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Edgar Awards honor Dennis Lehane, 'Midnight in Peking'

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(Read caption) 'Live by Night' by Dennis Lehane and 'Midnight in Peking' by Paul French were two of the night's big winners at the Edgar Awards.

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This year, the Edgars, one of the highest honors in the mystery writing genre, bestowed titles on books with subject matter ranging from a foreigner killed in China to a look at the world of crime during the Roaring ‘20s.

The Best Novel award was given to Dennis Lehane’s book “Live by Night,” which follows the son of a police captain as he explores the criminal underground of Prohibition-Era America. Lehane, a Boston native, paid sweet tribute to the recently threatened city in his acceptance speech, according to industry newsletter Shelf Awareness.

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“Everything about me that people love, and everything about me that pisses people off comes from being from Boston,” Lehane said.

The Best Fact Crime award went to author Paul French for his work “Midnight in Peking,” which explored the death of a young Englishwoman in China in the 1930s as the country was experiencing tremendous change. (Check out Monitor writer Randy Dotinga’s Q&A with French here.) French came from Shanghai to accept his Edgar Award in New York City.

“It was a very long flight but obviously worth it,” French said during his acceptance speech.

The debut novel prize, titled Best First Novel by an American Author, went to “The Expats” by Chris Pavone. Pavone’s novel follows an American woman living abroad in Europe who is terrified her past is coming back to haunt her.

Meanwhile, the Best Paperback Original prize honored “The Last Policeman” by Ben H. Winters, a novel that centers on a police detective trying to solve a mystery as Earth is threatened with extinction. 

The Best Critical/Biographical award went to writer James O’Brien for his book “The Scientific Sherlock Holmes” and the Best Short Story prize was given to writer Karin Slaughter for her piece “The Unremarkable Heart.”

In categories for younger readers, author Jack D. Ferraiolo was awarded the Best Juvenile mystery award for his book “The Quick Fix,” while the Best Young Adult prize was given to the book “Code Name Verity” by Elizabeth Wein.

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The Grand Master prize, which honors an author’s body of work, was given to “Winter of the World” author Ken Follett and Margaret Maron of “The Buzzard’s Table.”

The Edgars also award writing for a mystery TV episode, and this year’s honor went to the installment of the BBC series “Sherlock” titled “A Scandal in Belgravia.”

In his acceptance speech, Follett noted the power that a great story can have over a reader.

“If they're hoping it will turn out this way, and fearing it will turn out that way, they're going to turn the page,” he said.