I was so happy about the attention the first Kitty Pangborn mystery, Death Was the Other Woman, was given in 2008. There were many wonderful reviews. (Much more than the other kind!) And, at year’s end, I felt lucky to find the book included in several year end compilations. Just a few days ago, in fact, the fantastic audio version of the book was included in Publishers Weekly’s Listen Up Awards, where Death Was the Woman was named one of PW’s best audio mysteries for 2008.
The audio version is published by Brilliance and the book is available from them in every imaginable audio format, including the fantastic Playaway device. (Have you seen those? It's basically a “book” that actually comes with headphones which you stick into the “book.” Very cool.)
Much to my surprise, Death Was the Other Woman was also named as one of January Magazine’s Best Books of 2008. I am editor of January, but I don’t edit the crime fiction section (mostly because it’s been Rap Sheet editor J. Kingston Pierce’s baby for about a decade now, but also my not editing that section avoids possible conflicts of interest). So when I saw -- not long before the rest of world -- the picks for Best Crime Fiction Novels for 2008, I was astonished to see that my book had been included.
When I started writing fiction, we agreed that we wouldn’t run reviews of my books in January Magazine. Even if we managed to avoid conflict of interest, avoiding the appearance of same would be even more difficult. However, Ali Karim, a January contributing editor who also writes for several other publications, had read and enjoyed Death Was the Other Woman and reviewed it favorably outside of January Magazine. “At times the book is heartbreaking,” Karim wrote, “at times it’s fast and furious and at times perceptive about how people lie and deceive -- but at all times it showcases brilliant storytelling.”
When I saw that the book had been included as a January Best of pick, I was delighted, but I also instantly fired off a note to Pierce. I wrote something like, “Will this be okay?” And Pierce, wrote back right away and told me that, basically, since our “Best of the Year” compilations had always been real, and since Karim felt very strongly about the book, we had no choice but to include his pick. If anything, the surpise -- almost shock -- of it all made the inclusion all the more delightful. Since we started making our “Best of the Year” compilations back in 1998 I’ve been very proud to have a hand in putting them together. Ten years on, I can’t even tell you what it means to me to have one of my own novels included.
January Magazine’s Best Books of 2008 feature is here. The segment that includes my book is here.
On something that might feel related, but really is not, over at The Rap Sheet, Death Was the Other Woman is currently in the running for best cover of 2008. And though I'm strongly connected to The Rap Sheet, I had no hand at all in selecting my cover for inclusion in the final dozen or so covers in the shortlist.
Pierce always loved the original cover St. Martin’s Minotaur had commissioned for the book. Actually, many people have. I don’t know how long voting goes on for, but if you’ve a mind to, you can add your vote here. I would of course love it if you voted for my cover, but I know -- and expect -- that you’ll vote with your heart.
Death Was the Other Woman was also included in Bookspot Central’s top reads of 2008. I have no big story about that one, just a whole lot of pride. You can see the piece here.
And okay now, this last isn’t an award, but something I’m very proud of just the same: it was delightful to see Death Was the Other Woman added to so many library collections during the year. For many authors, there’s not much that feels as good as knowing that people can saunter into their neighborhood library and see their book on the shelf. And while libraries have always been very important, in these tough economic times, this will be even more true.
Our pocketbooks may be suffering, but our spirits still need to be fed. I predict that, over the next few years, libraries will once again fill that spot as they have in our times of cultural stress.
If you want to see if Death Was the Other Woman is available at your neighborhood library, here’s a fun tool that might be able to give you the answer.