Oline H Cogdill

Among the many things we have all missed during the past two pandemic years are in-person mystery conferences.

As Joni Mitchell said, “Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone.”

And we have missed those in-person mystery conferences like crazy.

I give many compliments to the organizers of these conferences who converted them to zoom events.

These online events have kept us together, promoted books, engaged readers and continued our sense of community.

Zoom conferences serve a purpose, and I think we will move forward with a kind of hybrid.

For example, Mystery Writers of America’s current online Edgar Award symposium is a brilliant way to connect with readers from across the country. (Details on the MWA site.) Full disclosure, I will be conducting the interview with Grand Master Laurie R. King, Raven honoree Lesa Holstine and Ellery Queen honoree Juliet Grames on April 26.

The Edgar Awards banquet will be in person. YAY!

How much I’ve been missing attending these in-person conferences was brought home to me—and others—last week at Left Coast Crime in Albuquerque.

I was at the infamous San Diego Left Coast Crime in 2020 that was shut down after the first day as the pandemic was taking hold.

I had been asked to moderate four panels as many people were starting to cancel.

I moderated one panel, went up to my room, and came down to be told the conference was shut down. At first, I thought they meant the opening party. Oh no, the entire conference.

While those of us there were sad, my heart went out to the organizers and volunteers who had put their hearts and soul and years of time trying to make a terrific conference.

Perhaps that is why Left Coast Crime in Albuquerque was even more special.

It seemed as if everyone was pulling for this conference.

Everyone seemed to be so happy to be at an in-person conference—a sentiment I recited about 100,000 times.

The panels were terrific and were packed. Many standing room only. It was as if each attendee was trying to wring every moment out of the conference.

So special thanks to Lucinda Surber and Stan Ulrich and all their wonderful volunteers.

Each novel nominated for the Leftie awards were so deserving.

2022 Lefty Awards: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery Novel
(winner) Raquel V. Reyes, Mango, Mambo, and Murder (Crooked Lane Books)
Ellen Byron, Cajun Kiss of Death (Crooked Lane Books)
Jennifer Chow, Mimi Lee Cracks the Code (Berkley Prime Crime)
Elle Cosimano, Finlay Donovan Is Killing It (Minotaur Books)
Cynthia Kuhn, How To Book a Murder (Crooked Lane Books)
Wendall Thomas, Fogged Off (Beyond the Page Books)

Lefty for Best Historical Mystery Novel
(Bruce Alexander Memorial) for books covering events before 1970
(winner) Naomi Hirahara, Clark and Division (Soho Crime)
Susanna Calkins, The Cry of the Hangman (Severn House)
John Copenhaver, The Savage Kind (Pegasus Crime)
Sujata Massey, The Bombay Prince (Soho Crime)
Catriona McPherson, The Mirror Dance (Hodder & Stoughton)
Lori Rader-Day, Death at Greenway (William Morrow)

Lefty for Best Debut Mystery Novel
(winner) Wanda M. Morris, All Her Little Secrets (William Morrow)
Alexandra Andrews, Who Is Maud Dixon (Little, Brown and Company)
Marco Carocari, Blackout (Level Best Books)
Zakiya Dalila Harris, The Other Black Girl (Atria Books)
Mia P. Manansala, Arsenic and Adobo (Berkley Prime Crime)

Lefty for Best Mystery Novel
(winner) William Kent Krueger, Lightning Strike (Atria Books)
Tracy Clark, Runner (Kensington Books)
S.A. Cosby, Razorblade Tears (Flatiron Press)
Matt Coyle, Last Redemption (Oceanview Publishing)
P.J. Vernon, Bath Haus (Doubleday)

Albuquerque was my first full Left Coast Crime, but it won’t be my last.

In 2023, Left Coast will be in Tucson, Arizona, March 16–19, 2023.

Meanwhile, I am looking forward to Bouchercon.