2021 Edgar Award Nominees
Highlighting the best in mysteries and thrillers, the Edgar® Awards will be celebrated on April 29, 2021. Congratulations to all 2021 nominees. To learn more about the Edgar® Awards, visit their website here.
The Best Novel
Before She Was Helen
Caroline B. Cooney
"As Before She Was Helen opens, readers are drawn into what appears to be a light, retirement-community caper. But author Caroline B. Cooney quickly flips expectations upside-down in this deceptively dark mystery. Between old crimes and fresh murders, septuagenarian protagonist Clemmie faces an unspeakable fear that will keep readers hooked in this twisty whodunit."-Julie Hyzy, New York Times bestselling author
Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line
In a sprawling Indian city, three friends venture into the most dangerous corners to find their missing classmate. . . .
Discover the “extraordinary” (The Washington Post) debut novel that “announces the arrival of a literary supernova” (The New York Times Book Review),“a drama of childhood that is as wild as it is intimate” (Chigozie Obioma).
The Thursday Murder Club
In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss unsolved crimes; together they call themselves The Thursday Murder Club.
When a local developer is found dead with a mysterious photograph left next to the body, the Thursday Murder Club suddenly find themselves in the middle of their first live case.
As the bodies begin to pile up, can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it's too late?
In West Adams, a rapidly changing part of South Los Angeles, they’re referred to as “these women.” These women on the corner … These women in the club … These women who won’t stop asking questions … These women who got what they deserved …
The Missing American
Accra private investigator Emma Djan's first missing persons case will lead her to the darkest depths of the email scams and fetish priests in Ghana, the world's Internet capital.
The Distant Dead
A body burns in the high desert hills. A boy walks into a fire station, pale with the shock of a grisly discovery. A middle school teacher worries when her colleague is late for work. By day’s end, when the body is identified as local math teacher Adam Merkel, a small Nevada town will be rocked to its core by a brutal and calculated murder.
Best First Novel
Murder in Old Bombay
In 1892, Bombay is the center of British India. Nearby, Captain Jim Agnihotri lies in Poona military hospital recovering from a skirmish on the wild northern frontier, with little to do but re-read the tales of his idol, Sherlock Holmes, and browse the daily papers. The case that catches Captain Jim's attention is being called the crime of the century: Two women fell from the busy university’s clock tower in broad daylight. Moved by Adi, the widower of one of the victims—his certainty that his wife and sister did not commit suicide—Captain Jim approaches the Parsee family and is hired to investigate what happened that terrible afternoon.
Related: Keeping It Fresh With Murder in Old Bombay Author Nev March
Please See Us
In this sophisticated, suspenseful debut reminiscent of Laura Lippman and Megan Miranda, two young women become unlikely friends during one fateful summer in Atlantic City as mysterious disappearances hit dangerously close to home.
A gothic-infused debut of literary suspense, set within a secluded, elite university and following a dangerously curious, rebellious undergraduate who uncovers a shocking secret about an exclusive circle of students . . . and the dark truth beneath her school’s promise of prestige.
Related: Mystery Suspense Meets Dark Academia
David Heska Wanbli Weiden
A groundbreaking thriller about a vigilante on a Native American reservation who embarks on a dangerous mission to track down the source of a heroin influx.
Darling Rose Gold
For the first eighteen years of her life, Rose Gold Watts believed she was seriously ill. She was allergic to everything, used a wheelchair and practically lived at the hospital. Neighbors did all they could, holding fundraisers and offering shoulders to cry on, but no matter how many doctors, tests, or surgeries, no one could figure out what was wrong with Rose Gold.
Best Paperback Original
When Katie Straw's body is pulled from the waters of the local suicide spot, the police are ready to write it off as a standard-issue female suicide. But the residents of the domestic violence shelter where Katie worked disagree. These women have spent weeks or even years waiting for the men they're running from to catch up with them. They know immediately: This was murder.
When No One Is Watching
Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she’s known all her life are disappearing. To hold onto her community’s past and present, Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block—her neighbor Theo. But Sydney and Theo’s deep dive into history quickly becomes a dizzying descent into paranoia and fear. Their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may be more deadly than advertised.
When does coincidence become conspiracy? Where do people go when gentrification pushes them out? Can Sydney and Theo trust each other—or themselves—long enough to find out before they too disappear?
The Deep, Deep Snow
In an intense, emotional mystery that spans a decade in the life of a small town, bestselling author Brian Freeman brings us an unforgettable heroine who discovers that the dead may sometimes be easier to rescue than the living.
Inspired by a terrifying true story from the author’s hometown, a heart-pounding novel of suspense about a small Minnesota community where nothing is as quiet—or as safe—as it seems.
East of Hounslow (Jay Qasim, Book 1)
The one man who can save us all?
Best Fact Crime
Blood Runs Coal: the Yablonski Murders and the Battle for the United Mine Workers of America
Mark A. Bradley
An extraordinary portrait of one of the nation’s major unions on the brink of historical change, Blood Runs Coal comes at a time of resurgent labor movements in the United States and the current administration’s attempts to bolster the fossil fuel industry. Brilliantly researched and compellingly written, it sheds light on the far-reaching effects of industrial and socioeconomic change that unfold across America to this day.
The Third Rainbow Girl
Emma Copley Eisenberg
In The Third Rainbow Girl, Emma Copley Eisenberg uses the Rainbow Murders case as a starting point for a thought-provoking tale of an Appalachian community bound by the false stories that have been told about it. Weaving in experiences from her own years spent living in Pocahontas County, she follows the threads of this crime through the complex history of Appalachia, revealing how this mysterious murder has loomed over all those affected for generations, shaping their fears, fates, and desires. Beautifully written and brutally honest, The Third Rainbow Girl presents a searing and wide-ranging portrait of America — divided by gender and class, and haunted by its own violence.
Death in Mud Lick
From a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter from the smallest newspaper ever to win the prize in the investigative reporting category, an urgent, riveting, and heartbreaking investigation into the corporate greed that pumped millions of pain pills into small Appalachian towns, decimating communities.
Sierra Crane Murdoch
The gripping true story of a murder on an Indian reservation, and the unforgettable Arikara woman who becomes obsessed with solving it—an urgent work of literary journalism.
From National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author Ariel Sabar, the gripping true story of a sensational religious forgery and the scandal that shook Harvard.
The Simon & Schuster Mary Higgins Clark Award
The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne
London, 1703. In a time when the old approaches to science coexist with the new, one elite community attempts to understand the world by collecting its wonders. Sir Barnaby Mayne, the most formidable of these collectors, has devoted his life to filling his cabinets. While the curious-minded vie for invitations to study the rare stones, bones, books, and artifacts he has amassed, some visitors come with a darker purpose.
For Cecily Kay, it is a passion for plants that brings her to the Mayne house. The only puzzle she expects to encounter is how to locate the specimens she needs within Sir Barnaby’s crowded cabinets. But when her host is stabbed to death, Cecily finds the confession of the supposed killer unconvincing. She pays attention to details—years of practice have taught her that the smallest particulars can distinguish a harmless herb from a deadly one—and in the case of Sir Barnaby’s murder, there are too many inconsistencies for her to ignore.
To discover the truth, Cecily must enter the world of the collectors, a realm where intellect is distorted by obsession and greed. As her pursuit of answers brings her closer to a killer, she risks being given a final resting place amid the bones that wait, silent and still, in the cabinets of Barnaby Mayne.
Death of an American Beauty
Jane Prescott is taking a break from her duties as lady’s maid for a week, and plans to begin it with attending the hottest and most scandalous show in town: the opening of an art exhibition, showcasing the cubists, that is shocking New York City.
The Lucky One
From the author of the Edgar Award®-nominated Under a Dark Sky comes an unforgettable, chilling novel about a young woman who recognizes the man who kidnapped her as a child, setting off a search for justice, and into danger.
The First to Lie
Hank Phillippi Ryan
Bestselling and award-winning author and investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan delivers another twisty, thrilling, cat and mouse novel of suspense that will have you guessing, and second-guessing, and then gasping with surprise.
Beth Rivers is still in Alaska. The unidentified man who kidnapped her in her home of St. Louis hasn’t been found yet, so she’s not ready to go back. But as October comes to a close, Benedict is feeling more and more like her new home. Beth has been working on herself: She’s managed to get back to writing, and she’s enjoying these beautiful months between summer and winter in Alaska.
Then, everything in Benedict changes after a mudslide exposes a world that had been hidden for years. Two mud-covered, silent girls appear, and a secret trapper’s house is found in the woods. The biggest surprise, though, is a dead and frozen woman’s body in the trapper’s shed. No one knows who she is, but the man who runs the mercantile, Randy, seems to be in the middle of all the mysteries.
The G.P. Putnam’s Sons Sue Grafton Memorial Award
Rattled from a run-in with a cult and desperate for answers, Detective Betty Rhyzyk decides to go rogue—but her investigation leads straight into the dark underworld of the Dallas drug cartel.
Laurie R. King
Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes turn the Riviera upside down to crack their most captivating case yet in the New York Times bestselling series that Lee Child called “the most sustained feat of imagination in mystery fiction today.”
The Sleeping Nymph
Ilaria Tuti; Ekin Oklap (Translator)
In the highly anticipated follow-up to Flowers Over the Inferno, Superintendent Teresa Battaglia, expert criminal profiler with four decades of experience on the Italian police force, returns for a chilling cold case.
Chicago’s legendary detective, V.I. Warshawski, knows her city’s rotten underbelly better than most, but she’s unable to avoid it when her goddaughter drags her into a fight over lakefront land use, in this propulsive novel from New York Times bestseller Sara Paretsky.
Vera Kelly Is Not a Mystery
The “splendid genre-pushing” (People) Vera Kelly series returns in full force as our recently out-of-the-spy-game heroine finds herself traveling from Brooklyn to a sprawling countryside estate in the Caribbean in her first case as a private investigator.
Turn to Stone
James W. Ziskin
This 1960s-era locked-room mystery takes Ellie Stone to Florence, Italy–a seemingly idyllic setting, which in this case has sinister undertones.
Howdunit: A Masterclass in Crime Writing by Members of the Detection Club
by Martin Edwards (HarperCollins Publishers – Harper360/Collins Crime Club)
Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, the Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock
by Christina Lane (Chicago Review Press)
Ian Rankin: A Companion to the Mystery & Fiction by Erin E. MacDonald (McFarland)
Guilt Rules All: Irish Mystery, Detective, and Crime Fiction
by Elizabeth Mannion & Brian Cliff (Syracuse University Press)
This Time Next Year We’ll be Laughing by Jacqueline Winspear (Soho Press)
Premeditated Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Bunce (Workman Publishing – Algonquin Young Readers)
Me and Banksy by Tanya Lloyd Kyi (Penguin Random House Canada – Puffin Canada)
From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks (HarperCollins Children’s Books – Katherine Tegen Books)
Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor (Penguin Young Readers – Viking BFYR)
Nessie Quest by Melissa Savage (Random House Children’s Books – Crown BFYR)
Coop Knows the Scoop by Taryn Souders (Sourcebooks Young Readers)
Best Young Adult
The Companion by Katie Alender (Penguin Young Readers – G.P. Putnam’s Sons BFYR)
The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown BFYR)
They Went Left by Monica Hesse (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown BFYR)
Silence of Bones by June Hur (Macmillan Children’s Books – Feiwel & Friends)
The Cousins by Karen M. McManus (Penguin Random House – Delacorte Press)
Best TV Episode Teleplay
“Episode 1, The Stranger” – Harlan Coben’s The Stranger, Written by Danny Brocklehurst (Netflix)
“Episode 1, Open Water” – The Sounds, Written by Sarah-Kate Lynch (Acorn TV)
“Episode 1, Photochemistry” – Dead Still, Written by John Morton (Acorn TV)
“Episode 1” – Des, Written by Luke Neal (Sundance Now)
“What I Know” – The Boys, Written by Rebecca Sonnenshine,
based on the comic by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson (Amazon)
What to Read Next