The First Crime Novel Competition, which teams up Minotaur Books and Mystery Writers of America, is the literary equivalent of American Idol.
The competition gives an unpublished writer the opportunity to launch a career with the Minotaur Books imprint. The winner will receive a one-book, $10,000 contract.
A winner is not chosen annually so the competition is pretty stiff.
And this competition has given the genre some involving stories. Previous winners include The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen (2016 ); The Drowned Land by John Keyse-Walker (2015); The Man on the Washing Machine by Susan Cox (2014); The Impersonator by Mary Miley (2012); A Simple Murder by Eleanor Kuhns (2011); One Man's Paradise by Douglas Corleone (2009); In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff (2008).
The latest author to join that group is Nev March, whose honor was announced April 25, 2019, during the Mystery Writers of America Edgar banquet in New York City.
The New Jersey resident’s winning novel is tentatively titled The Rajabai Tower Mystery, and is set to be published in 2020. (Note: the cover at left is not final.)
Set in the 1890s, The Rajabai Tower Mystery features a former soldier in the Indian army recovering from wounds sustained in skirmishes with Afghan tribesmen. The soldier becomes inspired by the Sherlock Holmes novels he reads to investigate the suicides of two well-to-do Parsee women in Bombay.
Minotaur Books associate publisher Kelley Ragland stated in a press release, “A vibrant portrait of India just before the turn of the century, an engaging lead character in Captain Jim Agnihotri, and a fresh homage to Arthur Conan Doyle, The Rajabai Tower Mystery was the perfect choice for our winner.”
After working in business analysis for 20 years, Nev March returned to writing full time in 2015. She is a member of the Hunterdon County Library Write-Group. She lives with her husband and two sons in New Jersey.
Minotaur is currently accepting submissions for next year’s award. For more information, visit http://www.minotaurbooks.com/writingcompetitions.
The Agatha Awards were presented on May 4, 2019, during Malice Domestic 31.
Those who took home the Agatha are in bold with ** in front of their names.
Congratulations to all of the winners and nominees. Each of these categories is comprised of strong nominees so we consider everyone a winner.
And in a couple of categories, there are ties!
BEST CONTEMPORARY NOVEL
**Mardi Gras Murder by Ellen Byron (Crooked Lane Books)
Beyond the Truth by Bruce Robert Coffin (Witness Impulse)
Cry Wolf by Annette Dashofy (Henery Press)
Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny (Minotaur)
Trust Me by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge)
BEST HISTORICAL NOVEL
**The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey (Soho Crime)
Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding by Rhys Bowen (Berkley)
The Gold Pawn by LA Chandlar (Kensington)
Turning the Tide by Edith Maxwell (Midnight Ink)
Murder on Union Square by Victoria Thompson (Berkley)
BEST FIRST NOVEL
**A Ladies Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman (Kensington)
**Curses Boiled Again by Shari Randall (St. Martin's)
Little Comfort by Edwin Hill (Kensington)
What Doesn't Kill You by Aimee Hix (Midnight Ink)
Deadly Solution by Keenan Powell (Level Best Books)
BEST SHORT STORY
**"All God's Sparrows" by Leslie Budewitz (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)
**"The Case of the Vanishing Professor" by Tara Laskowski (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)
"A Postcard for the Dead" by Susanna Calkins in Florida Happens (Three Rooms Press)
"Bug Appetit" by Barb Goffman (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
"English 398: Fiction Workshop" by Art Taylor (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
BEST YOUNG ADULT MYSTERY
**Potion Problems (Just Add Magic) by Cindy Callaghan (Aladdin)
Winterhouse by Ben Guterson (Henry Holt)
A Side of Sabotage by C.M. Surrisi (Carolrhoda Books)
**Mastering Plot Twists by Jane Cleland (Writer's Digest Books)
Writing the Cozy Mystery by Nancy J. Cohen (Orange Grove Press)
Conan Doyle for the Defense by Margalit Fox (Random House)
Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life by Laura Thompson (Pegasus Books)
Wicked Women of Ohio by Jane Ann Turzillo (History Press)