The Edgar Allan Poe Awards (popularly called the Edgars) are presented every spring by the Mystery Writers of America to honor the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, television, and film. Lists of all the nominees are available on the Edgar Awards website, theedgars.com.
Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke
When it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules—a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger, knows all too well. Deeply ambivalent about growing up black in the lone star state, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. Until duty called him home.
When his allegiance to his roots puts his job in jeopardy, he travels up Highway 59 to the small town of Lark, where two murders—a black lawyer from Chicago and a local white woman—have stirred up a hornet’s nest of resentment. Darren must solve the crimes—and save himself in the process—before Lark’s long-simmering racial fault lines erupt. From a writer and producer of the Emmy winning Fox TV show Empire, Bluebird, Bluebird is a rural noir suffused with the unique music, color, and nuance of East Texas.
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Best First Novel
She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper
Eleven-year-old Polly McClusky is shy, too old for the teddy bear she carries with her everywhere, when she is unexpectedly reunited with her father, Nate, fresh out of jail and driving a stolen car. He takes her from the front of her school into a world of robbery, violence, and the constant threat of death. And he does it to save her life. Nate made dangerous enemies in prison—a gang called Aryan Steel has put out a bounty on his head, counting on its members on the outside to finish him off. They’ve already murdered his ex-wife, Polly’s mother. And Polly is their next target.
Nate and Polly’s lives soon become a series of narrow misses, of evading the bad guys and the police, of sleepless nights in motels. Out on the lam, Polly is forced to grow up early: with barely any time to mourn her mother, she must learn how to take a punch and pull off a drug-house heist. She finds herself transforming from a shy little girl into a true fighter. Nate, in turn, learns what it’s like to love fiercely and unconditionally—a love he’s never quite felt before. But can their powerful bond transcend the dangerous existence he’s carved out for them? Will they ever be able to live an honest life, free of fear?
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Best Paperback Original
The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola
Something is keeping Sarah Gale silent despite the risk of a death sentence. Is it guilt? Fear? Love?
Sentenced to hang for her alleged role in a shocking murder, Sarah confronts the young lawyer asked to examine her guilty verdict. She says she is innocent, but she refuses to explain the evidence given in court — the evidence that convicted her. Battling his own demons, Edmund Fleetwood is determined to find the truth — and to uncover why Sarah won’t talk.
Darkness hides in Sarah’s past, Edmund is certain, but surviving on the streets of London often means that one has to make difficult choices. Does it matter what else she’s done, if she’s innocent of murder? As the day of execution draws closer, Edmund struggles to discover whether she is the victim of a terrible miscarriage of justice, or a dangerous and devious criminal.
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Best Fact Crime
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, they rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.
Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. The family of an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, became a prime target. Her relatives were shot and poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more and more members of the tribe began to die under mysterious circumstances.
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Chester B. Himes: A Biography by Lawrence P. Jackson
In this definitive biography of Chester B. Himes (1909–1984), Lawrence P. Jackson uses exclusive interviews and unrestricted access to Himes’s full archives to portray a controversial American writer whose novels unflinchingly confront sex, racism, and black identity. Himes brutally rendered racial politics in the best-selling novel If He Hollers Let Him Go, but he became famous for his Harlem detective series, including Cotton Comes to Harlem. A serious literary tastemaker in his day, Himes had friendships—sometimes uneasy—with such luminaries as Ralph Ellison, Carl Van Vechten, and Richard Wright.
Jackson’s scholarship and astute commentary illuminates Himes’s improbable life—his middle-class origins, his eight years in prison, his painful odyssey as a black World War II–era artist, and his escape to Europe for success. More than ten years in the writing, Jackson’s biography restores the legacy of a fascinating maverick caught between his aspirations for commercial success and his disturbing, vivid portraits of the United States.
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Best Short Story
“Spring Break” — New Haven Noir by John Crowley
New Haven may be a noir town but, even though noir usually manages not to, we have heart. The chance to bring together some of my favorite writers, in my adopted hometown (in every place I bartended, the cook or the manager carried a .38 in his waistband, and I can still make ten kinds of boilermakers), was a joy and a privilege. Every single story is a noir gem…If you are an optimist, noir may be an antidote, a crisp, dry balance for your sunny outlook. If you are a pessimist (or, as we say, a realist), noir is your home ground, your tribe. It’s not just that you expect ants to come to the picnic; you know damned well that there will be ants at the picnic. When they come, you’re relieved. When they crawl up your brother’s leg, you’re reassured and possibly delighted. But the other side of noir is the moral center. The center may be shabby, frayed, and in serious need of a facelift, but it is a center. It’s not necessarily heroic. It’s likely to be cynical, and its resilience is not the showy kind. Mean streets, as Raymond Chandler once said, not but mean. That’s New Haven.
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Vanished! by James Ponti
Middle school is hard. Solving cases for the FBI is even harder. Doing both at the same time—well that’s just crazy. But that doesn’t stop Florian Bates!
After helping the FBI solve an art theft at the National Gallery and uncovering a DC spy ring, Florian’s finding life at Alice Deal Middle School a little boring. But that’s all about to change! His FBI handler, Marcus, has a job for him! Is it a bank robbery? Counterfeit ring? International espionage? Actually it’s middle school pranks…
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Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
You can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.
And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.
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TV Episode Teleplay
“Somebody to Love” — Fargo
Okey-dokey, watcha got here is the darkly humorous and utterly riveting third season. Ewan McGregor gives one heckuva performance in dual roles as the Parking Lot King of Minnesota, Emmit Stussy, and his younger brother, Ray, a potbellied parole officer with a big chip on his shoulder. The only bright spot in Ray’s life is Nikki, a not-so-good woman with brains, beauty and a passion for competitive bridge.
Season Three DVD
Mary Higgins Clark Award
The Widow’s House by Carol Goodman
When Jess and Clare Martin move from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to their former college town in the Hudson River valley, they are hoping for rejuvenation—of their marriage, their savings, and Jess’s writing career.
They take a caretaker’s job at Riven House, a crumbling estate and the home of their old college writing professor. While Clare once had dreams of being a writer, those plans fell by the wayside when Jess made a big, splashy literary debut in their twenties. It’s been years, now, since his first novel. The advance has long been spent. Clare’s hope is that the pastoral beauty and nostalgia of the Hudson Valley will offer some inspiration.
But their new life isn’t all quaint town libraries and fragrant apple orchards. There is a haunting pall that hangs over Riven House like a funeral veil. Something is just not right. Soon, Clare begins to hear babies crying at night, see strange figures in fog at the edge of their property. Diving into the history of the area, she realizes that Riven House has a dark and anguished past. And whatever this thing is—this menacing force that destroys the inhabitants of the estate—it seems to be after Clare next…
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