Veteran short story writer (and only occasional novelist) Edward D. Hoch was named the new Grand Master, and feisty 95-year-old Mildred Wirt Bensen, who as Carolyn Keene wrote dozens of Nancy Drew mysteries beginning in the late 1930s, received a special Edgar at the Mystery Writers of America's annual prize-giving May 3.
Bensen, in a speech after a video tribute to her immortal girl detective, originally owned by the Stratemeyer Syndicate and now by Simon & Schuster, said she had been publishing since she was seven or eight years old—which means for most of the century. She signed a contract, she said, never to reveal her name, and was paid at the rate of $125 a book for most of the 130-odd books she wrote under various pen names. At one point, she said, her publisher tried to reduce her to $75 a book. "I was never paid sufficiently," she declared.
Other awards given out at the black-tie gala dinner at New York's Grand Hyatt included the following: Best Novel: The Bottoms by Joe R. Lansdale (Mysterious Press)
Best First Novel: A Conspiracy of Paperby David Liss (Random).
Best Paperback Original: The Black Mariaby Mark Graham (Avon).
Best Fact Crime: Black Mass: The Irish Mob, the FBI and a Devil's Dealby Dick Lehr and Gerald O'Neill (Public Affairs/Perseus).
Best Critical/Biographical Work: Conundrums for the Long Weekend: England, Dorothy L. Sayers and Lord Peter Wimseyby Robert Kuhn McGregor with Ethan Lewis (Kent State Univ. Press).
Best Short Story: "Missing in Action"by Peter Robinson (in Ellery Queen magazine).
Best Young Adult: Counterfeit Sonby Elaine Marie Alphin (Harcourt).
Best Children's: Dovey Coeby Frances O'Roark Dowell (Atheneum).