Oline H. Cogdill

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)

Best Nonfiction
**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