Who Are the Lefty Award Nominees’ Most Humorous Characters?

Today, we welcome the five finalists for this year’s Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery (three of whom just happen to be Chicks on the Case). Congrats to all!

2020 LCC covers

The winner won’t be announced until the Left Coast Crime banquet on March 14th, but in the meantime we thought it would be “humorous” to find out from the nominees which of their characters from their nominated books they think would be the most fun to hang out with at a party.

Ellen Byron 2019 037_1_aaaaa (002)Ellen Byron: Nominated for Fatal Cajun Festival

Who of my FATAL CAJUN FESTIVAL characters would be the most fun to hang out with? I’d have to put my money on Grand-mere. For all her Maggie-Smith-in-Downton-Abbeyish qualities, Gran is very self-aware and remarkably progressive for an 83-year-old. She’s really been meta since before meta was even a thing. It would be great fun to gossip with Gran at a party because she would be shockingly blunt but couched with the veneer of a Southern grand dame. She’s also deliciously mischievous and subversive, and likes to push the envelope to see how much she can get away with. There are two other reasons why Gran would be fun to hang with. 1) She loves to knock back Sazeracs and party, albeit discreetly. And 2) she was partly inspired by my own mother, whom I adore and is the most fun person to hang out with ever. She’s also laugh-out-loud, “Oh no she didn’t!” honest in the same way Gran might be. Case in point, this was Mom’s reaction when she saw my Agatha trophy: “That’s a strange-looking teapot. Can you drink out of that thing or do you just show it off?”

Read more about Ellen here.

Meet Leslie photoLeslie Karst: Nominated for Murder from Scratch

Sally’s Italian grandmother, Nonna, comes to mind first, as the 87-year-old Giovanna’s acerbic wit and fondness for recounting naughty tales of her parishioners’ indiscretions would be sure to amuse most any room. Plus, if the gathering were a pot-luck, she’d be sure to bring along a mouth-watering bracciole or a plate of her tender, buttery mezzaluna cookies.

But Nonna would likely be shocked (or at least would feign shock) at the goings-on of any truly good party, so I’m going to go with Sally’s law-school pal, Nichole. Nichole’s an immigration attorney up in San Francisco, but when not arguing cases in federal court, you’ll most likely find her holding a court of her own, regaling folks with colorful stories told in her native tongue of snarky skate punk. Oh, and Nichole shakes up a mean Gimlet, as well—always a plus at any party.

Read more about Leslie here.

Cynthia Kuhn: Nominated for The Subject of Malice

A thorough review of the evidence suggests that the Most Fun to Hang Out With At A Party title would have to go to Nate Clayton, one of Lila’s best friends who makes her laugh at every turn. For example, he tries to convince her to go to one affair she doesn’t want to attend by promising that they “will amuse ourselves with running commentary about other people’s costume choices.” And by “people,” he means the faculty members currently trying to ruin their lives. At another party, he brings Shakespeare into the mix by proclaiming, a la Richard III, “My kingdom for a beer!” Unexpected literary allusions always earn bonus points in Stonedale. Also, he’s the first one to dive into activities like dancing or apple-bobbing, and his enthusiasm is contagious. So Nate’s the clear choice for festivities wingman, and sometimes his observations may even carry a hint of wisdom, like when he asks a colleague to pass the cheese tray since “cheese holds the answers to many of life’s obstacles.” So there’s that.

Read more about Cynthia here.

Catriona headshotCatriona McPherson: Nominated for Scot and Soda

Who, from the Last Ditch Motel, would I take to a party if my ticket allowed plus (strictly) one? Hmmmmm. Well, it wouldn’t be Lexy, the protagonist; I hang out in her head all the time when I’m writing her stories in first person. And it wouldn’t be Todd, her side-kick, because he’s usually there too and he doesn’t recognise the category “boundary”, so I feel as if I know him pretty well. Todd’s husband, Roger, is a bit more of a closed book, but he’s a paediatric surgeon (i.e. completely knackered). He’d be poor value after eight o’clock. (Yes they’re doctors and yes they live in a motel (see book 1.)) The motel owners, Kathi and Noleen, are a good bet. But how to pick? Well, Kathi is a severe germaphobe; she’d hate a party. Out of kindness, I’m going to let her stay at home in her aggressively clean comfort zone and take Noleen. Potty-mouthed, acerbic, no-nonsense Noleen. She’s the living embodiment of the saying “You ain’t got nothing good to say ’bout no one? Come sit by me.”

Read more about Catriona here.

Wendall Thomas headshotWendall Thomas: Nominated for Drowned Under

Barry the chameleon from Lost Luggage is my favorite, but at a party, he’d have a tendency just to blend in. So, if I had to choose one character from Drowned Under to have as my wingperson, it would be Cyd Redondo’s fourth grade teacher, lapsed nun, and disco queen, Sister Ellery Magdalen Malcomb.

At 60, Sister Ellery met a widower at a Catholic raffle, chose romance over rosaries, and never looked back. At 81, she lives on a cruise ship, is still nimble on platform shoes and first dates, and can almost keep her fluorescent orange halter top anchored during “Stayin’ Alive” Dance Finals. As she once told Cyd, “You don’t know what Hell is until you’ve taught a class of seventh graders. According to the Archdiocese, I’m headed back there when I die. Until then, I’m going to have fun!”

Read more about Wendall here.

Readers: Who would be your character of choice from a mystery novel to hang out with at a party?

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47 thoughts on “Who Are the Lefty Award Nominees’ Most Humorous Characters?

  1. Congratulations! What a strong group of novels.

    As for the party, even my introverted self would be willing to invite all your characters to a mixer.

    Well done and best of luck to all.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. What a great group of characters. I’d be happy to hang with any of them, or all of them. Imagine all five of these characters at the same party. Now that’s a show!
    Good luck to all!

    Liked by 5 people

      1. Robin and I once had a party where the police came, and the senior partner of my law firm (who was in attendance) spent the entire next day at work bragging about how he’d been to a party that was busted by the cops. Who says lawyers can’t have fun?

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Congratulations to you all on your nominations! I’d vote for the five authors to be at the party; the stories and inventiveness would be a delight…

    Liked by 5 people

  4. This is a trick question, and I’m not falling for it. Any serious mystery reader knows that if you are hanging with a mystery character at a party, a Murder will happen. I don’t want to be the victim or the accused, so I’m staying as far away as I can.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Leslie, thanks so much for this post! Love the graphic, BTW. I think I need to use it elsewhere. 😉 And my wonderful fellow noms, despite what Mark said above – which does bear serious consideration – I would hang out with any of your characters any day. AND I look forward to hanging out with you four at LCC!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Counting the days (but now that you mention all that needs to be done, making lists at the speed of light)! Thanks all and so looking forward to the conference. And ps I didn’t even say how much I loved reading about everyone’s characters…so fun.


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