The Mystery Writers of America’s Grand Master award is perhaps the greatest honor the MWA presents, perhaps even more of an honor than winning an Edgar.
That’s because the Grand Master has been a reflection of the state of the genre, showing how crime fiction continues to evolve as well as honoring the genre’s history.
This year is no different—the Grand Master, Raven and Ellery Queen honorees are truly deserving. (OK, full disclosure, I received the Raven in 2013 so my affection for that category is extreme.)
All will receive their awards at the 71st Annual Edgar Awards Banquet, which will be held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City on Thursday, April 27, 2017.
This year, MWA is honoring two Grand Masters—Max Allan Collins, top left and Ellen Hart, at right.
As the MWA states, the “Grand Master Award represents the pinnacle of achievement in mystery writing and was established to acknowledge important contributions to this genre, as well as for a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality.”
Collins has been a mainstay of the genre since he sold his first two novels in 1972 while a student at the University of Iowa Writers Workshop.
Since then, he has written more than a hundred novels. Those include his award-winning and groundbreaking Nathan Heller historical series, starting with True Detective (1983).
His graphic novel Road to Perdition (1998) was the basis of the Academy Award-winning 2002 film starring Tom Hanks.
He also has written the syndicated strip Dick Tracy; his own Ms. Tree; and Batman. For the hit TV series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, he wrote 10 novels selling millions of copies worldwide, and his movie-tie in novels include Saving Private Ryan, Air Force One, and American Gangster.
Hart’s credentials are equally impressive.
Hart has written 32 crime novels.
She is the six-time winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Mystery, the four-time winner of the Minnesota Book Award for Best Popular Fiction, and the three-time winner of the Golden Crown Literary Award for mystery.
In addition, Hart has taught crime writing for 17 years through the Loft Literary Center, the largest independent writing community in the nation.
Previous Grand Masters include Walter Mosley, Lois Duncan, James Ellroy, Robert Crais, Carolyn Hart, Ken Follett, Margaret Maron, Martha Grimes, Sara Paretsky, James Lee Burke, Sue Grafton, Bill Pronzini, Stephen King, Marcia Muller, Dick Francis, Mary Higgins Clark, Lawrence Block, P.D. James, Ellery Queen, Daphne du Maurier, Alfred Hitchcock, Graham Greene, and Agatha Christie.
The MWA describes the Raven Award as recognizing “outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing.”
Dru Ann Love, at right, will be honored with the 2017 Raven Award.
Dru Ann Love is owner/editor of dru’s book musings (https://drusbookmusing.com/), a blog where characters give a glimpse into a day in their life, as well as her musings.
She also is a guest blogger at the Stiletto Gang.
Dru Ann’s blog was nominated for a 2015 Anthony Award for Best Critical or Non-Fiction Work. She also serves on the Bouchercon standing committee.
Previous Raven winners include Sisters in Crime, Margaret Kinsman, Kathryn Kennison, Jon and Ruth Jordan, Aunt Agatha’s Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Oline Cogdill, Molly Weston, The Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego, Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore in Chicago, Once Upon a Crime Bookstore in Minneapolis, Mystery Lovers Bookstore in Oakmont, PA, Kate’s Mystery Books in Cambridge, MA, and The Poe House in Baltimore, MD.
The MWA established the Ellery Queen Award in 1983 to honor “outstanding writing teams and outstanding people in the mystery-publishing industry.”
I can’t think of a better honoree than Neil Nyren.
Neil Nyren,left, is the Executive VP, associate publisher, and editor in chief of G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Random House.
He has been at Putnam for over 32 years, and before that, at E.P. Dutton, Little Brown, Random House, Arbor House, and Atheneum.
Nyren’s current crime authors include Clive Cussler, Ken Follett, C.J. Box, John Sandford, Robert Crais, Jack Higgins, W.E.B. Griffin, Frederick Forsyth, Randy Wayne White, Alex Berenson, Ace Atkins, Alex Grecian, Carol O’Connell, Owen Laukkanen, Michael Sears, and Todd Moss.
Nyren also worked with Tom Clancy, Patricia Cornwell, Daniel Silva, Martha Grimes, Ed McBain, Thomas H. Cook, and Thomas Perry
Nyren was the first to publish books by Carl Hiaasen, Jonathan Kellerman, Gerald Seymour, Garrison Keillor, and Ian McEwan.
Previous Ellery Queen Award winners include Janet Rudolph, Charles Ardai, Joe Meyers, Barbara Peters and Robert Rosenwald, Brian Skupin and Kate Stine, Carolyn Marino, Ed Gorman, Janet Hutchings, Cathleen Jordan, Douglas G. Greene, Susanne Kirk, Sara Ann Freed, Hiroshi Hayakawa, Jacques Barzun, Martin Greenburg, Otto Penzler, Richard Levinson, William Link, Ruth Cavin, and Emma Lathen.
Charlaine Harris’ All the Little Liars begins with a wedding announcement of Aurora Teagarden.
Yes, after 13 years, the favorite librarian of Lawrenceton, Georgia, is back.
And Harris wastes no time in reestablishing her appealing character.
Since the wedding announcement is the first paragraph of All the Little Liars, we are not giving anything away.
The best man is the groom’s best friend—Jeff Abbott of Austin, Texas.
Abbott, of course, is a bestselling author, now best known for his globe-jumping Sam Capra novels.
This makes sense because Aurora’s husband, Robin Crusoe, is a mystery writer. Abbott, of course, also is an award-winning author.
Abbott’s latest novel in his Sam Capra series is The First Order.
Harris’ reference to another mystery writer is one of those little Easter eggs that readers adore.
"Jeff and I have known each other for many, many years. I picked Jeff because he is a friendly guy, and Robin is too, and they write the same sort of books. They might easily bond. Plus, Jeff is a Southerner also. But mostly because he said "yes" when I asked him,” said Harris in an email.
“I have only used names of my close friends before, to give them a fist bump," Harris added.
For his part, Abbott almost forgot about his debut in Harris’ book.
“Charlaine and I are friends; she had asked me a couple of years back if she could use my name and I said yes, but had forgotten about it until someone with an ARC posted about it on Facebook. I haven't read the book yet, it's on order but hasn't arrived. I hope ‘Jeff Abbott’ survives until the next book,” Abbott said in an email.
Read All the Little Liars to find out the fictional Jeff Abbott's fate.