RARA-AVIS: Award-Winning Gold Medals

From: JIM DOHERTY ( jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 31 Aug 2002

Since this is the last day of the Gold Medal theme, I though that, for those of you who, like me, are into the crime genre's "statistical lore" I'd write a bit about Gold Medal books that have won the Edgar award.

The very first Edgar-winning Gold Medal was THE GIRL WITH THE SCARLET BRAND by Charles Boswell and Lewis Thompson which won the 1954 Edgar for Best Fact-Crime.
 I know nothing about this book other than that it was part of a series of true-crime books Gold Medal did, each title starting with the words THE GIRL . . . .
 One of these books, THE GIRL ON THE RED VELVET SWING, was made into a movie. SCARLET BRAND never made it onto the screen, but it did achieve some distinction by being the very first PBO to win an Edgar in any category.

In 1969, MWA first instituted the "Best Paperback Original Novel" category and for the first few years, Gold Medal dominated.

The first winner was THE DRAGON'S EYE by Scott C.S. Stone, a dynamite spy novel set in Southeast Asia and China. A new edition is available from Iuniverse. Stone currently lives in the Big Island of Hawai'i where he's and "author-in-residence" at the University of Hawai'i's Hilo campus.

A year later, Dan J. Marlowe's FLASHPOINT (also published as OPERATION FLASHPOINT) was named Best PBO of 1970. This was one of Marlowe's Drake novels, and while it did win the award, many Marlowe fans consider this book the beginning of the series' decline since it continued the main character's metamorphosis from professional crook to secret agent, a change-over virtually complete by the next book.

The best PBO of 1972 was Richard Wormser's THE INVADER. Wormser wrote both westerns and gangster novels, and he combined the two genres in this rural police procedural about a small-town sheriff in the contemporary southwest who must deal with the infestation of his community by Mafia types.

The last Edgar-winning Gold Medal was Roy Winsor's THE CORPSE THAT WALKED. Not hard-boiled by any stretch of the imagination, this classic whodunit about a mystery-solving college professor is, nevertheless, quite enjoyable.

Other Gold Medals were nominated in subsequent years
(Donald Hamilton was nominated twice for THE TERRORIZERS and THE RETALIATORS, but, inexplicably, never won), but, ironically, the last Edgar-winner for Gold Medal, a publisher closely identified with the hard-boiled crime novel, was a cozy.


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