Thursday, May 14, 2020

Setting Up Lee and Allingham Rivalries

This week brings the announcement, from the University of Alabama School of Law, of the three books that have been named as finalists for the 2020 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction. They are:

The Satapur Moonstone, by Sujata Massey (Soho Crime)
The Hallows, by Victor Methos (Thomas & Mercer)
An Equal Justice, by Chad Zunker (Thomas & Mercer)

“We are pleased to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Prize with the selection of these finalists,” Candice Robbins, assistant dean for advancement at the Law School, is quoted in a news release as saying. “The books represent a diverse offering in legal fiction, from a historical mystery series written by Massey, to a sharp legal thriller by Methos, and, finally, a fast-paced novel that explores the crisis of homelessness in the United States by Zunker.”

The media alert adds that the Harper Lee Prize “is given annually to a book-length work of fiction that best illuminates the role of lawyers in society and their power to effect change.”

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Also recently came word of which as-yet-unpublished works have been longlisted in the 2020 Margery Allingham Short Story Competition. That annual contest is sponsored by the Margery Allingham Society and the British Crime Writers’ Association. Here are the latest nominees:

• “The Boy from Galway Bay,” by Sally Bothroyd
• “The Last Letter,” by Antony M. Brown
• “The Nantes Affair,” by Briony Cameron
• “Prey,” by Amelia Coulon
• “Voices,” by Lauren Everdell
• “The Jewish Laundry,” by Michael Hare
• “One Bright Blue Day in Amsterdam,” by Jennifer Harvey
• “A Time to Confess,” by Della Millward
• “Sting in the Tail,” by Laila Murphy
• “A Death in the Library,” by Emily Organ
• “F8,” by Alexandra Pendjiky
• “Morning Murder,” by Wendy Swarbrick

As In Reference to Murder reminds us, this competition's intent “is to find the best unpublished short mystery, one that fits into [the] legendary crime writer’s definition of what makes a great story: ‘The Mystery remains box-shaped, at once a prison and a refuge. Its four walls are, roughly, a Crime, a Mystery, an Enquiry and a Conclusion with an Element of Satisfaction in it.’”

A shortlist of 2020 contenders is expected within weeks.

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