Caught, crooked, faithful…

I’ve not paid much attention to the Edgar® Awards in the past, but this year is different: I’m curious, thanks to my newfound reading adventures in this literary genre.

Nominees for the 2011 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2010 were announced this week. These awards are sponsored by the Mystery Writers of America and widely acknowledged to be the most prestigious in the genre.

The full list of nominees in the 10 categories can be read on the Edgar website. Here I investigate the six nominees in their Best Novel category.

Caught by Harlan Coben
Described by The Independent as a “an excellent thriller” and by the New York Times as “crazily hyperactive,” bestselling Coben’s newest stand-alone involves a teenager suddenly gone missing and a news reporter who makes a name for herself chasing sexual predators. In this case, though, she starts questioning her instincts. The prologue is available for reading on Coben’s website.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
The story of two boyhood friends, torn apart by circumstance, who are brought together again by a terrible crime in a small Mississippi town. Washington Post book critic Ron Charles wrote this: “If you’re looking for a smart, thoughtful novel that sinks deep into a Southern hamlet of the American psyche, ‘Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter’ is your next book.” 

Faithful Place by Tana French
NYT book critic Janet Maslin listed this as one of her 10 favorites of 2010. Faithful Place is a story about an Irish family with a mystery to go along –  one of the family members returns to his hometown, Dublin, Ireland, to investigate the disappearance of his childhood sweetheart.

The Queen of Patpong by Timothy Hallinan
This mystery takes place in Bangkok, Thailand, with Halliman’s returning travel-writer protagonist facing evils from his wife’s past that threaten the family. Lots of blogging about this book, but no reviews from major sources that I could find. This is the fourth mystery in a series.

The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton
This story’s 18-year-old protagonist doesn’t speak, ever since he experienced tragedy as an eight-year-old. But he’s got a gift for picking locks, no matter how impossible it may seem, and this gift leads to crime. This is a new character for Hamilton, who’s known for his Edgar Award-winning Alex McKnight series. From The New York Times review: “As coming-of-age novels go, this one is too good for words.”

I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman
The story of a young woman who dangerously engages with a man on Death Row who kidnapped her when she was a teenager. From a review in the Washington Post: “Some people would segregate Lippman as a crime or thriller writer. That’s a shame. She’s one of the best novelists around, period.”