Non-fiction

2021 Pulitzer Prize – Journalism

 

The 2021 winners of the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Journalism were announced on June 11, 2021. Congratulations to all the amazing writers and staffs!

Descriptions of the individual awards are credited to the Pulitzer Prize website. Links (in brown) will take you to more information about the winners.

 

Public Service winner and the recipient of the Gold Medal in Journalism:
The New York Times For courageous, prescient and sweeping coverage of the coronavirus pandemic that exposed racial and economic inequities, government failures in the U.S. and beyond, and filled a data vacuum that helped local governments, healthcare providers, businesses and individuals to be better prepared and protected.

 

Breaking News Reporting: Staff of the Star Tribune, Minneapolis, Minn.
For its urgent, authoritative and nuanced coverage of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis and of the reverberations that followed.

 

Investigative Reporting: Matt Rocheleau, Vernal Coleman, Laura Crimaldi, Evan Allen and Brendan McCarthy of The Boston Globe For reporting that uncovered a systematic failure by state governments to share information about dangerous truck drivers that could have kept them off the road, prompting immediate reforms.


Explanatory Reporting:
Andrew Chung, Lawrence Hurley, Andrea Januta, Jaimi Dowdell and Jackie Botts of Reuters
For an exhaustive examination, powered by a pioneering data analysis of U.S. federal court cases, of the obscure legal doctrine of “qualified immunity” and how it shields police who use excessive force from prosecution.

&
Ed Yong of The Atlantic
For a series of lucid, definitive pieces on the COVID-19 pandemic that anticipated the course of the disease, synthesized the complex challenges the country faced, illuminated the U.S. government’s failures and provided clear and accessible context for the scientific and human challenges it posed.

 

Local Reporting: Kathleen McGrory and Neil Bedi of the Tampa Bay Times For resourceful, creative reporting that exposed how a powerful and politically connected sheriff built a secretive intelligence operation that harassed residents and used grades and child welfare records to profile schoolchildren.

 

National Reporting: Staffs of The Marshall Project; AL.com, Birmingham; IndyStar, Indianapolis; and the Invisible Institute, Chicago For a year-long investigation of K-9 units and the damage that police dogs inflict on Americans, including innocent citizens and police officers, prompting numerous statewide reforms.

 

International Reporting: Megha Rajagopalan, Alison Killing and Christo Buschek of BuzzFeed News For a series of clear and compelling stories that used satellite imagery and architectural expertise, as well as interviews with two dozen former prisoners, to identify a vast new infrastructure built by the Chinese government for the mass detention of Muslims.

 

Feature Writing:
Mitchell S. Jackson, freelance contributor, Runner’s World
For a deeply affecting account of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery that combined vivid writing, thorough reporting and personal experience to shed light on systemic racism in America.

&

Nadja Drost, freelance contributor, The California Sunday Magazine For a brave and gripping account of global migration that documents a group’s journey on foot through the Darién Gap, one of the most dangerous migrant routes in the world.


Commentary: Michael Paul Williams of the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch
For penetrating and historically insightful columns that guided Richmond, a former capital of the Confederacy, through the painful and complicated process of dismantling the city’s monuments to white supremacy.

 

Criticism: Wesley Morris of The New York Times For unrelentingly relevant and deeply engaged criticism on the intersection of race and culture in America, written in a singular style, alternately playful and profound.

 

Editorial Writing: Robert Greene of the Los Angeles Times For editorials on policing, bail reform, prisons and mental health that clearly and holistically examined the Los Angeles criminal justice system.

 

Breaking News Photography: Photography Staff of Associated Press For a collection of photographs from multiple U.S. cities that cohesively captures the country’s response to the death of George Floyd.

 

Feature Photography: Emilio Morenatti of Associated Press For a poignant series of photographs that takes viewers into the lives of the elderly in Spain struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Audio Reporting: Lisa Hagen, Chris Haxel, Graham Smith and Robert Little of National Public Radio For an investigative series on “no compromise” gun rights activists that illuminated the profound differences and deepening schism between American conservatives.

 

2021 – CrimeFest

Now in its 14th year, the awards honor the best crime books released in 2020 in the UK. From their site: “CRIMEFEST is a convention for people who like to read an occasional crime novel as well as for die-hard fanatics.” In most cases, eligible titles were submitted by publishers, and a team of British crime fiction reviewers voted to establish the shortlists.

Affected by Covid as so many other events have, the 2021 winners were announced online in May.

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners (Indicated in red)!

 

DEBUT CRIME NOVEL AWARD

Eva Bjorg Aegisdottir  “The Creak on the Stairs”

Marion Brunet “Summer of Reckoning”

Robin Morgan-Bentley “The Wreckage”

Richard Osman “The Thursday Murder Club”

Mara Timon “City of Spies”

Trevor Wood “The Man on the Street”

 

LAST LAUGH AWARD  (humorous crime fiction)

Ben Aaronovitch “False Value”

ChristopherFowler “Bryant & May-Oranges and Lemons”

Elly Griffiths “The Postscript Murders”

Carl Hiaasen “Squeeze Me”

RichardOsman “The Thursday Murder Club”

Malcolm Pryce “The Corpse in the Garden of Perfect Brightness”

Khurrum Rahman “Ride or Die”

OlgaWojtas “Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Vampire Menace”

 

eDUNNIT AWARD (ebooks)

Gabriel Bergmoser “The Hunted”

Sharon Bolton “The Split”

P. Carter “Little Boy Lost”

Steve Cavanagh “Fifty-Fifty”

Michael Connelly “Fair Warning”

James Lee Burke “A Private Cathedral”

Ian Rankin “A Song for the Dark Times”

Holly Watt “The Dead Line”

 

H.R.F. KEATING AWARD (critical or biography)

Mark Aldridge “Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Greatest Detective in the World”

MartinEdwards (editor) “Howdunit: A Masterclass in Crime Writing by Members of the Detection Club”

Colin Larkin “Cover Me: The Vintage Art of Pan Books: 1950-1965”

Andrew Lycett “Conan Doyle’s Wide World”

Heather Martin “The Reacher Guy”

Sheila Mitchell “HRF Keating: A Life of Crime”

Craig Sisterson “Southern Cross Crime: The Pocket Essential Guide to the Crime Fiction, Film & TV of Australia and New Zealand”

Peter Temple “The Red Hand: Stories, reflections and the last appearance of Jack Irish”

 

BEST CRIME NOVEL FOR CHILDREN (ages 8-12)

Sophie Deen “Agent Asha: Mission Shark Bytes”

Elly Griffiths “A Girl Called Justice -The Smugglers’ Secret”

Anthony Horowitz “Nightshade”

Jack Noel “My Headteacher is an Evil Genius”

Serena Patel “Anisha, Accidental Detective”

Serena Patel “School’s Cancelled”

Onjali Q. Rauf “The Night Bus Hero”

Dave Shelton “The Pencil Case”

 

 

2021 Anthony Awards

Bouchercon is an annual conference named after Anthony Boucher, a mystery author and critic who helped found the Mystery Writers of America. This event honors various segments of the mystery and crime fiction community. Take a look at the nominees for the coveted Anthony Award. The winners will be announced during BoucherCon in New Orleans in August.

Best Hardcover Novel

  • What You Don’t See – Tracy Clark
  • Blacktop Wasteland – S.A. Cosby
  • Little Secrets – Jennifer Hillier
  • And Now She’s Gone – Rachel Howzell Hall
  • The First to Lie – Hank Phillippi Ryan
     

Best First Novel

  • Derailed – Mary Keliikoa
  • Murder in Old Bombay – Nev March
  • Murder at the Mena House – Erica Ruth Neubauer
  • The Thursday Murder Club – Richard Osman
  • Winter Counts – David Heska Wanbli Weiden

Best Paperback Original/E-Book/Audiobook Original Novel

  • ​The Fate of a Flapper – Susanna Calkins
  • When No One is Watching – Alyssa Cole
  • Unspeakable Things – Jess Lourey
  • The Lucky One – Lori Rader-Day
  • Dirty Old Town – Gabriel Valjan

Best Short Story

  • “Dear Emily Etiquette” – Barb Goffman – EQMM – Dell Magazines
  • “90 Miles” – Alex Segura – Both Sides: Stories From the Border – Agora Books
  • “The Boy Detective & The Summer of ’74” – Art Taylor – AHMM (Jan-Feb) – Dell Magazines
  • “Elysian Fields” – Gabriel Valjan – California Schemin’ – Wildside Press
  • “The Twenty-Five Year Engagement” – James W. Ziskin – In League with Sherlock Holmes – Pegasus Crime

Best Juvenile/Young Adult

  • Midnight at the Barclay Hotel – Fleur Bradley
  • Premeditated Myrtle – Elizabeth C. Bunce
  • From the Desk of Zoe Washington – Janae Marks
  • Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco – Richie Narvaez
  • Star Wars Poe Dameron: Free Fall – Alex Segura

Best Anthology or Collection

  • Shattering Glass: A Nasty Woman Press Anthology – Heather Graham, ed.
  • Both Sides: Stories from the Border – Gabino Iglesias, ed.
  • Noiryorican – Richie Narvaez
  • The Beat of Black Wings: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Joni Mitchell – Josh Pachter, ed.
  • California Schemin’ – Art Taylor. ed.
  • Lockdown: Stories of Crime, Terror, and Hope During a Pandemic – Nick Kolakowski and Steve Weddle, eds.

 

Congratulations to all the nominees!

 

The Edgar Awards – 2021

Mystery Writers of America has announced the winners of the 2021 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2020. A diverse group of judges  selected the nominees and from among those lists, selected the winners,  revealed on April 29, 2021. The winners are indicated in red.

 

BEST NOVEL

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara
Before She Was Helen by Caroline B. Cooney
Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
These Women by Ivy Pochoda
The Missing American by Kwei Quartey
The Distant Dead by Heather Young

 

BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR

Murder in Old Bombay by Nev March
Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen
Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas
Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden
Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

 

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL

When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole
The Deep, Deep Snow by Brian Freeman
Unspeakable Things by Jess Lourey
The Keeper by Jessica Moor
East of Hounslow by Khurrum Rahman

 

BEST FACT CRIME

Blood Runs Coal: The Yablonski Murders and the Battle for the United Mine Workers of America by Mark A. Bradley

The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia by Emma Copley Eisenberg

Death in Mud Lick: A Coal Country Fight Against the Drug Companies that Delivered the Opioid Epidemic by Eric Eyre

Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder, and a Woman’s Search for Justice in Indian Country by Sierra Crane Murdoch

Veritas: A Harvard Professor, a Con Man, and the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife by Ariel Sabar

  

BEST JUVENILE

Premeditated Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Bunce
Me and Banksy by Tanya Lloyd Kyi
From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks
Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor
Nessie Quest by Melissa Savage
Coop Knows the Scoop by Taryn Souders

  
THE SIMON & SCHUSTER MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD

Death of an American Beauty by Mariah Fredericks
The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne by Elsa Hart
The Lucky One by Lori Rader-Day
The First to Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Cold Wind by Paige Shelton

 

THE G.P. PUTNAM’S SONS SUE GRAFTON MEMORIAL AWARD

The Burn by Kathleen Kent
Riviera Gold by Laurie R. King
Vera Kelly is Not a Mystery by Rosalie Knecht
Dead Land by Sara Paretsky
The Sleeping Nymph by Ilaria Tuti
Turn to Stone by James W. Ziskin

 

The GRAND MASTERS:

Jeffery Deaver
Charlaine Harris

 

The RAVEN AWARD:

Malice Domestic

 

Please visit https://mysterywriters.org/mwa-announces-2021-edgar-allan-poe-award-nominations/ for the recipient of The Ellery Queen Award, as well as the nominees in the categories of Best Critical/Biographical, Best Short Story, Best YA, and Best Television Episode Teleplay.

Congratulations to all the nominees, winners, and recipients of the special awards!

 

 

NBR March Reviews – Four Genres

AMISH MYSTERY

“A Killer Carol” by Laura Bradford

Bradford’s beautifully written Amish mystery series stars Claire Weatherly, an Englisher, and Jakob Fisher, a former member of the Amish community. Claire chose to come to Heavenly, Pennsylvania to live with her aunt, rebuild her life, and open a store filled with Amish crafts. Jakob is a police detective in the town, who chose police work over life with the Amish.

 

In “A Killer Carol,” the seventh in the series, two of Claire’s Amish friends are suspected of a double murder and Jakob seems to have the evidence to prove it. Nobody’s talking, and with Claire and Jakob on opposite sides of the investigation, the holiday season may have lost its glow. With several surprising ‘wow’ moments, and Bradford’s wonderful characters to share the storyline, “Killer Carol” is a gift, no matter what time of year you read it. 

 

MILITARY FICTION

“The Last Platoon” by Bing West

In order to increase his chances at advancement, a career-stalled Marine accepts a short assignment to Afghanistan. West presents a realistic ‘boots on the ground’ viewpoint, with dedicated Marines adjusting to the leadership change. Self-serving orders given by the base C.O. result in a badly handled campaign, despite our hero’s best efforts to do his job. We come to realize that (with few exceptions) chain-of-command decisions are inviolate in the armed services.


The friendly Afghans are unpredictable, the base is under-manned, and the C.O. seems unhinged. With deadly consequences, “The Last Platoon” brings all the players together during a devastating sandstorm. West was an Assistant Secretary of Defense as well as a combat Marine and brings a great deal of authenticity to “The Last Platoon.”

 

THRILLER

 

“Backlash” by Brad Thor is a pulse-pounding page-turner in the Scot Harvath series. Harvath is betrayed, people close to him are murdered, and he is captured from U.S. soil by Russians. He is tortured and put on a plane to be handed over to an enemy who wants him dead. But the plane crashes in a remote part of Russia during a massive snowstorm and several of his guards are killed. That’s in the first thirteen pages of stay-up-all-night reading.

 

What follows is a harrowing tale of Harvath’s journey to evade the Russians without his usual support system in place. He knows that his captors will stop at nothing to get him back, but he is out for revenge. He must dig deep to stay alive in the face of hunger, brutal conditions, and the few resources he can steal. The twists are many, the perils are real, and the action superbly written.

 

NONFICTION

 

“No Time Like the Future” by Michael J. Fox, is exceptional. I laughed and cried as the beloved actor, Michael J. Fox, recounted his daily life with Parkinson’s via experiences with his career, his cherished family, and dear friends. He fully acknowledges the sacrifices others have made on his behalf while revealing some of his own missteps and ‘negotiations’ with the disease. Ever optimistic, Fox inspires all of us with his attitude and marvelous sense of humor in the midst of astonishing challenges. Wow!

Hint, hint: book sales raise money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, the leading Parkinson’s organization in the world.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

January Reviews – Four Genres

COZY

“Tilling the Truth” by Julia Henry

The feisty Garden Squad is back with a new set of projects, some aboveboard, some clandestine, and always chosen with the intent to spruce up the town and bring smiles to both residents and visitors. I opened “Tilling the Truth” to check a detail for the review, got caught up in the storyline again, and re-read the book because of its delightfully dedicated crew and their mission.

 

Small towns are a microcosm of society, with nice and not-so-nice residents living next door to one another. Everybody knows what you’re up to, or will find out as soon as the nosy neighbor texts her friends. Henry captures that perfectly with her charming mix of senior citizens and assorted helpful younger generation characters. The main characters are well-rounded, each with their own quirks and endearing qualities, and oh, my word, the unpleasant ones should be stripped of their gardening tools and run out of town in a wheelbarrow.

“Tilling the Truth” has a tightly layered plot, with our heroine, Lilly Jayne, dealing with the estate of a good friend, disgruntled beneficiaries, her best friend accused of murder, zoning laws, a bird sanctuary, and an impending lifestyle change for Lilly. Henry weaves it all together in a way that sounds just like a story you could tell to spellbound dinner guests if it happened in your own neighborhood.

 

THRILLER

“Dead Man Running” by Steve Hamilton

This is the ninth book in the top-notch Alex McKnight series. A serial killer has been arrested, but will talk to no one except retired police officer, Alex McKnight. Except that McKnight knows nothing about the man and has no idea why the killer thinks there is a connection between them.

 

What’s at stake is a missing woman that may still be alive. The FBI will do anything to save the woman and stop the murders, including hauling McKnight cross country to meet with the depraved Livermore. The story is told through McKnight’s point-of-view as well as the serial killer’s twisted mind. There are graphic discussions about the killer’s crimes, so if you’re looking for a light read, this is not for you. Instead, it will give some insight into an evil, manipulative thought process. There are surprises at every turn that keep McKnight pushing forward and the FBI in pursuit – each matching wits with Livermore. Chilling to the core, Hamilton has delivered another masterfully plotted page-turner in “Dead Man Running.”

 

PSYCHOLOGICAL SUSPENSE

The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides

“Silent Patient” is an intense read, centered around a successful artist who shoots her husband in the face and never says a word after the deed, not to explain herself, not to save herself from prosecution. The criminal psychotherapist who tells the tale is obsessed by the case and works his way onto the staff at her psychiatric institute so that he can solve the mystery of her silence. Michaelides delivers shocking revelations, clever twists in the plot, and characters so well-drawn that they could be people we know. Don’t read “The Silent Patient” before bed, because you won’t get a wink of sleep as the pages fly by.

 

NONFICTION

“The Hot Zone” by Richard Preston

I wish “The Hot Zone” was a thriller, a work of fiction, but it is completely true. An ordinary guy in 1970s Africa dies several days after spending time off trekking through a jungle. He ends life  horribly in a Nairobi hospital, infecting and killing others splattered by his blood; his companion on the outing with him doesn’t get sick. Blood samples are sent to the CDC in Atlanta, GA for testing, confirming the Ebola virus as the cause of death, and then are locked away in their secure facility. A few years later, the deadly Ebola virus arrives in a suburb of Washington, D.C. via monkeys tagged for research. The monkeys already in residence at this top-secret building set in an unsuspecting neighborhood, quickly start dying.

 

This hair-raising tale written in the 1990s, describes the rigorous protocols to keep the military personnel safe, the race to dispose of the infected monkey bodies while keeping the public from learning the truth, and the high personal cost of working in the field of infectious diseases. Preston includes a telling look at how the military and the world perceived a dedicated woman’s role in both the military and her ability to work with a killer virus in the 1980s. A television series based on “The Hot Zone” aired in 2020 and scared me silly, but the thoroughly researched book even more so.

 

 

 

“New York Times Best Fiction & Nonfiction of 2020”

The editors of The Times Book Review chose the best fiction and nonfiction titles of 2020, from among the titles they had reviewed. The titles are a mix of bestsellers and wannabes, from debut and/or international writers, but more importantly, the NYT Book Review editors fell in love with the story or the writing.

 

Listed in alphabetical order by author. Click on the titles to read the reviews and learn more about the books.

 

FICTION

Homeland Elegies”  by Ayad Akhtar 

The Vanishing Half”  by Brit Bennett

Deacon King Kong”  by James McBride

A Children’s Bible”  by Lydia Millet

 

 

Hamnet” by Maggie O’Farrell

 

 

NONFICTION

Hidden Valley Road” by Robert Kolker

War” by Margaret MacMillan

A Promised Land”  by Barack Obama

Shakespeare in a Divided America”  by James Shapiro

Uncanny Valley” by Anna Wiener

 

 

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