During the last weekend of August, at a virtual celebration of Bouchercon, the world mystery convention, the winners of the Anthony Awards were announced. The “Anthonys,” named in honor of writer, reviewer, and editor Anthony Boucher, recognize the year’s best achievements in mystery and crime fiction.
Best Hardcover Novel
Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby
Beauregard “Bug” Montage is an honest mechanic, a loving husband, and a hard-working dad. Bug knows there’s no future in the man he used to be: known from the hills of North Carolina to the beaches of Florida as the best wheelman on the East Coast.
He thought he’d left all that behind him, but as his carefully built new life begins to crumble, he finds himself drawn inexorably back into a world of blood and bullets. When a smooth-talking former associate comes calling with a can’t-miss jewelry store heist, Bug feels he has no choice but to get back in the driver’s seat. And Bug is at his best where the scent of gasoline mixes with the smell of fear.
Haunted by the ghost of who he used to be and the father who disappeared when he needed him most, Bug must find a way to navigate this blacktop wasteland…or die trying.
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Best First Novel
Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden
Virgil Wounded Horse is the local enforcer on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. When justice is denied by the American legal system or the tribal council, Virgil is hired to deliver his own punishment, the kind that’s hard to forget. But when heroin makes its way into the reservation and finds Virgil’s nephew, his vigilantism suddenly becomes personal. He enlists the help of his ex-girlfriend and sets out to learn where the drugs are coming from, and how to make them stop.
They follow a lead to Denver and find that drug cartels are rapidly expanding and forming new and terrifying alliances. And back on the reservation, a new tribal council initiative raises uncomfortable questions about money and power. As Virgil starts to link the pieces together, he must face his own demons and reclaim his Native identity. He realizes that being a Native American in the twenty-first century comes at an incredible cost.
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Best Paperback Original/E-Book/Audiobook Original Novel
Unspeakable Things by Jess Lourey
Cassie McDowell’s life in 1980s Minnesota seems perfectly wholesome. She lives on a farm, loves school, and has a crush on the nicest boy in class. Yes, there are her parents’ strange parties and their parade of deviant guests, but she’s grown accustomed to them. All that changes when someone comes hunting in Lilydale. One by one, local boys go missing. One by one, they return changed-violent, moody, and withdrawn. What happened to them becomes the stuff of shocking rumors. The accusations of who’s responsible grow just as wild, and dangerous town secrets start to surface. Then Cassie’s own sister undergoes the dark change. If she is to survive, Cassie must find her way in an adult world where every sin is justified, and only the truth is unforgivable.
Best Short Story
“90 Miles” by Alex Segura fom the collection, Both Sides: Stories From the Border
In a landmark anthology, acclaimed author Gabino Iglesias presents 15 stories from an incredibly talented and diverse roster of authors that look at one of the most controversial issues of our time: The Border. Borders of all kinds, including the ones you have not heard about in the news. Thought-provoking, shocking, violent, raw, emotional, and unforgettable, Both Sides will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about borders, both domestic and international.
Best Juvenile/Young Adult
Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco by Richie Narvaez
Holly Hernandez, voted “Miss Bright of ’79” and valedictorian at her previous school, is excited to start fresh at Flatbush Technical High School, one of the most competitive public schools in New York City. She’ll be one of thousands; anonymous. But her dreams of a normal school life disappear when her mother, a homicide detective, has to investigate the murder of Mr. Friedman, the social studies teacher. One of her classmates, Xander Herrera, quickly becomes the primary suspect. The tall, awkward boy is socially inept, but Holly doesn’t think he’s a murderer. She is intent on exonerating him–but he wants nothing to do with her. To Xander, Holly is the overly enthusiastic student who always sits in the front row and answers all the teachers’ questions–correctly. He hates perky people! Eventually cleared of the crime, Xander is determined to find the killer before Holly.
Best Critical or Nonfiction Work
Unspeakable Acts: True Tales of Crime, Murder, Deceit, and Obsession, edited by Sarah Weinman
Acclaimed author of The Real Lolita and editor of Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s & 50s, and Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives, Sarah Weinman brings together an exemplary collection of recent true crime tales. She culls together some of the most refreshing and exciting contemporary journalists and chroniclers of crime working today. Michelle Dean’s “Dee Dee Wanted Her Daughter To Be Sick” went viral when it first published and is the basis for the TV show The Act and Pamela Colloff’s “The Reckoning,” is the gold standard for forensic journalism. There are 13 pieces in all and as a collection, they showcase writing about true crime across the broadest possible spectrum, while also reflecting what makes crime stories so transfixing and irresistible to the modern reader.
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Best Anthology or Collection
Shattering Glass, edited by Heather Graham
Shattering Glass is the first in a series of remarkable anthologies published by Nasty Woman Press, a unique non-profit publisher founded to help fund other organizations threatened by the rise of autocracy and the ongoing war against civil and human rights in the United States. A scintillating mixture of top-flight fiction from bestselling authors in multiple genres, fascinating articles, and thought-provoking essays, conversations and interviews, Shattering Glass takes as its theme the empowerment of women, with all profits from the book donated to Planned Parenthood.