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