2019 Edgar Award Winners Announced

News

The Edgar Awards are an annual award given to the best mystery books of the year. The lists are put together by Mystery Writers of America.

Here are the 2019 winners. If you’d like a full list of the nominees, click here.

Book synopses are courtesy of the publishers and Goodreads.



Best Novel

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Down the River Unto the Sea by Walter Mosley

From trailblazing novelist Walter Mosley: a former NYPD cop once imprisoned for a crime he did not commit must solve two cases: that of a man wrongly condemned to die, and his own. 

Joe King Oliver was one of the NYPD’s finest investigators, until, dispatched to arrest a well-heeled car thief, he is framed for assault by his enemies within the NYPD, a charge which lands him in solitary at Rikers Island.

A decade later, King is a private detective, running his agency with the help of his teenage daughter, Aja-Denise. Broken by the brutality he suffered and committed in equal measure while behind bars, his work and his daughter are the only light in his solitary life. When he receives a card in the mail from the woman who admits she was paid to frame him those years ago, King realizes that he has no choice but to take his own case: figuring out who on the force wanted him disposed of–and why.

Running in parallel with King’s own quest for justice is the case of a Black radical journalist accused of killing two on-duty police officers who had been abusing their badges to traffic in drugs and women within the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

Joined by Melquarth Frost, a brilliant sociopath, our hero must beat dirty cops and dirtier bankers, craven lawyers, and above all keep his daughter far from the underworld in which he works. All the while, two lives hang in the balance: King’s client’s, and King’s own.


Best First Novel

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Bearskin by James A. McLaughlin

Rice Moore is just beginning to think his troubles are behind him. He’s found a job protecting a remote forest preserve in Virginian Appalachia where his main responsibilities include tracking wildlife and refurbishing cabins. It’s hard work, and totally solitary—perfect to hide away from the Mexican drug cartels he betrayed back in Arizona. But when Rice finds the carcass of a bear killed on the grounds, the quiet solitude he’s so desperately sought is suddenly at risk.

More bears are killed on the preserve and Rice’s obsession with catching the poachers escalates, leading to hostile altercations with the locals and attention from both the law and Rice’s employers. Partnering with his predecessor, a scientist who hopes to continue her research on the preserve, Rice puts into motion a plan that could expose the poachers but risks revealing his own whereabouts to the dangerous people he was running from in the first place.

James McLaughlin expertly brings the beauty and danger of Appalachia to life. The result is an elemental, slow burn of a novel—one that will haunt you long after you turn the final page.


Best Paperback Original

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If I Die Tonight by Alison Gaylin

Late one night in the quiet Hudson Valley town of Havenkill, a distraught woman stumbles into the police station—and lives are changed forever.

Aimee En, once a darling of the ’80s pop music scene, claims that a teenage boy stole her car, then ran over another young man who’d rushed to help.

As Liam Miller’s life hangs in the balance, the events of that fateful night begin to come into focus. But is everything as it seems?

The case quickly consumes social media, transforming Liam, a local high school football star, into a folk hero, and the suspect, a high school outcast named Wade Reed, into a depraved would-be killer. But is Wade really guilty? And if he isn’t, why won’t he talk?

Told from a kaleidoscope of viewpoints—Wade’s mother Jackie, his younger brother Connor, Aimee En and Pearl Maze, a young police officer with a tragic past, If I Die Tonight is a story of family ties and dark secrets—and the lengths we’ll go to protect ourselves.


Best Fact Crime

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Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation by Robert W. Fieseler

Buried for decades, the Up Stairs Lounge tragedy has only recently emerged as a catalyzing event of the gay liberation movement. In revelatory detail, Robert W. Fieseler chronicles the tragic event that claimed the lives of thirty-one men and one woman on June 24, 1973, at a New Orleans bar, the largest mass murder of gays until 2016. Relying on unprecedented access to survivors and archives, Fieseler creates an indelible portrait of a closeted, blue-collar gay world that flourished before an arsonist ignited an inferno that destroyed an entire community. The aftermath was no less traumatic—families ashamed to claim loved ones, the Catholic Church refusing proper burial rights, the city impervious to the survivors’ needs—revealing a world of toxic prejudice that thrived well past Stonewall. Yet the impassioned activism that followed proved essential to the emergence of a fledgling gay movement. Tinderbox restores honor to a forgotten generation of civil-rights martyrs.


Best Critical/Biographical

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Classic American Crime Fiction of the 1920s by Leslie S. Klinger

American crime writing was reborn in the 1920s. After years of dominance by British authors, new American writers—with fresh ideas about the detective and the mystery—appeared on the scene and rose to heights of popularity not witnessed since the success of the Sherlock Holmes tales in America.  

Classic American Crime Writing of the 1920s—including House Without a KeyThe Benson Murder CaseThe Roman Hat MysteryRed Harvest, and Little Caesar—offers some of the very best of that decade’s writing. Earl Derr Biggers wrote about Charlie Chan, a Chinese-American detective, at a time when racism was rampant. S. S. Van Dine invented Philo Vance, an effete, rich amateur psychologist who flourished while America danced and the stock market rose. The quintessential American detective Ellery Queen leapt onto the stage, to remain popular for fifty years. Dashiell Hammett brings readers another mystery narrated by the Continental Op. W. R. Burnett, created the indelible character of Rico, the first gangster antihero.

Each of the five novels included is presented in its original published form, with extensive historical and cultural annotations and illustrations added by Edgar-winning editor Leslie S. Klinger, allowing the reader to experience the story to its fullest. Klinger’s detailed foreword gives an overview of the history of American crime writing from its beginnings in the early years of America to the twentieth century. This gorgeously illustrated volume includes over 100 color and black and white images as well as an introduction by the eminent mystery publisher Otto Penzler.


Best Short Story

English 398: Fiction Worksop by Art Taylor, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine


Best Juvenile

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Otherwood by Pete Hautman

What happened in the woods that day? Pete Hautman’s riveting middle-grade novel touches on secrets and mysteries — and the power of connections with family and friends.

“Hatred combined with lies and secrets can break the world.” Grandpa Zach used to say that before he died, but Stuey never really knew what he meant. It was kind of like how he used to talk about quantum physics or how he used to say ghosts haunted their overgrown golf course. But then one day, after Stuey and his best friend, Elly Rose, spend countless afternoons in the deadfall in the middle of the woods, something totally unbelievable happens. As Stuey and Elly Rose struggle to come to grips with their lives after that reality-splitting moment, all the things Grandpa Zach used to say start to make a lot more sense. This is a book about memory and loss and the destructive nature of secrets, but also about the way friendship, truth, and perseverance have the ability to knit a torn-apart world back together.


Young Adult

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Sadie by Courtney Summers
Read my review of Sadie

A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she’s left behind. And an ending you won’t be able to stop talking about.

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

Courtney Summers has written the breakout book of her career. Sadie is propulsive and harrowing and will keep you riveted until the last page.


Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!



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Puff Puff Pass: 10 Books About Marijuana for 420

10 Books about Weed for 420

Now that recreational marijuana is legal in nine states, weed is becoming more mainstream. April 20th, or 420 as enthusiasts refer to it, is a day that celebrates weed culture. What began with some teenagers meeting at 4:20 PM behind their high school has become embraced by a number of people who enjoy getting a little buzzed.

Here are ten books that celebrate the history and culture of marijuana.


The Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook: More than 50  Irresistible Recipes That Will Get You High

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The Cannabis Spa at Home: How to Make Marijuana-Infused Lotions, Massage Oils, Ointments, Bath Salts, Spa Nosh, and More by Sandra Hinchliffe51pDwGXS8+L._SX490_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg


The Little Black Book of Marijuana: The Essential Guide to the World of Cannabis by Steve Elliott

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A Woman’s Guide to Cannabis: Using Marijuana to Feel Better, Look Better, Sleep Better – and Get High Like a Lady by Nikki Furrer51l2tUWvqQL._SX381_BO1,204,203,200_ (1).jpg


Ganja Yoga: A Practical Guide to Conscious Relaxation, Soothing Pain Relief, and Enlightened Self-Discovery by Dee Dussault and Georgia Bardi

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The ABCs of CBD: The Essential Guide for Parents (and Regular Folks Too): Why Pot is NOT What We Were Taught by Shira Adler41lvnuVvNrL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg


The Pot Book: A Complete Guide to Cannabis by Julie Holland, M.D.

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The Cannabis Manifesto: A New Paradigm for Wellness by Steve DeAngelo

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Breaking the Grass Ceiling: Women, Weed and Business by Ashley Picillo

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Cannabis Revealed: How the World’s Most Misunderstood Plant is Healing Everything from Chronic Pain to Epilepsy by Bonnie Goldstein, M.D.51e4eJijppL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg



Know of any other books about 420 and marijuana that I left out? Let me know in the comments.


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April TBR & Plans

April TBR & Plans

I have big reading plans for April. I want to finish thirty books this month, several of which are graphic novels or poetry collections that I want to get to. For funsies, I set myself a ridiculously high Goodreads yearly goal of 225 books, and I fully intend to reach it. I got a bit off track in March due to getting sick for over a week, but now that I’m well again, it’s time to start reading fiendishly again!

This TBR isn’t everything I want to read in April, but these books are ones that I definitely want to get to. For the rest of what I read this month, I’m going to choose based on my mood at the time.


Currently Reading

I’m currently reading three books that I started in March and will be finishing this month:


National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month, and as such, it’ll be a great opportunity to explore a genre I’m not very familiar with. Here are the poetry collections I’d like to read this month:


Comics & Graphic Novels

I also have a few graphic novels and comic book series I want to read or re-read:


Novels

Then, of course, we have the novels:



What books are you planning on reading in April?

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir – A Review

“I look up at the stars hanging low in a sky that makes me think I’m seeing the infinite. But beneath their cold gaze, I feel small. All the beauty of the stars means nothing when life here on earth is so ugly.”

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir; Kindle daily deals, cheap ebooks, fantasy books, reading blog

The Book

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Published by Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin
Released April 28, 2015
Goodreads
Author: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Goodreads | Facebook | Pinterest

What It’s About

An Ember in the Ashes is the first book in a young adult fantasy trilogy which is inspired by Ancient Rome. The Empire is ruled by the Martials, and there are several other groups of people, including the Scholars, the lowest and most ill-treated among them.

“The Martials conquered Scholar lands five hundred years ago, and since then, they’ve done nothing but oppress and enslave us. Once, the Scholar Empire was home to the finest universities and libraries in the world. Now, most of our people can’t tell a school from an armory.”

The book is told from the point-of-views of Laia, a teenage Scholar girl, and Elias, a student at Blackcliff Academy, where he’s training to be a Mask, which is an elite faction of the Empire’s military. They both reside in the city of Serra, a landscape of harshness and desert.

Laia is meek and terrified of the Empire. Both of her parents, as well as her older sister, were captured, tortured, and murdered by the Empire, and she and her brother Darin now reside with their grandparents. One night Darin sneaks in through the window with a sketchbook full of drawings and information that a Scholar should not be caught with. Not far behind him is a Martial raid. Laia’s grandparents are killed right in front of her, and her brother is taken prisoner. Laia flees for her life, her mind a swirl of conflicting fear and bravery. There has been an underground Scholar resistance since the war that put the Martials in power, and Laia seeks out their help, eventually agreeing to become a spy for them in exchange for their promise of breaking her brother out of the Martial’s prison.

“Life is made of so many moments that mean nothing. Then one day, a single moment comes along to define every second that comes after. The moment Darin called out – that was such a moment. It was a test of courage, of strength. And I failed it.”

Elias is in the final year of his training to be a Mask at Blackcliff Academy, and he’s dreaming of the day he can finally be free of the tyrannous lifestyle that was forced upon him when he was just six years old. He feels alone in his opinion that the Empire is too brutal and ruthless, as his classmates take pleasure in raping and murdering. His partner and best friend, Helene, is unaware of the secret plans he’s been working on; the backpack stashed in the catacombs, the secret tunnel, and the map marking a path through dilapidated passages beneath the city.

The paths of Laia and Elias start to cross and intertwine, and they find themselves drawn toward one another as they both work toward their own goals of subverting the Empire.

My Thoughts

loved this book! I hungrily consumed every page of it, staying up late into the night because I absolutely had to know what happened next. I’m so thrilled that I finally got around to reading it after hearing about it everywhere.

Both the of the main characters, Laia and Elias, were well-rounded and felt so real that I was drawn down deep into the story. From the moment they first met, I wanted them to get together as a romantic couple, to the point where I spent a car-ride ranting to my boyfriend about how mad I’d be if either of them ended up with anyone but each other.

As Elias is forced to commit atrocious acts or risk being punished for treason, Sabaa Tahir’s writing is so powerful that you feel the pain with him.

“I stare into the faces of the men I kill, and though the storm muffles the groans, every death carves its way into my memory, each one a wound that will never heal.”

Laia also feels incredibly realistic. She’s frightened but moves forward out of a desire to do right by her people, her murdered family, and her brother. We watch her falter and pick herself back up over and over again. It’s so great watching her grow from a meek, shy girl terrified of getting into trouble into someone who bravely fights against the Empire at any cost necessary.

Even the side characters have unique and very distinct personalities. Izzi, Cook, even the Commandant, feel as though they could be real people, and I love books that have that quality to them because they make you feel as though you’re living the story.

One of the side characters that I did not like, although I feel like the author intended for you to like him, is Keenan, a member of the resistance. His flirting with Laia feels almost predatory and somewhat creepy, and I found myself wishing for Laia to get away from him quickly any time they shared a scene.

Another aspect I enjoyed is that the magic of the world is on the fringes. We know as little about the magic system and magical creatures as the characters do, and that was really exciting to me.

As much as I adored this book, there were some things that I wished had been explored more, such as history and world-building. From the beginning, I wanted to know more about the Scholars. Same with the Tribes, who reside outside of the city of Serra. I also wanted to know so, so much more about the world at large. The map on the inside cover of the book is vast, and I want to know more about those cities that inhabit the corners of the map. That said, I can’t remember the last time I read a fantasy book that took place in a desert environment, so it was really nice to see that setting.

I’m about to start the second book in the series, A Torch Against the Night, and I cannot wait. I’m hoping to get a larger taste of the Empire. Each book has a map on the inside cover, and An Ember in the Ashes explores a very small part of that map. I’m also hoping for more of the characters I found myself liking, such as Izzi, Teluman, and even Helene (whose character I enjoy even if I’m conflicted about actually liking her).

Verdict

5 out of 5 stars. This book was amazing, and I cannot wait to read the next two, which I have already picked up from the library.

Have you read An Ember in the Ashes? If so, share your thoughts below.

 

Chloe: Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites is a new weekly feature that asks readers to share their favorite books. If you would like to contribute just shoot me a message!

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Tell us a bit about yourself!

My first love is knitting! Above anything else, I love the tranquility and meditative peace it brings me, and also having something I created to wear proudly. I also enjoy reading, and I have recently started reading a good deal more than I had been. In January this year I promised myself that I would try to read at least one book per month, and I’ve already finished twenty books, so I’ve surpassed my goal!

 

Aside from hobbies, I work as a massage therapist at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC. I didn’t realize that I loved the mountains as much as I do until I moved here. I also have a petite corgi named Chubbs (I know, ironic) who is just the sweetest, goodest little girl that I ever did meet. And she loves to give me kisses. I also have an extremely supportive boyfriend named Jeff, who is very camera shy.
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What types of books are you drawn to?

I love high fantasy! Anything with magic, set in times where ladies wore corsets and people still used bows and arrows, swords, shields, etc. I’m happy to read most fiction, though, and love to have people personally recommend books for me to read. I also love an old-fashioned mystery novel.

If you could spend a night hanging out with three authors, living or dead, who would you choose?

I would choose Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, and Agatha Christie. I truly enjoy reading books from well before my time. There was such a different quality in writing than there is now, and there’s something magically beautiful about that.

Which classic or popular book do you hate?

Great Expectations - Charles Dickens; Read Yourself Happy; book blog; reading blog; book recommendations

I will admit, reading something when you are a child and disliking it can leave a very sour taste in your mouth about that particular book, but I don’t like to proclaim that I dislike something until I’ve given it a second shot once I’ve had a few years to stew on it. That said, I absolutely abhor Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. It’s supposed to be fantastic and brilliant, and I’ve read it twice now–once in my homeschool years, forced upon me by my mother, who proclaimed it was literature and therefore a necessary part of my education, and then again about six or seven years later. I thought being older would help me understand it better, but it was still just as confusing as it had been when I was a child. Needless to say, the word ‘literature’ filled me with dread for a very long time.

How do you keep track of books you’ve finished and books you want to read?

I had this cute little reading log when I was a kid that I loved. I had used a folded up piece of pink construction paper and several pages of notebook paper folded and tucked inside the pink and stapled into place. From a young age, my mother indulged me in my love for office supplies, buying me a date stamp (like librarians used to have to stamp to the cards in books before they changed to an automated system) so I could feel really official when I started or finished a book. I recorded the title and author and designated a little spot for comments I had about the book.


I looked up online reading records a couple months ago and stumbled across Goodreads.com, which I had somehow never heard of. It made me actually want to start reading more, and to challenge myself to meet a goal of reading x number of books in a year. I love it!

What are your five favorite books, and why?

  • I feel like Pride and Prejudice should be on everyone’s favorites list somewhere. It’s a classic. The way that Austen writes is so profoundly different from modern authors that it still makes it a challenging read every time (and I’ve read it four or five times now), but it’s also rewarding. I got my own personal copy from a used bookstore in Southport, NC called Books ‘n Stuff, and the previous owner had written several things in the margins, making it feel well-loved and like someone had thumbed through to their favorite passages every time they felt like they needed a little old-world charm added to their day.
  • Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None fights Austen’s Pride and Prejudice for the top spot in my favorites. I simply love how chilling and morbid and creepy and horrific the book is, how genuinely terrified you feel while reading it, praying that at least one of the characters will make it off the island…but they don’t. ‘Nuff said.
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik will hold a special place in my heart. One day, after work, I got home, ready to plunk down on the couch and knit until bedtime…then the power went out. I was really scared (not of the dark, but of the power not ever coming back on), so my boyfriend and I lit a bunch of candles and I randomly picked this book off the shelf and started to read. And read. And read. I couldn’t put it down. I felt almost physically in pain every time I had to part with it, to go to work or to hang out with a friend. All I wanted to do was read this book. I’m pretty sure my boyfriend was getting upset at how much time I was spending with it. It’s based on Polish fairy tales, which makes it different from a lot of the books I’ve read that are fantasy or science fiction. The antagonist of the book isn’t a person, but rather corruption of the Wood, which came from an ancient wrong done to someone who became a tree. It festered in her heart until she corrupted the entire forest around her, creating poisonous fruit and dangerous monsters. Magic plays a large role in this, but also the intuition of a young girl, who isn’t particularly beautiful or special. I’ll move on to the next book before I end up laying out the entire plot.
  • Crown of Midnight is the second book in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. The reason I chose the second in the series is because it felt incredibly real. I can’t give away too many spoilers, but one of the main character’s closest friends dies in this book, and the way the author writes Celaena’s grief is intensely perfect. It’s irrational at times, and I feel that that alone made this book kind of epic. I haven’t finished the series, but I’ve read reviews of each book that I have read and can only offer that no one should read the reviews that other people have written about these books. Maas poured herself into her work and you can tell in some of the themes repeated throughout the series. The main character has several different love interests as the series progresses and each one helps to shape and form her as she grows into what she needs to become. I love that Celaena changes gradually, and I found it frustrating that other readers who had reviewed these books didn’t share my appreciation for Maas’ creative musings, or letting her character evolve. Fans wanted Celaena to stay exactly the way she was in the first book, and with all of what happens to her, that was never going to happen. I’m so glad Maas decided to follow her heart instead of pandering to greedy fans, because it made the series that much more genuine and true to itself.
  • I read Heir Apparent when I was pretty young, maybe eleven or twelve. I can’t really place why I love it so much, other than nostalgia. This book does cross from modern science fiction into high fantasy, and the main character ‘dies’ so many times, and learns from her mistakes, only to learn that the game she is playing is actually not possible to win. I highly recommend it, if only so you can see into my childhood a little bit to see how it was shaped.

Finally, leave us with your favorite bookish quote.

Jane Austen quotes; read yourself happy