Authors aren’t used to being gawked at. But gather them together in a fancy ballroom and something magical happens: You soon discover that they gawk at each other.
“Isn’t that Linda Fairstein?” whispered the woman next to me, an award-winning author herself.
Um. . . yes. Yes, it was Linda Fairstein.
And the woman opposite me with the glasses, and the blunt cut hair, and the lusciously low-pitched speaking voice, that was S.J. Rozan.
The tall—very tall—handsome man in the tux: Lee Child.
The stunning auburn-haired woman in the silver sequined dress, with legs to die for and a smile you could swear actually twinkles in the light—that’s Sandra Brown. Now, shush! She’s heading to the podium . . .
Everybody says it, but now I can vouch that it’s true: There are no greater mystery fans than the mystery writers themselves, and a friendlier, more gracious group you could not hope to find. Once a year they come out of their offices, dens, studios, and local coffeehouses to remind us of this and to fete the creators of the year’s best works of crime and mystery writing at the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Awards.
2012 marked the 66th year of the Edgars, named, as MWA executive vice president Lawrence Light explained, for Edgar Allan Poe “who penned great works and died in the gutter.” (No wonder everybody wants one!)
The nominees were announced in January. Last night, the winners were presented with the coveted trophies—a bust of Poe—during a ceremonial banquet at the Grand Hyatt hotel in New York City. (The list of winners is below.)
In addition to the Edgar awards, special Raven awards for service to the genre were presented to Molly Weston, founder of the Meritorious Mysteries blog, and to the M is for Mystery Bookstore in San Mateo, California. The Ellery Queen Award was presented to Joe Meyers of the Connecticut Post for his outstanding coverage of mystery and crime fiction.
There were laughs (gosh Michael Wiley, who presented the Edgar for Best Critical/Biographical Work, is funny) and tears (Lori Roy shed a few when she won for Best First Novel, and really, wouldn’t you?). Dandi Daley Mackall, who won for Best Young Adult Novel, was infectiously exuberant, while Mo Hayder, who took the coveted Edgar for Best Novel, kept her remarks brief and let her winning smile do the talking.
But for my money, the evening belonged to Martha Grimes, MWA’s Grand Master for 2012. She’s written 31 novels and counting—including 22 in the Richard Jury series. Her fans are legion. And yet, there is one prize she’s never won: an Edgar.
In her keynote remarks, she recounted a conversation with her agent that took place sometime after the publication of her tenth novel:
“I asked him: ‘Does it strike you as at all peculiar that I haven’t been nominated for an Edgar?’
“And he said, ‘Maybe they don’t like your books.’”
Not true! I say. And I know without question that an entire ballroom filled with people—the greatest mystery fans in the world—agree with me.
Presenting the winners of the 66th Annual Edgar Awards:
Gone by Mo Hayder (Grove/Atlantic – Atlantic Monthly Press)
BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR
Bent Road by Lori Roy (Penguin Group USA – Dutton)
BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL
The Company Man by Robert Jackson Bennett (Hachette Book Group – Orbit Books)
BEST FACT CRIME
Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard (Random House – Doubleday)
On Conan Doyle: Or, the Whole Art of Storytelling by Michael Dirda (Princeton University Press)
BEST SHORT STORY
“The Man Who Took His Hat Off to the Driver of the Train” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Peter Turnbull (Dell Magazines)
Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby (Scholastic Press)
BEST YOUNG ADULT
The Silence of Murder by Dandi Daley Mackall (Random House Children’s Books – Knopf BFYR)
The Game’s Afoot by Ken Ludwig (Cleveland Playhouse, Cleveland, OH)
BEST TELEVISION EPISODE TELEPLAY
“Pilot” – Homeland, Teleplay by Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon and Gideon Raff (Showtime)
ROBERT L. FISH MEMORIAL AWARD
“A Good Man of Business” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by David Ingram (Dell Magazines)
THE SIMON & SCHUSTER – MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD
(Presented to an author writing in the Mary Higgins Clark tradition)
Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry (Crown Publishing Group)
Leslie Gilbert Elman is the author of Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous, and Totally Off the Wall Facts. Follow her on Twitter @leslieelman.