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Edgar Award Nominees

The Best Mystery and Crime Literature in 2021

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • January 23, 2022

Each year, according to tradition, nominees for the Edgar Awards—named for Edgar Allan Poe—are announced on January 19, their namesake's birthday. This prestigious annual award honors the best in mystery and crime literature, television, film, and theater. Here, we share the selected titles in some of our favorite literary categories.

Best Novel

The Venice Sketchbook by Rhys Bowen
Caroline Grant is struggling to accept the end of her marriage when she receives an unexpected bequest. Her beloved great-aunt Lettie dies, leaving her a sketchbook, three keys, and a final whisper . . . Venice.

Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby
Ike and Buddy Lee are two men with little else in common other than a criminal past and a love for their murdered sons. To do better for their boys in death than they did in life means facing their own prejudices.

Five Decembers by James Kestrel
It's December 1941 in Honolulu, Hawaii. America teeters on the brink of war and police detective Joe McGrady receives the assignment to investigate a homicide that will change his life forever.

How Lucky by Will Leitch
Despite suffering from a debilitating physical disability, Daniel has a rich life, complete with a good job and close friends. Largely confined to his home, he finds himself caught up in a mystery unfolding right outside his front door.

No One Will Miss Her by Kat Rosenfield
Drawing comparisons to Gone Girl, this is a story of privilege, identity, and cunning. Two lonely women from opposite worlds navigate a relationship that cuts across class boundaries: transactional, complicated, and, finally, deadly.

Best Debut Novel by an American Author

Deer Season by Erin Flanagan
When an intellectually disabled farmhand falls under suspicion for the disappearance of a local teenage girl, a small town farming community confronts complicated questions about family, loyalty, and love.

Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian
In many ways, Chloe's just a typical freshman honor student. But she also happens to be a psychopath. When one of the other students from the clinical study she's enrolled in gets murdered, a dangerous game of cat and mouse begins.

Suburban Dicks by Fabian Nicieza
This hilariously entertaining murder mystery features two unlikely amateur sleuths. The engrossing social satire examines racial tensions exposed in a New Jersey suburb after the murder of a gas station attendant.

What Comes After by JoAnne Tompkins
After the shocking death of two teenage boys tears apart a community in the Pacific Northwest, a mysterious pregnant girl emerges out of the woods and into the lives of those same boys' families.

The Damage by Caitlin Wahrer
After a violent sexual assault, a small-town family is pushed to the brink. How far will they go to protect one of their own? This edgy, propulsive read explores elements of doubt, tragedy, suspense, and justice.

Best True Crime

The Confidence Men: How Two Prisoners of War Engineered the Most Remarkable Escape in History by Margalit Fox
Imprisoned in a remote Turkish POW camp during World War I, two British officers formed a profound, but unlikely friendship. This powerful alliance, born out of pain, hunger, and loneliness saved both of their lives.

Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York by Elon Green
This gripping narrative tells the story of the decades-long chase to find the elusive serial killer who preyed upon gay men in NYC in the '80s and '90s. At the same time, it paints a portrait of the vibrant community he targeted.

Sleeper Agent: The Atomic Spy in America Who Got Away by Ann Hagedorn
Perfect for fans of The Americans, this is a gripping, fast-paced, extensively researched story about an undetected Soviet operative who changed history. American-born Russian spy George Koval infiltrated the WWII atom bomb project.

Two Truths and a Lie: A Murder, A Private Investigator, and Her Search for Justice by Ellen McGarrahan
A journalist turned private investigator revisits the case that has haunted her for decades, asking profound questions about grief, complicity, and justice. In her search for truth, McGarrahan uncovers a complex story of guilt and innocence.

The Dope: The Real History of the Mexican Drug Trade by Benjamin T. Smith
This dark morality tale balances the American hunger for intoxication with the necessities of human survival, essential for understanding how this illicit business shaped modern Mexico and the country's relationship with the United States.

When Evil Lived in Laurel: The "White Knights" and the Murder of Vernon Dahmer by Curtis Wilkie
Drawing on the first-person account of an FBI informant, Wilkie recreates the events leading up the 1966 murder of a civil rights community leader by the KKK, plumbing the depths of institutional racism and its lasting impacts.

Best Middle Grade

Cold-Blooded Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Bunce
In book three of an award-winning series, Myrtle Hardcastle—twelve-year-old Young Lady of Quality and Victorian amateur detective—is back on the case, solving a string of bizarre murders in her hometown of Swinburne.

Concealed by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
Katrina and her parents are part of the Witness Protection Program. When their location leaks and her parents disappear, Katrina and her new friend Parker set out to save her parents and learn some unsettling truths along the way.

Aggie Morton Mystery Queen: The Dead Man in the Garden by Marthe Jocelyn
In book three of this inventive series, Aggie and her friend Hector—youthful, reimagined versions of Agatha Christie and Hercule Poirot—must apply their sleuthing skills when dead bodies start turning up during a spa visit.

Kidnap on the California Comet by M. G. Leonard and Sam Sedgeman
The second book in the Adventures on Trains series finds amateur sleuth Hal Beck on the historic California Comet from Chicago to San Francisco. When the daughter of a billionaire tech entrepreneur goes missing, he's on the case.

Rescue by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Meg hasn't seen her father since he left France to fight for the Allies in World War II. She's heard he was being held prisoner by the Nazis, but now she has the chance to save him and aid the French resistance.

Best Young Adult

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
After Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo are selected as their school's senior class prefects, an anonymous texter begins to reveal secrets that turn their lives upside down. Can they stop the situation before it becomes deadly?

Firekeepers Daughter by Angeline Boulley
Eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, either in her hometown or the nearby Ojibwe reservation. But after witnessing a shocking murder, she is on a mission to root out the corruption in her community.

When You Look Like Us by Pamela N. Harris
A timely, gripping story about a boy searching for his sister when she goes missing from a neighborhood where black girls' disappearances are too often overlooked. Perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds and Tiffany D. Jackson.

The Forest of Stolen Girls by June Hur
Korea, 1426: After Hwani's father vanishes while investigating the case of thirteen missing girls from their hometown on the Island of Jeju, she must take up the search to find him. And, in doing so, she confronts her own traumatic past.

The Girls I've Been by Tess Sharpe
As the daughter of a con artist, Nora honed her mother's tactics. After five years of playing at normal, she needs to dust off those skills when she gets taken hostage in a bank heist. The bank robbers may be trouble, but Nora's something else entirely.

Edgar Award winners will be celebrated in a ceremony scheduled for April 28, 2022. In the meantime, we welcome the chance to read some of these nominated titles and make our own guesses on the mystery of who will take the prizes. Let us know what you think!

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