Your Anthony Award Nominees, With Added Commentary

Step out for a few hours and you end up missing out on some very welcome news, as the 2009 Anthony Award nominations were announced earlier today by the Indianapolis Bouchercon Awards Committee:

Trigger City by Sean Chercover [William Morrow]
The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly [Little, Brown and Company]
Red Knife by William Kent Krueger [Atria]
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson [Knopf]
The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny [Minotaur]

Pushing Up Daisies by Rosemary Harris [Minotaur]
Stalking Susan by Julie Kramer [Doubleday]
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson [Knopf]
Death of a Cozy Writer by G.M. Malliet [Midnight Ink]
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith [Grand Central]

The First Quarry by Max Allan Collins [Hard Case Crime]
Money Shot by Christa Faust [Hard Case Crime]
State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy [Berkley]
In a Dark Season by Vicki Lane [Dell]
South of Hell by P.J. Parrish [Pocket Star]

"The Night Things Changed" by Dana Cameron from Wolfsbane and  Mistletoe [Ace]
"A Sleep Not Unlike Death" by Sean Chercover from Hardcore Hardboiled [Kensington]
"Killing Time" by Jane K. Cleland from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine (November)
"Skull and Cross Examination" by Toni L. P. Kelner from Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (February)
"Scratch a Woman" by Laura Lippman from Hardly Knew Her [William Morrow]
"The Secret Lives of Cats" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch from Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (July)

African American Mystery Writers: A Historical and Thematic Study by Frankie Y. Bailey [McFarland]
How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries by Kathy Lynn Emerson [Perseverance Press]
Anthony Boucher: A Biobibliography by Jeffrey Marks [McFarland]
The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale [Walker & Company]

The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein [Random House]
Paper Towns by John Green [Dutton Juvenile]
Kiss Me, Kill Me by Lauren Henderson [Delacorte]
The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trenton Lee Stewart [Little, Brown]
Sammy Keyes and the Cold Hard Cash by Wendelin Van Draanen [Knopf]

Death Was the Other Woman designed by David Rotstein and written by Linda L. Richards [Minotaur]
Death Will Get You Sober designed by David Rotstein and written by Elizabeth Zelvin [Minotaur]
The Fault Tree designed by David Rotstein and written by Louise Ure [Minotaur]
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo designed by Peter Mendelsund and written by Stieg Larsson [Knopf]
Money Shot designed by Steve Cooley and written by Christa Faust [Hard Case Crime]

Jon and Ruth Jordan
Ali Karim
David Montgomery
Gary Warren Niebuhr
Sarah Weinman

  Congratulations to all the nominees! The winners will&#0160; be announced at a gala awards ceremony on Saturday, October 17, at the Hilbert Circle Theatre. And once again, it is truly an honor to be nominated and among some very fine company.

  <strong>UPDATE</strong>: <a href="">J. Kingston Pierce has a very interesting reaction</a> to the Anthony shortlists: "Hmm. Could I be growing more cynical in my old age? While there are<br /> some excellent candidates here, it’s my opinion that there are also a<br /> few dubious nominees. And I don’t remember having such doubts about<br /> previous years’ Anthony short lists." While I admit to being a bit surprised by the overall makeup of the shortlists &#8211; especially the big three candidates &#8211; there are a few things to take away that speak more about what authors are championed by the mystery community, or more accurately the mystery community in the midwest region.

  Exhibit A: William Kent Krueger. He's been nominated every year for the last several and has taken home the Anthony several times during that time span. The Cork O'Connor series is clearly very much beloved by the Bouchercon faithful. And yet sales are decidedly midlist, he renews his contract with Atria for a decent but not great amount of money, there's hardly any promotion of the books outside of his midwest home base, and he gets nominated for an Anthony (and sometimes wins) and the cycle continues. Granted, in this economy having a good-sized fanbase and a publisher willing to renew one's contract should not be discounted, but the high-roller part of me is driven positively crazy by this seemingly unending cycle. I like Kent's books and his writing, but if ever there was a writer in desperate need of breakout material, he is it.

  Exhibit B: Stieg Larsson. Already I've noted several raised eyebrows that THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGONN TATTOO was nominated in Best Novel *and* Best First Novel. I can't object since I agree that it was one of the best books I read in 2008, and it along with the other Millenium novels are global phenomena, but it does speak to the grassroots way Larsson's work has spread, one regional base at a time. Whatever one thinks, Larsson had an intangible quality that reaches out to both a mass audience that buys a couple of books a year and a community of readers who know every mystery trope backwards and forwards. That is a rare, rare thing.

  Exhibit C: the critics, and I include myself in this category, tend to go for a certain type of mystery deemed to be "literate." But readers want to be entertained and comforted, especially right now, which is why cozy or "neo-traditionalist" or however these books are categorized these days sell. So why shouldn't they be recognized for their efforts? The Anthonys are a fan-based award, and while there are times their judgments align perfectly with the Edgars, Macavitys and the like, other times it really does reflect a certain subset of readers who vote with their buying power. Now, what would be great is if the demand for traditional mysteries spurred editors to look that much harder for higher quality work. Not everyone writes at the level of Louise Penny, but they really ought to.