Cleveland played host to the annual Bouchercon World Mystery Convention, an event for crime fiction authors and fans that drew approximately 1,500 registered attendees. Organized with the efficiency expected of a librarian, this year’s convention was smoothly run by just such a person Marjory Mogg. Taking full advantage of the city, and its impressive library system, the convention had events at locales as disparate and yet quintessentially “Cleveland” as the public library, home to Soho Press’s Meet the Authors event on Wednesday before the conference officially kicked off, and the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, the chic venue for the Opening Night Ceremonies. Presided over by the ever-charming Irishman John Connolly, who made a strong case for retaining love for the printed book even in our growing digital age, the attendees were treated to the opportunity of touring the museum afterhours.
Elizabeth George, the Washington State-based writer of the successful Inspector Lynley mysteries set across the pond, was the convention’s American Guest of Honor, while the prolific Robin Cook, who has written countless medical thrillers including the well-known Coma, was honored with Distinguished Contribution to the Genre. Mary Higgins Clark, whose numerous books have sold over 100 million copies in the U.S. alone and who also writes with her daughter and fellow attendee Carol Higgins Clark, was honored with Bouchercon’s Lifetime Achievement Award. 2012’s Fan Guest of Honor was librarian Doris Ann Norris, a lifelong resident of the Buckeye state who attended her first Bouchercon in 1998 in Philadelphia and hasn’t been able to stay away since. Les Roberts was honored as Special Cleveland Guest. In addition to his Cleveland-set series featuring blue collar Slovenian PI Milan Jacovich, Roberts also has an impressive Hollywood career, where he wrote for programs such as The Andy Griffiths Show and The Lucy Show.
As in years past for a conference so steeped in awards ceremonies, Thursday’s festivities included the presentation of both the Macavity and Barry Awards. Voted on by the members of Mystery Readers International, the Macavity Awards went to Sara Gran’s Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead (Best Mystery Novel), Leonard Rosen’s All Cry Chaos (Best First Mystery Novel), Charlaine Harris’s The Sookie Stackhouse Companion (Best Mystery Nonfiction), Dana Cameron’s “Disarming” (Best Mystery Short Story, from Ellery Queen magazine), and Catriona McPherson’s Dandy Gilver and the Proper Treatment of Bloodstains (Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award). The Anthony Awards, those voted on by attendees of Bouchercon, were announced Saturday evening in conjunction with the Silent Auction, co-hosted by Hank Phillippi Ryan and Daniel Palmer. No stranger to these sorts of awards, Louise Penny’s A Trick of the Light won Best Novel, while Sara J. Henry’s Learning to Swim earned Best First Novel. Julie Hyzy’s Buffalo West Wing won for Best Paperback Original. Already a Macavity winner, Dana Cameron’s “Disarming,” again from Ellery Queen mystery magazine, won Best Short Story. The David Thompson Special Services Award, created after Murder by the Book in Houston’s Thompson’s unexpected death, was also presented to Len and June Moffatt, co-founding editors of the JDM Bibliophile website.
From Thursday morning through Sunday morning, fans congregated in hotel meeting rooms to hear authors discuss topics such as the (seemingly) calm as “A Day in the Life of a Writer,” the growing popularity of YA Fiction and why so many adult crime writers have made the leap to writing for younger readers. Hobbies and crafts were well-represented this year, with panels covering subjects such as “Cooking Up a Murder” (culinary mysteries) and “Those Crafty Sleuths,” where audience members learned how some hobbies became murder. Programming Chair Kim Hammond made sure there was something for everyone, be it female heroes who kick ass and take names (“I am Woman Hear Me Roar”), the continuing joy of Rex Stout and Nero Wolf (“The Legacy of Rex Stout”) or so-called “Manfiction,” where tough guys get the hard jobs done. Even serial killers got their due during one of the convention’s last Sunday panels, when Jennifer McMahon, Jennifer Hillier, Chelsea Cain, and Patrick Kendrick traded stories about their murderous creations.
This year’s Shamus Awards, presented by the Private Eye Writers of America, were presented during a mini dinner cruise on the Nautica Queen and the winners happily brought their trophies back for adulation at the hotel bar. Former PWA president Max Alan Collins picked up the Hammer Award for best character, honoring his 1930s ex-cop-turned PI Nate Heller. Michael Wiley’s A Bad Night’s Sleep won for Best P.I. Novel, while Fun & Games by Duane Swiercyzinski won Best P.I. Paperback Original. The Shortcut Man by P.G. Sturges picked up the award for Best First P.I. Novel and Michael Levin’s “Who Am I,” from Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, won Best P.I. Short Story.
Next year’s convention is planned for Albany, N.Y.;it’s never too early to start planning for the New York State of Crime: (http://bcon2013.com/)