It’s Edgar Time!

I have a history of reading, reviewing and rating the Mystery Writers of America nominees for Best Novel (and sometimes other categories, depending on the time available). The Edgars and I don’t always agree, but I’m not doing a “guess who will win” blog, but a “here’s who should win” blog. More later on that!

This year there is a bumper crop of books I haven’t read yet. Out of the 16 books nominated in my favorite categories – Best Novel, Best First Novel by an American Author, and Best Paperback Original – I have only read two.

Here’s the line-up for Best Novel, in case you want to read along with me:

  • The Venice Sketchbook by Rhys Bowen
  • Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby
  • Five Decembers by James Kestrel
  • How Lucky by Will Leitch
  • No One Will Miss Her by Kat Rosenfield

I’ll be starting with How Lucky! In the meantime, I’ll give you some deets about the last couple of years.

In 2020 – year one of “the COVID times” – the winner was Elly Griffiths for The Stranger Diaries. She came in second in my ranking, after Michael Robotham. I liked Robotham’s new series, liking the flawed psychologist main character and appreciating the twisty plot. Griffiths had a compelling story told from three perspectives, which really worked.

Literary Lunchbox 2020 Best Novel Ranking

  1. Good Girl, Bad Girl (Michael Robotham)
  2. The Stranger Diaries (Elly Griffiths)
  3. Smoke and Ashes (Abir Mukherjee)
  4. The River (Peter Heller)
  5. Fake Like Me (Barbara Bourland)

Similar situation with Best First Novel by an American Author that year. I picked My Lovely Wife – loved this psychological thriller with super-unreliable narrators. The actual winner: Miracle Creek. That’s a multi-layered legal thriller.

Literary Lunchbox 2020 Best First Novel by an American Author

  1. My Lovely Wife, Samantha Dowling
  2. The Good Detective, John McMahon
  3. American Spy, Lauren Wilkinson
  4. Miracle Creek, Angie Kim
  5. The Secrets We Kept, Lara Prescott
  6. Three-Fifths, John Vercher

2021 was a particularly busy year for me, so I only did Best Novel. I ranked Ivy Pochoda’s These Women at the top – I found it to be a strong, psychologically taut, and complex novel, and a compulsive page-turner. The actual winner was Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line – and it was neck and neck for me, because Djinn Patrol was deeply affecting book.

Literary Lunchbox 2021 Best Novel

  1. These Women, Ivy Pochoda
  2. Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, Deepa Anappara
  3. The Distant Dead, Heather Young
  4. The Thursday Murder Club, Richard Osman
  5. Before She Was Helen, Caroline Cooney

On to 2022’s noms. See you soon!

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