The Nero Award

The Nero Award is a literary award for excellence in the mystery genre presented by The Wolfe Pack, a society founded in 1978 to explore and celebrate the Nero Wolfe stories of Rex Stout.
The Nero Award is presented annually at the Black Orchid Banquet, traditionally held on the first Saturday in December in New York City.
The “Nero” is presented annually by The Wolfe Pack for the best American Mystery.
The award is presented at the Black Orchid Banquet, which is traditionally held on the first Saturday in December in New York City. Past winners of the award include Fred Harris, Martha Grimes, Dennis Lehane, and Sharyn McCrumb.
We are very fortunate to have a long time member of The Wolfe Pack, Stephannie Russo, serving once again as the Wolfe Pack’s Nero Award Chair, after having stepped down at the end of 2006.
Under her stewardship, the Nero Award has become a well-recognized entity in the mystery publishing field.
Thank you Stephannie for a job well done!
And thank you Jane K. Cleland for serving as Award Chair from 2007-2012.
Jane expanded our publisher contact-base during her tenure and added to our member-reader base. Jane also worked with Alfred Hitchock Mystery Magazine to create the Black Orchid Novella Award.
And, of course, thank you to our award reading committee, those members who read all these submissions, re-evaluate the semi-finalists, etc.! What a great job they do.
In 1979, with the help of Professor John J. McAleer, Professor Robin Winks, and many Wolfe Pack members, the first Nero Award was presents to Lawrence Block for The Burglar Who Likes to Quote Kipling.
By 1983, the Wolfe Pack had launched a contest to select a winning design for a “Nero Award” bust. The winner was Betsy Hatcher Manning. In 2011, The Wolfe Pack was fortunate to have Betsy find our web site and provide the following information.

Betsy recounts her design process:

“I won the contest for the design and sculpture while at Jerry Crimmons’ class at Moore College of Art, back in the mid-1980’s.
I was taking my first sculpture course, and one of our assignments was to participate in the sculpture design of the Nero Wolfe Award. I was not familiar with the work, so I read The Black Mountain and fell in love with Mr. Wolfe and Archie too.
We looked at a few previous illustrations of Wolfe, none of which we felt had captured him. The illustration on the back cover of many of the paperbacks didn’t feel right; Wolfe looked slovenly and tired, but that wasn’t the character at all. He may have been a “7th of a ton”, but he “was no slouch”. Wolfe was extremely dignified, contrary to how most people think of people who are overweight.
I went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and found Rodin’s “Balzac” sculpture. Rodin depicted Balzac as a large man who had the carriage of a king, which was more appropriate. I also looked at people with a similar ethic background as Wolfe’s. I had done one previous sculpture, but I had a lot of background in anatomy and a good sense for faces and character.
I went on to work for a toy sculptor for awhile and I have done many other things as a professional artist including graphic design, web design, exhibit design and murals. My website is:”

And the judge of the contest, Jamie O’Boyle, has this to say about the contest:

“For the record: if I may indulge in a bit of Wolfean nit-picking, it may have technically been a contest but it was no contest. When I walked into the studio to judge the entries Betsy’s design jumped out at me. I was looking at Mr. Wolfe, not a glimmer of doubt. The rest, as the saying goes, was chaff. I had to wander around for fifteen minutes pretending to consider the other entries just out of politeness. I still have a bronze test cast on my desk. It’s not just an award. It’s a genuine work of art.”
I think Betsy came up with the best-looking award in the mystery field (the Edgar has more prestige, but ours is better impressive) and I’m glad she’s getting the recognition she deserves. The original award was based on Mr. Wolfe’s gold bookmark, but it lacked gravitas, so Larry Brooks, another founding member, and I decided to do something about it. It wasn’t official, but once we showed the board Betsy’s cast, the change was a no brainer (a term I’m sure Mr. Wolfe would hate.)
Larry Brooks, donated the $100 prize for Betsy’s winning sculpture and had it produced.
The attached photos are of one of the two plaster casts the molds were made from and the first bronze test cast which sits on my desk. I may sell the plaster cast if I can find the right collector, but the bronze, never. The thing that strikes me is how much the bust looks like Maury Chaykin’s interpretation. She caught the look more than two decades before he landed the role.

Jamie O’Boyle
Former secretary of The Wolfe Pack

          written in the tradition of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe
          stories first published in the year preceding the award year
          originally published in the United States
               2014 – David Morrell . Murder as a Fine Art
               2013 – Chris Knopf . Dead Anyway
               2012 – Dana Stabenow . Though Not Dead
               2011 – Louise Penny . Bury Your Dead
               2010 – Brad Parks . FACES of the Dead
               2009 – Joseph Teller . The Tenth Case
               2008 – Jonathan Santlofer . ANATOMY OF FEAR
               2007 – Julia Spencer-Fleming . All Mortal Flesh
               2006 – Tess Gerritsen . Vanish
               2005 – Lee Child . The Enemy
               2004 – Walter Mosley . Fear Itself
               2003 – S. J. Rozan . Winter and Night
               2002 – Linda Fairstein . The Deadhouse
               2001 – Laura Lippman . Sugar House
               2000 – Fred Harris . Coyote Revenge
               1999 – Jeffery Deaver . The Bone Collector
               1998 – Dennis Lehane . Sacred
               1997 – Michael Connelly . The Poet
               1996 – Laurie B. King . A Monstrous Regiment of Women
               1995 – Sharyn McCrumb . She Walks These Hills
               1994 – Aaron Elkins . Old Scores
               1993 – John Dunning . Booked To Die
               1992 – Robert Barnard . A Scandal in Belgravia
               1991 – Tony Hillerman . Coyote Waits
               1987 – Charlotte MacLeod . The Corpse in Oozak’s Pond
               1986 – Robert Goldsborough . Murder in E Minor
               1985 – Dick Lochte . Sleeping Dog
               1984 – Jane Langton . Emily Dickinson is Dead
               1983 – Martha Grimes . The Anodyne Necklace
               1982 – Hugh Pentecost . Past, Present and Murder
               1981 – Amanda Cross . Death in a Tenured Position
               1980 – Helen McCloy . Burn This
               1979 –  Lawrence Block . The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling
External link’s…
.        Official website (
1. ^ Wexler, Ellyn (2013-04-17). “North Bethesda welcomes literature’s mystery maven” ( x2019-s-mystery-maven&template=gazette). Maryland Gazette. Retrieved 2013-05-01.
2. ^ a b c d e f g Elizabeth Haynes (2011-01-19). Crime Writers: A Research Guide ( id=RP8Ecmmem0UC&printsec=frontcover&hl=en&sa=X&ei=J- 6AUeelEamj0QX58IGIBw&ved=0CDUQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false). Libraries Unlimited (Google Books). pp. 75, 44, 85, 30, 88, 110 & 56 respectively. ISBN 978-1591589143. LCCN 2010047200 ( OCLC 657596152 ( OL 24903387M ( Retrieved 2013-05-01.
3. ^ “Lee Child And Suzanne Collins Surpass One Million Kindle Books Sold” ( sold.html). Business Wire. 2011-06-06. Retrieved 2013-05-01.
4. ^ “Awards: The Nero Award” ( D4EO Literary Agency. Retrieved 2013-05-01.
5. ^ “Middlesex author wins Nero Award” ( Southside Sentinel. 2010-12-06. Retrieved 2013-05-01.
6. ^ Onatade, Ayo (2011-12-07). “Shotsmag Confidential: Crime fiction news!” ( Shots. Retrieved 2013-05-01.
7. ^ Fisher, Ali (2011-12-05). “Monday Fun Day!” ( 1252011-edition). Macmillan Library. Retrieved 2013-05-01.
8. ^ Klouda, Naomi (2013-04-17). “Stabenow sets $1 million goal for women writers’ retreat” ( Homer Tribune. Retrieved 2013-05-01.
9. ^ Selbig, Aaron (2012-12-10). “Stabenow’s ‘Though Not Dead’ Wins 2012 Nero Award” ( KBBI. Retrieved 2013-05-01.
10. ^ “Wolfe Pack Nero Award Recipients”( The Wolfe Pack. 2013-04-17. Retrieved 2013-12-12.

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