Friday, April 27, 2018

And the Edgar Award Goes to...

Best Novel

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown & Co./Mulholland Books)

When it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules--a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger, knows all too well. Deeply ambivalent about growing up black in the lone star state, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. Until duty called him home.

When his allegiance to his roots puts his job in jeopardy, he travels up Highway 59 to the small town of Lark, where two murders--a black lawyer from Chicago and a local white woman--have stirred up a hornet's nest of resentment. Darren must solve the crimes--and save himself in the process--before Lark's long-simmering racial fault lines erupt.  

Best First Novel by an American Author

She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper (HarperCollins – Ecco)
Eleven-year-old Polly is smart far beyond her years. But she's a loner. Her mother tells her she has 'gunfighter eyes', like the father she's never met. In prison, about to be released, Nate runs afoul of the powerful leader of the Aryan Brotherhood. Marked for death on his release, Nate soon realizes that everyone he has ever loved is a target - including his daughter, Polly. Now, forced into hiding by the greenlight placed upon them, Nate finds himself having to teach his estranged daughter how to survive in a kill-or-be-killed world, all the while observed by Polly's teddy bear, who is soon the only outlet for the little girl's emotions. Soon the two of them find themselves on a non-stop struggle for survival, and along the way, discover the bonds that eluded them for so many years... 

Best Paperback Original

The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola (Sourcebooks – Sourcebooks Landmark) 
In 1837, a woman's dismembered body is found scattered across London. Sarah Gale, a seamstress and fallen woman, is sentenced to hang for her alleged role in the murder; although she professes her innocence, she is hiding darkness in her past.

Edmund Fleetwood is the young, idealistic lawyer tasked with Sarah's case. The stakes for both are high: Edmund has untold gambling debts he must urgently settle, and Sarah is desperate to escape the gallows. But as the two grow closer, the barriers between confessor and penitent start to blur, and Edward can't be sure if Sarah is a victim or a murderer.

Best Short Story

 “Spring Break” by John Crowley in New Haven Noir  (Akashic Books)

Best Fact Crime

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann (Penguin Random House – Doubleday) 
 In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, the Osage rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.
            Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. The family of an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, became a prime target. One of her relatives was shot. Another was poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more and more Osage were dying under mysterious circumstances, and many of those who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered.
            As the death toll rose, the newly created FBI took up the case, and the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to try to unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including a Native American agent who infiltrated the region, and together with the Osage began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history.
Best Critical/Biographical Work

Chester B. Himes: A Biography by Lawrence P. Jackson (W.W. Norton & Company) 
In this definitive biography of Chester B. Himes (1909–1984), Lawrence P. Jackson uses exclusive interviews and unrestricted access to Himes’s full archives to portray a controversial American writer whose novels unflinchingly confront sex, racism, and black identity. Himes brutally rendered racial politics in the best-selling novel If He Hollers Let Him Go, but he became famous for his Harlem detective series, including Cotton Comes to Harlem. A serious literary tastemaker in his day, Himes had friendships―sometimes uneasy―with such luminaries as Ralph Ellison, Carl Van Vechten, and Richard Wright.
Jackson’s scholarship and astute commentary illuminates Himes’s improbable life―his middle-class origins, his eight years in prison, his painful odyssey as a black World War II–era artist, and his escape to Europe for success. More than ten years in the writing, Jackson’s biography restores the legacy of a fascinating maverick caught between his aspirations for commercial success and his disturbing, vivid portraits of the United States.

Best Young Adult

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (Simon & Schuster – Atheneum Books for Young Readers) 
A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE

Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.

And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.

Best Juvenile!/James-Ponti/Framed!/9781481436335

Vanished! by James Ponti (Simon & Schuster – Aladdin)
Middle school is hard. Solving cases for the FBI is even harder. Doing both at the same time—well that’s just crazy. But that doesn’t stop Florian Bates!

After helping the FBI solve an art theft at the National Gallery and uncovering a DC spy ring, Florian’s finding life at Alice Deal Middle School a little boring. But that’s all about to change! His FBI handler, Marcus, has a job for him! Is it a bank robbery? Counterfeit ring? International espionage? Actually it’s middle school pranks…

Sounds pretty ordinary except that the pranks are happening at a prestigious private school attended by the President’s daughter who may—or may not—be involved. So Florian and Margaret are going undercover to see if they can use their TOAST skills to figure out what’s going on before the media gets hold of the story.

However, once the crime-solving pair arrive at the school, they discover that there’s a lot more than a few pranks going on and the conspiracy of silence reaches all the way to the top. Then a student vanishes in the middle of a concert at the Kennedy Center and things take a sinister turn!

Best Television Episode

"Somebody To Love" -Fargo by Noah Hawley 

Robert L. Fish Memorial Award

“The Queen of Secrets” by by Lisa D. Gray in New Haven Noir  (Akashic Books) 

Mary Higgins Clark Award

The Widow's House by Carol Goodman (HarperCollins – William Morrow Paperbacks) 
When Jess and Clare Martin move from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to their former college town in the Hudson River valley, they are hoping for rejuvenation—of their marriage, their savings, and Jess's writing career.
They take a caretaker's job at Riven House, a crumbling estate and the home of their old college writing professor. While Clare once had dreams of being a writer, those plans fell by the wayside when Jess made a big, splashy literary debut in their twenties. It's been years, now, since his first novel. The advance has long been spent. Clare's hope is that the pastoral beauty and nostalgia of the Hudson Valley will offer some inspiration.
But their new life isn't all quaint town libraries and fragrant apple orchards. There is a haunting pall that hangs over Riven House like a funeral veil. Something is just not right. Soon, Clare begins to hear babies crying at night, see strange figures in fog at the edge of their property. Diving into the history of the area, she realizes that Riven House has a dark and anguished past. And whatever this thing is—this menacing force that destroys the inhabitants of the estate—it seems to be after Clare next…

2018 Raven Award
Photo by Emily Giglierano
Kristopher Zigirski of BOLO Books!     

and The Raven Book Store of Lawrence, KS!

Ellery Queen Award
Michael Connelly presents the award to M. Pepin. Photo by Criminal Element @crimehq

Robert Pepin, translator, editor and publisher

We've all got a lot to add to our TBR piles! What winners pique your interest, dear readers?  What, if any, have you already read?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Congratulations to all the winners . . .
    I guess I have a great deal of reading to do since I’ve only read “Bluebird, Bluebird” . . . .

  3. Yes, many addition to the TBR pile. So many good books.
    She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper piqued my interest the most. Followed by Killers of the Flowered Moon and by YA Long Way Down

  4. First off, congrats to all the winners!

    I don't know if I can legitimately say I need to add any of the books to my TBR stack(s) because quite honestly, I'm overwhelmed with all the books I have waiting to be read already.

    However, I did read Attica Locke's "Bluebird, Bluebird" and really quite enjoyed it. Don't believe me? Well, you can read my Mystery Scene review of the book here:

  5. James Ponti is one of my favorite ya authors ever! His book called Framed is absolutely terrific, highly highly recommended. Cannot wait to read vanished.
    I am very fond of Attica Locke, hooray. And look at all those women winners! I am sure everyone is floating this morning.
    It is incredibly incredibly fabulous to be nominated for an Edgar or a Mary Higgins Clark, don’t forget that, sisters.

  6. Agreed, Hank - it was wonderful to see so many women nominated for (and winning!) the mystery world's top prize. I was also excited and heartened to see so many writers of color nominated. Mainstream crime fiction tends to skew older, white and male; anytime I see authors who buck that trend I'm glad. Diverse voices make our genre richer.

    1. I, too, agree. It's terrific to add some diversity to the usual suspects, as it were ;)

  7. I hope all the authors who did not "win" realize that their nomination alone placed them heads above the rest. In my mind they all were outstanding. Congratulations! Now go have some fun!

  8. They all sound great! But as a New Haven resident almost 30 years now (yikes!) I'm going to start with New Haven Noir.

  9. Congrats to all! I must admit that Vanished peaked my interest the most.

    1. I love the boom in middle grade mysteries! It used to be there were the old Bobbsy Twins books - they always solved a case - and Encyclopedia Brown. Now there are a plethora of great choices to introduce kids to the genre early. Why should fantasy and science fiction get all the love?

  10. The Reds were robbed! I am happy for Kristopher, though.

  11. I am sorry that Hallie and Rhys didn't win in their categories. But, it is, seriously, a huge honor to be nominated for an Edgar, no matter the outcome!

    I haven't read Bluebird, Bluebird so that is definitely on my list. And my interest was really piqued by Killers of the Flower Moon. What a fascinating story. And Vanished sounds terrific.

  12. And huge congrats to Kristopher Zgorski of BOLO for the Raven award!!!

    1. According to Emily Giglierano, from whose Twitter feed I took the picture of Kristopher, his scrolled-paper lapel brooch contains The Raven in its entirety!

    2. Thanks Deb and Julia. Yes, indeed. The scroll does contain some of the Raven poem - but not the entire thing. ;)

  13. Great post! Congratulations to all of the winners. Believe it or not, I have not read any of these authors except for Michael Connelly.


    1. There are a lot of names that are new to me as well, Diana.

    2. Julia, glad I am not the only one.

  14. She Rides Shotgun is my first pick

  15. These are all new to me, so I'm adding them to my list. What an excellent way to head into my high-reading months (May through August, in between teaching terms)! Thanks for posting, Julia!

    1. You're welcome! Lots of these are new to me I always discover around Edgars time that I'm WAY behind in reading crime fiction.

  16. Congrats to all the winners!!! How fabulous to see so many wonderful novels - by TBR pile just exploded!

  17. Kristopher, you look MARVELOUS! Congratulations!!!

  18. Wow, I did not expect to see Long Way Down even considered for an Edgar! It's inspired a lot of discussion among my middle schoolers, but I will have to ask if any of them consider it a mystery. Yes, it ends ambiguously, and there are plenty of murders, but its focus is on social justice and vengeance. (OK, I guess I can see how it fits as an Edgar nominee now!) I'm curious to see what my students think, once I finally get done with jury duty and back in my library!