I'm sure the title of this blog clued you in, but let's make it official. May is Mystery Month, and the Edgar Award is the most prestigious honor in crime fiction. It's the perfect pairing!
EDGAR AWARD 2016 - BEST JUVENILE
Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy by Susan Vaught
As fifth-grader Footer Davis and her best friend, Peavine Jones, investigate the shooting of an elderly farmer and the disappearance of his grandchildren, Footer begins to wonder whether she is going crazy like her mother and, worse, if her bipolar mother is a murderer. This suspenseful story, set in a small Mississippi town, explores themes of domestic violence and mental illness in a way that highlights the support of caring parents, neighbors, and other adults. In the course of the second week after the fire that destroyed the Abrams’ house and, perhaps, killed the children, Footer begins to experience what she first thinks are hallucinations and later decides are flashbacks to the night of the tragedy. Her first-person narrative is interrupted by entries from Peavine’s investigative notebooks, Footer’s school essays, and her changing theories. This tightly woven mystery also includes a tender friendship evolving into something more. That Peavine navigates on crutches is so matter-of-factly treated, readers may not even notice. For middle-graders, this is a sympathetic exploration of some difficult issues.
EDGAR AWARD 2016 - BEST YOUNG ADULT
A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
Dumped in an insane asylum by the father who raped and impregnated her, Grace sees no way out until she meets Dr. Thornhollow. But instead of the gift of oblivion that he gives so many other patients, he offers to secret her out of the asylum in exchange for using her observational skills to help him catch murderers. Grace’s new life is better, but a serial killer and the reappearance of Grace’s father force her to grapple with the question of who is really mad and who is simply trapped by circumstance. Readers hoping for high tension may be slightly disappointed, but those interested in thinking about characters’ feelings and motivations will find much here to digest. Though told from Grace’s perspective, the story gives insight into many characters, leaving none of them wholly good or wholly evil. While some of the time shifts are rather abrupt and a few plot twists could use fleshing out, overall, this frank historical thriller features flawed, yet sympathetic, characters and a unique setting.
Eager for more mysteries? Try one of the titles from Booklist's Top 10 Crime Fiction for Youth list.