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.
Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka
Ansel Packer is scheduled to die in twelve hours. He knows what he’s done, and now awaits execution, the same chilling fate he forced on those girls, years ago. But Ansel doesn’t want to die; he wants to be celebrated, understood. He hoped it wouldn’t end like this, not for him.
Through a kaleidoscope of women—a mother, a sister, a homicide detective—we learn the story of Ansel’s life. We meet his mother, Lavender, a seventeen-year-old girl pushed to desperation; Hazel, twin sister to Ansel’s wife, inseparable since birth, forced to watch helplessly as her sister’s relationship threatens to devour them all; and finally, Saffy, the homicide detective hot on his trail, who has devoted herself to bringing bad men to justice but struggles to see her own life clearly. As the clock ticks down, these three women sift through the choices that culminate in tragedy, exploring the rippling fissures that such destruction inevitably leaves in its wake.
Best First Novel
Don’t Know Tough by Eli Cranor
In Denton, Arkansas, the fate of the high school football team rests on the shoulders of Billy Lowe, a volatile but talented running back. Billy comes from an extremely troubled home: a trailer park where he is terrorized by his unstable mother’s abusive boyfriend. Billy takes out his anger on the field, but when his savagery crosses a line, he faces suspension.
Without Billy Lowe, the Denton Pirates can kiss their playoff bid goodbye. But the head coach, Trent Powers, who just moved from California with his wife and two children for this job, has more than just his paycheck riding on Billy’s bad behavior. As a born-again Christian, Trent feels a divine calling to save Billy—save him from his circumstances, and save his soul.
Then Billy’s abuser is found murdered in the Lowe family trailer, and all evidence points toward Billy. Now nothing can stop an explosive chain of violence that could tear the whole town apart on the eve of the playoffs.
Best Paperback Original
Or Else by Joe Hart
When novelist Andy Drake returns to his hometown to care for his ailing father, a reconnection with his childhood friend Rachel escalates into a secret love affair. For Rachel, struggling to maintain the facade of a picture-perfect life, it’s an escape from an emotionally abusive marriage. Then Andy receives an anonymous note warning him to end the affair. Or else.
Whoever’s been watching is going to make Andy pay. Weeks later, Rachel’s husband, David, is shot to death. Rachel and her two young sons vanish without a trace. One misstep, one careless reveal, and Andy could look as guilty as sin. Clue by clue, as his investigation into the mystery unfolds, Andy discovers that he and Rachel weren’t the only ones keeping secrets.
Nothing in this quiet neighborhood is as it seems. No one peeking from behind the curtains of their homes can be trusted. And the worst is yet to come. Because David isn’t the only one who will die.
Best Fact Crime
Tell Me Everything: The Story of a Private Investigation by Erika Krouse
Erika Krouse has one of those faces. “I don’t know why I’m telling you this,” people say, spilling confessions. In fall 2002, Krouse accepts a new contract job investigating lawsuits as a private investigator. The role seems perfect for her, but she quickly realizes she has no idea what she’s doing. Then a lawyer named Grayson assigns her to investigate a sexual assault, a college student who was attacked by football players and recruits at a party a year earlier. Krouse knows she should turn the assignment down; her own history with sexual violence makes it all too personal. But she takes the job anyway, inspired by Grayson’s conviction that he could help change things forever–and maybe she could, too.
Over the next five years, Krouse learns everything she can about P. I. technique, tracking down witnesses and investigating a culture of sexual assault and harassment ingrained in the university’s football program. But as the investigation grows into a national scandal and a historic civil rights case, she finds herself increasingly consumed. When the case and her life both implode at the same time, she must figure out how to help win the case without losing herself.
The Life of Crime: Detecting the History of Mysteries and Their Creators by Martin Edwards
In the first major history of crime fiction in fifty years, The Life of Crime: Detecting the History of Mysteries and their Creators traces the evolution of the genre from the eighteenth century to the present, offering brand-new perspective on the world’s most popular form of fiction.
Best Young Adult
The Red Palace by June Hur
Joseon (Korea), 1758. There are few options available to illegitimate daughters in the capital city, but through hard work and study, eighteen-year-old Hyeon has earned a position as a palace nurse. All she wants is to keep her head down, do a good job, and perhaps finally win her estranged father’s approval.
But Hyeon is suddenly thrust into the dark and dangerous world of court politics when someone murders four women in a single night, and the prime suspect is Hyeon’s closest friend and mentor. Determined to prove her beloved teacher’s innocence, Hyeon launches her own secret investigation.
In her hunt for the truth, she encounters Eojin, a young police inspector also searching for the killer. When evidence begins to point to the Crown Prince himself as the murderer, Hyeon and Eojin must work together to search the darkest corners of the palace to uncover the deadly secrets behind the bloodshed.
Aggie Morton Mystery Queen: The Seaside Corpse by Marthe Jocelyn
After an invigorating but not exactly restful trip to a Yorkshire spa during which she survived a near brush with death and foiled a murderer, aspiring writer Aggie Morton and her friend Hector are thrilled to have the opportunity to stay at a camp by the sea and watch real paleontologists at work. The famed husband and wife team of the Blenningham-Crewes are about to become even more famous with the recovery of the fossilized bones of an ichthyosaur from the sea by Lyme Regis. This news has already caught the attention of an American millionaire, a British museum and a traveling circus owner, who each want the bones for their own collections. Tensions are running high throughout the camp, from the cook, to the collectors, to the Blenningham-Crewes themselves, and become downright dangerous after Aggie and Hector make a discovery of their own: a body on the beach. Not a fossil, but a human body.
Best Television Episode
Magpie Murders “Episode 1” written by Anthony Horowitz
A successful author of Agatha Christie-style novels dies under suspicious circumstances, with his last book seemingly unfinished. This leaves two mysteries: What happened to him? And how does his latest potboiler end? Susan Ryeland, the author’s book editor assumes the role of detective in the case while the fictional sleuth’s investigation in the incomplete novel investigation parallels Susan’s
Best Short Story
“Red Flag” by Gregory Fallis, from Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
Robert L. Fish Memorial Award
“Dogs in the Canyon” by Mark Harrison, from Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
The Mary Higgins Clark Award
A Dreadful Splendor by B.R. Myers
In Victorian London, Genevieve Timmons poses as a spiritualist to swindle wealthy mourners–until one misstep lands her in a jail cell awaiting the noose. Then a stranger arrives to make her a peculiar offer. The Lord he serves, Mr. Pemberton, has been inconsolable since the tragic death of his beautiful bride-to-be. If Genevieve can perform a séance persuasive enough to bring the young Lord peace, she will win her freedom.
Soothing a grieving nobleman should be easy for someone of Genevieve’s skill, but when she arrives at the grand Somerset Park estate, Mr. Pemberton is not the heartbroken lover she expected. The surly–yet exceedingly handsome–gentleman is certain that his fiancée was murdered, even though there is no evidence. Only a confession can bring justice now, and Mr. Pemberton decides Genevieve will help him get it. With his knowledge of the household and her talent for illusion, they can stage a haunting so convincing it will coax the killer into the light. However, when frightful incidents befall the manor, Genevieve realizes her tricks aren’t required after all. She may be a fake, but Somerset’s ghost could be all too real.
The Sue Grafton Memorial Award
Hideout by Louisa Luna
Alice Vega has made a career of finding the missing and vulnerable against a ticking clock, but she’s never had a case like Zeb Williams, missing for over thirty years. It was 1984, and the big Cal-Stanford football game was tied with seconds left on the clock. Zeb Williams grabbed the ball and ran the wrong way, through the marching band, off the field and out of the stadium. He disappeared into legend, replete with Elvis-like sightings and a cult following.
Zeb’s cold trail leads Vega to southern Oregon, where she discovers an anxious community living under siege by a local hate group called the Liberty Boys. As Vega starts digging into the past, the mystery around Zeb’s disappearance grows deeper, and the reach of the Liberty Boys grows more disturbing. Everyone has something to hide, and no one can cut to the truth like Alice Vega. But this time, her partner Max Caplan has his own problems at home, and the trouble Vega finds might be too much for her to handle.
The Lilian Jackson Braun Memorial Award
Buried in a Good Book by Tamara Berry
Bestselling thriller writer Tess Harrow is almost at the end of her rope when she arrives with her teenage daughter at her grandfather’s rustic cabin in the woods. She hopes this will be a time for them to heal and bond after Tess’s recent divorce, but they’ve barely made it through the door when an explosion shakes the cabin. Suddenly it’s raining fish guts and…is that a human arm?
Tess was hardly convincing Gertie that a summer without Wi-Fi and running water would be an adventure. Now she’s thrust into a murder investigation, neighbors are saying they’ve spotted Bigfoot in the woods near her cabin, and the local sheriff is the spitting image of her character Detective Gabriel Gonzales―something he’s less than thrilled about. With so much more than her daughter’s summer plans at stake, it’s up to Tess to solve this case before anyone else gets hurt.