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Macavity Awards

The Macavity Awards are an annual mystery fiction literary award, which have been presented since 1987. (The year listed is the year the award was presented, but for works published in the prior year.) The Macavity Awards are nominated and voted upon by the members of Mystery Readers International, the largest mystery fan/reader organization in the world, open to all readers, fans, critics, editors, publishers, and writers.

The award is named after the famed “mystery cat” in T.S. Eliot’s book Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. When first established, the Macavity Awards were presented in the categories of Best Mystery Novel, Best First Mystery Novel, and Best Mystery Short Story. In 2006, a new category was added, the Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award, named after Sue Feder, a reviewer, scholar and dedicated mystery fan, who had founded the Historical Mystery Appreciation Society (now apparently defunct). In 2010, a fifth category was added, which has had several different names, honoring the best mystery-related Non-Fiction title of the previous year.

The Macavity Awards are presented at the annual Bouchercon mystery convention, alongside the Anthony Awards. The Bouchercon convention travels the English-speaking world, taking place in a different city every year — Bouchercon XXIV was even held in nearby Omaha, NE! — usually in the U.S. but occasionally in Canada or England. The standard design of the Macavity Award is an crystalline wedge, engraved with an image of the cat Macavity, and the author’s name and winning title.

Book titles “hotlinked” in the list below are owned by the Lincoln City Libraries, and the link will take you to the holdings screen in our catalog, where you can check on the current availability of that title. The cover image shown for each year is for the “Best Mystery Novel” winner.

2022

Best Mystery Novel – S.A. Cosby– Razorblade Tears
Best First Mystery Novel – Mia P. Manansala – Arsenic and Adobo
Best Mystery Short Story – Richard Helm – “Sweeps Week” – in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, July/August 2021
Best Mystery Non-Fiction/Critial – Lee Child with Laurie R. King, editors – How to Write a Mystery: A Handbook from Mystery Writers of America
Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award – Naomi Hirahara – Clark and Division


2021

Best Mystery Novel – S.A. Cosby– Blacktop Wasteland
Best First Mystery Novel – David Heska Wanbli Weiden – Winter Counts
Best Mystery Short Story – Gabriel Valjan – “Elysian Fields” – in California Schemin’: The 20202 Bouchercon Anthology, also available on the author’s own website
Best Mystery Critical/Biographical – Sheila Mitchell – H.R.F. Keating: A Life of Crime
Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award – James W. Ziskin – Turn to Stone


2020

Best Mystery Novel – Adrian McKinty – The Chain
Best First Mystery Novel – Tara Laskowski – One Night Gone
Best Mystery Short Story – Art Taylor – “Better Days” – in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, June 2019
Best Mystery Non-Fiction/Critical – John Billheimer – Hitchcock and the Censors
Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award – Lara Prescott – The Secrets We Kept


2019

Best Mystery Novel – Lou Berney – November Road
Best First Mystery Novel – John Copenhaver – Dodging and Burning
Best Mystery Short Story – Art Taylor – “English 398: Fiction Workshop” – in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, July/August 2018
Best Mystery-Related Non-Fiction – Sarah Weinman – The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World
Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award – Sujata Massey – The Widows of Malabar Hill


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Best Mystery Novel – Anthony Horowitz – Magpie Murders
Best First Mystery Novel – Sheena Kamal – The Lost Ones
Best Mystery Short Story – Paul D. Marks – “Windward” – in Coast to Coast: From Sea to Shining Sea
Best Mystery-Related Non-Fiction – Martin Edwards – The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books
Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award – Rhys Bowen – In Farleigh Field


2017

Best Mystery Novel – Louise Penny – A Great Reckoning
Best First Mystery Novel – Joe Ide – IQ
Best Mystery Short Story – Art Taylor – “Parallel Play” – in Chesapeake Crimes
Best Mystery-Related Non-Fiction – Sara Paretsky – A Companion to the Mystery Fiction
Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award – James W. Ziskin  – Heart of Stone


2016

Best Mystery Novel – Lou Berney – The Long and Faraway Gone
Best First Mystery Novel – Glen Erik Hamilton – Past Crimes
Best Mystery Short Story – Megan Abbot – The Little Men – released as a stand-alone E-novella
Best Mystery Critical/Biography – Martin Edwards – The Golden Age of Murder: The Mystery of the Writers Who Invented the Modern Detective Story
Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award – Susanna Calkins – The Masque of a Murderer


2015

Best Mystery Novel – Alex Marwood – The Killer Next Door
Best First Mystery Novel – Julia Dahl – Invisible City
Best Mystery Short Story – Craig Faustus Buck – “Honeymoon Sweet” – in Murder at the Beach: The Bouchercon Anthology 2014
Best Mystery-Related Non-Fiction – Hank Phillippi Ryan, ed. – Writes of Passage: Adventures on the Writer’s Journey
Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award – Catriona McPherson – A Deadly Measure of Brimstone


2014

Best Mystery Novel – William Kent Krueger – Ordinary Grace
Best First Mystery Novel – Terry Shames – A Killing at Cotton Hill
Best Mystery Short Story – Art Taylor – “The Care and Feeding of Houseplants” – in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, March/April 2013
Best Mystery-Related Non-Fiction – Daniel Stashower – The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot To Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War
Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award – David Morrell – Murder as a Fine Art


2013

Best Mystery Novel – Louise Penny – The Beautiful Mystery
Best First Mystery Novel – Daniel Friedman – Don’t Ever Get Old
Best Short Story – Barb Goffman – “The Lord is My Shamus” – in Chesaepeake Crimes: This Job is Murder
Best Mystery-Related Non-Fiction – John Connolly and Declan Burke – Books to Die For: The World’s Greatest Mystery Writers on the World’s Greatest Mystery Novels
Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award – Charles Todd – An Unmarked Grave


2012

Best Mystery Novel – Sara Gran – Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead
Best First Mystery Novel – Leonard Rosen – All Cry Chaos
Best Mystery Short Story – Dana Cameron – “Disarming” – in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, June 2011
Best Mystery-Related Non-Fiction – Charlaine Harris – The Sookie Stackhouse Companion
Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award – Catriona McPherson – Dandy Gilver and the Proper Treatment of Bloodstains


2011

Best Mystery Novel – Louise Penny – Bury Your Dead
Best First Mystery Novel – Bruce DeSilva – Rogue Island
Best Mystery Short Story – Dana Cameron – “Swing Shift” – in Crimes by Moonlight: Mysteries From the Dark Side
Best Mystery-Related Non-Fiction – John Curran – Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making
Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award – Kelli Stanley – City of Dragons


2010

Best Mystery Novel – Ken Bruen and Reed Farre Coleman – Tower
Best First Mystery Novel – Alan Bradley – The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Best Mystery Short Story – Hank Phillippi Ryan – “On the House” – in Quarry: Crime Stories by New England Writers
Best Mystery Non-Fiction – P.D. James – Talking About Detective Fiction
Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award – Rebecca Cantrell – A Trace of Smoke


2009

Best Mystery Novel – Deborah Crombie – Where Memories Lie
Best First Mystery Novel – Stieg Larsson – The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Best Mystery Short Story – Dana Cameron – “The Night Things Changed” – in Wolfsbane & Mistletoe
Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award – Rhys Bowen – A Royal Pain


2008

Best Mystery Novel – Laura Lippman – What the Dead Know
Best First Mystery Novel – Tana French – In the Woods
Best Mystery Short Story – Rhys Bowen – “Please Watch Your Step” – in The Strand, Spring 2007
Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award – Ariana Franklin – Mistress of the Art of Death


2007

Best Mystery Novel – Nancy Pickard – The Virgin of Small Plains
Best First Mystery Novel – Nick Stone – Mr. Clarinet
Best Mystery Short Story – Tim Maleeny – “Till Death Do Us Part” – in Death Do Us Part: New Stories About Love, Lust and Murder
Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award – Rhys Bowen – Oh Danny Boy


2006

Best Mystery Novel – Michael Connelly – The Lincoln Lawyer
Best First Mystery Novel – Brian Freeman – Immoral
Best Mystery Short Story – Nancy Pickard – “There is No Crime on Easter Island” – in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Sept/Oct 2005, also available on nancypickard.com
Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award – Jacqueline Winspear – Pardonable Lies


2005

Best Mystery Novel – Ken Bruen – The Killing of the Tinkers
Best First Mystery Novel – Harley Jane Kozak – Dating Dead Men
Best Mystery Short Story – Terance Faherty – “The Widow of Slane” – in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Mar/Apr 2004


2004

Best Mystery Novel – Peter Lovesey – The House Sitter
Best First Mystery Novel – Jacqueline Winspear – Maisie Dobbs
Best Mystery Short Story – Sandy Balzo  – “The Grass is Always Greener” – in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, March 2003


2003

Best Mystery Novel – S.J. Rozan – Winter and Night
Best First Mystery Novel – Julia Spencer-Fleming – In the Bleak Midwinter
Best Mystery Short Story – Janet Dawson – “Voice Mail” – in Scam & Eggs


2002

Best Mystery Novel – Laurie R. King – Folly
Best First Mystery Novel – C.J. Box – Open Season
Best Mystery Short Story – Jan Burke – “Abbey Ghosts” – in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, January 2001, also in Burke’s short story collection Eighteen


2001

Best Mystery Novel – Val McDermid – A Place of Execution
Best First Mystery Novel – David Liss – A Conspiracy of Paper
Best Mystery Short Story – Reginald Hill – “A Candle for Christmas” – in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, January 2000


2000

Best Mystery Novel – Sujata Massey – The Flower Master
Best First Mystery Novel – Paula L. Woods – Inner City Blues
Best Mystery Short Story – Kate Grilley – “Maubi and the Jumbies” – in Murderous Intent, Fall 1999


1999

Best Mystery Novel – Michael Connelly – Blood Work
Best First Mystery Novel – Jerrilyn Farmer – Sympathy for the Devil
Best Mystery Short Story – Barbara D’Amato – “Of Course You Know That Chocolate is a Vegetable” – in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, November 1998


1998

Best Mystery Novel – Deborah Crombie – Dreaming of the Bones
Best First Mystery Novel – Penny Warner – Dead Body Language
Best Mystery Short Story – Peter Robinson – “The Two Ladies of Rose Cottage” – in Malice Domestic 6


1997

Best Mystery Novel – Peter Lovesey – Bloodhounds
Best First Mystery Novel  – Dale Furutani – Death in Little Tokyo
Best Mystery Short Story – Carolyn Wheat – “Cruel and Unusual” – in Guilty as Charged


1996

Best Mystery Novel – Mary Willis Walker – Under the Beetle’s Cellar
Best First Mystery Novel – Dianne Day – The Strange Files of Fremont Jones
Best Mystery Short Story – Colin Dexter – “Evans Tries an O-Level” – in Morse’s Greatest Mystery


1995

Best Mystery Novel – Sharyn McCrumb – She Walks These Hills
Best First Mystery Novel – Jeff Abbott – Do Unto Others
Best Mystery Short Story (tie) – Deborah Adams – “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” – in Malice Domestic 3
Best Mystery Short Story (tie) – Jan Burke – “Unharmeds” – in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Mid-December 1994


1994

Best Mystery Novel – Minette Walters – The Sculptress
Best First Mystery Novel – Sharan Newman – Death Comes as Epiphany
Best Mystery Short Story – Susan Dunlap – “Checkout” – in Malice Domestic 2


1993

Best Mystery Novel – Margaret Maron – Bootlegger’s Daughter
Best First Mystery Novel – Barbara Neely – Blanche on the Lam
Best Mystery Short Story – Carolyn G. Hart – “Henrie O’s Holiday” – in Malice Domestic 1


1992

Best Mystery Novel – Nancy Pickard – I.O.U
Best First Mystery Novel (tie) – Sue Henry – Murder on the Iditarod Trail
Best First Mystery Novel (tie) – Mary Willis Walker – Zero at the Bone
Best Mystery Short Story – Margaret Maron – “Deborah’s Judgement” – in A Woman’s Eye, also in Shoveling Smoke: Selected Mystery Stories by Margaret Maron


1991

Best Mystery Novel – Sharyn McCrumb – If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-O
Best First Mystery Novel – Patricia Cornwell – Postmortem
Best Mystery Short Story – Joan Hess – “Too Much to Bare” – in Sisters in Crime 2


1990

Best Mystery Novel – Carolyn Hart – A Little Class on Murder
Best First Mystery Novel – Jill Churchill – Grime and Punishment
Best Mystery Short Story – Nancy Pickard – “Afraid All the Time” – in Sisters in Crime , also in A Modern Treasury of Great Detective and Murder Mysteries


1989

Best Mystery Novel – Tony Hillerman – The Thief of Time
Best First Mystery Novel – Caroline Graham – The Killings at Badger’s Drfit
Best Mystery Short Story – Doug Allyn – “Déjà Vu” – in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, June 1988


1988

Best Mystery Novel – Nancy Pickard – Marriage is Murder
Best First Mystery Novel – Robert Crais – The Monkey’s Raincoat
Best Mystery Short Story – Robert Barnard – “The Woman in the Wardrobe” – in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, December 1987, also in Death of a Salesperson and Other Untimely Exits


1987

Best Mystery Novel – P.D. James – A Taste for Death
Best First Mystery Novel (tie) – Faye Kellerman – The Ritual Bath
Best First Mystery Novel (tie) – Marilyn Wallace – A Case of Loyalties
Best Mystery Short Story – Robert Barnard – “The Parker Shotgun” – in Mean Streets


Posted to BookGuide March 2022 | Last updated September 2022 sdc