Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Awards for Mystery Novels - Agatha, Anthony, and More

For the theme of awards this month, Dani Greer asked me to write about awards for mysteries. She thought that would be a good topic for me since I write mysteries and read a lot of books in that genre. She also introduced me to the work of Louise Penny, who writes a mystery series set in Quebec featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache.

Louise Penny has won most of the major awards for mystery novels and has been compared to Agatha Christie. In fact, that is who I was reminded of when I first started reading her latest novel, A Trick of the Light, and it is no surprise that Penny has won the Agatha Award four times for her series.

The Agatha Award honors the "traditional mystery." That is to say, books best typified by the works of Agatha Christie as well as others who write mysteries that contain no explicit sex or gratuitous violence. In these books, the murders happen off screen and couples do what couples do behind closed doors. The award is given out at the Malice Domestic Conference near Washington D.C. every spring.

In addition to awards for novels and short stories, there is the Malice Domestic Award for Lifetime Achievement, which is given in recognition of a significant body of distinguished work in the Malice Domestic genre. The award is bestowed by the Malice Domestic Board of Directors.

The Poirot Award is presented to honor individuals other than writers who have made outstanding contributions to the Malice Domestic genre. The award is bestowed by the Malice Domestic Board of Directors and presented at the Malice Domestic conference. The Poirot Award is not an annual award.

For more information about the conference and Agatha Award, visit the Malice Domestic website.

Another award that Penny has won is the Anthony, which is given in the fall at Bouchercon, an annual convention for fans of mysteries, as well as authors. All attendees can nominate books and authors for the award prior to the date of the convention. The top nominees in each category are then put on a ballot used during the convention to vote.

The Barry Award, presented by Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine, has been given to Penny twice, and her first book, Still Life, was also named one of the five Mystery/Crime Novels of the Decade by Deadly Pleasures magazine. While newer than the Agatha or the Anthony, it has quickly become a coveted award for mystery fiction and nonfiction. Books can be submitted for consideration and a panel of judges comprised of reviewers and magazine staff select the winners.

The Dilys Award has been given annually since 1992 by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association (IMBA) to the mystery titles of the year which the member booksellers have most enjoyed selling. The award is named in honor of Dilys Winn, the founder of Murder Ink (now sadly closed), the first specialty bookseller of mystery books in the United States. Penny won this award for her first book and for a later book, Bury Your Dead.

The one major mystery award that Louise Penny has not won is the Edgar. Her books don't qualify, as this award is given to books considered more hard-boiled. The awards are presented by the Mystery Writers of America, honoring the best in mystery fiction, nonfiction, and television published or produced in the previous year. Named for the famed, Edgar Allan Poe, the contest accepts all sub-genres for nomination, including hard boiled. Visit The Edgars website for a list of this year's nominees.

In researching this topic I found more awards for mystery writers that I was aware of, or that I can include here. I did find this site Mystery Book Awards that lists them all with brief descriptions. Very helpful resource for readers and writers. I like to read books that have been nominated or have won awards, mainly to see what was so special about them. Rarely have I been disappointed. 

Come back next Monday for a review of A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny and see why I think it deserved the awards it has received.
Maryann Miller is an author and freelance editor. Information about her books, her editing services, and her blogs can be found on her Web site at Follow her on Twitter and Facebook

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  1. I admire those who write mysteries. I love to read them but just don't have the mindset to write them!

  2. Oh! I haven't read an Agatha Christie in years! I will have to give Louise Penny's books a try. Looking forward to reading your review, Maryann.


  3. You won't be disappointed,Elle. I'm ordering all her books from the first in the series. That's how much I enjoyed her latest book.

    Heidi, you are so good at what you write, stick with that. (smile)

  4. Elle, I think you'd really like these. I love the setting in Quebec. The characters and crimes are very, very quirky. If you like quirk, these mysteries are for you. ;)

  5. When are they going to come out with the Quirky Novel with the Word 'Headwind' in the Title award?

  6. I've read the last in Louise Penny's series and it was a fascinating look at the English enclave in Quebec City. I'd love to win an Agatha one day. There, I've said it.

  7. Elspeth, do we know that you write mystery novels? Have I missed something here?

  8. Thanks for listing mystery awards. A few I'd never heard of before!

  9. Elle, I think you can get the complete Agatha Christie for e-readers... for free. I'm pretty sure I have it on my Nook.

  10. Thanks for all this great info, Maryann. The mystery genre inspires a lot of passion among its fans and writers and through these awards and conferences does a good job of creating community as well.


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