ITW Thriller Awards 2017

The 2017 ITW (International Thriller Writers) Thriller Awards were presented, as they have been for the past 12 years, at a sit-down banquet at the Grand Hyatt in midtown New York City. Many people who’ve been there from the start were on hand Saturday, July 15, to present and accept accolades from their colleagues in thrillerdom. Plus, there was singing!

The mood was festive and friendly as author Kathleen Antrim (Capital Offense), ITW past president and mistress of ceremonies, introduced herself and the ITW board of directors and thanked the sponsors of ThrillerFest. She then turned the stage over to prolific author (Dark Rites; If Looks Could Kill) Heather Graham, who also sings. This time 2016 ThrillerMaster Graham sang an ode to 2017 ThrillerMaster Lee Child. She was backed by authors Daniel Palmer (Forgive Me) and Brad Parks (Say Nothing, LJ 12/16) in an amusingly reworded version of Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better.”

Next came a brief Presidents’ Report from ITW copresidents M.J. Rose (The Library of Light and Shadow, LJ 4/1/17) and John Lescroart (Fatal, LJ 10/1/16). They bade farewell to Rose, who’s stepping down this year, and to Janice Gable Bashman, VP of technology.

Jon Land was up next. The “Caitlin Strong” author presented the 2017 Thriller Legend Award to publisher Tom Doherty, extolling his excellent business sense and loyalty to his authors and employees at Tor Publishing. Land compared Doherty to other titans in the industry such as Bennett Cerf and Alfred A. Knopf.

Lescroart, who received the 2016 Silver Bullet Award, returned to praise 2017 Silver Bullet recipient Lisa Gardner (Find Her, starred review, LJ 2/1/16) for  “outstanding charity work” in her New Hampshire hometown and beyond. Gardner spoke about her work with therapy dog charities and her local library and discussed how important “early intervention” is in children’s lives, especially those from at-risk environments.

After the special awards segment of the program, the Thriller Awards presentation began. Below is a listing of the awards, the presenters, the nominees, and the winner in each category (starred).

Best E-Book Original Novel, presented by Todd Gerber
Romeo’s Way (Compendium Press) by James Scott Bell*

The Edge of Alone (Sean Black) by Sean Black
Untouchable (Wonder Women Publishing) by Sibel Hodge
Destroyer of Worlds (J.F. Penn ) by J.F. Penn
Breaker (Alibi) by Richard Thomas
*Bell thanked his wife of 36 years, his “first editor”

Best Young Adult Novel, presented by Carla Buckley
Morning Star (Del Rey) by Pierce Brown
Holding Smoke (Disney-Hyperion) by Elle Cosimano
Steeplejack (Tor Teen) by A.J. Hartley*
Thieving Weasels (Dial) by Billy Taylor
The Darkest Corners  (Delacorte) by Kara Thomas
*Hartley told of how he read Lee Child novels to his ailing father

Best Short Story, presented by Chantelle Osman
“The Business of Death” by Eric Beetner, Unloaded: Crime Writers Writing Without Guns (Down & Out Bks.)
“The Peter Rabbit Killers” by Laura Benedict, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine
“The Man from Away” by Brendan DuBois, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine
“Big Momma” by Joyce Carol Oates, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine*
“Parallel Play” by Art Taylor, Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning (Wildside Pr.)
*Oates was in Paris and unable to accept her award in person; the audience sighed in sympathy

Best Paperback Original, presented by Barry Lancet
In the Clearing (Thomas & Mercer) by Robert Dugoni
The Body Reader (Thomas & Mercer) by Anne Frasier*
The Minoan Cipher (Suspense Publishing) by Paul Kemprecos
Kill Switch (St. Martin’s Griffin) by Jonathan Maberry
Salvage (Dundurn) by Stephen Maher

Best First Novel, presented by Allison Brennan
Deadly Kiss (Black Opal) by Bob Bickford
Type and Cross (WiDo Publishing) by J.L. Delozier
Recall (Lyrical Underground) by David McCaleb
The Drifter (Putnam) by Nick Petrie*
Palindrome (Witness Impulse) by E.Z. Rinsky
*after uttering “Holy shit!” the author thanked his “sweet patootie”

Best Hardcover Novel, presented by Dawn Ius
You Will Know Me (Little, Brown) by Megan Abbott
Where It Hurts (Putnam) by Reed Farrel Coleman
Before the Fall (Grand Central) by Noah Hawley*
Arrowood (Spiegel & Grau) by Laura McHugh
Underground Airlines (Mulholland) by Ben H. Winters

The finale of the evening was Heather Graham’s presentation of the 2017 ThrillerMaster Award to ”Jack Reacher” author Lee Child “in recognition of his legendary career and outstanding contributions to the genre”—but before that, Parks and Palmer returned to sing Child’s praises to the tune of a Beatles medleyChild’s favorite group. “Paperback Writer” became “Tiny Jack Reacher” and “Eight Days a Week” became “Eight Blurbs a Week.” The duo finished, the crowd roared its approval, and Child strode to the stage amid a standing ovation, adding “How can I follow that?”

The last bit of thrilling news was the announcement of next year’s ThrillerMaster: Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin will preside over the 2018 festivities, July 10–13, at the usual spot, New York’s Grand Hyatt.

Liz French About Liz French

Library Journal Senior Editor Liz French edits nonfiction and women's fiction reviews at LJ and also compiles the "What We're Reading" and "Classic Returns" columns for LJ online. She's inordinately interested in what you're reading as well. Email:, Twitter: @lizefrench


  1. MJ Campbell says:

    This sounds like a great event!
    I love the singing idea – didn’t Dave Barry, Amy Tan, Ridley Pearson, have a group called the Remainders?
    Fine choices with the nominees and the winners. I was impressed by Lisa Gardner’s work with therapy dog charities, libraries and early intervention with children at risk.
    I suspect I shall be singing praises for this program Eight Days a Week!😊😖📕📕

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  4. Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media, per our Terms of Use.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind