Agatha Award Winners Announced

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Mardi Gras Murder by Ellen Byron took the 2019 Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel, and The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey won the 2019 Agatha Award for Best Historical Novel.

There was a tie for best first novel between A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman and Curses Boiled Again by Shari Randall.

Other winners in this annual competition for best traditional and cozy mysteries as determined by fans attending the annual Malice Domestic conference in Washington, D.C., were:

  • Best Short Story: “All God’s Sparrows” by Leslie Budewitz (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine) and “The Case of the Vanishing Professor” by Tara Laskowski (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine) tied.
  • Best Children’s/Young Adult Mystery: Potion Problems (Just Add Magic) by Cindy Callaghan (Aladdin)
  • Best Nonfiction: Mastering Plot Twists: How to Use Suspense, Targeted Storytelling Strategies, and Structure to Captivate Your Readers by Jane Cleland (Writer’s Digest Books)

These awards are given to the best of these books or short stories published by a living author in the United States during the prior calendar year. (This year’s winners were all published in 2018.) The books honored by the Agatha Awards are written in the style of Agatha Christie’s traditional mysteries, and “contain no explicit sex, excessive gore or gratuitous violence.” You’ll find no hard-boiled mysteries here.

Books are nominated for the awards by the fans themselves. Specifically, those who registered for the 2019 Malice Domestic conference by Dec. 31, 2018 get to nominate books and short stories for the awards. Those attending the May 3-5 conference get to vote for the winners, who were announced at the Agatha Awards banquet on May 4.

Because I think awards nominations are honors, too, and because nomination lists are such a great source of books to put on my reading list, I’m providing the list of nominees who didn’t win Agathas here, too.

Best Contemporary Novel 
Beyond the Truth by Bruce Robert Coffin (Witness Impulse)
Cry Wolf by Annette Dashofy (Henery Press)
Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny (Minotaur)
Trust Me by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge)

Best Historical Novel
Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding by Rhys Bowen (Berkley)
The Gold Pawn by LA Chandlar (Kensington)
Turning the Tide by Edith Maxwell (Midnight Ink)
Murder on Union Square by Victoria Thompson (Berkley)

Best First Novel
Little Comfort by Edwin Hill (Kensington)
What Doesn’t Kill You by Aimee Hix (Midnight Ink)
Deadly Solution by Keenan Powell (Level Best Books)

Best Short Story
“A Postcard for the Dead” by Susanna Calkins in Florida Happens (Three Rooms Press)
“Bug Appetit” by Barb Goffman (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
“English 398: Fiction Workshop” by Art Taylor (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)

Best Young Adult Mystery
Winterhouse by Ben Guterson (Henry Holt)
A Side of Sabotage by C.M. Surrisi (Carolrhoda Books)

Best Nonfiction
Writing the Cozy Mystery by Nancy J Cohen (Orange Grove Press)
Conan Doyle for the Defense by Margalit Fox (Random House)
Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life by Laura Thompson (Pegasus Books)
Wicked Women of Ohio by Jane Ann Turzillo (History Press)


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