From: The Wall Street Journal
By Alexandra Alter
Winners at tonight's annual Edgar Awards, presented by the Mystery Writers of America, should relish the victory—the first Edgar is often the last.
The group has doled out awards to crime and mystery novelists since 1946, but few writers collect multiple awards in major categories during the course of their careers. A perusal of the group's online database found little overlap between debut authors who have won best first novel (including Patricia Cornwell, Michael Connelly, James Patterson and Richard North Patterson) and seasoned mystery writers who have won best novel (among them Dick Francis, Tony Hillerman, Elmore Leonard, John le Carre, Donald E. Westlake and Raymond Chandler).
Only one winner in the debut novelist category has gone on to win best novel. The late Ross Thomas won best first novel by an American for "The Cold War Swap" in 1967, and won best novel for "Briarpatch" in 1985. Entry rules may account in part for the low overlap: The debut novel prize is awarded only to American authors, while best novel is an international category. Few writers have won the best novel prize more than once (Dick Francis won three times, in 1970, 1981 and 1996; T. Jefferson Parker and James Lee Burke have both won twice).
Writers may have a better shot at multiple wins if their work takes a variety of forms. A few writers have bagged repeat awards in different categories, such as short stories, novels, TV and movies.
Television writer David Simon won for best fact crime in 1992 for his nonfiction book "Homicide," about a Baltimore homicide unit, and for best TV feature in 2007 for his HBO series "The Wire." Mr. Westlake won best novel in 1968 for "God Save the Mark," best short story in 1990 for "Too Many Crooks," and best motion picture in 1991 for "The Grifters," the movie made from his screenplay.
This year, women dominate among the finalists for best first novel by an American author, outnumbering men by four to two. The finalists are "A Bad Day for Sorry," by Sophie Littlefield; "In the Shadow of Gotham," by Stefanie Pintoff; "Black Water Rising," by Attica Locke; "The Weight of Silence," by Heather Gudenkauf; "The Girl She Used to Be," by David Cristofano; and "Starvation Lake," by Bryan Gruley, Chicago bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal. (Journal pop critic Jim Fusilli is also up for an Edgar for best short story category).
In the best novel category, the finalists are "Nemesis," by Norwegian crime novelist Jo Nesbø; "The Odds," by Kathleen George; "The Missing," by Tim Gautreaux; "A Beautiful Place to Die," by Malla Nunn; "Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death," by Charlie Huston; and "The Last Child," by John Hart, who won in 2008 for "Down River."
UPDATE: And the winners are….
Best Novel: The Last Child by John Hart (Minotaur Books)
Best First Novel By An American Author: In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff (Minotaur Books)
Best Paperback Original: Body Blows by Marc Strange (Dundurn Press - Castle Street Mysteries)
Best Critical/Biographical: The Lineup: The World's Greatest Crime Writers Tell the Inside Story of Their Greatest Detectives edited by Otto Penzler (Hachette Book Group - Little, Brown and Company)
Best Fact Crime: Columbine by Dave Cullen (Hachette Book Group - Twelve)
Best Short Story: "Amapola" - Phoenix Noir by Luis Alberto Urrea (Akashic Books)
Best Young Adult: Reality Check by Peter Abrahams (HarperCollins Children's Books - HarperTeen)
Best Juvenile: Closed for the Season by Mary Downing Hahn (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Books)
Best Television Episode Teleplay: "Place of Execution," Teleplay by Patrick Harbinson (PBS/WGBH Boston)
Robert L. Fish Memorial Award: A Dreadful Day" - Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine by Dan Warthman (Dell Magazines)
2010 Grand Master: Dorothy Gilman