Here's a look at some prize winning mysteries awarded in 1961, a half a century ago:
The winner of the Edgar award for Best Novel was The Progress of a Crime by Julian Symons. Runners-up were The Traces of Brillhart by Herbert Brean, The Devil's Own by "Peter Curtis" (Norah Lofts), and Watcher in the Shadows by Geoffrey Household.
Taking the Edgar for Best First Novel by an American Writer was The Man in the Cage by John Holbrook Vance (yes, Jack Vance -- this was his first mystery under his real name). Runners-up were The Mercenaries by Donald E. Westlake, Case Pending by "Dell Shannon" (Elizabeth Linington), The Killing at Big Tree by David McCarthy, and The Marriage Cage by William Johnston.
Fifty years ago there was no Best Paperback Original Edgar award; that catagory began in 1970.
There was an Edgar award for Best Short Story. That went to "Tiger" by John Dunham. There were three runners-up: "A Real Live Murderer" by Donald Honig, "Summer Evil" by Nora Kaplan, and "A View from the Terrace" by Mike Marmer. Two of the stories (Honig and Marmer) came from ALFRED HITCHCOCK MYSTERY MAGAZINE; the other two came from COSMOPOLITAN.
Continuing with fiction, the Edgar for Best Juvenile belonged to The Mystery of the Haunted Pool by Phyllis A. Whitney. This was the first year that the juvenile catagory existed; the Young Adult catagory did not begin until 1989. There were no runners-up in 1961.
James Sandoe of the NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE was honored with an Edgar for Best Mystery Criticism. This was an occasional award given only 14 times beteen 1946 and 1967. Special Edgars were given to Philip Wittenburg (legal counsel), cartoonist Charles Addams, and Elizabeth Daly (grande dame of women mystery writers). Three Raven awards were given: To Ilka Chase (Reader of the Year), to Scribners (Hardcover Book Jacket for A Mark of Displeasure by Elizabeth Hely), and to Dell (Paperback Book Jacket for The Three Coffins by John Dickson Carr).
The Best Motion Picture (of course) was Psycho, witten by Joseph Stefano, with a Scroll going to Robert Bloch as the book author.
Also, an Edgar was given to the Best Episode in a TV Series: "The Case of the Burning Court" by Kelley Roos (Dow Hour of Great Mysteries). Runner-up was "The Day of the Bullet" by Bill Ballinger (Alfred Hitchock Presents).
Across the Atlantic, the British Crime Writers Association gave their Gold Dagger to The Spoilt Kill by Mary Kelly. Runners-up were Call for the Dead by John le Carre and One Away by Allan Prior. The CWA also gave a Special Merit Award to Berkley Mather "for the outstanding quality of his television crime plays."
(To my knowledge, those were the only English-speaking mystery awards given out fifty years ago. The information came from my very battered copy of The Armchair Detective Book of Lists edited by Kate Stine.)
How many books and authors do you recognize? How many have you read? Do any unfamilar titles/authgors pique your interest?
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