The Edgar nominees: thoughts and sundry

Sometimes the best thing is to go on gut instinct, so with that in mind, please excuse the semi-breathless tone that may crop up in much of this post.

First, Best Novel, and if there’s one word that comes to mind, it’s “veteran”. With the exception of Walter (who gets the nod on novel number three), all the nominees have at least 10 books under their belt. While good books are being recognized, it doesn’t seem like an accident that the list is made up of people who are either extremely well-respected by peers, have rabid fan followings, or both.

Looking a little closer, I can’t say I’m surprised Michael Connelly made the list — maybe he wasn’t a completely shoo-in, but he was awfully close. The only question was which book it would be and as I was more partial to THE LINCOLN LAWYER anyway, I’m happy to see it here. Same with George Pelecanos — who finally gets an Edgar nomination — and Jess Walter, both of whom wrote books that are among my favorites of ’05. Gerritsen might surprise some (as already seen in the comments string in the post above) but what intrigues me is that the MWA went for what is held up as a prototypical thriller — the kind, for example, that the ITW’s trying to promote as not getting recognition come Edgar time. Well, now that it has, what does it mean?

Then there’s Tom Cook, and OK, for me this is the WTF nomination. I know this book made a bunch of year-end lists and I do understand why, degustibus non es disputandem and all, but still.

On the publishing front, the big winner is Little, Brown, with 2 nominees in Best Novel alone. No doubt champagne corks will be popping in the offices Monday morning with Michael Pietsch giving toasts…

Rest of my thoughts after the jump.

Best First: Well isn’t it interesting to see more women than men on the list? Rather unexpected, especially considering that the gender divide’s getting more pronounced of late (or that a lot of the candidates weren’t submitted by their publishers.) I’m also thrilled to see Megan Abbott get the recognition she deserves, and this will definitely help Theresa Schwegel and Alison Gaylin, too. Brian Freeman’s inclusion is, at least to me, hardly surprising because even though the book was flawed, it’s plainly obvious he will be big, and soon. Frost, on the other hand, is somewhat, but it could be my own perception clouding things again.

PBO: Damn, what a strong category. But first, I’m sure many are asking who on earth Anne Argula is. A quick search reveals the novel centers around an Indian reservation, features some occult stuff and is very atmospheric. But there’s some confusion as to whether this is a first novel or not, so if anyone knows what she’s written before, let me know. Still, Argula’s chances are unlikely in the face of her competition: Jeffrey Ford’s flabbergastingly good THE GIRL IN THE GLASS, Reed Coleman (the MWA’s new executive VP), Charlie Huston and Allan Guthrie. You want to try picking between these guys? I don’t think so….

Short Story: OK, this wouldn’t necessarily have been my shortlist, but I can’t help but automatically root for Barbara Seranella. And Otto Penzler and Bob Randisi must be smiling as both have 2 nominees from their anthologies on the list.

Critical/Biographical: This is going to be bloody tough to call. Rehak’s book was excellent, Klinger’s scholarship is without question, Laurie Roberts & Stuart Kaminsky did a wonderful job with the author interviews, Richard Layman’s book shines additional light on the falcon, and Hallie Ephron’s how-to is a must-read guide on writing mysteries. Pick ’em.

The rest: So I was 1 for 2 in my early prognostications, as Eddie Newton takes the Fish award. Another story to add to the TBR pile, I see….MIRA gets to celebrate Monday morning also with 2 nominees in the Mary Higgins Clark category….That’s a great lineup for best film…

And that’s it for me. The backblog’s yours, folks.