Analyzing the Edgar Nominations

Or to put it mildly, let the debates begin….

First off, I believe this is the first time in a very long time – perhaps ever – that six nominees have been listed for Best Novel. And if you go by personal taste, it’s almost like the committee plugged a USB cable into my brain and said “let’s pick a whole bunch of Sarah’s favorites and make sure everyone else reads them too.” Not quite that bald, of course, but I am thrilled that Steinhauer, Pickard, Bayard and Mina made the cut, while Joanne Harris and Jason Goodwin are worthy choices, too. If there’s a trend, it’s toward intelligent fiction from outside our normal boundaries, be it historical, cultural or psychological. And I’d have a hell of a hard time picking the winner – Bayard has the Poe factor, Pickard is a beloved mystery author who *really* took a step forward with this standalone, Mina and Steinhauer rightfully have gained followings for their series, and Joanne Harris wrote a cracking mystery that was entertaining as all get out. Goodwin’s debut novel (he’s British, so it’s eligible in this category) was promising but is probably the weakest of the six.

But if Best Novel is Tough, try picking amongst the Best First Novel nominees. Every book on here has something to offer and the promise of a major career, with a good mix of mystery, thriller and psychological suspense. Okay, maybe Berenson’s book is the one I’d give the longest odds to but that’s only because there are some more glaring problems (that are probably going to get solved in his next book.) Really, all of them win in my book.

Others may quibble with some of the Best Paperback Original group (um, where is Sean Doolittle? How is he not on this list? I do not understand), but I do like the chosen five a lot for combining really good mysteries with more crossover, literary-type books. I mean, Coffee House Press gets a nomination! How frigging cool is that? And I may have been the only person who thought Carlotto was a shoo-in, but I’m glad he got it for THE GOODBYE KISS (a better book than DEATH’S DARK ABYSS, also out last year.) Paul Levine’s books are steadily building a strong audience, and DEEP BLUE ALIBI is the best of the Solomon/Lord series so far. Patrick Neate is an interesting choice, because CITY OF TINY LIGHTS, while a PI novel, isn’t exactly traditional at all.

As for Best Short Story, it’s very much a Mystery with a Capital M kind of list, with many perennial favorites. And extra kudos to Bill Crider, whose story appeared in DAMN NEAR DEAD but also grew out of one he wrote for the second blog short story project a couple of years ago. So that’s as close to recognizing the merits of online fiction, which is a stretch, but I’m taking it.

For Best Fact Crime…holy crap. That is one crazy fantastic list. Terri Jentz? Sebastien Junger? Kate Flora? Daniel Stashower? James Swanson?! A book about Ripperology?!?! Yeah, you try choosing amongst this incredibly select crowd….I am totally digging the Best Screenplay Nominees…Now I have even more YA novels to catch up on…and congrats to Austin freelancer William Dylan Powell for taking home the Robert L. Fish Prize.