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January 17, 2009 / C.T. Henry

2009 Edgar Award Nominations Announced

WHAT?! You’ve GOT to be kidding me. I’m completely flabbergasted. Who are these people?  Okay.  I know C.J. Box, and I’ve heard of Declan Hughes, Christa Faust, and Justin Peacock, but give me a break.  How many of these show up on the top 10 lists of critics and bloggers?  NONE!

Entries for books published in the U.S. in English had to be submitted by November 30, 2008. So let’s look at all the books published before November 30th that should have been nominated:

If you look at all the best of 2008 lists, the one book that appears the most is
Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  Another top pick is Kate Atkinson’s When Will There Be Good News? Furthermore, where is Michael Koryta’s Envy the Night?  Or Tana French’s The Likeness?  Or Dennis Lehane’s The Given Day? And I simply can’t believe that Dave Zeltserman’s Small Crimes didn’t get nominated as a paperback original.  It’s unacceptable.

I don’t think I’m going to cover the Edgar Awards anymore.  It’s clear that it is no longer the most prestigious award for crime fiction.


Missing – Karin Alvtegen (Felony & Mayhem Press)
Blue Heaven – C.J. Box (St. Martin’s Minotaur)
Sins of the Assassin – Robert Ferrigno (Simon & Schuster – Scribner)
The Price of Blood – Declan Hughes (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
The Night Following – Morag Joss (Random House – Delacorte Press)
Curse of the Spellmans – Lisa Lutz (Simon & Schuster)


The Kind One – Tom Epperson (Five Star, div of Cengage)
Sweetsmoke – David Fuller (Hyperion)
The Foreigner – Francie Lin (Picador)
Calumet City – Charlie Newton (Simon & Schuster – Touchstone)
A Cure for Night – Justin Peacock (Random House – Doubleday)


The Prince of Bagram Prison – Alex Carr (Random House Trade)
Money Shot – Christa Faust (Hard Case Crime)
Enemy Combatant – Ed Gaffney (Random House – Dell)
China Lake – Meg Gardiner (New American Library – Obsidian Mysteries)
The Cold Spot – Tom Piccirilli (Random House – Bantam)



Leave a Comment
  1. Corey Wilde / Jan 17 2009 2:39 pm

    I agree. Whatever the MWA nominating committee’s goal is, it clearly is NOT to pick the best crime fiction novels of the year. Those folks are in danger of alienating the very audience they play to. Once upon a time, before blogging became so prevalent, they might have got away with lists like they’ve just produced, because readers were isolated. But now readers have become a community and with the exchanges of reviews and recommendations and reading lists, we have a better, though not complete, grasp on the overall quality of books presented in a given year. Now we can see the omission of titles such as ‘Child 44’, ‘Envy the Night,’ and ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ for the glaring snubs they are. And of course, I’m completely ticked off that Craig McDonald did not get a nom for ‘Toros & Torsos.’

  2. David / Jan 17 2009 4:55 pm

    Tana French’s “The Likeness” was chosen by the editors at Amazon as best mystery of 2008 (and No. 6 of all books published), and was on the “Best of ’08” lists of New York Magazine, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, Seattle Times, Salon, Strand, Publishers Weekly, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services, Publishers Marketplace, and others I’ve probably missed. And it’s not on the Edgar shortlist? And what about Richard Price’s “Lush Life”? Bonkers.

  3. Bullwinkle / Jan 21 2009 1:40 am

    I don’t know — hard for me to see how one can be outraged that a jury has selected books unless one has read them. And hard for me to understand how you can trumpet the Dilys as a serious award, unlike the Edgars, which nominated people you never even heard of, when among the nominees for Best Novel of whom how haven’t heard are Dilys nominees of the past few years (Lisa Lutz, Morag Joss.) Larsson, I’m sure you know by now, wasn’t even submitted for the award. Neither was Richard Price or Dennis Lehane. Tom Rob Smith is an English writer, which would make his nomination for Best First Novel By An American Writer problematic. Tana French won the best first novel last year, so hard to paint the edgars as ridiuculous on the grounds of ignoring her, and her book this year could legitimately be thought by a judge or two to be well-written, moody and preposterous.

    De gustibus non est disputandum, I guess, but myself, I always am heartened when a list of nominess for an award comes out and consists of books which aren’t the run of the usual suspects. To me it suggests that the judges actually read the books in question and judged according to their tastes, rather than reputation.

  4. henryct / Jan 21 2009 2:35 pm

    Mea culpa on Tom Rob Smith, not being an American author. Even though I haven’t read the books nominated for Best Novel, my point still stands: they weren’t on anyone’s best of 2008 list. I guess that says something about the judges and the critics. Someone’s not doing a good job.

  5. Diane Pfaeffle / Jan 24 2009 6:06 am

    I agree with Bullwinkle, if we have not read these books then how can we say they aren’t good enough to be nominated for the award. I personally applaud the judges for stepping out and broadening our horizons. Read the books and then pass judgment.

    I did read Cure for Night and was not impressed, but the critics where. I do know that Karin Alvtegen is getting critical acclaim for her books.

    And I did read Dennis Lehane’s The Given Day and I think that is more historical than mystery.

    So let spread our wings a bit and read what they are offering and then criticize their selections if warranted. Maybe it is us whom is not doing the best job of picking books to read.

  6. MysterLover / Jan 31 2009 9:07 pm

    Although, Meg Gardiner author of China Lake deserves far more attention… and this award will offer her that. I am glad she was nominated for best paperback original! But still think the lists are full of unknowns…

  7. JIM DOHERTY / Jun 9 2009 10:11 am

    While it’s true that, as Bullwinkle points out, Tim Rob Smith, being British, was not eligible in the Best First category, there was no bar to its being nominated for Best Mystery Novel.

    And there’s precedent for it. The very first Edgar for Best Novel was awarded to British author Charlotte Jay for BEAT NOT THE BONES. She was not eligible to compete for Best First, but she won for Best Novel.

    More recently, MAISIE DOBBS by Jacqueline Winspear, another first novel by a non-American, was nominated in the Best Novel category.

    Mr. Smith’s not being eligible to compete for the Best First Novel Edgar didn’t mean he was ineigible to compete at all.

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