I have been a judge for many things, including Mr. Leather Toronto. (Don’t ask.) Once it was for flash fiction. Once it was for literary stories. Sometimes it has been for unpublished novels. Other times it has been for best mystery novel or best first novel. In all these instances I had a pretty good idea of what I was going to be judging.
This time it was different. For one thing, being a judge for the Bony Blithe Award gave me the chance to read a much wider sample of the genre than I was expecting. When we discussed this award in the first place, there was some talk of trying to nail down what exactly the criteria might be. I am all against nailing things down! I figured it was what most people say about art: ‘I don’t know much about it but I know what I like.’ I am so glad that we left it fairly open.
Of course there were books set in small villages where everyone knows each other. Of course there were cuddly animals and intelligent cats. There were fascinating details about sewing, antiques, music, even Hamilton! And I was delighted to find a book starring vampires. But the best thing of all about the Bony Blithe books is the level of the writing. Let me confess right now that I rather enjoy the odd bullet-riddled corpse from time to time. But after this experience, I will be looking for more of these wonderful traditional mysteries like the 6 nominees for this year’s Bony Blithe Award!