|Posted by Vladimir Mortsgna on January 16, 2020 at 9:00 PM|
Whip Hand won the 1981 Edgar for best novel of 1980. I have already stated that I don’t consider it to be one of Dick Francis’ top books, and I think I can go on to say that I don’t think it is a particularly good book standing on its own.
Nonetheless, competition in 1980 was weak, and whether considering the mystery reading public or just yours truly, Whip Hand escaped a lot of perils. The biggest was a matter of translation. I have previously designated Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose as the greatest mystery of all time, and it was published in 1980 – in Italian. I’ve been consistent in considering the year of the English translation to be the year of the win, as have the Edgars people, for example in the award to The Laughing Policeman in its English translation, in 1971. So The Name of the Rose will be the “should have” Edgar winner for 1982, a year that included Richard Condon’s sublime Prizzi’s Honor and Elmore Leonard’s excellent Stick.
Back in 1980, though, another very popular book is Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Identity. I get the impression that many readers who aren’t enamored of Ludlum still like The Bourne Identity, and well do I remember a friend in 1980 who was obsessed with it. But I haven’t read it, and the silliness of the one Robert Ludlum I did read makes me reluctant to suspend my rule to not pick something I haven’t read myself. I might be tempted to relax that rule and choose LeCarre’s Smiley’s People, because so many other LeCarres are so great, but that doesn’t seem justified when LeCarre already has an Edgar. Things I did read from 1980 include Ken Follett’s sub-par The Key to Rebecca and Elmore Leonard’s subpar The City Primeval. Looks like I am reluctantly obliged to endorse Whip Hand as best mystery of 1980.
Categories: Edgar Winner Reviews (No Spoilers)