In a dazzling ceremony held during the Opening Ceremonies of Bouchercon San Diego on August 31, 2023, the prestigious Barry Awards were presented, honoring outstanding contributions to the mystery and crime fiction genre. Voted on by the discerning readers of Deadly Pleasures, these awards shine a spotlight on the literary achievements that captivated and thrilled enthusiasts of this captivating genre throughout the year. In case you need a refresher, you can view the nominees for the awards as well. Let’s delve into the notable winners of the 2023 Barry Awards.
Best Mystery/Crime Novel: Desert Star by Michael Connelly
Michael Connelly, a name synonymous with the world of crime fiction, has once again triumphed with his latest masterpiece, Desert Star. In this gripping novel, Connelly weaves a tale that immerses readers in the sun-scorched landscape of the American Southwest, where secrets lurk beneath the surface of the desert. The plot revolves around the enigmatic disappearance of a prominent attorney, sending Detective Renée Ballard on a relentless pursuit for answers. Connelly’s storytelling prowess is in full display, delivering a narrative that is as intricate as it is thrilling.
With meticulously crafted characters and a tightly-knit plot that keeps readers on the edge of their seats, Desert Star showcases why Connelly is hailed as one of the modern giants of the mystery and crime genre. The Barry Award for Best Mystery/Crime Novel is a testament to his enduring brilliance and storytelling acumen.
Best Debut Mystery/Crime Novel: The Maid by Nita Prose
The category of Best Debut Mystery/Crime Novel always elicits excitement, as it heralds the arrival of a promising new talent into the literary world. This year, Nita Prose takes the honor with her debut novel, The Maid. Prose introduces readers to Molly Gray, a maid with a unique perspective and an unwavering determination to solve a murder that takes place in the luxury hotel where she works.
The Maid is a tour de force of storytelling, combining a cleverly plotted mystery with an unforgettable protagonist. Prose’s writing is both witty and incisive, providing readers with a fresh voice in the genre. Her ability to create a multi-layered mystery while also exploring themes of class, privilege, and identity sets The Maid apart as a standout debut. Nita Prose’s win in this category underscores her promise as a rising star in the world of mystery and crime fiction.
Best Thriller: Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn
Thrillers have the unique ability to transport readers to the edge of their seats, and Deanna Raybourn achieves this with finesse in Killers of a Certain Age. This riveting novel takes readers on a roller-coaster ride of suspense, intrigue, and high-stakes drama.
Raybourn’s storytelling prowess is evident in the intricately woven narrative that explores the dark depths of a decades-old mystery. Killers of a Certain Age introduces readers to a world where secrets are buried deep, and danger lurks around every corner. The characters are both complex and relatable, making it impossible to put the book down until the very last page.
The 2023 Barry Award winners represent the crème de la crème of the mystery and crime fiction genre. Michael Connelly’s Desert Star showcases the enduring brilliance of a master storyteller, Nita Prose’s The Maid introduces a promising new voice to the genre, and Deanna Raybourn’s Killers of a Certain Age keeps readers at the edge of their seats. These novels, each in their own unique way, remind us why the world of mystery and crime fiction continues to be a captivating realm of literary excellence. As we celebrate these outstanding works, we also eagerly anticipate the future gems that will undoubtedly emerge from this vibrant genre.
For more on the Barry Awards, please visit their website.