A coming-of-age stand-alone with a hint of mystery, a debut espionage thriller about Russian spies trained in the art of sexual seduction, and a twisty tale of psychological suspense in the tradition of Gone Girl garnered the top prizes at the Mystery Writers of America’s 68th annual Edgar Allan Poe Awards Dinner, held May 1, 2014, at New York City’s Grand Hyatt Hotel. To the great delight of the audience of publishers, editors, agents, and fellow authors, William Kent Krueger won his first Edgar, not for his popular Cork O’Connor series, but for Ordinary Grace (Atria) , an evocative mystery set in 1960s Minnesota. His tale of a close-knit family scarred by a series of deaths during one summer was named Best Novel.
Jason Matthews, a retired CIA officer, took home the Edgar for Best First Novel by an American Author for Red Sparrow (Scribner), a striking mix of realistic tradecraft and ingenious plot twists that evoke the era of Cold War espionage. And British author Alex Marwood’s riveting debut about the legacy of a childhood crime, The Wicked Girls (Penguin), took the Best Paperback Original prize.
In the nonfiction category Daniel Stashower’s The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War (Minotaur) was named Best Fact Crime, while the Edgar Award for Best Critical/Biographical went to Erik Dussere’s America is Elsewhere: The Noir Tradition in the Age of Consumer Culture (Oxford Univ.).
Also honored at the dinner as Grand Masters were authors Robert Crais and Carolyn Hart. In a brief but gracious speech, Hart eloquently defended her genre. “Mysteries matter. In a world beset by evil, we can go where honor and justice prevail. We can read a mystery.”
For a full list of the winners and nominees, see http://www.theedgars.com/nominees.html.