At the Mystery Writers of America 65th anniversary gala banquet held last night at New York City’s Grand Hyatt Hotel, the genre’s highest literary honors were awarded to both established authors and late bloomers newly arrived to the mystery scene. Steve Hamilton, author of the Alex McKnight series, won Best Novel for The Lock Artist, a standalone thriller about a 17-year-old boy, rendered mute by a childhood trauma and whose natural talent for safecracking eventually lands him in prison. This is Hamilton’s second Edgar Award; he previously won for his series debut, A Cold Day in Paradise. In accepting his award, Hamilton paid tribute to his very first editor at St. Martin’s, the legendary Ruth Cavin who died earlier this year at age 92.
The Edgar for Best First Novel went to veteran newspaperman Bruce DeSilva for Rogue Island, a crime novel about a Providence reporter investigating a string of deadly arson fires. A journalist for 40 years before retiring to write crime fiction full time, DeSilva credited in his acceptance speech the late Evan Hunter (aka Ed McBain) for encouraging him in his literary efforts by praising one of his newspaper stories as a potential novel.
Other winners included Robert Goodart’s Long Time Coming (Best Paperback Original); Scoreboard, Baby: a Story of College Football, Crime and Complicity by Ken Armstrong and Nick Perry (Best Fact Crime); and Yunte Huang’s Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and his Rendezvous with American History (Best Critical/Biographical). Honored as the MWA’s 2011 Grand Master was Sara Paretsky, who is credited with transforming the mystery genre with the introduction of her female gumshoe, V.I. Warshawski.
Probably the most touching speech of the evening came from a very surprised and moved Charlie Price, whose third book, The Interrogation of Gabriel James, won in the Best Young Adult category. “When I started writing at age 60, I thought I really should have bought a red convertible instead!” For a full list of the winners and nominees, go to www.theedgars.com.