Michael Connelly, Josh Bazell, and Bryan Gruley Take the Top Prizes and Elmore Leonard Honored

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Michael Connelly won the Strand Critics Award for best novel for Nine Dragons, Josh Bazell and Bryan Gruley shared the best first novel prize for Beat the Reaper and Starvation Lake. The Strand's lifetime achievement award was given to one of the greatest living crime writers, Elmore Leonard.

The Strand Magazine has announced the winners of the 2009 Strand Critics Awards. Michael Connelly took the top prize for Best Novel for Nine Dragons (Little, Brown) and Josh Bazell and Bryan Gruley shared the best first novel award for Beat the Reaper (Little, Brown) and Starvation Lake (Touchstone). The winners were announced at an invitation only cocktail party in Manhattan, by bestselling author Jonathan Santlofer.

Set in Hong Kong, Nine Dragons is Connelly’s 14th Harry Bosch book and has garnered rave reviews for being one of Connelly’s best novels to date. "Considering that it comes from Strand Magazine and the pedigrees of those on the judging panel, I am blown away by receiving this award, it is truly very special to me,” Connelly said after receiving the award.

Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell, blends humor with a darkly inventive thriller and has been translated into several languages. The Wall Street Journal’s Bryan Gruley, author of Starvation Lake, has earned comparisons to Dennis Lehane and has been hailed by critics as one of the most promising debut novelists of 2009.

Otto Penzler introduced the lifetime achievement award honoree Elmore Leonard. Leonard who has been described as the greatest living American crime writer has authored scores of novels, screenplays and short stories. Leonard thanked the judges and paid tribute to many of the writers who influenced him.
Best Novel:
Nine Dragons by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown and Company)

The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston (Ballantine Books)

Life Sentences by Laura Lippman (William Morrow)
The Renegades by T. Jefferson Parker (Dutton)
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (Riverhead Books)

Best First Novel
Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell (Little, Brown and Company)
The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry (Penguin Press)
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick (Algonquin Books)

Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley (Touchstone)

Black Water Rising by Attica Locke (Harper)
"It was great to have many of the nominees in attendance," said Andrew F. Gulli, the managing editor of The Strand. "And to have Elmore Leonard who provided the inspiration to so many of these writers at the awards was wonderful."

This year's judges included a panel of reviewers from Time Magazine, The Washington Post, LA Times, The Florida Sun Sentinel, The Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian and The Chicago Tribune.

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