Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Best of 2009: Agatha nominees announced

In the past few days the nominees for both the Agatha Awards (run by Malice Domestic) and the Strand Magazine Critics Awards have been announced, providing crime fiction fans everywhere some insight into the opinions of (some) afficianados as to the best mystery books of 2009.

Last month the Edgar Awards nominees were also announced. Unlike the movie industry, where the Academy Awards (Oscars), Golden Globes, BAFTAs, and various major industry Guild and Critics awards often have a lot of overlap or consistency in terms of nominations (if not winners) for the best movies, actors, directors, and writers for the year, with crime fiction it seems rare for a particular book or author to be nominated, let alone win, several different awards in one year. Perhaps this is because many of the awards have quite different focuses, leanings, or criteria - even if they are all within the wider 'crime, mystery, and thriller' genre.

For instance, the prestigious Agatha Awards, are voted on by the attendees of the annual Malice Domestic convention near Washington DC. Established in 1989, Malice Domestic is described as an annual "fun fan" convention saluting the "traditional mystery", which the organisation says are books best typified by the works of Agatha Christie. This genre is "loosely defined as mysteries which contain no explicit sex or excessive gore or violence."

So the likes of Mo Hayder, Mark Billingham, Ian Rankin, Stuart MacBride, and Paul Cleave are unlikely to be up for an Agatha Award anytime soon, no matter the quality of their writing.

The recently announced nominees for this year's instalment of the Agatha Awards (which will be voted on at MALICE DOMESTIC 22, held from April 30-May 2 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel, Arlington, Virginia) are as follows:

Best Novel:
Swan for the Money by Donna Andrews
Bookplate Special by Lorna Barrett
Royal Flush by Rhys Bowen
A Brutal Telling by Louise Penny
Air Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan

It will be interesting to see if Penny triumphs again, having proved very popular at recent Malice Domestic conventions, winning the past two Best Novel Awards (for A FATAL GRACE and THE CRUELEST MONTH). I am still waiting on my copy of THE BRUTAL TELLING, but am looking forward to it after various recommendations.

Best First Novel:
For Better For Murder by Lisa Bork
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
Posed for Murder by Meredith Cole
The Cold Light of Mourning by Elizabeth Duncan
In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff

Best Non-fiction:
Duchess of Death by Richard Hack
Talking About Detective Fiction by P.D. James
Blood on the Stage by 1925-1950 by Amnon Kabatchnik
Dame Agatha’s Shorts by Elena Santangelo
The Talented Miss Highsmith by Joan Schenkar

Best Short Story:
“Femme Sole” by Dana Cameron, Boston Noir
“Handbaskets, Drawers and a Killer Cold” by Kaye George, Crooked ezine
“The Worst Noel” by Barb Goffman, The Gift of Murder
“On the House” by Hank Phillippi Ryan, Quarry
“Death Will Trim Your Tree” by Elizabeth Zelvin, The Gift of Murder

Best Children's/Young Adult:
The Morgue and Me by John C. Ford
The Hanging Hill by Chris Grabenstein
The Case of the Poisoned Pig by Lewis B. Montgomery
The Other Side of Blue by Valerie O. Patterson
The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline by Nancy Springer
So what do you think of the Agatha nominees? Have you read any/many of them? Do you like your crime fiction cosy, hardboiled, or dark? Or a little of each, depending on the mood (like me)? Thoughts and comments welcome.
I will address the Strand Magazine nominees in a later post.

1 comment:

  1. Craig - I've read most of the Agatha noms and am still working my way down the list (except for the childrens books, whicb I have no interest in).

    I'm thrilled with many of the selections, but disappointed that the Best Novel category is once again filled with the Usual Suspects. Ho hum.