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LA Times Book Prize Nominees of the Sleuthing & Scary Sort

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LA Times Book Prize Mystery/Thriller Nominees

As the LA Times Book Prize award ceremony looms ever-closer, we're taking a look at the books nominated in each category. As we mentioned last week, unlike other big literary awards, the LA Times Book Prize winners are never a sure thing, which is what makes following them all the more fun.

The nominees in the Mystery/Thriller category this year are interesting indeed:

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This may well be the most exciting - and hotly contested - category. Each book is remarkable and could easily win. Our go-to pick is Benjamin Black's (aka, brilliant Irish novelist John Banville) Christine Falls. Simply watching Banville do mystery is, well, very yummy. It is playful in a way his serious works of literary fiction are not. It is fun and spellbinding and all the rest. Yet a little voice inside wonders if it's even fair to have such a literary heavyweight competing in a category that he's only just begun to write within. Plus, Banville has amassed so many awards already, perhaps someone else deserves a chance.

This is where Karin Fossum comes in. We were first alerted to her harrowing novel, The Indian Bride, by fellow Book Prize nominee and just-anointed Pulitzer Prize-winner Junot Diaz. During a reading at the now almost-closed Dutton's (please do visit them before they close for good on April 30th!), Diaz mentioned recent novels that blew his mind. Fossum's book was on the list. His words as we remember them go something like this "It's an intense Norwegian story about how one small murder affects an entire town." We took note. We read the recommended book. Wow. We suspect Diaz must be rooting for Fossum, so she might be a safe bet.

Yet, this is where the "most exciting" of the categories bit comes in: we also can't rule out Tana French's fascinating In the Woods. Not only are we suckers for novels set in Dublin as French's is, but we love when thriller novels spin out plots that you can't see coming from a mile away. In the Woods gets a little over-complicated near the end, but we found it refreshing instead of annoying.

Who will win the category? We'll find out on Friday as the LA Times Book Prizes will be awarded on April 25th.

LA Times Book Prize Nominees of the Fictional Sort
LA Times Book Prize Nominees: Soldiers & Shock Doctrines