Monday, March 27, 2017

Celebrating the Short Story: the 2016 Agatha Short Story Nominees

by Paula Gail Benson

Malice Domestic has become a wonderful homecoming for me each year. Held in late April or early May near Washington, D.C. (for the last several years in Bethesda, Maryland), it celebrates the best in the “traditional mystery,” written in the style of Agatha Christie, where the emphasis is on resolving the puzzle of the crime rather than delving into the more gruesome aspects of the deed.

Excellence is recognized at Malice Domestic by the annual Agatha Awards, given to living authors for works published during the previous calendar year. Short stories are included in the nominated categories and this year’s group of nominees features a group of outstanding writers. Not only are the authors well-respected and prolific, but also the publications demonstrate how short fiction is experiencing a new golden age for mystery readers’ enjoyment.

Following are the nominees and links where you may read the short stories:

Best Short Story:
"Double Jinx: A Bellissimo Casino Crime Caper Short Story" by Gretchen Archer (Henery Press)
"The Best-Laid Plans" by Barb Goffman in Malice Domestic 11: Murder Most Conventional (Wildside Press)
"The Mayor and the Midwife" by Edith Maxwell in Blood on the Bayou: Bouchercon Anthology 2016 (Down & Out Books)
"The Last Blue Glass" by B.K. Stevens in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine
"Parallel Play" by Art Taylor in Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning (Wildside Press)

Gretchen Archer, who writes the Davis Way Crime Caper series for Henery Press, uses the setting for her novels, the Bellissimo Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, for her short story about a holiday host investigating the death of a slot machine tournament player. Henery Press issued the story in electronic format on Amazon. Gretchen is a Tennessee housewife, who lives on Lookout Mountain with her husband, son, and a Yorkie named Bently. Her first Davis Way Crime Caper, Double Whammy, was a finalist for the Daphne du Maurier Award and appeared on the USA TODAY Bestsellers List.

Barb Goffman has won the Agatha, Macavity, and Silver Falchion awards for her mystery short stories. She received the Silver Falchion was for her collection, Don't Get Mad, Get Even. She also has been nominated for the Anthony and Derringer. Her nominated story was published in  Malice Domestic 11: Murder Most Conventional. It’s a great joy to see Malice Domestic resume its practice of issuing short story anthologies, particularly this volume that concentrates on mysteries at conventions. Barb’s story reveals how the best laid plans of two honored guests at Malice Domestic can take a bad turn for the worse.

Edith Maxwell, an Agatha nominated and Amazon bestselling author, writes two series under her own name (the Quaker Midwife and Local Foods Mysteries), two under the name Maddie Day, and previously wrote the Lauren Rousseau mysteries as Tace Baker. Her nominated short story appeared in the Bouchercon anthology, Blood on the Bayou: Bouchercon Anthology 2016 edited by Greg Herren (Down & Out Books), and featured her Quaker midwife protagonist, who must solve the mystery of a death in a New Orleans’ family that has come to Amesbury in 1888.

B.K. Stevens has published over fifty short stories, most appearing in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and eleven of which have been collected in Her Infinite Variety: Tales of Women and Crime, published by Wildside Press. In addition, she has written a novel featuring a deaf interpreter, Interpretation of Murder (Black Opal Books), and a young adult martial arts mystery, Fighting Chance (Poisoned Pen Press). She has won a Derringer and has been nominated for Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. Her nominated story, published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, was described by editor Linda Landrigan as: “A young wife finds her life’s disappointments measured in broken glass.”

Art Taylor, associate professor of English at George Mason University and frequent contributor to the Washington Post, the Washington Independent Review of Books, and Mystery Scene Magazine, won the Agatha Award for Best First Novel for On the Road with Del & Louise: A Novel in Stories. For his short stories, he has won two Agatha Awards, two Anthony Awards (one for his own short fiction and the other for editing Murder Under the Oaks: Bouchercon Anthology 2015), a Macavity Award, and three consecutive Derringer Awards. His nominated story, about a parent’s efforts to protect her child, was published in Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning.

If you haven’t already discovered these extraordinary authors, I hope you’ll take this opportunity to read their nominated work. And, if you already love their writing, as I do, enjoy these wonderful nominated selections!


  1. Thank you, Paula, for this lovely column about this year's Agatha nominees. You've always been such a big supporter of the short-story form. I hope your readers will follow your lead and read all these stories. We truly have a great slate that I'm honored to be part of.

  2. Oh. Shoes! I forgot to mention what shoes I'll wear to the Agatha banquet. It's just as well. I always go for comfort over fashion so it will likely be a nice version of the clogs I wear every day. Not very exciting.

  3. Thanks for featuring us! I think I need more shoes to be wearing anything interesting.... Still a month to pull something together. I'll try to dress to impress, I promise!