Author of the Algy Temple Mysteries


Mystery Writers of America

Posted by: J. J. Partridge on 6/16/2014

I usually report on the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Awards and this year is no different.

The crowd usually arrives at the glitzy Hyatt Grand next to Grand Central Station at 6:30 p.m. for appropriate libations.  About half of the men are dressed in formalwear; the rest in everything from tieless shirts and sport jackets to business suits.  The women similarly are dressed up, mostly in business attire although some really duded up in formal gowns.  The evening goes quite quickly with the various awards being shown on multiple screens throughout the large grand ballroom.  It is quite easy to pick out some of the stars of the evening which include thriller writers like Lee Child or Harlan Coben or a Mary Higgins Clark.   Most of the large publishing companies have tables for their authors and guests and the program, multicolored and glossy, lists all of the nominees.  Many are familiar but those who are having their first crack at Edgar stardom are usually unknown except to their friends, relatives, and publishers who wildly applaud at their nominations or wins.

The categories for nominations and prizes are quite varied from young adult crime to best television script to best short story to best first novel to the best mystery of the year.  Also, the Mystery Writers of America give out lifetime master awards, in this case to Robert Kraus, and give special mention to an author or two that are familiar to the audience.

At my table this year, in addition to my daughter Sarah, was crime novelist and former New York policeman Bob Knightly whose police procedurals are simply wonderfully written and four guests who came to see the awards and perhaps meet one or two of the authors.  Two of them were from Portland, Oregon; they had arrived in Manhattan to enjoy the opportunity to rub shoulders with people who they know through writing.

The dinner is over around 10 o’clock but not all of the festivities.  Outside of the main ballroom, publishers have loaded tables with the books that have been nominated and it’s a great opportunity for those in the audience to pick up five, ten or a dozen.  Sarah carted away two full bags.

It was fun to be there and even more fun later on when Bob Knightly, myself, and Sarah continued the evening at an Irish bar around the corner from Grand Central Station and talked about ideas for books and the issues dealing with getting a reading public today.  The space is very cluttered not only with e-books produced by individuals who simply want to write, publishers that are cranky about dealing with new authors and issues with regard to the distribution of books, the failure of Borders and the closure of Barnes & Noble stores and what does that mean, and will the independent bookstores survive.

It was well after midnight when I put Sarah in a cab for Brooklyn, Bob and I shook hands, and I wandered back to the Marriott Marquis on Broadway.  I was tired, talked out, and very happy to have been included in the mix.