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Likely Stories

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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Monday, October 13, 2008 2:30 pm
Shamus Awards
Posted by: Keir Graff

I’m back in the office, caught up on e-mail, and beginning to go over the notes that I scribbled in the margins of the Bouchercon program, on the backs of flyers, and on a piece of lined paper ripped from an unsuspecting victim’s spiral-bound notebook. I doubt I’ll get around to writing any kind of comprehensive post summing everything up, but I will do a few posts over the next few days that at least take a stab at it. To make merely one summing-up comment, however, I’ll agree with Sarah Weinman and say that it was a terrific convention: informative, entertaining, and well-attended. (Also, it was nice to finally meet Ms. Weinman, whose work I admire.)

All right, enough with the pleasantries. First up: the Shamus Awards. This low-key banquet felt like a catching-up session for many members of the Private Eye Writers of America, although there was also entertainment, in the form of an Edgar Allan Poe impersonator. An appropriate enough choice, given that Poe’s mortal remains were buried just outside, but one hopes that the gentleman portraying Mr. Poe hasn’t given up his daytime employment just yet.

Fortunately, the ceremony was entirely in the capable hands of Robert Randisi (Luck Be a Lady, Don’t Die, 2007). (He even took the tickets!) And, if I can decipher my handwriting from the back of my “pocket program,” the winners were:

The Hammer

The Nameless Detective, created by Bill Pronzini

Best Short Story

“Hungry Enough,” by Cornelia Read (from A Hell of a Woman, 2007, edited by Megan Abbott)

Best Paperback Original

Songs of Innocence, by Richard Aleas

Best First Novel

Big City, Bad Blood, by Sean Chercover

Best Hardcover

Soul Patch, by Reed Farrel Coleman

Richard Aleas, aka Charles Ardai, was seated next to me, and Sean Chercover was immediately behind me–the closest I have ever been to any award-banquet winners. Cornelia Read, however, was sick in bed, and would have given her acceptance speech via cell phone if only the acoustics had been more forgiving.

Lastly, the Coen Brothers have either ruined the word “shamus” for me or done the exact opposite: I can’t hear it without thinking of the following exchange in The Big Lebowski:

Hey, relax man, I’m a brother shamus.

The Dude is stunned.

Brother Shamus? Like an Irish monk?



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