RARA-AVIS: RE: One-Hit Wonders (was Ullman)

From: JIM DOHERTY ( jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 02 Jan 2006


Re your question in response to my comment below:

>> That might also be a good MYSTERY FILE article. 1st
>> novel Edgar winners who were never heard from

> What others are there?

There aren't all that many, considering that the Edgars are over 60 years old, and the "1st Novel" category is the only category for which there has been an Edgar awarded every single year that there've been Edgars. I've narrowed it down to four.

KNOCK AND WAIT A WHILE by William Rawles Weeks (1957).
 This is a very good Cold War spy novel. The dust jacket bio says Weeks was at work on his second, but, AFAIK, it never appeared. KNOCK AND WAIT A WHILE was pretty successful. It went through several printings, and was available in paperback for many years. In the mid-60's, during the spy boom in mystery fiction, it was reprinted in PB. I don't know why Weeks never followed it up.

The aforementioned FLORENTINE FINISH by Cornelius Hirschberg (1963). Hirschberg apparently wrote one non-fiction book about the diamond business prior to this novel, but nothing else in the mystery field. I suspect, steeped as this novel is in diamond lore, that he just wasn't able to come up with another mystery plot involving diamonds as easily as, say, Dick Francis continually came up with new plots about horse racing. Plus, I think Hirschberg was already pretty up in years when this book came out. He may have been satisfied with getting a novel in print in his lifetime and left it at that.

FINDING MAUBEE by A.H.Z. Carr (1971). No big mystery about why this was Carr's only novel. He died before it was published. He'd been fairly successful as a short story writer for many years before writing this book. If he was already sick at the time he started it, he may have figured he only had one chance for book-length fiction. This was later adapted into the film THE MIGHTY QUINN.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN by Don Lee (2004). Not really fair listing him. He's the most recent winner, so he really hasn't had time to get his next one out. He had short story collection, YELLOW, published prior to this novel, so there's every chance we'll hear more from him, which will again reduce the number to three.

The other side of the coin, 1st novel winners who've gone on to have phenomenally successful careers, with spots on the NY TIMES best-seller list, movie sales, etc., is actually much longer. It includes, but is not limited to, Dorothy Uhnak, Michael Connelly, Patricia Cornwell, James Patterson, Lawrence Sanders, Paul Erdman, Harry Kemelman, et al.


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