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One of the best places to find good reading material is on the list of books that have been nominated for major awards in the genre. Of course, just because a book has won an award, or been nominated for one, does not mean that it will provide you with that voyage to a new puzzle, or to that familiar setting that you are seeking. When considering award winning books, it helps to know a little bit about who is judging the books, and on what criteria. If you want a hard-boiled detective novel, you are more likely to find one in the Edgar or Shamus award lists. That does not mean they wouldn't also show up in the Anthony awards. But it is a good bet they wouldn't be considered for an Agatha or a Macavity.

This year I am linking the titles to their Goodreads' pages. This will give you the opportunity to read the publishers' blurbs and the readers' reviews, if you'd like. The Goodreads' page also serves as a portal to multiple online booksellers and has a link to WorldCat, which claims to be the world's largest library catalogue. If your local library has registered with the site, you can determine if a copy is available for loan. Those books that we have already included in Monday Murder Mystery are linked to the diaries in which they appear. The books that are included in upcoming diaries are also indicated.

I haven't included any novels that michelewln may be planning to cover in future diaries. As some of you may know, she has been fully occupied moving her younger brother from California to North Carolina where she will be able to keep a closer eye on him and assist in his care. That is why regulars have been seeing so much of me lately. That will change when michelewln returns.

On to the awards. We will begin with the two annual biggies, the Edgars and the Anthonys that scilicet has suggested are the mystery genre's equivalent to science fiction's Hugo and Nebula awards. Below the fold are three others that readers may also find interesting, the Shamus, the Macavity and the Agatha. (BTW, scilicet provided a very helpful comment last year that gives us a writer's view of the awards. And once again, I am using parts of her comment in this diary. Thanks scilicet!)

The winners appear at the top of each list and are marked with an asterisk.


The Anthony Awards


The 44th annual Anthony Boucher Memorial World Mystery Convention, aka Bouchercon, just ended on September 29th in Albany, New York. This convention, that awards the annual Anthonys, is a multi-day event featuring panel discussions, lectures and Q&A sessions with mystery writers.

The World Mystery Convention is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization which holds an annual convention in honor of Anthony Boucher, the distinguished mystery fiction critic, editor and author. It is the world's premier event bringing together all parts of the mystery and crime fiction community, and is commonly referred to as Bouchercon. [bough'·chur·con]
The 2014 Convention will be held next on November 13 to the 16th in Long Beach, CA, which is one of my favorite Southern California cities. Since I have never attended one before, and since it is being held in a city I love to visit, and since it is so close to home, I am seriously considering attending. Has anyone else attended one of these things, or is planning on attending one? Can you tell me what to expect?

Best Novel

❃  The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny (Minotaur) Future Monday Murder Mystery

Best First Novel

❃  The Expats by Chris Pavone (Crown Publishers)

Best Paperback Original

❃  Big Maria by Johnny Shaw (Thomas & Mercer)


The Edgar Awards


The Edgar Awards are named in honor of Edgar Allen Poe and are awarded by the Mystery Writers of America, whose membership includes “mystery and crime writers, professionals allied to the crime writing field, aspiring crime writers, and folks who just love to read crime fiction.”  Although membership is open to all, only Active Members, those who are published writers, are allowed to judge the entries for the Edgar Awards.

The Edgars have traditionally leaned toward the more hard-boiled crime novels but they do not exclude the cozy novels. Which leads me to think that the reason Louise Penny has never received one isn't due to the type of mystery she writes, but to the fact that she is not a citizen or a legal resident of the United States. I am basing that on the Mystery Writers of America's Active Status Membership Requirements which must be met by a work even if the author is not a member of the MWA (membership is not needed in order to submit a work for an award).

Best Novel

❃  Live by Night by Dennis Lehane (William Morrow) Monday Murder Mystery

Best First Novel

❃ The Expats by Chris Pavone (Crown Publishers)

Best Paperback Original

❃  The Last Policeman: A Novel by Ben H. Winters (Quirk Books) Audiobooks Club and Future Monday Murder Mystery


It used to be that there were only two other awards that mattered much to American readers and, to a lesser extent, publishers. One is the Macavity, also awarded by reader ballots available from a Mystery Readers group. It skews cozy because that's the dedicated voter base there. The other is the Shamus Award, given by Private Eye Writers of America. It's awarded by committees, same process as the Edgars. Winners tend to be harder boiled because PI fiction grew out of that tradition. Dedicated readers care about these awards, of course, but most haven't heard of them, and publishers don't really publicize it when their writers win. (More full disclosure, gulp. I've been nominated for a few Anthonys and Macavitys, and I won a Shamus for a short story.)
- scilicet

The Macavity Awards


The Macavity Awards, named for T.S. Eliot's Macavity: The Mystery Cat, are nominated and voted on by members of Mystery Readers International:

MRI is the largest mystery fan/reader organization in the world, is open to all readers, fans, critics, editors, publishers, and writers. Started by Janet A. Rudolph in Berkeley, California, it now has members in all 50 of the United States and 18 foreign countries. Members vote each year to nominate and select the winners of the Macavity Award.
Janet Rudolph also blogs at Mystery Fanfare.

Best Mystery Novel

❃  The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny (Minotaur) Future Monday Murder Mystery

Best First Mystery Novel

❃  Don't Ever Get Old by Daniel Friedman (Thomas Dunne Books)

Sue Feder Historical Memorial Award

❃  An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd (HarperCollins)

The Shamus Awards


The Shamus Awards are awarded by the Private Eye Writers of America. Membership is open to fans, writers, and publishing professionals.

A private eye is defined as “as any mystery protagonist who is a professional investigator, but not a police officer or government agent.” So, “private investigators (licensed and unlicensed), lawyers and reporters who do their own legwork, and other hired agents are eligible; works centering on law enforcement officers or amateur sleuths are not.”

Judging is done by "committee members of PWA [who] select nominees and winners, much in the same way as the Edgars are chosen."

Best Hardcover P.I. Novel

❃  Taken by Robert Crais (Penguin Group, USA)

Best First P.I. Novel

❃  Black Fridays by Michael Sears (G.P. Putnam's Sons)

Best Original Paperback P.I. Novel

❃  And She Was by Alison Gaylin (Harper)

The Agatha Awards


The Agatha Awards are voted on by the attendees at the Malice Domestic, an annual “fun fan” convention in Washington DC.  The awards are given to traditional mysteries that are best typified by the works of Agatha Christie.  

“The genre is loosely defined as mysteries that:
  • contain no explicit sex
  • contain no excessive gore or gratuitous violence
Materials generally classified as ‘hard boiled' are not appropriate.”
scilicet's comment gives a little more background:
At around the time that Sisters in Crime was formed (because back then, so few mystery books by women were getting reviewed), there was considerable annoyance that the big prizes kept going to men. It was attributed to systemic disregard for cozier books. A new convention, Malice Domestic, was created, with its own award, the Agatha. People who sign up for Malice Domestic, a smaller conference than Bouchercon but big enough to fill multi-track panels for a few days, are sent ballots first to nominate and then to vote for winners. This award matters to readers who enjoy this type of book but doesn't matter as much to readers with more generalized taste.
Best Novel

❃  The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny (Minotaur) Future Monday Murder Mystery

Best First Novel

❃  Lowcountry Boil by Susan M. Boyer (Henery Press)

Best Historical Mystery

❃  Dandy Gilver and an Unsuitable Day for a Murder, by Catriona McPherson (St. Martin's Press)


More Awards



And just in case your TBR pile is not quite to the toppling over and filling up every spare inch of your home point, here are links to some awards that you might mine for more books to be read:
  • The Arthur Ellis Awards for Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing.
  • The Dagger Awards are sponsored by the Crime Writers Association and recognize crime fiction and non-fiction by Great Britain's writers.
  • The Hammett Prize is presented annually by the North American Branch of the International Association of Crime Writers for literary excellence in the field of crime-writing in a book published in English in the US and/or Canada.
  • Each year the Lambda Literary Foundation presents awards for literary achievement in multiple categories, including Gay and Lesbian mysteries.
  • The Thriller Awards are presented by the International Thriller Writers which was formed in 2004.
  • The Barry Awards are decided upon by the editorial staff of Deadly Pleasures and presented at the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention and named to honor Barry Gardner, a fan reviewer.
  • The members of the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association award the Dilys at the Left Coast Crime Convention each year, The award is named after the first specialty bookseller of mysteries in the United States, Dilys Winn.
  • Also presented at the Left Coast Crime Convention is the Lefty, an award given annually for the most humorous mystery novel of the year.  
  • The Nero Award is presented annually by The Wolfe Pack (the official Nero Wolfe Society) for the best American Mystery.

And Still More Awards


In addition to all of these, there are other foreign awards.  (Actually there are a lot of other awards.)  Here are links to some of those that are highlighted by The Mystery Book Awards website:

Swedish Crime Novels
Le Prix Mystère de la Critique
The Riverton Prize, Norwegian
The Falcon Award, best hard-boiled mystery published in Japan
The Vuoden Johtolanka (Clue) Award, Finnish
The Glass Key Award,  "best crime novel written by a Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian, or Swedish author."
The Ned Kelly Awards, Australian
The Davitt Award, Australian women writers
The Galaxy National Book Awards, British
The Harald Mogensen Award, Danish
The Ngaio Marsh Award, New Zealand
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