Edgar Award winners announced

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Every spring the Mystery Writers of America honor the best of their own with the Edgar Awards.

The organization was launched by about a dozen mystery writers in 1945 to protect the interest and welfare of mystery writers but also to increase the esteem and literary recognition given to the genre. Their slogan was “Crime Does Not Pay – Enough.”

Naming these awards “The Edgars” was a tip of the hat to Edgar Allan Poe, who wrote three short stories featuring C. Auguste Dupin, who is considered by some to be the first detective.

The reason that I like book awards is that they feed my list of books to read. I figure recognition from other mystery writers is a step up from picking a book for its cover (assuming you can find a bookstore to actually fondle a book in) or a tribe of Amazon.com reviewers who may have faked their reviews or have tastes that have no relationship to my own.

Here are Edgar winners. I’ll follow them up with the nominees. As far as I’m concerned, a nomination is an honor worth paying attention to.

  • Best Novel: Down the River Unto the Sea by Walter Mosley (Hachette Book Group – Mulholland)
  • Best First Novel by an American Author: Bearskin by James A. McLaughlin (HarperCollins Publishers – Ecco)
  • Best Paperback Original: If I Die Tonight by Alison Gaylin (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
  • Best Fact Crime: Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation by Robert W. Fieseler (W.W. Norton & Company – Liveright)
  • Best Critical/Biographical: Classic American Crime Fiction of the 1920s by Leslie S. Klinger (Pegasus Books)
  • Best Short Story: “English 398: Fiction Workshop” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Art Taylor (Dell Magazines)
  • Best Juvenile: Otherwood by Pete Hautman (Candlewick Press)
  • Best Young Adult: Sadie by Courtney Summers (Wednesday Books)
  • Best Television Episode Teleplay: “The One That Holds Everything” – The Romanoffs, Teleplay by Matthew Weiner & Donald Joh (Amazon Prime Video)
  • Robert L. Fish Memorial Award: “How Does He Die This Time?” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Nancy Novick (Dell Magazines)

Martin Cruz Smith, author of Gorky Park, Tokyo Station, The Girl from Venice and Havana Bay, was named the 2019 Grand Master. Mystery book reviewer Marilyn Stasio of the New York Times was given the Raven Award, and Linda Landrigan of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine received the Ellery Queen Award.

The Simon & Schuster Mary Higgins Clark Award was given to The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey.

The G. P. Putnam’s Sons Sue Grafton Memorial Award was given to Shell Game by Sara Paretsky.

Award nominees by category were:

Best Novel

  • The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard (Blackstone Publishing)
  • House Witness by Mike Lawson (Grove Atlantic – Atlantic Monthly Press)
  • A Gambler’s Jury by Victor Methos (Amazon Publishing – Thomas & Mercer)
  • Only to Sleep by Lawrence Osborne (Penguin Random House – Hogarth)
  • A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn (Penguin Random House – Berkley)

Best First Novel by an American Author

  • A Knife in the Fog by Bradley Harper (Seventh Street Books)
  • The Captives by Debra Jo Immergut (HarperCollins Publishers – Ecco)
  • The Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs (Simon & Schuster – Touchstone)
  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

Best Paperback Original 

  • Hiroshima Boy by Naomi Hirahara (Prospect Park Books)
  • Under a Dark Sky by Lori Rader-Day (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
  • The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani (Penguin Random House – Penguin Books)
  • Under My Skin by Lisa Unger (Harlequin – Park Row Books)

Best Fact Crime

  • Sex Money Murder: A Story of Crack, Blood, and Betrayal by Jonathan Green (W.W. Norton & Company)
  • The Last Wild Men of Borneo: A True Story of Death and Treasure by Carl Hoffman (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
  • The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century by Kirk Wallace Johnson (Penguin Random House – Viking)
  • I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara (HarperCollins Publishers – Harper)
  • The Good Mothers: The True Story of the Women Who Took on the World’s Most Powerful Mafia by Alex Perry (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)

Best Critical/Biographical

  • The Metaphysical Mysteries of G.K. Chesterton: A Critical Study of the Father Brown Stories and Other Detective Fiction by Laird R. Blackwell (McFarland Publishing)
  • Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession by Alice Bolin (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow Paperbacks)
  • Mark X: Who Killed Huck Finn’s Father? by Yasuhiro Takeuchi (Taylor & Francis – Routledge)
  • Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life by Laura Thompson (Pegasus Books)

Best Short Story 

  • “Rabid – A Mike Bowditch Short Story” by Paul Doiron (Minotaur Books)
  • “Paranoid Enough for Two” – The Honorable Traitors by John Lutz (Kensington Publishing)
  • “Ancient and Modern” – Bloody Scotland by Val McDermid (Pegasus Books)
  • “The Sleep Tight Motel” – Dark Corners Collection by Lisa Unger (Amazon Publishing)

Best Juvenile

  • Denis Ever After by Tony Abbott (HarperCollins Children’s Books – Katherine Tegen Books)
  • Zap! by Martha Freeman (Simon & Schuster – Paula Wiseman Books)
  • Ra the Mighty: Cat Detective by A.B. Greenfield (Holiday House)
  • Winterhouse by Ben Guterson (Christy Ottaviano Books – Henry Holt BFYR)
  • Charlie & Frog: A Mystery by Karen Kane (Disney Publishing Worldwide – Disney Hyperion)
  • Zora & Me: The Cursed Ground by T.R. Simon (Candlewick Press)

Best Young Adult

  • Contagion by Erin Bowman (HarperCollins Children’s Books – HarperCollins)
  • Blink by Sasha Dawn (Lerner Publishing Group – Carolrhoda Lab)
  • After the Fire by Will Hill (Sourcebooks – Sourcebooks Fire)
  • A Room Away From the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma (Algonquin Young Readers)

Best Television Episode Teleplay 

  • “The Box” – Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Teleplay by Luke Del Tredici (NBC/Universal TV)
  • “Season 2, Episode 1” – Jack Irish, Teleplay by Andrew Knight (Acorn TV)
  • “Episode 1” – Mystery Road, Teleplay by Michaeley O’Brien (Acorn TV)
  • “My Aim is True” – Blue Bloods, Teleplay by Kevin Wade (CBS Eye Productions)

The Simon & Schuster Mary Higgins Clark Award 

  • A Death of No Importance by Mariah Fredericks (Minotaur Books)
  • A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman (Kensington Publishing)
  • Bone on Bone by Julia Keller (Minotaur Books)
  • A Borrowing of Bones by Paula Munier (Minotaur Books)



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