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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Edgar Awards As RA Tool

Yes I am posting before the awards happen, instead of tomorrow morning after the statues are handed out. Why? If you don't know the answer to this already, you must be new to RA for All, or you just don't pay attention.

Because award nominee lists are an even better RA Tool than simply knowing the winner of that award.

Here is the post I wrote back in 2011 [and still refer readers to frequently] entitled, "Using Awards Lists As A RA Tool." There I explain how the short lists for awards are a treasure trove of information for readalikes, display ideas, and collection development [just to name a few things you can use them for].

But the Edgars are particularly great as a RA resource for a few reasons.  First, since they are the official awards of "The Mystery Writers of America," the association takes a very broad view of what classifies as "mystery," including a wide range of crime fiction titles in their nominations.  Take for example the best novel category for this year, which I have reposted from their site, below.

Best Novel


This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow) 
Wolf by Mo Hayder (Grove/Atlantic – Atlantic Monthly Press)
Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King (Simon & Schuster – Scribner)
The Final Silence by Stuart Neville (Soho Press)
Saints of the Shadow Bible by Ian Rankin (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown)
Coptown by Karin Slaughter (Penguin Randomhouse – Delacorte Press)

These are all excellent novels, but what is fantastic about them as a grouping is that we have mystery, suspense, psychological suspense, and horror all represented here. You can use each year's list of titles in the Edgar "Best Novel" category to take a snapshot of where crime fiction is at that moment in time. So for 2015, we are seeing here in the nominations a tendency towards darker titles with less of an emphasis on traditional mystery and more of a focus on elements of suspense. That is an accurate assessment of the overall state of crime fiction today. And all it took was looking at 1 category of 1 award to understand the current trends in an entire subsection of fiction.

Second, the sheer breadth of Edgar categories covering all age ranges, fiction and nonfiction and even media, is also very useful. You can help people who like crime from a whole collection perspective.

Third, past years' short lists make for awesome backlist reading suggestions, and the Edgar Awards make this easier than just about anyone else with their easy to use Edgars Database.  For example, I ran this search for the 2013 nominees for Best First Novel. Best First Novel nominees from 2 years ago are authors to watch out for now. But even less specifically, just looking at any nominee from the past is a great place to find satisfying crime reads that will be on the shelf.

Finally, the Edgars have a category that in and of itself has saved my butt numerous times as I help people who enjoy the books of Mary Higgins Clark but have read all of her novels. Clark writes in a particular style of intense suspense but without graphic violence. She is hard to find satisfying matches for. Each year the Mary Higgins Clark Award honors the best works of fiction of the past year that most closely resemble the novels of Clark. This list of all of the nominees is THE BEST RESOURCE out there to help with Clark readalikes. Here is the current list of nominees

Mary Higgins Clark

A Dark and Twisted Tide by Sharon Bolton (Minotaur Books)
The Stranger You Know by Jane Casey (Minotaur Books)
Invisible City by Julia Dahl (Minotaur Books)
Summer of the Dead by Julia Keller (Minotaur Books)
The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day (Prometheus Books – Seventh Street Books)

So that's why I posted now, before the awards are given out later tonight. I will be following who wins on Twitter, but just for the fun of it. For my work helping leisure readers, it is the list of nominees and the historical database that I love.

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