Stop! You’re Killing Me!

I believe we are the only organization which lionizes murder, death and whodunits.

On April 27, Mystery Writers of America will host its 71st annual gala banquet at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City to present the Edgar Awards.

The “Edgars,” are named after our patron saint, Edgar Allan Poe, and are presented to authors of distinguished work—in mystery fiction, non-fiction, television, film and theater—published or produced in the previous year.

Mystery Writers of America includes some 3,000 authors of fiction and non-fiction screen and television writers, publishers, editors, and literary agents.

The awards are juried by a panel of professional mystery writers who spend an entire year reading submissions. In the “Best Novel” category, alone, there may be 600-800 books reviewed.

Winners are often plucked out of obscurity and made into a star. Authors like James Patterson whose “Best First Novel” win in 1977 was The Thomas Berryman Number and Michael Connelly’s “Best First Novel” win in 1993, The Black Echo.

In 1946, the newly created Mystery Writers of America gave its first “Best First Novel” award to Sgt. Julius Fast, for his debut novel Watchful at Night. The award included a leather-bound edition of The Portable Poe by Viking Press. The now classic Poe Statues hadn’t been created yet.

Previous “Best Novel” winners have included such august authors as: Raymond Chandler, Patricia Highsmith, Tony Hillerman, Elmore Leonard, James Lee Burke, C. J. Box, (Burke and Box are members of Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers of America), Dennis Lehane, William Kent Krueger, and Stephen King.

And that’s your Mystery Minute.