Over 1,900 people traveled to the Big Easy September 15-18 for the 47th Bouchercon World Mystery Convention, an annual gathering of crime fiction’s fans and authors, making it the largest Bouchercon ever. The festive New Orleans setting permeated convention, co-chaired this year by Heather Graham and Connie Perry, from Thursday’s Opening Ceremonies, where the various Guests of Honor were escorted in on elaborate Mardi Gras parade-style floats to writers rocking out at New Orleans’s nearby House of Blues.
This year, Bouchercon welcomed Harlan Coben as the American Guest of Honor; fellow author Michael Connelly interviewed him. David Morrell was honored as the Lifetime Achievement recipient and interviewed by Lee Child. R.L. Stine, who thrilled (and chilled) attendees both young and old(er), was the Bouchercon Kids Guest of Honor; Heather Graham interviewed Stine. Scottish author Craig Robertson was the International Rising Star Guest of Honor, and was interviewed by fellow Scot Catriona McPherson. Julie Smith was honored as Local Legend for her New Orleans-based series and interviewed by Ace Atkins. Harley Jane Kozak and Alexandra Sokoloff presided as Toastmasters and had their own interview over the weekend with Gary Phillips. Legends in the crime fiction community Jon and Ruth Jordan, founders of Crimespree magazine, were honored as Bouchercon’s Fan Guests of Honor and interviewed by Charles and Caroline Todd.
Thursday night’s opening ceremonies, in addition to the mini parade, also served as the first of two awards presentations, in keeping with Bouchercon traditions, with the winners of the Macavity and the Barry Awards announced. Voted on by readers of Mystery Readers International, the Macavity Awards went to Lou Berney’s The Long and Faraway Gone for Best Mystery Novel (Berney swept the awards, winning everything for which he was nominated); Glen Eric Hamilton’s Past Crimes for Best First Novel; Martin Edwards’s The Golden Age of Murder for Best Critical/Biographical; Megan Abbott’s “The Little Men,” a Bibliomystery from Mysterious Press for Best Short Story; and Susanna Calkin’s The Masque of a Murderer for the Sue Federer Historical Mystery Award. The Barry Awards, voted on by readers of Deadly Pleasures magazine, included repeat winner Berney for Best Paperback; Taylor Stevens’s The Mask for Best Thriller; Ausma Zehanat Khan’s The Unquiet Dead for Best First Novel; and C.J. Box’s Badlands for Best Novel.
The Anthony Awards, voted on by Bouchercon attendees, were presented on Friday night at the nearby Orpheum Theater to a packed house. Joelle Charbonneau’s Need won Best YA; Art Taylor, a double nominee, won Best Anthology for his Murder Under the Oaks, and Megan Abbott repeated her short story victory with “The Little Men.” The audiobook of Louise Penny’s The Nature of the Beast won Best Audiobook, while Val McDermid’s Forensics won for Best Critical or Nonfiction. Completing his sweep, Berney picked up the award for Best Paperback Original, and Glen Eric Hamilton’s Past Crimes won again for Best First Novel. The big award of the night, Best Novel, went to Chris Holm and The Killing Kind. Holm summed up the crime fiction community best when he told the audience that, “it’s a hell of a thing to realize you’ve found your tribe.”
Despite the pull of nearby Bourbon Street and the French Quarter in general, panel attendance was high throughout the conference, with fans flocking to see authors discuss craft, trends, and even what they read themselves.
The conference heads north next year, to Toronto.