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January 19, 2010


Adam McFarlane

Wow! No comments yet? Reading people's comments on the Edgar nominations at Sarah's site is a can't-miss mystery-fan experience. I hope people who have strong opinions are willing to share them!


Yikes. That is a shockingly uninspiring list. I don't deny there are some quality books that have been nominated (and particular kudos to Charlie Huston) but there are very few that leap out to me as memorable or singular in terms of voice, plot, character, and premise.


Where's the motion picture nominees?

John Sullivan

Bury Me Deep for best paperback original? Gag me.

Cornelia Read

Megan *rocks*, Bozo. And congratulations to all the nominees!


How's this Adam?

This list of nominees (congratulations to all of them, of course) has to be the worst list of uninspired choices since last year's list. I haven't read a single one of them, and I read a fair sampling of crime fiction/mystery books that show up on various bloggers' "Best of . . ." lists, and these judges are so far from reality that only one, one!, of these books is even on my TBR list ("The Red Blazer Girls"). For one thing, why in the world wasn't "Dog On It" nominated for Best First Novel By An American Author Pretending Not To Have Written Any Other Novels? For another, why so many books published by Minotaur? That's no coincidence. There's so much politics in the Edgars these days that not only were no books published by Simon and Schuster nominated for the Simon & Schuster / Mary Higgins Clark award, there wasn't even a book by Mary Higgins Clark nominated!

For God's sake.

I wash my hands of the whole business.

Larry Gandle

Perhaps it is a bit pretentious to call a list "uninspired" without having read any of the books. Even I wouldn't do that. To be honest, I haven't heard of many of these titles. Best novel category lacks the big bestselling names- not necessarily a bad thing. Best first novel category looks interesting. I didn't particularly like BLACK WATER RISING by Attica Locke (I gave it a C+) so consider it a favorite to win. Best paperback is filled with small press books unlike other years when all the nominees are mass market originals. I expect them to be unusual and some quite excellent. I will read all the fictional nominees and review them in DEADLY PLEASURES. By the way, I agree with Cornelia- Megan Abbott's books are all recommended reads. I expect Bury me deep to be just as good as the others.

David J. Montgomery

I consider this year's list to be exemplary, as there is actually one book in each of the three major categories that I would have picked.

Larry, I think you're right about BLACK WATER RISING. It was middling at best....and thus a lock to win. (But BAD DAY FOR SORRY deserves it.)

Adam McFarlane

I'm afraid my post may have came across as shallow ... Sorry I didn't do a better job expressing myself.

When Tess Gerritsen was nominated for Vanish in 2006, some posters criticized her here. I was touched when she added a response that disarmed with her humility.

Discussion here of the Edgar committee's "minority report" after Dominic Stansberry's 2005 win for The Confession gave me context to understand the tension revealed in a secret nomination process.

Little Girl Lost was nominated in 2005 but its sequel, Little Girl Lost, wasn't even eligible. Charles Ardai posted comments defining the relationships between himself, his writing, and Hardcase crime. Sarah's, Charles's, and others' comments illustrate how complex the ideas of professionalism and excellence can be.

Do I love comments flaming with anger? And juicily snide comments, too? I suppose. But I think what I appreciate is the passion. We care about good mysteries. And I love seeing that feeling come through. As a fan, I'm thankful to listen in on (and be a part of) a conversation I care about so much.


The Robert L. Fish Memorial Award winner - "A Dreadful Day" was a perfect choice and a must read if you can get a hold of the Alfred Hitchcock magazine that printed it.


Adam --

my comment wasn't aimed at you, and I apologize if you took it that way. And I agree, the discussion often generates some light, along with the usual complaints about how this year's list is horrible, based not on a reading of the books, or a recognition that tastes vary, but simply on buzz, hype and publicity.


Simon & Schuster does not submit books for consideration for the Mary Higgins Clark award - transparency, you know...


To say a list is 'uninspired' without reading any of them is ridiculous. And sadly i have encountered such thing in various crime fiction/author fan forum. I remembered on one occasion , somebody insisted that a Dagger award list is 'bad' because he didn't know any of the authors shortlisted, and admitted that he didn't read any of the books.

Joe McCusker

Every year there seems to be a book or two that doen't make the list
that makes one wonder if anyone on the committee involved enjoys, or even actually reads, mysteries (PRESUMED INNOCENT anyone)? That book this year, for me, was Harry Dolan's BAD THINGS HAPPEN. A beautifully written genre book, peopled with wonderful characters, that actually has a plot, written by someone who obviously both understands and adores our genre. I understand awards are subjective, but this wasn't one of the five best firsts??!! Shame on you, nominating committee, shame on you.


But Joe -- have you read the ones on the list? Poking around the web, I find a lot of comments indicating one or another of the Best Firsts nominated is really good. I was surprised that Bad Things Happened wasn't on the list, as I was surprised by that one or more of other talked about books weren't included: The Book of Detection, The Little Sleep, The Broken Teaglass. But I take the fact that lesser talked-about books are on the final list of nominees to be a sign that the judges actually read the books, and decide according to their own taste and standards, rather than just by what floats to the top of the marketing soup.

Adam McFarlane

Thanks for the post, Charlie! I think I took your first post the wrong way. You're thoughtful to clarify your aim for me.

Considering the sheer number of submissions, I feel like any committee member has a nearly impossible job in giving each title careful consideration. My hat's off to any MWA member who takes the opportunity to do their best to serve their committee.

Larry Gandle

I thought Bad Things Happen wasn't all that good. (Rating C+- long meandering plot with two complex exposition scenes.) So its all a matter of taste. Shame on me too, I guess.

Dean James

How does one read a "fictional" nominee? Wouldn't that mean it doesn't really exist? Maybe MWA is engaging in a conspiracy by nominating non-existent books to confuse everyone....

John Sullivan

I take these lists as an inspiration to find those that I haven't read. And I agree with Joe on Bad Things Happen -- a tremendous debut. And I liked Locke too. But, from the BOZO side, here was my capsule review of Bury Me Deep back in August:

Halfway through Megan Abbott's Bury Me Deep (Simon & Schuster, 240 pages, $20), here's the drift:

Defrocked doc takes work in Mexico, leaving innocent young wife in clerical job at a desert-town clinic in the 1930s. Girlie falls in with floozies, is smitten and corrupted by dissolute 'Gentleman Joe' cad. That's it.

New Yorker Abbott, dubbed "the crown princess of noir," has been twice nominated for an Edgar, winning once, for similar tartily-covered, faux-pulp entries. But fluttering period dialogue just renders this dreck more dated, ponderous and perilously close to unreadable.

Joe McCusker

In response: Larry, you're right, shame on you as well! Seriously though, I've read very few firsts this decade that I though were as well done. Plot may well have been overcomplicated but I thought that was deliberately so as an homage to the Golden Age. Interesting to see an opinion that diverges so much. Black Water Rising that was a C+ to me ( and quite a few others apparently).
Margaret, are you saying I can't make broad, sweeping, know-it-all statements without actually reading the nominees. Sheesh! Point made and taken. In recent years I have found that the quality of many nominees has been remarkably average whatever tier of marketing on which they rest. That being said, might be nice if I dive into other four nominees and see what's what and THEN opine. It will truly be a grand surprise if they rise to the level of Mr. Dolan's work and I do mean grand!

Bob  Pilbo

No best Plays were nominated this year at all?! That sucks!

Rerto Jordans

I'm glad to be of your space. The pictures are good-looking, and writing is very good!

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