I invite you to make predictions any way you choose and to share them with us in the comments section beneath this post. As we all know, opinions about books and ranking them are subjective enterprises and the Edgars judging panels are as human as we are. (As far as I can tell, Edgar-nominee Matt Haig has planted no extraterrestrials on the Edgar panel.) We'll find out how well we agreed with the judges this Thursday, May 1, when the winners are announced at the MWA banquet.
Without further ado, I'll show you the nominees for Best Novel and tell you what they're about:
Sandrine's Case by Thomas H. Cook (Grove Atlantic/Mysterious Press)
The Humans by Matt Haig (Simon & Schuster)
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger (Simon & Schuster/Atria Books)
How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)
Standing in Another Man's Grave by Ian Rankin (Hachette/Reagan Arthur Books)
Until She Comes Home by Lori Roy (Penguin Group (USA)/Dutton Books)
When Sandrine's Case opens, Sam Madison, an unlikable Coburn College professor, is on trial for murdering his enigmatic wife, Sandrine. Between chapters of trial proceedings, Sam, who narrates, mulls over their relationship.
The Humans, by Matt Haig, details a visit to Earth by an extraterrestrial from Vonnadoria after Cambridge mathematician Andrew Martin scared that planet's extra-intelligent inhabitants by solving the Riemann hypothesis. The Vonnadorian's undercover mission is to take Martin's place and get rid of any evidence the hypothesis was solved.
In Kent Krueger's standalone, Ordinary Grace, its middle-aged narrator, Frank Drum, looks back at 1961 in New Bremen, Minnesota, when he was the 13-year-old son of a Methodist minister. That summer, a series of deaths rocked the community and his family and ushered Frank into the world of adults.
How the Light Gets In, featuring Armand Gamache, Chief Inspector of the Sûreté du Québec, is the ninth in Louise Penny's popular series. It finds Gamache investigating a Three Pines disappearance against the backdrop of Sûreté infighting and corruption. Sister Mary Murderous reviewed it here.
Retired Edinburgh cop John Rebus is working as a civilian in the Serious Crime Review Unit of the Lothian and Borders Police in Ian Rankin's Standing in Another Man's Grave. After he fields a call from a mother convinced that her missing teenage daughter is one of a series of disappearances, Rebus dusts himself off and muscles his way into an active Edinburgh CID investigation. (See my review here.)
It's 1958 in Lori Roy's gothic-tinged suspense Until She Comes Home and Alder Avenue, a working-class Detroit neighborhood, is undergoing steady decline. Residents are frightened when a black prostitute is murdered near the local factory but the police ignore the death. It's the later disappearance of Elizabeth, a mentally disabled white girl, that galvanizes Alder Avenue.
I'll try to give you my thinking without divulging book spoilers.
|Thomas H. Cook|
|William Kent Krueger|
I won't be surprised by the Edgar going to Cook for his clever and surprising courtroom drama, although if I were an Edgar judge I'd vote for Penny. She has written one excellent book after another leading to the fix her protagonist finds himself in in How the Light Gets In, but I think it will go to Krueger. Ordinary Grace seems like a Best Novel Edgar winner, the literary equivalent of Oscar-winning movies such as Ordinary People and Chariots of Fire.
Title drawn out of a hat: Lori Roy's Until She Comes Home. I'll laugh if this title wins the Edgar because I'll be able to claim I picked it to win.
I'll be back later this week to pick the Edgar winner for Best First Novel by an American.
Note: The nominees for Edgar Awards were all published in 2013. Other categories for the 2014 Awards are Best Paperback Original; Mary Higgins Clark Award, for the book most closely written in the Mary Higgins Clark Tradition according to guidelines set forth by Mary Higgins Clark; Best Fact Crime; Best Critical/Biographical; Best Short Story; Best Juvenile; Best Young Adult; and Best TV Episode. Special Edgars this year include the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award, for the best first mystery or suspense short story; the Grand Master Award; and the Raven, for non-writers who contribute to the mystery genre. For a complete list of 2014 nominees and the data base of previous years' nominees and winners, see the Edgars website here.