I’d been to the Edgar Awards, honoring the finest in mystery fiction, a couple of times in the past, but this year was different: an invitation to sit at legendary crime fiction editor, publisher, and bookstore owner Otto Penzler’s table is not to be passed up. The room was crawling with big-name authors, including a couple of my favorites, Lee Child and Philip Kerr. The latter lost the best novel prize to Mo Hayder, but more about that in a minute. As award shows will do, the program dragged on a bit—too much introducing of the introducers and, dare I say, Grand Master honoree Martha Grimes just maybe spent too much time settling scores—but with so much celeb gawking to do, it hardly mattered.
And now to the winners, or at least winners of two awards: Robert Jackson Bennett (The Company Man) for Best Paperback Original, and Mo Hayder (Gone) for Best Novel. Booklist starred both of these books—a special shout-out to reviewer Elliott Swanson for spotting The Company Man, a genre-bending mix of urban fantasy and mystery, as a debut of special merit. Elliott is also a big Mo Hayder fan, and while he didn’t review Gone—Joanne Wilkinson did that most capably—he did interview Hayder a couple of Mystery Showcases ago and was one of the first to tab her as bound for greatness.
So congrats to the winners and congrats to Booklist for having its finger on the crime fiction pulse.
Update: An earlier version of this post erroneously cited Bennett as the winner of Best First Novel by an American Author. The correct category is Best Paperback Original.