Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Every so often, as is currently the case, the primary award for mystery writers, the Edgar, comes in for sharp, and sometimes dull, criticism. Unfortunately, a great many of the criticisms when the nominees are announced, are not full informed which obscures some useful comments and ideas. For example, every year, for all kinds of reasons, books are not even submitted. Those books are not judged and consequently never appear on lists of nominees. In a relatively famous case a year or so ago, the then president of MWA, home of the Edgars, disqualified his then-current novel from consideration for an award. Something about ethical considerations. Imagine that.

What I’m told is that the MWA board frequently wrestles with and argues about how to define different sub-genres of what we commonly call mystery fiction. I prefer crime fiction, personally, those terms being more inclusive. I’m told that the sticking point is defining the different categories. Yet we readers, booksellers and authors, define them every day. How hard can it be? Traditional mysteries, International thrillers, Domestic thrillers, PI books and Police Procedurals, hard cover, trade, Mass Market, PBO, to name a few.

There are even awards in specified categories by different conventions. They seem to have little difficulty discerning between categories.
There’s a new book out that has to be one of the most useful compilations for mystery fiction to come along in several years. It’s called “The Essential Mystery Lists:” and it was collected and researched by Roger Sobin. Poisoned Pen Press is the publisher. It contains every nominee and winner in every known mystery fiction contest since the beginning of time. At least in the English Language. It’s a marvelous resource easy to penetrate, fun to dip into.


As I look out the French Doors to our deck, I see it’s snowing again. The temperature has moderated but I’m thankful I don’t have to go out today. My dough is ready to rest and rise.

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