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February 17, 2012

Honorrific: The Faces of Angels, by Lucretia Grindle, nominated for an Edgar Award

I was taught as a child that it’s tacky to brag, so somewhere my mother is looking down at me with her lips pursed, because I’m about to brag something serious. Felony & Mayhem Press has been nominated for its fourth consecutive Edgar award.

This is a big deal on several fronts. First, the Edgars—named, of course, for Mr. Poe—are essentially the Oscars of the mystery world; it actually is an honor just to be nominated. And did I mention that we’ve been honored four times in a row? We’re the first small press in the history of the awards to be honored like that. That’s just….buckets of honor.

Then there are the odds. One of my favorite lines in theater history comes from the Tennessee Williams play Sweet Bird of Youth. We’re in a crummy Florida hotel room, where the Princess Kosmonopolis, an aging movie star, is sleeping off a night of excess. She wakes to find Chance Wayne, a young gigolo, preening at the dressing table. Her arm over her eyes, the Princess asks who the hell he is, and Chance replies “Well, M’am, I used to be the best-looking boy in this town.”

The Princess considers this. And then she asks, “How big is the town?”

When it comes to odds, that’s a crucial question. If I told you that there are a total of five nominees (including ours, for Lucretia Grindle’s The Faces of Angels) for Best Mystery of the Year in Paperback Original, but there were only six submissions, the honor would be limited. You would, correctly, be less than wildly impressed. But in fact, hundreds of books were submitted to the Edgars committee for consideration. The Faces of Angels has already beaten more than 80% of the competition. See? We are oozing honor.

But wait, there’s more! Three of our nominations (I did mention that there have been four, right? In a row?) have indeed been in the Paperback Original category. But one (for Missing, by Karin Alvtegen) was for Best Mystery of the Year, full stop. This is by far the swankiest category, and in order to be eligible for submission, a book must have been published in hardcover. No problem. Except in our entire corporate lifetime, we have published a grand total of three hardcovers. Three. Since 2005. And in 2008, the year Missing came out, it was the only hardcover we published. St. Martin’s Press, by contrast, publishes something like 150 hardcover mysteries every year, and then there’s Random House, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Hachette….The odds against our single book getting one of the coveted five nomination-spots? I don’t know; I’m rotten at math. But they’re long, long odds. Honor like you wouldn’t believe.

Of course, the vast majority of that honor belongs not to us but to the writers. And LC (Len) Tyler gets a double-helping: His first novel, The Herring-Seller’s Apprentice, was nominated in 2010, and the following year— in case the world had missed the message—Ten Little Herrings (#2 in the “Ethelred and Elsie” series) got the nod. (Sadly, #3, The Herring in the Library, did not get an Edgar nomination…but it did win England’s “Last Laugh” award, for best funny mystery of the year.)

If you’d like to see just how funny Mr. Tyler is, please take a gander at the new Felony of the Month: We’re offering a tasty discount on The Herring-Seller’s Apprentice. And if you’re already a member of Team Herring (or think you might join up), sit tight: In a few weeks we’ll be showcasing both an interview with Len and an original blog post.

And by the way, though we are thrilled by these nominations, they are far from the only kudos that our books have received. There is an astoundingly long list.

And please cross your fingers for us. Honor is a fine thing, but a win? A win would rock the Felonious world.


See you in the stacks!





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