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.
Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara
Down market lanes crammed with too many people, dogs, and rickshaws, past stalls that smell of cardamom and sizzling oil, below a smoggy sky that doesn’t let through a single blade of sunlight, and all the way at the end of the Purple metro line lies a jumble of tin-roofed homes where nine-year-old Jai lives with his family. From his doorway, he can spot the glittering lights of the city’s fancy high-rises, and though his mother works as a maid in one, to him they seem a thousand miles away. Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line plunges readers deep into this neighborhood to trace the unfolding of a tragedy through the eyes of a child as he has his first perilous collisions with an unjust and complicated wider world.
Jai drools outside sweet shops, watches too many reality police shows, and considers himself to be smarter than his friends Pari (though she gets the best grades) and Faiz (though Faiz has an actual job). When a classmate goes missing, Jai decides to use the crime-solving skills he has picked up from TV to find him. He asks Pari and Faiz to be his assistants, and together they draw up lists of people to interview and places to visit.
But what begins as a game turns sinister as other children start disappearing from their neighborhood. Jai, Pari, and Faiz have to confront terrified parents, an indifferent police force, and rumors of soul-snatching djinns. As the disappearances edge ever closer to home, the lives of Jai and his friends will never be the same again.
Best First Novel
Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen
Summer has come to Atlantic City but the boardwalk is empty of tourists, the casino lights have dimmed, and two Jane Does are laid out in the marshland behind the Sunset Motel, just west of town. Only one person even knows they’re there.
Meanwhile, Clara, a young boardwalk psychic, struggles to attract clients for the tarot readings that pay her rent. When she begins to experience very real and disturbing visions, she suspects they could be related to the recent cases of women gone missing in town. When Clara meets Lily, an ex-Soho art gallery girl who is working at a desolate casino spa and reeling from a personal tragedy, she thinks Lily may be able to help her. But Lily has her own demons to face.
Best Paperback Original
When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole
Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she’s known all her life are disappearing. To hold onto her community’s past and present, Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block—her neighbor Theo.
But Sydney and Theo’s deep dive into history quickly becomes a dizzying descent into paranoia and fear. Their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may be more deadly than advertised.
Best Fact Crime
Death in Mud Lick: A Coal Country Fight Against the Drug Companies that Delivered the Opioid Epidemic by Eric Eyre
In a pharmacy in Kermit, West Virginia, 12 million opioid pain pills were distributed in just three years to a town with a population of 382 people. One woman, after losing her brother to overdose, was desperate for justice. Debbie Preece’s fight for accountability for her brother’s death took her well beyond the Sav-Rite Pharmacy in coal country, ultimately leading to three of the biggest drug wholesalers in the country. She was joined by a crusading lawyer and by local journalist, Eric Eyre, who uncovered a massive opioid pill-dumping scandal that shook the foundation of America’s largest drug companies—and won him a Pulitzer Prize.
Part Erin Brockovich, part Spotlight, Death in Mud Lick details the clandestine meetings with whistleblowers; a court fight to unseal filings that the drug distributors tried to keep hidden, a push to secure the DEA pill-shipment data, and the fallout after Eyre’s local paper, the Gazette-Mail, the smallest newspaper ever to win a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting, broke the story.
Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, the Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock by Christina Lane
In 1933, Joan Harrison was a twenty-six-year-old former salesgirl with a dream of escaping both her stodgy London suburb and the dreadful prospect of settling down with one of the local boys. A few short years later, she was Alfred Hitchcock’s confidante and one of the Oscar-nominated screenwriters of his first American film, Rebecca. Harrison had quickly grown from being the worst secretary Hitchcock ever had to one of his closest collaborators, critically shaping his brand as the “Master of Suspense.”
Forging her own public persona as the female Hitchcock, Harrison went on to produce numerous Hollywood features before becoming a television pioneer as the producer of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. A respected powerhouse, she acquired a singular reputation for running amazingly smooth productions— and defying anyone who posed an obstacle. She built most of her films and series from the ground up. She waged rough-and-tumble battles against executives and censors, and even helped to break the Hollywood blacklist. She teamed up with many of the most respected, well-known directors, writers, and actors of the twentieth century. And she did it all on her own terms.
Best Young Adult
The Companion by Katie Alender
The other orphans say Margot is lucky. Lucky to survive the horrible accident that killed her family. Lucky to have her own room because she wakes up screaming every night. And finally, lucky to be chosen by a prestigious family to live at their remote country estate.
But it wasn’t luck that made the Suttons rescue Margot from her bleak existence at the group home. Margot was handpicked to be a companion to their silent, mysterious daughter, Agatha. At first, helping with Agatha—and getting to know her handsome older brother—seems much better than the group home. But soon, the isolated, gothic house begins playing tricks on Margot’s mind, making her question everything she believes about the Suttons . . . and herself.
Premeditated Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Bunce
Twelve-year-old Myrtle Hardcastle has a passion for justice and a Highly Unconventional obsession with criminal science. Armed with her father’s law books and her mum’s microscope, Myrtle studies toxicology, keeps abreast of the latest developments in crime scene analysis, and Observes her neighbors in the quiet village of Swinburne, England.
When her next-door neighbor, a wealthy spinster and eccentric breeder of rare flowers, dies under Mysterious Circumstances, Myrtle seizes her chance. With her unflappable governess, Miss Ada Judson, by her side, Myrtle takes it upon herself to prove Miss Wodehouse was murdered and find the killer, even if nobody else believes her — not even her father, the town prosecutor.
Best Television Episode
Dead Still “Episode 1, Photochemistry” written by John Morton
In Victorian-era Ireland, portrait photographer Brock Blennerhasset has made a successful career out of commemorating the recently deceased. When one of his photographic plates goes missing-putting his reputation on the line-Blennerhasset hires eager gravedigger Conall Molloy to help find it.
Best Short Story
“Dust, Ash, Flight” by Maaza Mengiste from Addis Ababa Noir
What marks life in Addis Ababa are the starkly different realities coexisting in one place. It’s a growing city taking shape beneath the fraught weight of history, myth, and memory. It is a heady mix. It can also be disorienting, and it is in this space that the stories of Addis Ababa Noir reside.. These are not gentle stories. They cross into forbidden territories and traverse the damaged terrain of the human heart. The characters in these pages are complicated, worthy of our judgment as much as they somehow manage to elude it. The writers have each discovered their own ways to get us to lean in while forcing us to grit our teeth as we draw closer.
Robert L. Fish Memorial Award
“The Bite” by Colette Bancroft from Tampa Bay Noir
Ask most people what the Tampa Bay area is famous for, and they might mention sparkling beaches and sleek urban centers and contented retirees strolling the golf courses year-round. But it’s always had a dark side. Just look at its signature event: a giant pirate parade. Not only does Gasparilla honor the buccaneer traditions of theft, debauchery, and violence; its namesake pirate captain, José Gaspar, is a fake who probably never existed. And if there’s any variety of crime baked into Florida’s history, it’s fraud. From the indigenous residents who supposedly conned Spanish explorers seeking the Fountain of Youth through the rolling cycles of real estate scams that have shaped the Sunshine State for the last century or so, the place is a grifter’s native habitat.
The Mary Higgins Clark Award
The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne by Elsa Hart
London, 1703. In a time when the old approaches to science coexist with the new, one elite community attempts to understand the world by collecting its wonders. Sir Barnaby Mayne, the most formidable of these collectors, has devoted his life to filling his cabinets. While the curious-minded vie for invitations to study the rare stones, bones, books, and artifacts he has amassed, some visitors come with a darker purpose.
For Cecily Kay, it is a passion for plants that brings her to the Mayne house. The only puzzle she expects to encounter is how to locate the specimens she needs within Sir Barnaby’s crowded cabinets. But when her host is stabbed to death, Cecily finds the confession of the supposed killer unconvincing. She pays attention to details-years of practice have taught her that the smallest particulars can distinguish a harmless herb from a deadly one-and in the case of Sir Barnaby’s murder, there are too many inconsistencies for her to ignore.
The Sue Grafton Memorial Award
Vera Kelly is Not a Mystery by Rosalie Knecht
When ex-CIA agent Vera Kelly loses her job and her girlfriend in a single day, she reluctantly goes into business as a private detective. Heartbroken and cash-strapped, she takes a case that dredges up dark memories and attracts dangerous characters from across the Cold War landscape. Before it’s over, she’ll chase a lost child through foster care and follow a trail of Dominican exiles to the Caribbean. Forever looking over her shoulder, she nearly misses what’s right in front of her: her own desire for home, connection, and a new romance at the local bar.