The Private Eye Writers of America (PWA) is an organization devoted to private-eye detective fiction, and are probably best known for their annual Shamus Awards. Membership is open to fans, writers, and publishing professionals. There are three levels of membership: Active, Associate, and International.
Since the mid-1950s, publishing mystery novels has been at the heart of St. Martin's Press. In that time, they have come to be known as one of the largest, most prominent mystery publisher in the book industry. In fact, in September of 1999, St. Martin's Press recognized this successful history with a new mystery imprint called Minotaur, named after the Greek mythological figure who guarded the fabled labyrinth and devoured anyone who entered (except for Theseus, of course). Since then, the winners have been published under St. Martins' Minotaur imprint.
In 1986, the PWA teamed up with St. Martin's Press to sponsor The St. Martin's Press/PWA Best First Private Eye Novel Contest, and it was given out more or less regularly until 2014, when Minotaur Books took over sponsoring the contest.
The PWA is currently seeking a sponsor to continue the contest.
By the way, there's seems to be a little confusion about the categories of the PWA's Best First Private Eye Novel Shamus Award and Best First Private Eye Novel Contest. Seems some publishers don't make the distinction, and that a novel can win the contest, and a few years later, when it's finally published, win the Best First Novel Award. But it's pretty simple, actually. As Bob Randisi explains, "There is nothing for publishers to distinguish. The PWA/SMP contest winner is for an unpublished novel, and is ONLY a PWA/SMP prize winner. It's not a book, eligible for book awards, until it is published."
2005 BEST FIRST PRIVATE EYE NOVEL CONTEST
2010 BEST FIRST PRIVATE EYE NOVEL CONTEST
2011 BEST FIRST PRIVATE EYE NOVEL CONTEST
2014 BEST FIRST PRIVATE EYE NOVEL CONTEST
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