Tag Archives: nominees

Edgar list is out!

mwa_logoEvery year, the Mystery Writers of America bestow Edgar awards in various categories, including Best Novel, Best First Novel by an American Author, Best Short Story, and so on. The nominees come out in January and the Edgars are given at a star-studded banquet (think Oscars, but with a lower glamour quotient).  This year’s ceremony is April 28; as always, it’s in New York City.  Oh, I wish I could go!  As an MWA member I get an invite and it. would. be. a. thrill.

This will be my sixth year of reading, reviewing, and ranking the nominees for Best Novel and Best First Novel.  My track record, in terms of agreeing with the MWA, has been mixed.  But since I’m not trying to predict who WILL win, but instead, letting you know who SHOULD win, that’s not a big deal.  Although when we agree perfectly (which has actually happened), I feel a certain smug satisfaction.

And the list of finalists is out!  I’m pretty excited to get started reading.  I see some familiar names, including Michael Robotham, Philip Kerr and Lori Roy.  On the newbie side, I’ve only read Jessica Knoll’s Luckiest Girl Alive.

Best Novel

  • The Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
  • The Lady From Zagreb by Philip Kerr (Penguin Random House – A Marian Wood Book)
  • Life or Death by Michael Robotham (Hachette Book Group – Mulholland Books)
  • Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy (Penguin Random House – Dutton)
  • Canary by Duane Swierczynski (Hachette Book Group – Mulholland Books)
  • Night Life by David C. Taylor (Forge Books)

Best First Novel

  • Past Crimes by Glen Erik Hamilton (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
  • Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
  • Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll (Simon & Schuster)
  • The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Atlantic – Grove Press)
  • Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm (Penguin Random House – Viking

I may even attempt to get to the Best Paperback Novel, but don’t hold me to it.  Here are those nominees.

  • The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
  • The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter by Malcolm Mackay (Hachette Book Group – Mulholland Books)
  • What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
  • Woman with a Blue Pencil by Gordon McAlpine (Prometheus Books – Seventh Street Books)
  • Gun Street Girl by Adrian McKinty (Prometheus Books – Seventh Street Books)
  • The Daughter by Jane Shemilt (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)

To the nominees:  I know the tension is killing you… who will receive the Literary Lunchbox Edgars?  Watch this space over the next three months to see how you fare against your brethren.  May the odds be ever in your favor.

To the readers:  Ditto.  And  for this who are not up for the tension of reading without knowing who won…  Here’s a list of last year’s nominees AND the winners for your enjoyment.

Edgar nominees announced!

mwa_logoLet the reading begin.  The Mystery Writers of America have announced the nominees for the prestigious Edgar awards for works published in 2012.  In recent years, I have reviewed and ranked the nominees for Best Novel and for Best First Novel by an American Author.   Shockingly, I had only read two of the 13 books nominated in these categories this year (Gone Girl and Live by Night).  The Edgar Awards banquet will be held May 2, 2013 in New York City at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.

Here’s the list of books nominated for Best Novel:

  • The Lost Ones by Ace Atkins (Penguin Group USA – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
  • The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye (Penguin Group USA – Amy Einhorn Books/G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
  • Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn (Crown Publishers)
  • Potboiler by Jesse Kellerman (Penguin Group USA – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
  • Sunset by Al Lamanda (Gale Cengage Learning – Five Star)
  • Live by Night by Dennis Lehane (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
  • All I Did Was Shoot My Man by Walter Mosley (Penguin Group USA – Riverhead Books)

And here are the nominees for Best First Novel by an American Author:


My philosophy:  I started out with a “predict the Oscars” mindset, assuming that my perspective on mystery/crime novels would reflect the perspectives of the decision-makers.  And my first year reviewing and ranking certainly reinforced that perspective:  I called it in both categories.  The next year, zippo. This was met with shock and deep mourning.  Last year, I got one right and one wrong (but not by much).  So, batting .500 overall.  You can read more about the 2010, 2011 and 2012 review process here, here and here.

One thing new this year:  in an effort to support my local independent bookstore (Hi, Book Table people!), I purchased 12 of the 13 books right there.  (I already owned the Dennis Lehane.)  They were super-helpful in ordering for me and I got them all at a discount.  Previously, I had been just as likely – or perhaps more likely – to purchase from Amazon, borrow from the library, or buy the e-book, as I was to buy locally.  But as they say, “if you shop here, we will be here,” and  I want my local bookstore, even if I do wish they were just a wee bit bigger.

Resolution:  Finish early.  I typically am posting my final review and ranking the same week as the banquet.   The associated anxiety takes away some of the fun.

Edgar Rankings: Who the heck is Poke Rafferty?

I had never read anything by Timothy Hallinan prior to my instantaneous purchase-by-Kindle of the Edgar-nominated The Queen of Patpong.  With nothing to hold in my hand – no blurb on the back of the book, no book jacket bio – I plunged into the the underbelly of Bangkok.  Bar girls, tough guys, and plenty of bought-and-sold.  In the first chapter, a predatory American circles and pulls in a 16-year-old bar girl, only to be stopped by a corrupt Thai policeman who is ready to let the girl go to certain torture and death – for a price.  Between the two of them, they scare the cr*p out of the girl, who takes off in a big hurry for the farm she left behind.  In the final paragraphs, it becomes obvious that the policeman and the tall American are in cahoots, with the goal of saving the girl.  And that was it.  I was hooked.

It turns out that this is the fourth Poke Rafferty novel, Poke being the tall American and Arthit his policeman friend.  Poke’s evidently a travel writer, although we don’t see much traveling or much writing in this book.  He’s married to a former bar girl, Rose, and they’ve adopted a 13-year-old named Miaow (but she wants to go by Mia).  Life gets exciting and scary when a man from Rose’s past – a seductive mercenary who has left a trail of murdered young women behind him – finds her again.  Fortunately, he’s the kind of sociopath who likes to play with his prey, because if he had just gone for the kill right off the bat, the book would have been maybe 50 pages long.

If you’re noticing, this is the fourth book out of the six nominated that hinges on action from the past.  If the trend continues and we end up six-for-six, that’ll really be something unusual.

For sheer engagement, The Queen of Patpong is tops.  The reader sees the love between Poke and Rose, the family the three of them have made together, and their friendship with Arthit.  The backstory is well-told and is doled out over time, ratcheting up the suspense.  By the time I was reading about Rose’s encounter with Howard Horner on the rocks – he has plans to kill her, but she outwits him – I couldn’t read fast enough.   It reminded me Tom Hanks in Apollo 13 – you know the astronauts survive, but you’re on the edge of your seat anyway.

Also good about the book – the bad guys were not just believable, but real, and the meta-message – that the U.S. government would protect black ops mercenaries who killed civilians for fun – was chilling, but in today’s world, also believable.

The downside to The Queen of Patpong is pretty minor:  if you haven’t read about these characters before, it takes a little catching up.   The world of Bangkok is not readily familiar, so that takes a little catching up, too.

This is quite a different novel, some mystery but mostly thriller, and Rose fills the pages.   It’s a tough call, but it doesn’t quite edge out Laura Lippman’s book, although it’s definitely ahead of Harlan Coben’s Caught.   I “amazoned” Hallinan, and I see he has quite a backlist… guess I know what I’ll be reading when the Edgar countdown is over!

Lunchbox rankings for Best Novel:

  1. I’d Know You Anywhere – Laura Lippman
  2. The Queen of Patpong – Timothy Hallinan
  3. Caught – Harlan Coben
  4. The Lock Artist – Steve Hamilton

Edgars nominees announced!

The Mystery Writers of America (of which I am a proud member!) has announced the nominees for the 2011 Edgar awards.   I am excited to say that I have not read many of these nominees.  Excited because that means I have many weeks of happy reading ahead of me.

Last year at this time I undertook to read all the nominees for Best Novel and Best First Novel by an American author, review them and rank them as I went along.  It was super-fun.  Plus, I called it.  Picking the winners was extremely satisfying.  Click here for my post when the winners were announced – my top-ranked books received the awards at the Edgars ceremony in New York city!

Up for consideration for best novel are:

  • Caught by Harlan Coben (Penguin Group USA – Dutton)
  • Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
  • Faithful Place by Tana French (Penguin Group USA – Viking)
  • The Queen of Patpong by Timothy Hallinan (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
  • The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton (Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books)
  • I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman (HarperCollins – William Morrow)

And for best first novel by an American author:

  • Rogue Island by Bruce DeSilva (Tom Doherty Associates – Forge Books)
  • The Poacher’s Son by Paul Doiron (Minotaur Books)
  • The Serialist: A Novel by David Gordon (Simon & Schuster)
  • Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto (Simon & Schuster – Scribner)
  • Snow Angels by James Thompson (Penguin Group USA – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

In other MWA news, I’m proud to see that Augie Aleksy’s Centuries & Sleuths bookstore in Forest Park is receiving a Raven award and Chicago’s Sara Paretsky is the grand master.  It’s a good year for Chicago!   I’d love to go to NY for the Edgars Symposium and awards banquet.