A Bouchercon 2021 Postmortem — Also Link to Barry Award Presentation

It seems like this year’s Bouchercon was jinxed from the beginning. First there was always this cloud hanging over the convention’s head because of the Covid threat. But in late spring with the number of Covid cases declining as millions were getting Covid shots, there was a growing senses of optimism that this year’s event would take place in person. But no one could have foreseen two events: 1. That a significant percentage of the U.S. population would choose not to get vaccinated; and, 2. The advent of the Delta variant of the Covid virus, which was more contagious and more virulent than the other variants. The death knell to the convention was the New York Times article identifying Louisiana and New Orleans as the major hot spot for Covid infection in the nation. When attendees started cancelling in droves, it was decided to postpone the convention to 2025 (September 3 – September 7, 2025) and the hotel worked with the organizers to set that up without financial damage. It was also very generous of many attendees to donate their memberships fees so that the convention’s fixed costs could be covered. The organizers are very grateful for that.

So, what if the convention had been able to go off as planned? Here’s where the jinx rears its ugly head again. If we had been in New Orleans this last week we would have been in the path of an approaching Category 4 hurricane, with everyone there trying to get out of town. In retrospect, it was a blessing that we didn’t attend in person this year, and it was certainly the safe and wise thing to do.

But to further add salt to the wound, one of the convention’s Guests of Honor, Caroline Todd, sadly died this past Friday. She will be greatly missed.

Two of the Bouchercon events were held virtually this past Friday and Saturday. On Friday we were privileged to attend a virtual interview of James Lee Burke by his talented daughter Alafair Burke.

On Saturday, there was a virtual presentation of the Anthony Awards. I was contacted about a week ago and asked to provide a 1-minute Barry Awards Presentation video (impossible to do in 1 minute!). I had already announced the winners on the website so I didn’t see the necessity of this, but I wanted to preserve the tradition of presenting the Barry Awards as part of Bouchercon so I prepared a video (2 minutes 57 seconds) and sent it off to the person setting up these virtual events. There was a glitch at the Anthony Awards presentation and the Barry Awards, the Macavity Awards and the Derringer Awards videos were never shown during the live presentation, as promised. I went into YouTube later that night and found the Barry Awards video by scrolling down from the “Anthony Awards 2021″ video.

If anyone is interested, here is the link to the Barry Award Presentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5hRkLkiv-w

You may also find videos for the Macavity and Derringer Awards on YouTube.

A word on the awards. It is a rare year when a novel or certain novels win a number of different awards. This is one of those years. BLACKTOP WASTELAND by S. A. Cosby won the Barry Award, the Macavity Award and the Anthony Award for Best Mystery Novel of the year. (It also won the Thriller Award for Best Novel). The same is true in the Best First Novel category with David Heska Wanbli Weiden (WINTER COUNTS) winning all three of those awards as well. (It also won the Thriller Award for Best First Novel). It should also be noted that James Ziskin won both a Barry Award and a Macavity Award for TURN TO STONE. These are all fan awards and it shows some extraordinary consensus among fans about these books. It was enjoyable for me to witness this because I felt that these novels were outstanding and deserving of multiple awards. (I admit to a personal bias: I think fans are better at choosing books for awards than authors are.) It sure would have been nice to have presented all of these awards in person so the authors could have basked in their success in front of large Bouchercon audiences.

Until next year in Minneapolis. I hope by then we have gotten Covid under control.