Our August display of mystery novels is “Award-Winning Mysteries”.  To put together the display, I looked at a variety of awards given for books in the mystery genre.  Probably the most well known is the Agatha Awards, named in honor of Agatha Christie, are nominated and voted on by Malice Domestic fans. The Agatha Awards honor the traditional mystery—books best typified by the works of Agatha Christie. The genre is loosely defined as mysteries which contain no explicit sex or excessive gore or violence; and usually (but not limited to) featuring an amateur detective, a confined setting, and characters who know one another.

If you look at each year’s winner for Best Contemporary Novel, the winner is nearly always the latest Louise Penny mystery –or at least, her book is always nominated.  I don’t need to sell Curtis patrons on the series set in Quebec featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache as many of you are already fans.  The next Louise Penny novel, The Madness of Crowds, is due out August 24 and there are just over 300 holds on it. (Be sure to keep checking the Bestseller Express books for copies of the book.)

So let me tell you about some award-winning mysteries that are less well known.

Edgar Awards: Mystery Writers of America give these awards to honor the best in mystery fiction and nonfiction produced the previous year. The awards began in 1946 and are named in honor of Edgar Allan Poe.

Edgar Award for Best Mystery Novel:

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara (2020)

A 9-year-old reality-television enthusiast in India uses crime-show approaches to investigate the disappearance of a classmate, before additional abductions shatter life in his sprawling city home.

Bluebird, Bluebird by Anita Locke, Highway 59 series #1 (2017)

When it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules, a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger, knows all too well. Deeply ambivalent about growing up black in the lone star state, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. Until duty called him home.

The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin, Yashim Tagalu mystery #1 (2007)

When the Ottoman Empire of 1836 is shattered by a wave of political murders that threatens to upset the balance of power, Yashim, an intelligence agent and a eunuch, conducts an investigation into clues within the empire’s once-elite military forces.

Edgar Award for Best First Novel by an American author:

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim (2019)

A literary courtroom thriller about a mother accused of murdering her eight-year-old autistic son.

Bearskin by James McLaughlin (2018)

Rice Moore is just beginning to think his troubles are behind him. He’s found a job protecting a remote forest preserve in Virginian Appalachia where his main responsibilities include tracking wildlife and refurbishing cabins. It’s hard work, and totally solitary–perfect to hide away from the Mexican drug cartels he betrayed back in Arizona. But when Rice finds the carcass of a bear killed on the grounds, the quiet solitude he’s so desperately sought is suddenly at risk.

The World Mystery Convention confers the Anthony Awards each fall at Bouchercon, a convention for fans of mystery writing. The names of the award and the conference honor Anthony Boucher, pen name of William Anthony Parker White, an eminent critic and mystery writer.

Here are some winners of the Anthony Award in the Best Novel category:

November Road by Louis Berney (2018)

A street lieutenant for a New Orleans mob boss flees when his knowledge about JFK’s assassination makes him a target, a situation that is dangerously complicated by his relationship with a fugitive housewife.

The Killing Kind by Chris Holm, Michael Hendricks novel #1 (2015)

A former covert operative for the U.S. Army, Michael Hendricks becomes a hitman who only kills other hitmen, until he winds up a target himself. Holm is based in Portland, Maine.

Under the category of Best First Novel:

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (2018)

Realizing that her beautiful, beloved younger sister has murdered yet another boyfriend, an embittered Nigerian woman works to direct suspicion away from the family, until a handsome doctor she fancies asks for her sister’s number.

Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett, Detective by Day novel #1 (2017)

After witnessing a deadly hit-and-run, broke actress Dayna investigates and pursues the reward money in an effort to help her parents keep their house, but she soon finds herself wanting justice for the victim even more.

IQ by Joe Ide, IQ series #1 (2016)

A resident of one of LA’s toughest neighborhoods, who solves cases the LAPD ignores, investigates threats against a rap mogul, a case that becomes more far-reaching and dangerous as he encounters a vengeful ex-wife and a hit man regarded as a lunatic by his peers.

Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry, Troy Chance novel #1 (2011)

When Troy Chance rescues a boy who falls off a ferry she discovers he can only speak French and that no one seems to be looking for him. Thus begins a dangerous journey across the eastern United States and Canada as Troy attempts to uncover the mysteries surrounding the special little boy she comes to care for deeply.

The Dagger Awards were founded by The Crime Writers’ Association in 1956 and celebrate the very best in crime and thriller writing. The Diamond Dagger is awarded for Lifetime Achievement, the Gold Dagger for the top crime novel of the year, the Ian Fleming Steel for best thriller, and the John Creasey Memorial New Blood Dagger for best first crime novel.

The Diamond Dagger award for 2020 was given to Martin Edwards.  Edwards is the author of the Lake District mysteries (most recent is Dungeon House (2015)), but avid Curtis mystery readers may know him best as the editor of the British Library Crime Classics series.  These are classic mysteries reprinted by the British Library and Poisoned Pen Press.  The classics include individual novels such as

The Cornish Coast Murder by John Bude and The Man Who Didn’t Fly by Margo Bennett

As well as anthologies like these:

Miraculous Mysteries Locked Room Mysteries and Impossible Crimes


Resorting to Murder: Holiday Mysteries

Recent Gold Dagger Award Winners:

We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker (2021)

Thirty years ago, a teenage Vincent King was sent to prison. But now, he’s served his sentence and is returning to his hometown.

Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham (2020)

Psychologist Cyrus Haven is sent to interview Evie a girl that has been living in a children’s home to decide if she’s ready to go free. She’s damaged, destructive, and self-hating, yet possessed of a gift, or a curse, that makes her both fascinating and dangerous to be with. Soon he is embroiled in her unique and dangerous world, his life in utmost peril.

Ian Fleming Steel Winners:

Spook Street by Mick Herron, Slough House series #4 (2017)

What happens when an old spook starts to lose his mind? Do the Services have a retirement home for people who know too many secrets but don’t remember they’re secrets? Or does someone come to take care of the senile spy for good? These are the questions River Cartwright must ask himself as his grandfather–David Cartwright, a Cold War-era operative–starts to forget to wear pants, and starts believing everyone in his life is someone sent by Services to watch him. However, River has other things to worry about. A bomb goes off in the middle of a flash mob performance in a busy shopping center and kills forty innocent civilians. The agents of Slough House have to figure out who is behind this act of terror before the situation escalates.

Cop Town by Karin Slaughter (2014)

It’s Kate Murphy’s first day as a cop in 1974 and the Atlanta Police Department is seething after the murder of an officer. Before the day begins, she suspects she’s not cut out for the job. Her male uniform is too big, she can’t handle a gun, and she’s rapidly learning that the APD is hardly a place that welcomes women.

John Creasey Memorial New Blood Winners:

Scrublands by Chris Hammer (2019)

In Riversend, a rural community afflicted by an endless drought, a young priest does the unthinkable, killing five parishioners before being taken down himself. Martin Scarsden is sent to cover the one year anniversary and soon finds himself investigating the town’s dark secrets.

Fourth of July by Smith Henderson (2014)

After his daughter disappears, social worker Pete Snow must face the fact he has failed his own family as he is drawn into a manhunt when his client–a disturbed and paranoid survivalist–sparks the interest of the F.B.I.

If you need more recommendations, call us at 725-5242 or email helpdesk@curtislibrary.com.  We are always happy to help!