Missoula novelist Gwen Florio has won an inaugural Pinckley Prize for Crime Fiction for a Debut Novel, according to an announcement Thursday.
The prize was created to honor the memory of Diana Pinckley, the longtime crime fiction columnist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
Bestselling author and part-time New Orleanian Laura Lippman won the the first Pinckley Prize for a Distinguished Body of Work. Lippman is the author of 19 books, many featuring her signature character, Baltimore detective Tess Monaghan.
Florio, a former Missoulian editor and reporter, won for her first book, “Montana,” published by Permanent Press.
The judges said:
“Out of a field of excellent debut crime novels, we picked ‘Montana’ because we completely fell in love with the main character. It’s often difficult to pinpoint why someone is lovable. Suffice to say that Gwen Florio’s protagonist Lola fully lives on the page, and what is even more compelling about this brave, irascible character is that she continues to live after the book is closed. She’s fearless, flawed, intelligent, reckless, and funny, but most of all, she is defined by loyalty to her friend and a relentless pursuit of her killer.”
Florio said, “As a recovering journalist, I’m honored and humbled that my novel featuring an investigative reporter has received this inaugural award named for a newspaper columnist – and that I share the award with another former journalist. It’s especially meaningful to receive it in this city long known for treasuring journalism, particularly in these difficult times.”
The next novel in Florio's series, “Dakota,” will be published this month by Permanent Press.