About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

A Concern Over the Best Canadian Crime Novel Criteria

As I read through the quintet of books making up the shortlist for the 2021 Crime Writers of Canada Award of Excellence for Best Crime Fiction novel I noted that all five books were set outside Canada.

The Finder was set in Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Scotland and the United States.

Obsidian was set in California and Montana.

Hurry Home was set in Colorado and North Dakota.

The Historians was set in Sweden.

How a Woman Becames a Lake was set in Washington state.

I admit that I was discouraged that the five books most readers would expect were the best entrants for “Best Crime Novel” did not include a book set in Canada.

Reading the criteria for submissions I realized that books are limited to being entered in one category. I am confident the rationale is to prevent an accomplished book sweeping the Awards in multiple categories.

The restriction to one category becomes important with regard to “Best Crime Novel” for publishers and authors of books set in Canada had the choice of entry in the “Best Crime Novel” or the “Best Crime Novel Set in Canada”.

I was glad to see the importance of crime novels set in Canada being recognized through the new category.

I am sad that it means fewer books set in Canada will be entered in the “Best Crime Novel” category. This year the 29 books entered in “Best Crime Novel Set In Canada” could not be in “Best Crime Novel” which had 51 books entered.

By the limitation to one category I consider the “Best Crime Novel” category to be diminished and somewhat misleading and possibly in error for the actual “best” novel could be part of the “set in Canada” category.

I know there were novels set in Canada entered in the “Best Crime Novel” in 2021 but the shortlist illustrates it will be more difficult, potentially unlikely, that the “best” Canadian crime novel will be set inside Canada.

I view the criteria as significant because I believe the “Best Crime Novel” is considered the premiere award in a literary competition that gains the greatest recognition. In the video announcing this year’s winners it was the final award announced. I doubt many realize that the current criteria means the exclusion of many Canadian novels. 

I understand the dilemma for the CWC but it would be my preference that novels set in Canada could be entered in both categories. I consider that a category titled “Best Crime Novel” should have all Canadian novels eligible.


  1. You raise some well-taken points, Bill. It's really hard to know what the parameters of an award ought to be. If they are too strict, then a lot of excellent books get overlooked. On the other hand, if they are too broad, then there's the issue you raise, of what sort of book can qualify. And you're right that adding a new category has its own issues. It's a dilemma, as you say.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I think those determining criteria should consider the purpose of the Award. For "Best Crime Novel" it is "Best" of all not some novels. I believe all crime novels must be included even if they are also eligible for another category.

  2. Did you read all five and which do you recommend? Yes, it is a shame books weren't set in Canada, a country with so many cultures, provinces, cities, rural areas, etc. So much to write about.