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25th Annual Hamilton Literary Awards: Fiction Finalists
Stephen Near

This is the third in a four part blog series showcasing the finalists of this year's 25th Annual Hamilton Literary Awards. Find out which authors will take home the prizes by attending the gala celebration on Dec. 10, 2018 at Theatre Aquarius.

Dominated by absorbing tales of suspense, the finalists for the Hamilton Literary Award for Fiction are compelling titles that keep readers guessing until their very last chapters. Ranging from a jewellery heist to a mysterious illness threatening the lives of everyone aboard a cruise ship, each book captures audiences’ attention through memorable characters and unpredictable fast-paced plots. 

Named one of the Best Books for Kids & Teens by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, The Disappearance by Gillian Chan is a young adult mystery centred on Jacob Mueller and Mike McCallum who find themselves living in a group home for very different reasons. Isolated and bullied, Mike is “an elective mute,” and Jacob still bears the emotional and physical scars of his brother’s murder. This gritty and gripping read takes a turn when Jacob starts to talk, and appears to have information about Jacob’s dead brother. Mike is convinced that Jacob is from another time, giving the book a supernatural — yet, somehow believable, twist.

In Mike Knowles’ Rocks Beat Paper, the most recent whodunit in his Wilson Mystery series, a phone call brings Wilson and nine other men to a job in New York. This time, it’s a jewellery heist made up of millions of dollars in diamonds. In true Mike Knowles’ form, Rocks Beat Paper is especially memorable for an unforgettable cast of characters and non-stop action that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. 

In 2017, the Globe and Mail named Pasha Malla’s Fugue States one of their Best Books of 2017. Of the book, critic David B. Hobbs said, "What starts as a critique of Canadian culture through the lens of a second-generation family becomes a funny, brutal and strange commentary on the relationship between power and storytelling." This thought-provoking read tells the story of Ash Dhar who “discovers a partially completed and baffling work of fiction” written by his recently deceased father that compels him to travel to his father’s homeland. 

The fourth installment in his Dr. Zol Szabo Medical Mystery Series, Ross Pennie’s Beneath the Wake sees Zol hoping that an extended cruise on the Indian Ocean will help bring him closer to his son and girlfriend. However, the bliss of his vacation is quickly cut short when a “mysterious microbe cuts a lethal swath through the crew’s quarters” and Zol is asked to investigate before it consumes everyone on board.  

This year’s award for Fiction was sponsored by:

Next: the finalists for the Kerry Schooley Award