This year the winner happened to be, well, me. "The Red Envelope" will be published in the July/August 2013 issue of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. My acceptance speech is below.
I grew up in Plainfield, New Jersey, back when the city had a lovely old Carnegie Library. But there was a problem: by the fifth grade I had used up the children's room, wrung it dry of everything I wanted to read. And that was a problem because children were not allowed in the adult section.
So I would make guerilla raids down the narrow book-lined hallways that led to the cathedral-ceilinged main reading room, keenly aware that if I were caught the librarians would banish me back into exile with Dr. Seuss and Mary Poppins.
I quickly figured out that the best place to hide was the area directly behind the reference desk, because the librarians there seldom turned around. That happened to be the mystery section.
And so it happened that among the first adult books I read were The Mother Hunt and Gambit. Of course over the years I read all of the Rex Stout corpus. And reread it.
The results was that I became a lifelong mystery reader and a mystery writer as well. Which brings us to tonight. So I would like to start by thanking Rex Stout, without whom, as they say.
And I want to thank the library staff in Plainfield, New Jersey. I don't hold a grudge, you see. I even became a librarian myself.
I want to thank the Wolfe Pack, and especially the awards committee, which has shown such excellent taste.
And my favorite editor, Linda Landrigan of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. Linda, I believe three of my stories are waiting in your slushpile.
Also, the librarians and staff of Western Washington University, where I did my research. "The Red Envelope" is set in Greenwich Village in 1958, so there was a lot to check up on.
I need to thank my first readers, last year's winner James Lincoln Warren, and R.T. Lawton. Who knows? Maybe he will be next year's winner. Couldn't have done it without you guys.
Finally there's my wife, Terri Weiner, who puts up with my work even though she really prefers science fiction. Thanks, honey.
And to all the rest of you, please keep reading mysteries.