Non-fiction

CrimeFest 2020

Covid19 has struck down yet another crime fiction convention, this time CrimeFest, held in Bristol, UK, each year. In most cases, eligible titles were submitted by publishers, and a team of British crime fiction reviewers voted to establish the shortlists and the winning titles. The winners were announced on July 6th. The authors and their books are innocent bystanders in this pandemic, and deserve to have your attention and support. Click on the links to take a look at the nominated titles. The winners are indicated in red.

 

CRIMEFEST has a new sponsor and they have instituted a new award for a crime novel by a debut author first published in the British Isles in 2019. The winning author receives a £1,000 prize as well as a Bristol Blue Glass commemorative award.

Specsavers Crime Fiction Debut Award nominees:
– Fiona Erskine for The Chemical Detective
– Katja Ivar for Evil Things
– Carolyn Kirby for The Conviction of Cora Burns
– Alex Michaelides for The Silent Patient
Laura Shepherd-Robinson for Blood & Sugar
– Holly Watt for To The Lions


AUDIBLE SOUNDS OF CRIME AWARD
The Audible Sounds of Crime Award is for the best unabridged crime audiobook first published in the United Kingdom in 2019 in both printed and audio formats.

Audible Sounds of Crime Award nominees:
– Kate Atkinson for Big Sky, read by Jason Isaacs
– Oyinkan Braithwaite for My Sister, the Serial Killer, read by Weruche Opia
– Alex Callister for Winter Dark, read by Ell Potter
Lee Child for Blue Moon, read by Jeff Harding
– Lisa Jewell for The Family Upstairs, read by Tamaryn Payne, Bea Holland & Dominic Thorburn
– T.M. Logan for The Holiday, read by Laura Kirman
– Peter May for The Man with No Face, read by Peter Forbes
– Alex Michaelides for The Silent Patient, read by Louise Brealey & Jack Hawkins


eDUNNIT AWARD
The eDunnit Award is for the best crime fiction ebook first published in both hardcopy and in electronic format in the United Kingdom in 2019.

eDunnit Award nominees:
– Helen FitzGerald for Worst Case Scenario

– Sarah Hilary for Never Be Broken
– Andrew Taylor for The King’s Evil
– L.C. Tyler for The Maltese Herring
– Holly Watt for To The Lions
– Don Winslow for The Border


LAST LAUGH AWARD
The Last Laugh Award is for the best humorous crime novel first published in the United Kingdom in 2019.

Last Laugh Award nominees:
– William Boyle for A Friend is a Gift you Give Yourself
– Hannah Dennison for Tidings of Death at Honeychurch Hall
– Helen FitzGerald for Worst Case Scenario
– Christopher Fowler for Bryant & May – The Lonely Hour
– Antti Tuomainen for Little Siberia
– L.C. Tyler for The Maltese Herring


H.R.F. KEATING AWARD

The H.R.F. Keating Award is for the best biographical or critical book related to crime fiction first published in the United Kingdom in 2019.

H.R.F. Keating Award nominees:
– Ursula Buchan for Beyond The Thirty-Nine Steps

– John Curran for The Hooded Gunman
– Barry Forshaw for Crime Fiction: A Reader’s Guide


BEST CRIME NOVEL FOR CHILDREN
This award is for the best crime novel for children (aged 8-12) first published in the United Kingdom in 2019.

Nominees for the CrimeFest Award for Best Crime Novel for Children (ages 8-12):
– P.G. Bell for The Great Brain Robbery
– Vivian French for The Steam Whistle Theatre Company
– Sophie Green for Potkin and Stubbs
– A.M. Howell for The Garden of Lost Secrets
– Simon Lelic for The Haven
– Thomas Taylor for Malamander


BEST CRIME NOVEL FOR YOUNG ADULTS
This award is for the best crime novel for young adults (aged 12-16) first published in the United Kingdom in 2019.

Nominees for the CrimeFest Award for Best Crime Novel for Young Adults (ages 12-16):
– Kathryn Evans for Beauty Sleep
– John Grisham for Theodore Boone: The Accomplice
– Samuel J. Halpin for The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods
– Simon Mason for Hey Sherlock!
– Tom Pollock for Heartstream
– Nikesh Shukla for The Boxer

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

 

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Jump into June with Four Books, Four Genres

 

 

The books couldn’t be more different, but each is a great read in its own genre. Each has the potential to be fodder for a TV or big screen movie, with thoroughly interesting characters and visually descriptive writing.

 

Cozy Mystery

“Kernel of Truth” by Kristi Abbott, is the first in her Popcorn Shop Mystery series set in Grand Lake, Ohio. It’s an engaging murder mystery, complete with a personable poodle and a gourmet popcorn shop.

Rebecca Anderson hesitates when she hears screams coming from outside, having to choose between taking her sauce off the stove and investigating the screaming. Her conscience and her dog’s interest prevail and she discovers that the screams are from her friend’s chocolate shop next door. Her beloved friend, Coco, is dead and Rebecca’s life is about to change in unexpected ways.

 

While coping with the shock, Rebecca’s ex works to get her back, and Coco’s niece publicly denounces Rebecca with having ulterior motives. Accused of theft, her popcorn business in peril, and her reputation besmirched, Rebecca must solve the murder of her friend in order to regain the trust of the customers and the town. The characters are well-drawn in this nicely plotted beginning to the series. Recipes included.

 

Thriller

Nick Heller is back in “House on Fire,” the fourth entry featuring the former Special Ops soldier, now Boston P.I. An Army pal dies from a drug overdose and Heller is drawn into an investigation about the death. Who’s responsible? The easy answer is to blame the buddy himself, but Heller agrees to dig deeper.

 

In typical Finder fashion, “House on Fire” combines current events with a page-turning thriller. Undercover work reveals a surprising ally and loads of twists to surprise the reader. Family politics, personal tragedy, greed, government contracts, and billions at stake drive the story. Who can be trusted? Will Heller get out of this alive? Not everyone does. Prepare to be thoroughly entertained.

 

Legal Suspense

Functioning within the limitations of sporadic donations, the overworked guardians find the evidence to exonerate the wrongly incarcerated. The ‘Guardians’ in the title refers to Centurion Ministries, an organization that Grisham learned about some years ago while conducting research for another project. The work the Centurions did and still do, stuck with Grisham and this story is based on an actual case written about in the New York Times in 2018.

 

Grisham’s writing is compelling as fictional Cullen Post, a pastor and lawyer, doggedly pursues every lead to help those with one last hope. Post is not in it for the money, only justice for those less fortunate. The process followed to uncover new evidence in the various cold cases, with some witnesses long dead, and evidence lost or buried, is grueling and sometimes dangerous. A well-written, fascinating read, one of Grisham’s best.

 

Non-Fiction

“The Lost City of the Monkey God” by Douglas Preston, is non-fiction, but the events described are so wildly dangerous that it reads like page-turning fiction. The search for the ancient White City begins deep in a Honduran rainforest, probably untouched for hundreds of years.

 

Preston presents a fascinating look at the tremendously complicated planning that a legitimate investigation of a major archeological site requires. Helicopters, sophisticated technology, local government with access to permits and soldiers to guard the expedition, the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent even before the explorers put boots on the ground, the right people to pull it all together, all come into play.

 

The field of archeology appears to be highly competitive and the expedition itself was surprisingly controversial, but the group of which Preston was a part, was the first to document their expedition and findings and go through official channels. The book includes photos of the search, finding the astonishing cache of artifacts, and an insane snake story, but also discusses Preston’s serious brush with death. Preston and half of his (and subsequent) expedition people contracted a potentially lethal parasitic tropical disease, one that is hundreds of years old. The interviews and research in “The Lost City of the Monkey God” are thoroughly footnoted and documented, and also reference modern epidemics and pandemics. Excavation of this extraordinary site continues today.

 

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2020 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.

The nominees for the coveted Anthony Award have been announced and because of Covid19, voting will take place online in mid October. The awards will be presented as part of an online ceremony on October 17.

2020 Anthony Award Nominees

BEST NOVEL
Your House Will Pay, by Steph Cha
They All Fall Down, by Rachel Howzell Hall
Lady in the Lake, by Laura Lippman
The Murder List, by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Miami Midnight, by Alex Segura

BEST FIRST NOVEL
The Ninja Daughter, by Tori Eldridge
Miracle Creek, by Angie Kim
One Night Gone, by Tara Laskowski
Three-Fifths, by John Vercher
American Spy, by Lauren Wilkinson

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL
The Unrepentant, by E.A. Aymar
Murder Knocks Twice, by Susanna Calkins
The Pearl Dagger, by L.A. Chandlar
Scot & Soda, by Catriona McPherson
The Alchemist’s Illusion, by Gigi Pandian
Drowned Under, by Wendall Thomas
The Naming Game, by Gabriel Valjan

BEST CRITICAL NON-FICTION WORK
Hitchcock and the Censors, by John Billheimer
The Hooded Gunman: An Illustrated History of the Collins Crime Club, by John Curran The Mutual Admiration Society: How Dorothy L. Sayers and her Oxford Circle Remade the World for Women, by Mo Moulton
The Trail of Lizzie Borden: A True Story, by Cara Robertson
The Five: The Untold Stories of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper, by Hallie Rubenhold

BEST SHORT STORY

“Turistas,” by Hector Acosta (appearing in ¡Pa’que Tu Lo Sepas!: Stories to Benefit the People of Puerto Rico)

“Unforgiven,” by Hilary Davidson (appearing in Murder a-Go-Gos: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Music of the Go-Gos)

“The Red Zone,” by Alex Segura (appearing in ¡Pa’que Tu Lo Sepas!: Stories to Benefit the People of Puerto Rico)

“Better Days,” by Art Taylor (appearing in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, May/June 2019)

“Hard Return,” by Art Taylor (appearing in Crime Travel)

BEST ANTHOLOGY OR COLLECTION
The Eyes of Texas: Private Investigators from the Panhandle to the Piney Woods, edited by Michael Bracken
¡Pa’que Tu Lo Sepas!: Stories to Benefit the People of Puerto Rico, edited by Angel Luis Colón
Crime Travel, edited by Barb Goffman
Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible, edited by Verena Rose, Rita Owen, and Shawn Reilly Simmons
Murder A-Go-Go’s: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Music of the Go-Gos, edited by Holly West

BEST YOUNG ADULT
Seven Ways to Get Rid of Harry
, by Jen Conley

Catfishing on CatNet, by Naomi Kritzer
Killing November, by Adriana Mather
Patron Saints of Nothing, by Randy Ribay
The Deceivers, by Kristen Simmons
Wild and Crooked, by Leah Thomas

Congratulations to all the nominees!!!

 

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2020 Pulitzer Prize – Journalism

 

The 2020 winners of the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Journalism were announced in early May, 2020. 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.

The Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal is awarded each year to the American news organization that wins the Public Service category.


Public Service  
Anchorage Daily News with contributions from ProPublica
  For a riveting series that revealed a third of Alaska’s villages had no police protection, took authorities to task for decades of neglect, and spurred an influx of money and legislative changes.

 

Breaking News Reporting    Staff of The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.  For its rapid coverage of hundreds of last-minute pardons by Kentucky’s governor, showing how the process was marked by opacity, racial disparities and violations of legal norms.

 

Investigative Reporting   Brian M. Rosenthal of The New York Times   For an exposé of New York City’s taxi industry that showed how lenders profited from predatory loans that shattered the lives of vulnerable drivers, reporting that ultimately led to state and federal investigations and sweeping reforms.

 

Explanatory Reporting   Staff of The Washington Post   For a groundbreaking series that showed with scientific clarity the dire effects of extreme temperatures on the planet.

 

Local Reporting   Staff of The Baltimore Sun   For illuminating, impactful reporting on a lucrative, undisclosed financial relationship between the city’s mayor and the public hospital system she helped to oversee.

 

National Reporting  T. Christian Miller, Megan Rose and Robert Faturechi of ProPublica   For their investigation into America’s 7th Fleet after a series of deadly naval accidents in the Pacific.

 

Dominic Gates, Steve Miletich, Mike Baker and Lewis Kamb of The Seattle Times   For groundbreaking stories that exposed design flaws in the Boeing 737 MAX that led to two deadly crashes and revealed failures in government oversight.

 

International Reporting   Staff of The New York Times   For a set of enthralling stories, reported at great risk, exposing the predations of Vladimir Putin’s regime.

 

Feature Writing   Ben Taub of The New Yorker   For a devastating account of a man who was kidnapped, tortured and deprived of his liberty for more than a decade at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, blending on-the-ground reporting and lyrical prose to offer a nuanced perspective on America’s wider war on terror. (Moved into contention by the Board.)

 

Commentary   Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times   For a sweeping, provocative and personal essay for the ground-breaking 1619 Project, which seeks to place the enslavement of Africans at the center of America’s story, prompting public conversation about the nation’s founding and evolution.

 

Criticism   Christopher Knight of the Los Angeles Times   For work demonstrating extraordinary community service by a critic, applying his expertise and enterprise to critique a proposed overhaul of the L.A. County Museum of Art and its effect on the institution’s mission.

 

Editorial Writing   Jeffery Gerritt of the Palestine (Tx.) Herald Press   For editorials that exposed how pre-trial inmates died horrific deaths in a small Texas county jail—reflecting a rising trend across the state—and courageously took on the local sheriff and judicial establishment, which tried to cover up these needless tragedies.

 

Editorial Cartooning   Barry Blitt, contributor, The New Yorker  For work that skewers the personalities and policies emanating from the Trump White House. (Moved into contention by the Board.)

 

Breaking News Photography  Photography Staff of Reuters   For wide-ranging and illuminating photographs of Hong Kong as citizens protested infringement of their civil liberties and defended the region’s autonomy by the Chinese government.

 

Feature Photography  Channi Anand, Mukhtar Khan and Dar Yasin of Associated Press  For striking images captured during a communications blackout in Kashmir depicting life in the contested territory as India stripped it of its semi-autonomy.

 

Audio Reporting Staff of This American Life with Molly O’Toole of the Los Angeles Times and Emily Green, freelancer, Vice News   For “The Out Crowd,” revelatory, intimate journalism that illuminates the personal impact of the Trump Administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy.

 

For information about Prize winners in other categories (the arts and fiction) click on the link below.

https://www.pulitzer.org/news/announcement-2020-pulitzer-prize-winners

 

 

 

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Pandemic Themed Fiction and Nonfiction

 

You asked for it. A list of books that deal with pandemics. In the past, we’ve watched the pandemic movies and TV shows and a few thriller authors have addressed the topic in their fiction. But, here we are in 2020, fighting a real life pandemic. Don’t read any of these books if you want to be reassured. Some, although written decades ago, are eerily predictive of our current worldwide battle with the Coronavirus, Covid 19.

Bobby Akart series: Starts with “Pandemic: Beginnings: A Post-Apocalyptic Thriller Series”

Michael Crichton: “The Andromeda Strain”

Molly Caldwell Crosby: “The American Plague” (nonfiction)

Stephen King: “The Stand”

Dean Koontz: “The Eyes of Darkness”

Emily St. John Mandell: “Station Eleven”

William Maxwell: “They Came Like Swallows”

Thomas Mullen: “The Last Town on Earth”

Katherine Ann Porter: “Pale Horse, Pale Rider”

Richard Preston: “The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus” (nonfiction)

Mary Shelley: “The Last Man”

Karen Thompson Walker “The Dreamers”

Do you have a favorite pandemic themed book that’s missing from the list? Let us know in the comments below.
 

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The Edgar Awards – 2020

 

Each year at this time, the Mystery Writers of America (MWA) announces the nominees for The Edgar Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, and television published or produced in the previous year. Because of the Covid-19 virus pandemic, the annual MWA April conference was cancelled, but the Edgar Awards for 2020 were still voted upon by the members and the winners announced on April 30, 2020. (indicated in red)

 

BEST NOVEL
“Fake Like Me” by Barbara Bourland
“The Stranger Diaries” by Elly Griffiths
“The River” by Peter Heller
“Smoke and Ashes” by Abir Mukherjee
“Good Girl, Bad Girl” by Michael Robotham

BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR
“My Lovely Wife” by Samantha Downing
“Miracle Creek” by Angie Kim
“The Good Detective” by John McMahon
“The Secrets We Kept” by Lara Prescott
“Three-Fifths” by John Vercher
“American Spy” by Lauren Wilkinson

 

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL
“Dread of Winter” by Susan Alice Bickford
“Freedom Road” by William Lashner
“Blood Relations” by Jonathan Moore
“February’s Son” by Alan Parks
“The Hotel Neversink” by Adam O’Fallon Price
“The Bird Boys” by Lisa Sandlin

 

BEST FACT CRIME
“The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder that Shocked Jazz-Age America” by Karen Abbott
“The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity” by Axton Betz-Hamilton
“American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century” by Maureen Callahan
“Norco ’80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History” by Peter Houlahan
“Indecent Advances: A Hidden History of True Crime and Prejudice Before Stonewall” by James Polchin

 

THE SIMON & SCHUSTER MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD
“The Night Visitors” by Carol Goodman
“One Night Gone” by Tara Laskowski
“Strangers at the Gate” by Catriona McPherson
“Where the Missing Go” by Emma Rowley
“The Murder List” by Hank Phillippi Ryan

 

THE G.P. PUTNAM’S SONS SUE GRAFTON MEMORIAL AWARD
“Shamed” by Linda Castillo
“Borrowed Time” by Tracy Clark
“The Missing Ones” by Edwin Hill
“The Satapur Moonstone” by Sujata Massey
“The Alchemist’s Illusion” by Gigi Pandian
“Girl Gone Missing” by Marcie R. Rendon

 

Nominees for other categories (Best Critical/Biographical, Best Short Story, Juvenile, YA, Teleplay) can be found at https://mysterywriters.org/mwa-announces-the-2020-edgar-nominations/

 

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners for the 2020 Edgar Awards!

 

 

 

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The Agatha Awards – 2019 Books

 

The winners of the Agatha Awards for 2019 Books (named for Agatha Christie) have been announced. The nominated books were first published in the United States by a living author between January 1 and December 31, 2019. Normally, the nominated titles would be voted upon by the attendees at the annual Malice Domestic conference for mystery and crime writers/fans in early May, 2020. But, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the conference was cancelled. The Malice Board  determined the voting protocol, with the winners announced on May 2, 2020.

The Agatha Awards recognize the “traditional mystery,” meaning that there is no graphic sex and no excessive violence in the writing. Thrillers or hard-boiled detectives cannot be found here, but instead, picture Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot at work.

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

 

Best Contemporary Novel (6 titles this year)
“Fatal Cajun Festival” by Ellen Byron
The Long Call” by Ann Cleeves
“Fair Game” by Annette Dashofy
“The Missing Ones” by Edwin Hill
“A Better Man” by Louise Penny
“The Murder List” by Hank Philippi Ryan

Best First Mystery Novel
“A Dream of Death” by Connie Berry
One Night Gone” by Tara Laskowski
“Murder Once Removed” by S. C. Perkins
“When It’s Time for Leaving” by Ang Pompano
“Staging for Murder” by Grace Topping

Best Historical Mystery
“Love and Death Among the Cheetahs” by Rhys Bowen
“Murder Knocks Twice” by Susanna Calkins
“The Pearl Dagger” by L. A. Chandlar
Charity’s Burden” by Edith Maxwell
“The Naming Game” by Gabriel Valjan

Best Nonfiction
“Frederic Dannay, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and the Art of the Detective Short Story” by Laird R. Blackwell
“Blonde Rattlesnake: Burmah Adams, Tom White, and the 1933 Crime Spree that Terrified Los Angeles” by Julia Bricklin
“Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee” by Casey Cep
“The Mutual Admiration Society: How Dorothy L. Sayers and her Oxford Circle Remade the World for Women” by Mo Moulton
“The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper” by Hallie Rubenhold

Best Children/Young Adult
“Kazu Jones and the Denver Dognappers” by Shauna Holyoak
“Two Can Keep a Secret” by Karen MacManus
“The Last Crystal” by Frances Schoonmaker
“Top Marks for Murder (A Most Unladylike Mystery)”
by Robin Stevens
“Jada Sly, Artist and Spy” by Sherri Winston

Best Short Story (links are highlighted)
Grist for the Mill” by Kaye George in A Murder of Crows (Darkhouse Books)
Alex’s Choice” by Barb Goffman in Crime Travel (Wildside Press)
The Blue Ribbon” by Cynthia Kuhn in Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible (Wildside Press)
The Last Word” by Shawn Reilly Simmons, Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible (Wildside Press)
Better Days” by Art Taylor in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine


Happy Reading!

 

 

 

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