revolving around a very messed up drug bust in Pittsboro years ago. The cops busted a van load of guys moving tons of marijuana up from Florida to New York. They then parked the van behind the police station and someone stole it. The police recovered the van but some of the pot was missing. This time they decided to bury it and somebody dug it up. Again they recovered what was left and decided to burn it all. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your point of view, the wind shifted and most of the police department ended up stoned.

Which Carolina basketball player’s name would make a great character for a mystery novel (present and / or past)?
Dante Calabria is a good name. Also, Theo Pinson would make a great noirish detective.

What did you eat for lunch?
Cold pizza and mint chocolate chip ice cream

And there you have it, ladies and gents! Join us at the first-ever Crime Scene Mystery Bookfest for the announcement of the 2020 Beltie Mystery Prize Winner!