Take four plucky, smart, abandoned children (the oldest just 13); add a flawed but beautiful, warm-hearted man, big-hearted cops with a romantic edge, and introduce serious bad guys and tween gangster wannabes, and you’ll get The Odds by Kathleen George. The sixth book nominated for the Mystery Writers of America Edgar prize for best novel, The Odds’ cover features the helpful words “A Mystery.”
I don’t mean to be snarky. I enjoyed The Odds. The kids are a smart, loving, talented bunch with a strong work ethic, determined to stay together after their grown-up-in-name-only stepmother takes off to hook up with a guy she used to know. The cops are engaging and interesting characters. But I’m not sure how to classify the book – is it a mystery if the reader pretty much knows all along what’s going on? It’s more a police procedural – but even then, police detective Colleen Greer thinks she’s got it figured out early, and she’s right. Some reviewers have called it a thriller, and from the point of view that several characters are trying to outrun the doom that’s coming ever closer, that seems right, too.
But classifying the book isn’t the main point…it’s ranking it in the Edgar race! It’s an excellent read with interesting characters, the plot keeps moving. In an interview in The Big Thrill, Kathleen George talks about her characters, the balance she strikes, and her desire for dark or flawed characters. George’s book includes a lot of what I like in a mystery… if there had been just a little more actual mystery, I would have liked it even more! Therefore, it lands midlist on the Literary Lunchbox ranking of Edgar Best Novel nominees, after The Last Child, Nemesis, and The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death, but ahead of The Missing and A Beautiful Place to die.
- The Last Child (John Hart)
- Nemesis (Jo Nesbo)
- The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death (Charlie Huston)
- The Odds (Kathleen George)
- The Missing (Tim Gautreaux)
- A Beautiful Place to Die (Malla Nunn)
Of course, I am not part of the Edgar judging process! So, authors, no need to send gifts. I am a Mystery Writers of America member as a soon-to-be-published author (No, Mom, no news… just being optimistic). It is a very lengthy process – works may only be submitted in one category and by the publisher or producer. A look at the web site for 2010 submissions reveals the names of hundreds of titles in each category.
Edgars will be presented on April 29 in New York, NY, at the Edgar banquet.
On to Best First Novel by an American Author! A Bad Day for Sorry beckons.