I knew that this was the first -- and perhaps only -- year the award would be given and that it was to be awarded in memory of Paul Anik, the original chairman of the organizing committee responsible for bringing Left Coast Crime to L.A. this year.
So I knew some of the basics, but it saddened me that I didn’t know more about the man, especially considering how honored I am that this book has received this award at this time: it’s such a tremendous fit and it seems likely that I’ll be saying “Panik Award” and sometimes Paul’s name for a long time to come.
I was very pleased, yesterday, when Jan Burke (author of The Messenger and other terrific books and godmother of The Crime Lab Project) brought the late Paul Anik, the warm and funny man so passionate about mysteries, to her blog yesterday, with some stories that illustrated his humor and humanity:
Paul and his wife, Barbara, traveled all the way to Santa Barbara to surprise me an appearance there, and you’ll get a glimpse of his sense of humor when I tell you that Paul, an attorney, “served” me with a “subpoena” -- an invitation to be a Guest of Honor in that format. I was so flattered -- the first mystery convention I ever attended was Left Coast Crime 1992, so Left Coast Crime has always been special to me. When Paul offered this prestigious honor to me, of course I immediately agreed!Thanks, Jan, for this lovely glimpse of Paul. I hope you don’t mind me sharing it here.
Paul’s enthusiasm was contagious, and over the next two years I saw him make many efforts to ensure that LCC2010 was a success.
Then tragedy struck. In early 2009, Paul died of a heart attack. He was an active man, and far too young to be lost in this way, and it was a great shock to all who knew and loved him. To have someone so full of life and laughter suddenly taken from us seemed incomprehensible. (You can see a photo of him and read more about his life here.)
You can read Jan’s posting in its entirety here.