The Agatha Awards are presented annually during the Malice Domestic convention and are to honor books and stories first published in the United States during the previous calendar year (January 1-December 31, 2019), either in hardcover, as a paperback original, or as an e-book by an e-publishing firm, according to the website.
But of course, 2020 has forced the conference organizers to have to reevaluate Malice Domestic and, eventually, canceling the conference.
The cancellation was, of course, the right thing to do.
But the authors and their books nominated for an Agatha still must be honored.
The Agatha were announced via Zoom on the evening of May 2, 2020, the same night the awards banquet would have been held.
The Agatha Awards honor the Traditional Mystery, books typified by the works of Agatha Christie. For our purposes, the genre is loosely defined as mysteries that contain no explicit sex, excessive gore or gratuitous violence, and are not classified as "hard-boiled."
Mystery Scene congratulates the nominees and the winners. We hope next year the awards can be presented live. Authors honored this year also will be honored during the 2021 Malice.
The Agatha Award winners are in bold with a ** in front of the name.
Agatha Award winners
Best Contemporary Novel
**The Long Call by Ann Cleeves (Minotaur)
Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Byron (Crooked Lane Books)
Fair Game by Annette Dashofy (Henery Press)
The Missing Ones by Edwin Hill (Kensington)
A Better Man by Louise Penny (Minotaur)
The Murder List by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge)
Best First Mystery Novel
**One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski (Graydon House, a division of Harlequin)
A Dream of Death by Connie Berry (Crooked Lane Books)
Murder Once Removed by S. C. Perkins (Minotaur)
When It’s Time for Leaving by Ang Pompano (Encircle Publications)
Staging is Murder by Grace Topping (Henery Press)
Best Historical Mystery
**Charity’s Burden by Edith Maxwell (Midnight Ink)
Love and Death Among the Cheetahs by Rhys Bowen (Penquin)
Murder Knocks Twice by Susanna Calkins (Minotaur)
The Pearl Dagger by L. A. Chandlar (Kensington)
The Naming Game by Gabriel Valjan (Winter Goose Publishing)
**The Mutual Admiration Society: How Dorothy L. Sayers and her Oxford Circle Remade the World for Women by Mo Moulton (Basic Books)
Frederic Dannay, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and the Art of the Detective Short Story by Laird R. Blackwell (McFarland)
Blonde Rattlesnake: Burmah Adams, Tom White, and the 1933 Crime Spree that Terrified Los Angeles by Julia Bricklin (Lyons Press)
Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep (Knopf)
The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold (Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt)
Best Children/Young Adult
**The Last Crystal by Frances Schoonmaker (Auctus Press)
Kazu Jones and the Denver Dognappers by Shauna Holyoak (Disney Hyperion)
Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen MacManus (Delacorte Press)
Top Marks for Murder (A Most Unladylike Mystery) by Robin Stevens (Puffin)
Jada Sly, Artist and Spy by Sherri Winston (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Best Short Story
**"The Last Word" by Shawn Reilly Simmons, Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible (Wildside Press)
"Grist for the Mill" by Kaye George in A Murder of Crows (Darkhouse Books)
"Alex’s Choice" by Barb Goffman in Crime Travel (Wildside Press)
"The Blue Ribbon" by Cynthia Kuhn in Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible (Wildside Press)
"Better Days" by Art Taylor in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
Writers are creative people—it’s part of the job title.
And just as creative are those who work with authors in a variety of situations—agents, editors, booksellers, publicists and, are I say, even the occasional critic.
And that brings me to the organizers of Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Awards.
This is the 75th anniversary of MWA and that called for an especially big celebration of the Edgar Awards.
But as we all know, the Edgar week events, including the symposium and the awards banquet had to be canceled.
But the awards to celebrate the authors, their books, TV, etc., were not canceled. Just given in a different format.
This time on Twitter and YouTube in real time instead live in the room at the banquet.
MWA's handling of the Edgars should be a blueprint for other organizations.
By putting this on Twitter/YouTube, it also allowed the Edgar Awards to be open to anyone.
Whether a person has signed up for the banquet or not, they were allowed to particiapte.
That openness brought more of a sense of community to the event
And it also brought more attention to the books and the authors, hopefully inspiring more book buying.
Announced April 30, 2020, the virtual Edgar Awards made us all proud. I am sure this was not easy to pull off but the announcements were smoothly handled.
April 30 is the day the awards would have been announced anyway. Only instead of an evening gala with long dresses and tuxedoes, the awards’ announcement began around 11 a.m.
Now all the acceptance speeches are available on YouTube, and they are worth a listen.
All the finalists were asked to record an acceptance speech that would air after their category was announced.
As usual, the speeches were from the heart as authors thanked those who helped their career. The speeches may have been shorter this time because of technology.
Instead of glitz, the authors filmed from their homes or outside. Some had their dogs or cats in the videos, others did it solo.
Perhaps in many ways, these videos gave readers more insight to the authors.
Angie Kim, whose Miracle Creek took the Best First Novel by an American Author, talked about her Korean heritage and how her family helped her.
John Billheimer, whose Hitchcock and the Censors won best critical biography, told us how he came to writing late and thanked his wife for encouraging him to use his engineering background in his writing.
Elly Griffiths, who took best novel for The Stranger Diaries, mentioned how strong the mystery community is and how it will not be broken.
The videos also include a heartfelt tribute to Mary Higgins Clark, who died this year, with authors discussing how much her work, and the author herself, meant to them.
It was hard not to tear up as Sujata Massey, Charles Todd and Hank Phillippi Ryan paid their respects to Clark. The video also included an interview with the Queen of Suspense as she was often called.
Also bringing tears was the annual “In Memoriam” that showed those who have passed away. The video montage reminded us how these authors influenced the genre and our reading, and showed us how much we have missed with their passing. Some of the authors’ passings were a surprise to me. Rest In Peace.
We all hope that next year, we can celebrate the Edgar Awards in person. But this online ceremony and these videos remind us how important the genre is and why reading soothes us, even during a pandemic.
Here are the winners. Happy reading.
Here are the winners of the Edgar Awards as announced April 30, 2020, by the virtual Edgar Awards. https://twitter.com/EdgarAwards
Videos of all the winners including a heartfelt tribute to Mary Higgins Clark are on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLiYm04WPG_MFAvH6zGgO8hmkIDO_T4QKY
Winners are in bold with an ***
Mystery Scene congratulates those who take home an Edgar and the nominees.
**The Stranger Diaries, by Elly Griffiths (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Fake Like Me, by Barbara Bourland (Hachette Book Group – Grand Central Publishing)
The River, by Peter Heller (Penguin Random House – Alfred A. Knopf)
Smoke and Ashes, by Abir Mukherjee (Pegasus Books)
Good Girl, Bad Girl, by Michael Robotham (Simon & Schuster – Scribner)
BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR
**Miracle Creek, by Angie Kim (Farrar Straus and Giroux)
My Lovely Wife, by Samantha Downing (Penguin Random House – Berkley)
The Good Detective, by John McMahon (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
The Secrets We Kept, by Lara Prescott (Penguin Random House – Alfred A. Knopf)
Three-Fifths, by John Vercher (Polis Books – Agora Books)
American Spy, by Lauren Wilkinson (Penguin Random House – Random House)
BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL
**The Hotel Neversink, by Adam O’Fallon Price (Tin House Books)
Dread of Winter, by Susan Alice Bickford (Kensington Publishing)
Freedom Road, by William Lashner (Amazon Publishing – Thomas & Mercer)
Blood Relations, by Jonathan Moore (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – Mariner Books)
February’s Son, by Alan Parks (Europa Editions – World Noir)
The Bird Boys, by Lisa Sandlin (Cinco Puntos Press)
BEST FACT CRIME
**The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity, by Axton Betz-Hamilton (Hachette Book Group – Grand Central Publishing)
The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder that Shocked Jazz-Age America, by Karen Abbott (Penguin Random House - Crown)
American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century, by Maureen Callahan (Penguin Random House - Viking)
Norco '80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History, by Peter Houlahan (Counterpoint Press)
Indecent Advances: A Hidden History of True Crime and Prejudice Before Stonewall, by James Polchin (Counterpoint Press)
**Hitchcock and the Censors, by John Billheimer (University Press of Kentucky)
Beyond the Thirty-Nine Steps: A Life of John Buchan, by Ursula Buchan (Bloomsbury Publishing)
The Hooded Gunman: An Illustrated History of Collins Crime Club ,by John Curran (Collins Crime Club)
Medieval Crime Fiction: A Critical Overview, by Anne McKendry (McFarland)
The Mutual Admiration Society: How Dorothy L. Sayers and her Oxford Circle Remade the World for Women, by Mo Moulton (Hachette Book Group – Basic Books)
BEST SHORT STORY
***“One of These Nights," from Cutting Edge: New Stories of Mystery and Crime by Women Writers, by Livia Llewellyn (Akashic Books)
“Turistas," from Paque Tu Lo Sepas, by Hector Acosta (Down & Out Books)
“The Passenger," from Sydney Noir, by Kirsten Tranter (Akashic Books)
“Home at Last," from Die Behind the Wheel: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Music of Steely Dan, by Sam Wiebe (Down & Out Books)
“Brother’s Keeper," from Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, by Dave Zeltserman (Dell Magazine)
**Me and Sam-Sam Handle the Apocalypse, by Susan Vaught (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books – Paula Wiseman Books)
The Collected Works of Gretchen Oyster, by Cary Fagan (Penguin Random House Canada – Tundra Books
Eventown, by Corey Ann Haydu (HarperCollins Children’s Books – Katherine Tegen Books)
The Whispers by Greg Howard (Penguin Young Readers – G.P. Putnam’s Sons BFYR)
All the Greys on Greene Street, by Laura Tucker (Penguin Young Readers – Viking BFYR)
BEST YOUNG ADULT
**Catfishing on CatNet, by Naomi Kritzer (Tom Doherty Associates – Tor Teen)
Killing November, by Adriana Mather (Random House Children’s Books – Alfred A. Knopf BFYR)
Patron Saints of Nothing, by Randy Ribay (Penguin Young Readers - Kokila)
The Deceivers, by Kristen Simmons (Tom Doherty Associates – Tor Teen)
Wild and Crooked, by Leah Thomas (Bloomsbury Publishing)
BEST TELEVISION EPISODE TELEPLAY
**“Season 5, Episode 4” – Line of Duty, Teleplay by Jed Mercurio (Acorn TV)
“Season 5, Episode 3” – Line of Duty, Teleplay by Jed Mercurio (Acorn TV)
“Episode 1” – Dublin Murders, Teleplay by Sarah Phelps (STARZ)
“Episode 1” – Manhunt, Teleplay by Ed Whitmore (Acorn TV)
“Episode 1” – The Wisting, Teleplay by Katherine Valen Zeiner & Trygve Allister Diesen (Sundance Now)
ROBERT L. FISH MEMORIAL AWARD
“There’s a Riot Goin’ On," from Milwaukee Noir, by Derrick Harriell (Akashic Books)
THE SIMON & SCHUSTER MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD
**The Night Visitors, by Carol Goodman (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
One Night Gone, by Tara Laskowski (Harlequin – Graydon House)
Strangers at the Gate, by Catriona McPherson (Minotaur Books)
Where the Missing Go, by Emma Rowley (Kensington Publishing)
The Murder List, by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Tom Doherty Associates – Forge Books)
THE G.P. PUTNAM’S SONS SUE GRAFTON MEMORIAL AWARD
**Borrowed Time, by Tracy Clark (Kensington Publishing)
Shamed, by Linda Castillo (Minotaur Books)
The Missing Ones, by Edwin Hill (Kensington Publishing)
The Satapur Moonstone, by Sujata Massey (Soho Crime)
The Alchemist’s Illusion, by Gigi Pandian (Midnight Ink)
Girl Gone Missing, by Marcie R. Rendon (Cincos Puntos Press)
Left Coast Crime
ELLERY QUEEN AWARD
ROBERT L. FISH MEMORIAL AWARD
Derrick Harriell, There's a Riot Goin' On, published in Milwaukee Noir (Akashic Books)