On Thursday, April 27th, I had the chance to attend the 2017 Edgar Awards! For those of you unfamiliar with the Edgar’s: they are awards given out by the Mystery Writers of America at an annual banquet held in New York. (Think the Oscar’s of the crime book world!) This was my first time attending the Edgar’s - I was lucky enough to get to go through work this year. In this post, I’ll be recapping some of my personal highlights from the night, plus providing a list of the major award categories and their winners. (Note: to read the complete list, you can visit the Edgar’s website.)
Needless to say, I was so excited for the Edgar's. Ever since I first learned of the Edgar's existence, I've followed along each year as the genre's best writers are recognized for their outstanding work. Getting to watch this happen in real life, in a room filled with so much crime-writing talent? I can't imagine much better! It goes without saying that the actual awards portion of the night was so exciting—but my personal favorite part of the event was actually the cocktail hour that preceded the awards banquet. I loved getting to walk around and mingle with industry professionals and authors attending the Edgar's! One personal highlight for me was getting to meet C.J. Box, the New York Times bestselling author of over twenty novels. Chuck and his wife were so genuinely wonderful to speak with, it was a pleasure meeting them! You can read more about C.J. Box's books and career here.
The other major highlight of the cocktail hour: running into my friend Sara Blaedel! Neither of us knew the other was coming, and it was the best surprise to see her. Wonderful human being that she is, Sara introduced me to Alafair Burke, Lisa Unger, and Karin Slaughter over the course of the evening! Talk about a dream team of crime writers. Here’s a quick picture that Sara, Karin, Lisa, and I snapped at the end of the night. I could hardly believe my luck to get to spend a little time with these talented, welcoming, fun ladies!
In case you're unfamiliar with these authors—here's a quick refresher on their most recent books:
- Sara Blaedel: THE LOST WOMAN (Grand Central Publishing; 2/7/17)
- Alafair Burke: THE EX (Harper; 1/31/17)
- Lisa Unger: THE RED HUNTER (Touchstone; 4/25/17)
- Karin Slaughter: THE KEPT WOMAN (William Morrow; 9/20/16)
Last but certainly not least: this is a relatively silly thing to be excited about, but I’ve been eyeing these chocolate Edgar’s that I always see in photos from the banquet for ages now… and this year, I got my hands on one! Everyone at my table was so kind and let me keep the whole Edgar. Life dream fulfilled. (Yes, that is a giant piece of white chocolate with Poe's face on it.)
Unfortunately there was one unexpected and scary turn to the evening - the event host, bestselling author Jeffery Deaver, ended up becoming ill. Everyone send a healing thought out to Jeffery, whom I hope is well on the way to recovery now!
THE 2017 EDGAR AWARDS
The Edgar’s include a total of 8 book categories, plus a number of other awards handed out over the course of the event, all of which you can find listed on the Edgar’s website. In this rundown, I’ll be highlighting the top 4 categories I was excited to see selected: Best Novel, Best First Novel, Best Paperback Original, and Best Fact Crime. You can find each category's nominees and winner information (plus plot information and buy links) included below!
The Winner: BEFORE THE FALL by Noah Hawley (Grand Central Publishing)
On a foggy summer night, eleven people--ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter--depart Martha's Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs--the painter--and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul's family.
With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the crash and the backstories of the passengers and crew members--including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot--the mystery surrounding the tragedy heightens. As the passengers' intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy. Was it merely by dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations. And while Scott struggles to cope with fame that borders on notoriety, the authorities scramble to salvage the truth from the wreckage.
Amid pulse-quickening suspense, the fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy glows at the heart of this stunning novel, raising questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us together.
Best First Novel
The Winner: UNDER THE HARROW by Flynn Berry (Penguin Books)
When Nora takes the train from London to visit her sister in the countryside, she expects to find her waiting at the station, or at home cooking dinner. But when she walks into Rachel’s familiar house, what she finds is entirely different: her sister has been the victim of a brutal murder.
Stunned and adrift, Nora finds she can’t return to her former life. An unsolved assault in the past has shaken her faith in the police, and she can’t trust them to find her sister’s killer. Haunted by the murder and the secrets that surround it, Nora is under the harrow: distressed and in danger. As Nora’s fear turns to obsession, she becomes as unrecognizable as the sister her investigation uncovers.
A riveting psychological thriller and a haunting exploration of the fierce love between two sisters, the distortions of grief, and the terrifying power of the past, Under the Harrow marks the debut of an extraordinary new writer.
Best Paperback Original
The Winner: RAIN DOGS by Adrian McKinty (Seventh Street Books)
It’s just the same things over and again for Sean Duffy: riot duty, heartbreak, cases he can solve but never get to court. But what detective gets two locked-room mysteries in one career?
When journalist Lily Bigelow is found dead in the courtyard of Carrickfergus castle, it looks like a suicide. Yet there are just a few things that bother Duffy enough to keep the case file open. Which is how he finds out that she was working on a devastating investigation of corruption and abuse at the highest levels of power in the UK and beyond.
And so Duffy has two impossible problems on his desk: Who killed Lily Bigelow? And what were they trying to hide?
Best Fact Crime
The Winner: THE WICKED BOY by Kate Summerscale (Penguin Press)
In the summer of 1895, Robert Coombes (age 13) and his brother Nattie (age 12) were seen spending lavishly around the docklands of East London -- for ten days in July, they ate out at coffee houses and took trips to the seaside and the theater. The boys told neighbors they had been left home alone while their mother visited family in Liverpool, but their aunt was suspicious. When she eventually forced the brothers to open the house to her, she found the badly decomposed body of their mother in a bedroom upstairs. Robert and Nattie were arrested for matricide and sent for trial at the Old Bailey.
Robert confessed to having stabbed his mother, but his lawyers argued that he was insane. Nattie struck a plea and gave evidence against his brother. The court heard testimony about Robert's severe headaches, his fascination with violent criminals and his passion for 'penny dreadfuls', the pulp fiction of the day. He seemed to feel no remorse for what he had done, and neither the prosecution nor the defense could find a motive for the murder. The judge sentenced the thirteen-year-old to detention in Broadmoor, the most infamous criminal lunatic asylum in the land. Yet Broadmoor turned out to be the beginning of a new life for Robert--one that would have profoundly shocked anyone who thought they understood the Wicked Boy.
At a time of great tumult and uncertainty, Robert Coombes's case crystallized contemporary anxieties about the education of the working classes, the dangers of pulp fiction, and evolving theories of criminality, childhood, and insanity. With riveting detail and rich atmosphere, Kate Summerscale recreates this terrible crime and its aftermath, uncovering an extraordinary story of man's capacity to overcome the past.
I had an amazing time at my first Edgar's, and I'm already looking forward to next year's event! Have you read any of the winners and/or nominees listed above? I'd love to hear your thoughts!