And the winners are…
Best critical/biographical went to my friend Leslie Klinger for his brilliant New Annotated Sherlock Holmes.
Best Paperback Original, The Confession by Domenic Stansberry.
Best First Mystery by an American Author (the committee I spent last year chairing and reading for) was Don Lee’s Country of Origin.
And the Best Novel Edgar for the year 2004 went to California Girl, by T. Jefferson Parker.
There are, of course, lots of other winners in categories such as Young Adult and Television Series, which I recommend you look up on the Mystery Writers of America web site.
The Mystery Guild’s Jane Dentinger did a superb job of making the event move along briskly (we were actually finished before ten o’clock, which has never happened in my eleven years of attendance) but keep us entertained (I won’t say ditto to that, but certain events quiver in my memory, such as the year we watched a 45 minute movie about the history of Caroline Keene, or the atrocious amateur skits, or…)
But I digress. The Edgar awards ceremony for 2005 was a flat-out success. When I first got there, I collected my badge and went to the nominees’ reception room, and managed to locate all six of “my” nominees there, nervously clutching their glasses and making sweating conversation with wives or agents. I brought them together, introduced them as the class of 2004, and let them talk. I’ve been there, you see; I remember all too clearly moving through a horrid crowd of absolute strangers, all of them dressed better than I and knowing what they were doing, certain that it was all a fluke and they would rise up and throw me out in public disgrace any moment.
There wasn’t much I could do to put them out of their misery, like tell them who had won so the others could just go home, but I could try to reassure them that in truth, the nomination itself was the prize. And truly, although the Edgar award is a terrific honor and a great (if peculiar looking) thing to have on your shelf at home, it doesn’t really translate into the ultimate success of its winner. Take a look at the MWA list of nominees over the years, if you don’t believe me. A sobering experience, to see how many winners have never been heard from again.
But the evening went well, and I got to see a lot of those friends I see, well, once a year at the Edgars–Tom Cook (who beat my own With Child out for the Edgar, and rightly so) and Marcia Muller and Ed Hoch and Steve Hamilton and Margaret Maron and the stunning Laura Lippman and–well, you get the idea. Drinks afterwards with Barbara Peters and Rob Rosenwald (Poisoned Pen books and bookstore) and their author and Best First nominee Charles Benoit (Relative Danger) and wife. Then crawling back to my bed at The Library and managing to sleep until six thirty, wow!
For fear of losing this to the electronic gremlins, I will stop now and say something later about the rest of my day.
And for your recommended reading, the list of Best First nominees was:
Little Girl Lost by Richard Aleas
RElative Danger by Charles Benoit
Cloud Atlas by Lian Callanan
Tonight I Said Goodbye by Michael Koryta
Country of Origin by Don Lee
Bahamarama by Bob Morris