Pure Death by Liah Penn

Pure Death (Ida Stone and Sam Fujimoto Mystery #1)Pure Death by Liah Penn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This novel won the 2015 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. Liam Penn’s alternate reality story of eugenics is a haunting science-fiction tale well told. In an effort to create a perfect world humans have been divided into two groups–the genetically superior (Pures) and those judged inferior (Impures). The sociological implications play out brilliantly as the Pures struggle to maintain their natural impulses (lust, envy, greed, and so on). The Impures face limited lifespans, terrible living conditions, segregation, and moral outrage. Penn portrays the driving sense of duty and hunger for justice in these investigators as they fight the weary battles against bureaucracy, horror, and disappointment in their fellow humans.

This story is Penn’s first published novel. Such a fabulous start, look for more to come in this series.

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Then I Met You by Deborah Wilding

Winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence, Then I Met You by Deborah Wilding presents Hawaiian society just before the attack on Pearl Harbor through the eyes of twenty-two-year-old Merrylei Wentworth in a seamless blend of history and fiction. The Wentworth family built their fortune in shipping, dating back to the days of Hawaiian royalty. After Merrylei’s father dies, she returns to Honolulu to restore the family mansion with plans to open it as a guesthouse. The grand house suffers from vandalism, age, and general inattention.

When Nisei (second-generation American-Japanese) Jamison Sumida offers architectural plans to restore the mansion, Merrylei is cautious. In 1941 Hawaiian society is sharply divided into racial and financial classes that place Jamison and Merrylei in separate social circles. Jamison wins her trust when he demonstrates his deep appreciation for paintings, specifically works created by Merrylei’s mother. Merrylei crosses an unspoken social boundary when she hires Jamison to assist in the mansion restoration.

cover of Then I Met You by Deborah Wilding

Then I Met You by Deborah Wilding

One of the first to object is businessman Jerry Caine who courts Merrylei. His charm and connections make him a very eligible bachelor. He is concerned for Merrylei’s safety alone at the mansion. Stolen royal jewels, curses, rumors of war, acts of vandalism, Japanese leasehold farmers who fear eviction, and the attack on Pearl Harbor threaten to prevent Merrylei from saving the family home.

As Merrylei comes of age–discovering her own strength–so does the nation at the outbreak of war.


In 2013 this story won the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in the category of unpublished historical mystery/suspense under the title In a Sea of Change.