Ross Thomas Award

Blame Chuck Dickens. He started the whole “great first line” thing, with “it
was the best of times.” Now we all have to have to keep up. Happily,
nobody does better first lines than mystery and thriller writers.

“Shortly after the death of the failed Quaker, Steadfast Haynes, the Central
Intelligence Agency received a telephoned blackmail threat that was so
carefully veiled and politely murmured it could have been misinterpreted as
the work of some harmless crank. But it wasn’t misinterpreted.”

Read that and I dare you to close the book without reading on. In
recognition of the art of crafting great first lines, several of us in the
mystery community have decided to launch the Ross Thomas Award (named with
the permission of Ross’s widow, Rosalie). It will be given to the best first
line of a mystery or thriller published in English in 2004.

Nominations can be submitted through Jim Huang’s website:
Anyone can submit a line – as long as the work from which it is taken was published in English
in 2004. (You absolutely can nominate yourself.) The top ten “great first
lines” – and the winner — will be selected by a panel of booksellers, fans,
and writers and will be announced at Midwest MWA’s Of Dark and Stormy Nights
Writing Conference, June 11, 2005, and be featured in a forthcoming issue of
The Drood Review. Those who nominate the winners will also be recognized.

We hope to make this an annual event, and we encourage everyone to submit
their favorite first line. And if you’re interested in becoming a judge or
otherwise being involved, please drop an email to
Nominations are due May 21.