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Edgar Award Winners Announced, Including Best Novel: "Gone"

EdgarIn Mo Hayder's Gone, a carjacking is actually a kidnapping, potential clues lurk inside a tunnel, and almost nothing turns out to be what it seems to be. That's what the keepers of the Edgar Allen Poe spirit must be looking for each year when they (the Mystery Writers of America), in honor of Poe's birthday, dole out the prestigious Edgar Awards. Hayden's sinister and suspenseful Gone won the best novel award, and more than a dozen other winners were announced Thursday in New York, in such categories as best paperback original, best critical biographical, best short story, and best TV episode.

The full list of winners and nominees can be found here. Among them: 

GoneBest Novel

Best First Novel

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Exclusive Video from Author Patricia Cornwell

We at Amazon had the pleasure of receiving this exclusive video from Patricia Cornwell, author of the popular Scarpetta series--which, as a body of work has won just about every award available to mystery/thriller writers, as well as being a cult favorite among fans. In anticipation of the latest Kay Scarpetta installment, Red Mist, Cornwell offers a meta-perspective of her character's psyche as she delves into the past to solve an old murder.

Best Mystery and Thriller Books of the Year

This year's best Mystery & Thrillers span the genre, from psychological or technological thrillers to murder-mysteries. But they all have one thing in common: they kept us reading late into the night, desperate to find out what happens next.

S. J. Watson's debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, BeforeIGotoSleepgripped our imaginations back in June and has haunted us ever since. Christine forgets everything while she sleeps at night. When she wakes up, she depends on her husband, Ben, to fill in her memory for her. She keeps a daily journal in an attempt to jog her memory, and one morning she opens it to read: "Don't trust Ben." Equal parts fascinating and terrifying, Before I Go to Sleep is impossible to put down. The questions it raises (how can our past define us if we can't remember it? What happens if you can't trust anyone--not even yourself?) will linger long after the last page is turned.

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J.A. Konrath and Blake Crouch Review Barry Eisler's "The Detachment"

The_DetachmentBestselling authors J.A. Konrath and Blake Crouch are the co-writers of the thriller Stirred, available on Kindle November 22, 2011, and in paperback on February 21, 2012. We asked them to review Barry Eisler's latest thriller, The Detachment... and did they ever review it. Read on for one of the funniest guest reviews we've seen in a long time:

J.A. Konrath: I'm delighted to be the author asked to do a guest review of Barry Eisler's latest John Rain thriller, The Detachment. I really think this book--

Blake Crouch: Hold on. I thought I was the author asked to do a guest review.

J.A.: You were asked, too? Well, I'm pretty sure I was asked first.

Blake: I doubt that. You were probably the back-up in case I was too busy.

J.A.: I'm 100% positive you were the back-up, because I'm 100% sure I liked The Detachment more than you did. I think it's Eisler's best book, and I really liked the other eight, plus his Kindle short stories The Lost Coast and Paris Is A Bitch.

Blake: I agree The Detachment is his best, and that's not blowing smoke. I read this book on a 12-hour flight, after I'd already been up for 18 hours. Anything less than flat-out riveting and I would've instantly been asleep. It was like literary adrenaline.

J.A.: Well, I was invited to go to the White House to drink beer with Obama, but I said no because I was so engrossed in the story.

Blake: You were not invited to the White House.

J.A.: I was. And the President wanted to give me a medal. But I had to find out how The Detachment ended, so I was forced to decline. That's how much I liked the book.

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Guest Essay: Jeff Abbott on Building a Hero

Jeff-abbott

Jeff Abbott is the international-bestselling, award-winning author of ten mystery and suspense novels, including Adrenaline, available tomorrow (July 1).

Writing a new crime or suspense series is a bit like getting married. You tie yourself and your future to your new creation. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with your new series hero. Not to mention all the supporting cast (think of them as in-laws or your spouse’s close friends). You have to create with care when you start a new series, or you’ll quickly find yourself stuck in dead ends.

The key is in how you build the hero of your story. He or she must carry the world of your fiction. And in creating the hero for my new series, I probably invested more thought than I ever had before on fleshing him out before I started writing.

I had written four thrillers in a row when I got the idea for a new series. I’d thought of doing a series because readers often asked if the main characters from my thrillers would be returning for more adventures. I said, I’ll do a series if the right idea comes. And one day at my desk—I was doodling a picture of a globe, and for some odd reason drew a martini glass beneath it—Sam Capra came in a flash: an ex-CIA agent who ends up owning bars around the world.

Ex-CIA. Bars. All over the world.

The idea stopped me cold, and then I felt warm, because the idea felt so right. The very idea suggested intrigue, foreign locales, colorful characters. A man with the skills of a spy, but without the bureaucracy or the rules; and bars around the world, meaning I could let him find adventure (and a new supporting cast, if I liked) in locales both plain and exotic. The bars would be an entrée for him into danger, a reason to pull him into cases, a legitimate excuse to travel the world; the settings would be widely varied. At the same time I realized there would be a consistent backdrop: a dark underworld of crime and intrigue, one tied to the rise of global crime syndicates, some of whom wield more economic power than major corporations. (Did you know twenty percent of the world’s economy is illicit now? It means about 14 trillion dollars worth of illegal activity.) The cities would change, but that fact of underlying criminality would be a constant for Sam.

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The 2011 Edgar Award Winners

Forget the royal wedding news today--it's all about the Edgar Awards! Honoring the best in mystery fiction and nonfiction produced the previous year, the Edgars began in 1954 and are named in honor of Edgar Allan Poe. Here are the winners, as announced last night at the Mystery Writers of America banquet (sorry the hats weren't as good as those worn at Westminster Abbey, so we'll just stick to announcing the books):

Best Novel: The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton

Best First Novel (by an American): Rogue Island by Bruce DeSilva

Best Paperback Original: Long Time Coming by Robert Goddard

Best Fact Crime: Scoreboard, Baby by Ken Armstrong and Nick Perry

Best Critical/Biographical: Charlie Chan by Yunte Huang

Best Young Adult: Interrogation of Gabriel James by Charlie Price

Best Juvenile: The Buddy Files: The Case of the Lost Boy by Dori Hillestad Butler

Best Short Story: "The Scent of Lilacs" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Doug Allyn

Grand Master Award: Sara Paretsky

See our full list of nominees and winners for this year and previous ones.

When the Ending Is the Best Part

I just finished a galley of Rosamund Lupton's debut psychological suspense novel, Sister (coming June 7) and it is creepy good with a shocking conclusion. So what makes a great ending? Twists? Stories wrapped up in a bow? Cliffhangers? Read on for some other favorite endings...

22 Brittania Road by Amanda Hodgkinson: One of the reasons this was our spotlight for April Best of the Month is the ending, which offers a startling explanation for the heroine's behavior and demonstrates how grief can force a person into extraordinary decisions.

The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly: A woman whose husband has just gotten out of prison after 10 years will go to any length to save her family--And I do mean, ANY length--even if it means turning on someone she once loved the most.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro: The truth about the Hailsham boarding school is finally revealed, ending Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth's progression from innocence into understanding. The heartbreaking ramifications of their story linger long after the last page.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie: This is one of the most baffling mysteries ever written. One by one each guest on the private island drops dead, narrowing the identity of the killer to whoever who remains alive. The mounting terror leads to a logical--and brilliant--conclusion.

Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding: Hilariously illuminating all of women's deepest insecurities, Bridget Jones caps off her year-in-the-life on a hopeful and heartwarming note.

Mari adds: "Michael Crummey's Galore, my Best of the Month pick for April, has a big splash of an ending that evokes and illuminates its opening scene, 200 years later."

Now how in the world am I supposed to end this blog post?

Dark and Twisty: Tana French and Sophie Hannah

French_hannah

If you like to wallow in suspense as much as I do, ask yourself "when is Tana French's next book coming out?" and "can the UK get Sophie Hannah's books over the pond any faster?"

Sophie Hannah (The Dead Lie Down) and Tana French (Faithful Place) are masters of the psychological thriller. Amazon readers know French's work better (especially since Faithful Place was our #2 Best Book of the Year), but Hannah is equally satisfying--and you'll be hard pressed to find an author who comes up with better titles (The Truth-Teller's Lie, anyone?). Browsing around to see when their next books are coming out, I remembered this conversation they had last summer about their work. In case you missed it, read on to get your fix while we wait for their next books. --Miriam

Tana French and Sophie Hannah on Writing

Sophie: Someone said to me recently that they found it strange we openly say we like each other's work, when we should surely regard each other as "the competition." I found this idea really weird. As far as I'm concerned, the only competition any writer ought to be interested in is the competition between good writing and bad writing. So, while I get very cross and resentful when a book that I think is terrible does well, I love it when books I think are great do well--I feel that the right side, i.e. good writing, is winning the competition, which I feel benefits me as much as anyone else, because I want to live in a world where brilliant books are valued. Also, if I think a book is better than anything I could write, then I want it to do better than my books in order to reflect that. I suppose what I'm saying is that I want there to be a meritocracy of literature. Would you agree or disagree?

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Six Degrees of Harlan Coben

Harlancoben3 The top 6 regularly bestselling serial thriller writers on Amazon.com are James Patterson, David Baldacci, Michael Connelly, Lee Child, John Grisham, and Harlan Coben, and you don’t have to work very hard to connect all of them to each other. For instance, let’s take a look at how Harlan Coben, whose new Myron Bolitar book, Live Wire comes out on March 22, links up to his peers within a few easy steps.

(Note: This is by no means an exhaustive list.)

1. While a student at Amherst College, Coben was a member of Psi Upsilon fraternity with Dan Brown.

2. Amherst also boasts another alum who thriller fans might recognize: Scott Turow. Coben interviewed him.

3. Laura Lippman interviewed Coben.

4. When best-selling mystery writer Robert B. Parker passed away in January 2010, the New York Times quoted Coben (using a line from Coben's 2007 interview with The Atlantic Monthly): “I read Parker’s Spenser series in college. When it comes to detective novels, 90 percent of us admit he’s an influence, and the rest of us lie about it.” Besides being one of Coben's influences, Parker also links to Sue Grafton with this Amazon-exclusive author one-on-one.

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Edgar Nominees Announced

Reposting old Jeff Buckley clips isn't the only thing that happens on Edgar Allen Poe's birthday (although unfortunately, this fine tradition no longer does): the Mystery Writers of America also announce the nominees for their annual Edgar Awards. Among the nominees: three books from our overall top 100 books of 2010 (Faithful Place, I'd Know You Anywhere, and Hellhound on His Trail). The winners will be announced on April 28.

Best Novel:

Best First Novel (by an American author):

Best Paperback Original:

Best Fact Crime:

Best Critical/Biographical Work:

Best Young Adult:

Best Juvenile:

Grand Master:

--Tom

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