Thursday, July 11, 2013

“The Strand” Takes a Stand

The Strand Magazine has announced the winners of its 2012 Critics Awards.

Best Novel: Defending Jacob, by William Landay (Delacorte)

Also nominated: The Gods of Gotham, by Lyndsay Faye (Putnam); Broken Harbor, by Tana French (Viking); Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn (Crown); and Live by Night, by Dennis Lehane (Morrow)

Best Debut Novel: The 500, by Matthew Quirk (Hachette)

Also nominated: A Land More Kind Than Home, by Wiley Cash (Morrow); The Yard, by Alex Grecian (Putnam); The Expats, by Chris Pavone (Crown); and Disappeared, by Anthony Quinn (Mysterious Press/Open Road)

Congratulations to both of the victors.

I must admit, though, that I’m rather surprised to see Landay’s Defending Jacob walk away with the Best Novel prize. I was honored to be included among the judges of this contest. In early March, Strand editor Andrew F. Gulli asked me, together with a variety of other critics and journalists, to send him a rundown of my five favorite mystery and thriller novels from 2012. I worked up a list that included Peter May’s The Blackhouse, Faye’s The Gods of Gotham, and Philip Kerr’s Prague Fatale. Shortly thereafter, I asked Gulli about scheduling a second round of voting to narrow down the many suggestions he’d received. He responded thusly: “Judging is over, one book received so many votes that it's hard to see anything change!”

At the time, I presumed this meant that the mystery novel then collecting the most widespread attention on “best books of 2012” tallies--Flynn’s Gone Girl--had also overwhelmed any other contenders for the Strand Best Novel commendation. It didn’t occur to me that the overwhelming favorite would be Landay’s book, which I’d found to be dramatically plotted but somewhat stilted in its composition.

I guess this just goes to show book critics are rarely of one mind. Thank goodness for that, right?

(Hat tip to Mystery Fanfare.)

1 comment:

John said...

An ARC of DEFENDING JACOB was in the book bags of Bouchercon attendees in 2011. It was part of a huge marketing campaign, too. I'm guessing it was probably very widely read and better known than the other books nominated.