All Things Mysterious Volume Twenty-Eight
Prize Winning Novels!
With Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer winning the Pulitzer Prize for literature in 2016 (check it out!: http://www.mysteriousbookshop.com/products/nguyen-viet-thanh-the-sympathizer), your friendly blogger thought it might be nice to examine some other prize-winning novels in the crime realm.
Adam Johnson-Orphan Master’s Son Jin Do (yep, ‘John Doe’), North Korean everyman, tells his tale in this novel set in North Korea. Jin Do is the son of the master of an orphan’s home and as such is constantly assumed to be an orphan, he works in various jobs, including snatching citizens off of beaches to ‘recruit’ for the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea. He ends up on a fishing boat, where the powers that be recognize his acumen and loyalty and then he finds himself as part of a group travelling to Texas to meet a US senator. When he takes on the role of ‘opposition leader’ to Kim Jong Il, things get fraught. Also be sure and read Johnson's 2015 release, Fortune Smiles, a collection of six tales.
For many years, Harper Lee stood with Margaret Mitchell as a writer of one and only one book which just happened to be a blockbuster. Until the summer of 2015, that is, when Lee published Go Set A Watchman, ballyhooed by some as a sequel of sorts to To Kill a Mockingbird, which won the 1961 Pulitzer. Some cynics have opined that this is simply an exercise in money making from Lee’s estate. In fact it is an early draft of TKAM so in a way it might still be said that author Lee did only publish the one book! It’s set twenty years in the future from the events in Mockingbird and depicts Atticus Finch as the moral compass, or ‘watchman,’ of the Alabama community.
Starting in 1954, the Mystery Writers of America bestowed the Edgar Allan Poe awards, popularly known as the Edgars, in a variety of categories. (See our blog, All Things Mysterious Volume Seven for more about the MWA and stories deemed essential reading) Of course many noteworthy authors of crime fiction have been honored:
The 2016 recipient for best novel is Let Me Die In His Footsteps by Lori Roy, concerning the Holleran/Baine feud in mid-20th century Kentucky.
Gone by Mo Hayder--The fifth installment in the Jack Caffery procedural series was the Edgar winner for best novel of 2012. A caveat: start at the beginning of this series with Birdman for maximum enjoyment of the rest of the Caffery books, which you will surely want to read. Then, don’t fail to check out her latest, Wolf, which is the seventh in the series. At last Caffery might get some answers regarding the childhood abduction his brother.
Last Child by John Hart--Winner of the 2010 Edgar for Best Novel, our thirteen year old protagonist leads a generally happy life until his twin sister is abducted. As we pick up the story one year later, Johnny Merrimon is lonely and isolated, the adults he’d been brought up to trust having completely failed him. Author Hart also won the Edgar in 2008 for Down River. Redemption Road, his most recent, is a very dark thriller, perfect for the long time fan or the reader just discovering John Hart.
Cimarron Rose by J.L. Burke won the award in 1998 for this first adventure featuring Texas attorney and former Texas Ranger Billy Bob Holland. Lucas Smothers is arrested for murder and only Mr. Smothers and Billy Bob know that Lucas is really Billy Bob’s son. Burke’s latest, The House of the Rising Sun, is the fourth in the Hackberry Holland series.The author also won the Edgar in 1990 for Black Cherry Blues.
The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler, Best Novel, 1955. Only the second Edgar winner for best novel, Raymond Chandler is of course well known to mystery and film fans. (The first winner was Beat Not the Bones by Charlotte Jay.)
Spy Who Came In From The Cold, by John Le Carre, the 1965 Edgar winner used his own experience as an intelligence operative to craft a fresh new approach to spy thrillers. Alec Leamus wants to retire but agrees to one last assignment. Cold war intrigue at its finest!
See also A Delicate Truth, counter-espionage set in Gibraltar, and the author’s long-awaited memoir, coming in September!
The Day of the Jackal won the 1972 Edgar for Best Novel for Frederick Forsyth. A hitman. A hired assassin who can change the course of history with the squeeze of a trigger. Don’t fail to check out The Outsider, Forsyth’s absorbing memoir.
Questions/Comments/Shaken not Stirred? Mike@mysteriousbookshop.com