The 2021 Agatha Awards

The 2021 Agatha Awards were presented April 23 during Malice Domestic in Bethesda, MD.

The Agatha Awards honor the “traditional mystery,” books typified by the works of Agatha Christie and others. The genre is loosely defined as mysteries that contain no explicit sex, excessive gore or gratuitous violence, and are not classified as “hard-boiled.” 

THE AGATHA AWARDS (for works published in 2021)

BEST CONTEMPORARY NOVEL

  • Cajun Kiss of Death by Ellen Byron (Crooked Lane Books)

BEST HISTORICAL NOVEL

  • Death at Greenway by Lori Rader-Day (HarperCollins)

BEST FIRST NOVEL

  • Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala (Berkley)

BEST SHORT STORY

  • “Bay of Reckoning” by Shawn Reilly Simmons in Murder on the Beach (Destination Murders)

BEST NON-FICTION

  • How to Write a Mystery: A Handbook from Mystery Writers of America by MWA with editors Lee Child and Laurie R. King (Simon & Schuster)

BEST CHILDREN’S/YA MYSTERY

  • I Play One on TV by Alan Orloff (Down & Out Books)

Crime Fiction Awards News To Begin 2022

Crime fiction award season is gearing up and the finalists for the 2022 Barry Awards and 2021 Agatha Awards have been announced.

2022 BARRY AWARDS

BEST MYSTERY/CRIME NOVEL

  • The Dark Hours, Michael Connelly (Little, Brown)
  • Razorblade Tears, S. A. Cosby (Flatiron Books)
  • Last Redemption, Matt Coyle (Oceanview)
  • Clark and Division, Naomi Hirahara (Soho Crime)
  • Billy Summers, Stephen King (Scribner)
  • We Begin at the End, Chris Whitaker (Henry Holt)

BEST FIRST MYSTERY/CRIME NOVEL

  • Who Is Maude Dixon?, Alexandra Andrews (Little, Brown)
  • Girl A, Abigail Dean (Viking)
  • Down Range, Taylor Moore (William Morrow)
  • Falling, T. J. Newman (Simon & Schuster)
  • Sleeping Bear, Connor Sullivan (Emily Bestler/Atria)
  • Steel Fear, Brandon Webb & John David Mann (Bantam)

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL

  • The Hunted, Gabriel Bergmoser (Harpercollins)
  • Arsenic and Adobo, Mia P. Manansala (Berkley)
  • Black Coral, Andrew Mayne (Thomas & Mercer)
  • The Good Turn, Dervla Mctiernan (Blackstone)
  • Search For Her, Rick Mofina (Mira)
  • Bound, Vanda Symon (Orenda Books)

BEST THRILLER

  • The Devil’s Hand, Jack Carr (Emily Bestler/Atria)
  • The Nameless Ones, John Connolly (Emily Bestler/Atria)
  • Dead By Dawn, Paul Doiron (Minotaur)
  • Relentless, Mark Greaney (Berkley)
  • Slough House, Mick Herron (Soho Crime)
  • Five Decembers, James Kestrel (Hardcase Crime)

The winners of these awards will be announced at the Opening Ceremonies at the Minneapolis Bouchercon on September 8, 2022.

THE 2021 AGATHA AWARD NOMINEES

BEST CONTEMPORARY NOVEL

  • Cajun Kiss of Death by Ellen Byron (Crooked Lane Books)
  • Watch Her by Edwin Hill (Kensington)
  • The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny (Minotaur)
  • Her Perfect Life by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge)
  • Symphony Road by Gabriel Valjan (Level Best Books)
  • BEST HISTORICAL NOVEL
  • Murder at Mallowan Hall by Colleen Cambridge (Kensington)
  • Clark and Division by Naomi Hirahara (Soho Crime)
  • The Bombay Prince by Sujata Massey (Soho Crime)
  • Death at Greenway by Lori Rader-Day (HarperCollins)
  • The Devil’s Music by Gabriel Valjan (Winter Goose Publishing)
  • BEST FIRST NOVEL
  • The Turncoat’s Widow by Mally Becker (Level Best Books)
  • A Dead Man’s Eyes by Lori Duffy Foster (Level Best Books)
  • Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala (Berkley)
  • Murder in the Master by Judy L. Murray (Level Best Books)
  • Mango, Mambo, and Murder by Raquel V. Reyes (Crooked Lane Books)
  • BEST SHORT STORY
  • “A Family Matter” by Barb Goffman (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine Jan/Feb 2021)
  • “A Tale of Two Sisters” by Barb Goffman in Murder on the Beach (Destination Murders)
  • “Doc’s at Midnight” by Richie Narvaez in Midnight Hour (Crooked Lane Books)
  • “The Locked Room Library” by Gigi Pandian (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine July/Aug 2021)
  • “Bay of Reckoning” by Shawn Reilly Simmons in Murder on the Beach (Destination Murders)
  • BEST NON-FICTION
  • The Combat Zone: Murder, Race, and Boston’s Struggle for Justice by Jan Brogan (Bright Leaf Press)
  • Murder Most Grotesque: The Comedic Crime Fiction of Joyce Porter by Chris Chan (Level Best Books)
  • The Irish Assassins: Conspiracy, Revenge, and the Phoenix Park Murders that Stunned Victorian England by Julie Kavanaugh (Atlantic Monthly Press)
  • How to Write a Mystery: A Handbook from Mystery Writers of America by MWA with editors Lee Child and Laurie R. King (Simon & Schuster)
  • BEST CHILDREN’S/YA MYSTERY
  • ?Cold-Blooded Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Bunce (Algonquin Young Readers)
  • The Forest of Stolen Girls by June Hur (Fiewel and Friends/Macmillan)
  • I Play One on TV by Alan Orloff (Down & Out Books)
  • Leisha’s Song by Lynn Slaughter (Fire and Ice/Melange Books)
  • Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche by Nancy Springer (Wednesday Books)

The awards will be presented during Malice Domestic, which is being held April 22-24 in Bethesda, MD.

[Thanks to Cora Buhlert and Todd Mason for the information.]

2020 Agatha Awards

Malice Domestic announced the 2020 Agatha Award winners on July 17.

The Agatha Awards honor the “traditional mystery,” books typified by the works of Agatha Christie and others. The genre is loosely defined as mysteries that contain no explicit sex, excessive gore or gratuitous violence, and are not classified as “hard-boiled.” 

THE AGATHA AWARDS (for works published in 2020)

BEST CONTEMPORARY NOVEL

  • All the Devils are Here by Louise Penny (Minotaur)

BEST HISTORICAL NOVEL

  • The Last Mrs. Summers by Rhys Bowen (Berkeley)

BEST FIRST NOVEL

  • Murder at the Mena House by Erica Ruth Neubauer (Kensington)

BEST SHORT STORY

  • “Dear Emily Etiquette” by Barb Goffman (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Sep/Oct)

BEST NON-FICTION

  • Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, the Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock by Christina Lane (Chicago Review Press)

BEST CHILDREN’S/YA MYSTERY

  • Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco by Richard Narvaez (Piñata Books)

[Thanks to Cora Buhlert for the story.]

MWA’s 2021 Grand Masters Are Charlaine Harris and Jeffery Deaver

Mystery Writers of America (MWA) announced the recipients of two special awards on November 23. Charlaine Harris and Jeffery Deaver are the 2021 Grand Masters, and the 2020 Raven Award recipient is Malice Domestic, a mystery convention. The awards will be presented at the 75th Annual Edgar Awards Ceremony on April 29, 2021.

One of the new grand masters is of sff interest as well, because Charlaine Harris has written a lot of paranormal mysteries, most notably the Sookie Stackhouse series.

MWA Grand Master Award

MWA President Meg Gardiner said —

Mystery Writers of America is thrilled to honor Jeffery Deaver and Charlaine Harris as MWA’s 2021 Grand Masters. Over the course of decades, Deaver and Harris have gripped tens of millions of readers while broadening the reach of the genre with transformative books—notably, Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme series, and Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels—and while generously encouraging and supporting fellow writers and the reading public. We’re delighted to recognize their achievements.

MWA’s Grand Master Award “represents the pinnacle of achievement in mystery writing and was established to acknowledge important contributions to this genre, as well as for a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality. “

Jeffery Deaver has published more than forty novels since the early 1990’s, including two series besides the Lincoln Rhyme novels, numerous stand-alone and short story collections.  

Crime author Jeffery Deaver in 2012. By Garry Knight – Flickr: Jeffery Deaver, CC BY-SA 2.0,

On being notified of the honor, Deaver said:

When I was a (relatively) young writer new to this business of penning novels, many years ago, the first professional organization I joined was Mystery Writers of America. Signing on felt to me like coming home—being welcomed into a community of fellow authors willing to share their expertise and offer support in a profession that was largely, well, a ‘mystery’ to me. Besides, how could I not join? MWA was the real deal; for proof, one had only to look at those in the ranks of the Grand Masters: Agatha Christie, Rex Stout, Ellery Queen, James M. Cain . . . and so many others whose works populated my bookshelves. Yet it never once occurred to me, in all my years as a member and my two terms as president, that I might be invited into those very ranks. I wish to express by boundless gratitude to MWA for this honor, which stands, without question, as the highpoint of my career.

Charlaine Harris has published 13 novels in the Southern Vampire series (adapted into the popular HBO series True Blood), which proved so popular that at one point her novels took half of the top ten slots on New York Times’ bestseller list. Her other series include the Aurora Teagarden novels, the Lily Bard (Shakespeare) books, the Midnight Texas trilogy (adapted for television) and numerous others, as well as several standalones.

Charlaine Harris. Photo by Omaha Star. Public Domain,

Harris said of her selection:

This is like winning the lottery and the Pulitzer Prize in one day. I am so honored and thrilled to join the ranks of revered writers who are Grand Masters. I thank the MWA Board from the bottom of my heart.

The Raven Award

Malice Domestic mystery conference, founded in 1989 and held every spring since, will receive the 2021 Raven Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing. 

Malice Domestic focuses primarily on traditional mysteries, their authors and fans, and also presents the Agatha Awards, with six categories.

[Thanks to Cora Buhlert for the story.]

2019 Agatha Award Winners

Malice Domestic announced the 2019 Agatha Awards on May 2.

The Agatha Awards honor the “traditional mystery,” books typified by the works of Agatha Christie and others. The genre is loosely defined as mysteries that contain no explicit sex, excessive gore or gratuitous violence, and are not classified as “hard-boiled.” 

Since the COVID-19 outbreak prevented fans from gathering for Malice Domestic 32 this weekend, the awards were revealed during a ceremony streamed on Zoom.

The Agatha Awards (for works published in 2019)

Best Contemporary Novel

  • The Long Call by Ann Cleeves (Minotaur)

Best First Mystery Novel

  • One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski (Graydon House, a division of Harlequin)

Best Historical Mystery

  • Charity’s Burden by Edith Maxwell (Midnight Ink) 

Best Nonfiction

  • The Mutual Admiration Society: How Dorothy L. Sayers and her Oxford Circle Remade the World for Women by Mo Moulton (Basic Books)

Best Children/Young Adult

  • The Last Crystal by Frances Schoonmaker (Auctus Press)

Best Short Story 

  • “The Last Word” by Shawn Reilly Simmons, Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible (Wildside Press)

2019 Agatha Award Nominees

Malice Domestic announced the 2019 Agatha Award nominees on January 21.

The Agatha Awards honor the “traditional mystery,” books typified by the works of Agatha Christie and others. The genre is loosely defined as mysteries that contain no explicit sex, excessive gore or gratuitous violence, and are not classified as “hard-boiled.” 

A ballot listing each category’s nominees will be given to all attendees of Malice Domestic 32, which will be held May 1-3, 2020. Attendees will vote by secret ballot and the winners will be announced at the Agatha Awards Banquet.

The Agatha Award Nominees (for works published in 2019)

Best Contemporary Novel

  • Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Byron (Crooked Lane Books)
  • The Long Call by Ann Cleeves (Minotaur)
  • Fair Game by Annette Dashofy (Henery Press)
  • The Missing Ones by Edwin Hill (Kensington)
  • A Better Man by Louise Penny (Minotaur)
  • The Murder List by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge)

Best First Mystery Novel

  • A Dream of Death by Connie Berry (Crooked Lane Books)
  • One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski (Graydon House, a division of Harlequin)
  • Murder Once Removed by S. C. Perkins (Minotaur)
  • When It’s Time for Leaving by Ang Pompano (Encircle Publications)
  • Staging for Murder by Grace Topping (Henery Press)

Best Historical Mystery

  • Love and Death Among the Cheetahs by Rhys Bowen (Penquin)
  • Murder Knocks Twice by Susanna Calkins (Minotaur)
  • The Pearl Dagger by L. A. Chandlar (Kensington)
  • Charity’s Burden by Edith Maxwell (Midnight Ink) 
  • The Naming Game by Gabriel Valjan (Winter Goose Publishing)

Best Nonfiction

  • Frederic Dannay, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and the Art of the Detective Short Story by Laird R. Blackwell (McFarland)
  • Blonde Rattlesnake: Burmah Adams, Tom White, and the 1933 Crime Spree that Terrified Los Angeles by Julia Bricklin (Lyons Press)
  • Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep (Knopf)
  • The Mutual Admiration Society: How Dorothy L. Sayers and her Oxford Circle Remade the World for Women by Mo Moulton (Basic Books)
  • The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold (Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt)

Best Children/Young Adult

  • Kazu Jones and the Denver Dognappers by Shauna Holyoak (Disney Hyperion)
  • Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen MacManus (Delacorte Press)
  • The Last Crystal by Frances Schoonmaker (Auctus Press)
  • Top Marks for Murder (A Most Unladylike Mystery)
  • by Robin Stevens (Puffin)
  • Jada Sly, Artist and Spy by Sherri Winston (Little Brown Books for Young Readers)

Best Short Story 

  • “Grist for the Mill” by Kaye George in A Murder of Crows (Darkhouse Books)
  • “Alex’s Choice” by Barb Goffman in Crime Travel (Wildside Press)
  • “The Blue Ribbon” by Cynthia Kuhn in Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible (Wildside Press)
  • “The Last Word” by Shawn Reilly Simmons, Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible (Wildside Press)
  • “Better Days” by Art Taylor in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

2018 Agatha Awards

Malice Domestic announced the 2018 Agatha Award winners on May 4.

The Agatha Awards honor the “traditional mystery,” books typified by the works of Agatha Christie and others. The genre is loosely defined as mysteries that contain no explicit sex, excessive gore or gratuitous violence, and are not classified as “hard-boiled.” 

The winners were selected by a vote of the attendees at Malice Domestic 31, held May 3-5, 2019.

Best Contemporary Novel

  • Mardi Gras Murder by Ellen Byron (Crooked Lane Books)

Best Historical Novel  

  •  The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey (Soho Crime)

Best First Novel

(tie)

  • A Ladies Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman (Kensington)
  •  Curses Boiled Again by Shari Randall (St. Martin’s)

Best Short Story

(tie)

  • “All God’s Sparrows” by Leslie Budewitz (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)
  • The Case of the Vanishing Professor” by Tara Laskowski (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)

Best Young Adult Mystery

  • Potion Problems(Just Add Magic) by Cindy Callaghan (Aladdin) 

Best Non-fiction

  • Mastering Plot Twists by Jane Cleland (Writer’s Digest Books)