Edgar Week

It’s Tuesday night at Casa Jordan. It’s mystery week around the globe. The Edgars are here. As I type this little piece everyone who’s anyone is sipping beverages with Bonnie and Joe at Black Orchid. And Thursday the envelopes will be opened. My conduit to events as they’re happening will be Sarah Weinman, who will live stream blog from the awards themselves. If you’re stuck at home you can still tune in. See Confessions of An Idiosyncratic Mind for a link or use this Edgar stream . Me, I expect phone calls from Judy! New Yorkers, be sure to mention this to her, she may forget.
Crimespree comes out with different lists for best than the Edgars. So too, does David Montgomery’s Gumshoe Awards. And any number of other fanzines, fansites, local libraries, you get the picture. I mention this not to detract from the Edgars, they are MYSTERY’S award. Our second biggest story this week is of course the end of the Independent Book Review. Will we save it? The list of names on the petition grows hourly. It is the focus of major concern.
The main reason for publications like Crimespree to exist, what in fact makes them viable today, is that readers read. When I first became engrossed in mystery I scoured the NYTBR every weekend. I found writers Bill James, Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Loren Estelman, Karen Kijewski, S.J. Rozan, Stuart Kaminsky, and Charlaine Harris to name a few, through Marilyn Stasio’s tri-weekly column. I also fervently read Adler’s reviews. I may not have always agreed with the assessment made by my first two “go to” sources but I could certainly make out if I would enjoy a book through what they said.
And then came the internet age… look for one name you know and if you work it right you’ll find a dozen others to fill your reading time. From the first carnation of AOL’s book central and the hard boiled board I found new sources for future reads. God Bless the web sites (BooksnBytes, January), and the message boards (DorothyL., Rara Avis, and when on topic REC.ARTS. Mystey). Thank you for the world of blogging. Sarah, David and all who followed are to be commended.
But when you start the path down mystery fandom your first source is the raw material. The book that makes you go, “I need more like this!” Your second source is the book review in the Sunday paper. Suddenly you find yourself PAYING ATTENTION to that page five info. The NYT’s isn’t going anywhere. But those other black and white, ink on the fingers and bagel Sunday peruses are swiftly drying up. This is bad, we all need new readers for the books we love to read to continue to be published.
As magnificent as the creme de a creme of the reviewing world are we need to have other sources. Why? Well here’s the thing (threw that in for you Jen). If 100 reviewers each get the same eighty books you know they’re all going to pay attention to the potential best sellers. You have to. You want the broadest part of your readership to be reached and informed of the books they will buy. So that’s 15 accounted for, out of pocket. It’s the other 65 that make things interesting. For individuals possess individual taste. Crimespree is going to be all over anything that John Galligan writes, and Dave Montgomery is going to review every decent Thriller published. Ms. Stasio will never miss an Estelman book even if she hears the cry of another. And we’ll all review Pelecanos and Rankin and McDermid every time out, because dammit, we want people to read the best of our genre. We want folk who’ve found Lee Child to remember David Morrell and those who enjoyed Dorothy Cannell to find Sarah Graves.
Over my time in fandom folk like Lehane, Crais, Lippman, Harris and Connelly have become “hit the list” writers. They’ve been allowed this profession because a group of people who like to write reviews all found them and said, “Hey, I’m going to talk about this person”. Their readers then read these folk. Reviewers filters’ are distinct. Individual. When a hundred people who reach an audience rave about an author for four consecutive books, the name rumbles throughout our little world, the marketing departments answer the cry. The readers start reading the books and amazing things are allowed to happen. For as different and individual as reviewers are, they are first and foremost sincere. They will sell no book before its time.
If that voice stops, what happens next? I don’t want to think about it. Our other sources are wondrous but for the newly converted it is the smell of ink that first fills their need. So to all of you in New York this week: Enjoy, embrace the M.W.A.’s annual awards, and remember to talk about the trend of the disappearing individual reviewer. We can fix this together.
Ruth
Recommended this week:
Declan Hughe’s Color Of Blood

Ian Rankin’s Naming of the Dead

Reed Farrel Coleman’s Soul Patch

Helene Tursten’s The Glass Devil