CB McKenzie Wins 2013 Tony Hillerman Prize

Anne Hillerman with Tony Hillerman Prize winner CB McKenzie. Courtesy photo

Staff Report

At the Tony Hillerman Writers Conference in Santa Fe, Wordharvest Writers Workshops and Thomas Dunne Books/Minotaur Books announced that CB McKenzie’s Bad Country has won the Tony Hillerman Prize.

A native Texan, CB McKenzie has hiked the entire Appalachian Trail without stopping, modeled for Giorgio Armani, worked on an organic farm, earned a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona, and currently teaches rhetoric at the City University of New York.

The winning novel, Bad Country, is a plot-driven mystery set in Arizona. The novel has several interrelated crimes, the solutions to which are central to the action of the book.

The replacement of an old country with a new one is also a subtle but central part of the ambience of this western noir novel whose protagonist is Rodeo Grace Garnet. Though not meant intentionally as homage, Rodeo Grace remains much a “Hillerman” man.

Stuck between the two worlds of Native American and Anglo, Rodeo is an Indian raised as a cowboy, a product of an insular “Rez” culture who has seen the broader world and is trying to find his place in a new society as he struggles to maintain ties with his roots.  
The Tony Hillerman Prize is awarded annually to a best first mystery set in the Southwest. Previous winners include Andrew Hunt’s City of Saints; Tricia Fields’ The Territory; Roy Chaney’s The Ragged End of Nowhere; and Christine Barber’s The Replacement Child.  

The deadline for submissions to next year’s competition is June 1, 2014.