Founded in 1945, the Mystery Writers of America is the preeminent American organization of mystery writers. Each April, the MWA bestows the coveted Edgar Allan Poe Awards for achievement in various categories. The award for Best First Mystery Novel by an American Author was inaugurated in 1946.


2003 Jonathon King The Blue Edge of Midnight
2002 David Ellis Line of Vision
2001 David Liss A Conspiracy of Paper
2000 Eliot Patterson The Skull Mantra
1999 Steve Hamilton A Cold Day in Paradise
1998 Joseph Kanon Los Alamos
1997 John Morgan Wilson Simple Justice
1996 David Housewright Penance
1995 George Dawes Green The Caveman's Valentine
1994 Laurie King A Grave Talent
1993 Michael Connelly Black Echo
1992 Peter Blauner Slow Motion
1991 Patricia Cornwell Post Mortem
1990 Susan Wolfe The Last Billable Hour
1989 David Stout Carolina Skeletons
1988 Deidre S. Laiken Death Among the Strangers
1987 Larry Beinhart No One Rides for Free
1986 Jonathan Kellerman When the Bough Breaks
1985 R. D. Rosen Strike Three, Your'e Dead
1984 Will Harriss The Bay Psalm Book Murder
1983 Thomas Perry The Butcher's Boy
1982 Stuart Woods Chiefs
1981 Kay Nolte Smith The Watcher
1980 Richaed North Patterson The Lasko Tangent
1979 William L. DeAndrea Killed in the Ratings
1978 Robert Ross A French Finish
1977 James Patterson The Thomas Berryman Number
1976 Rex Burns The Alvarez Journal
1975 Gregory McDonald Fletch
1974 Paul E. Erdman The Billion Dollar Sure Thing
1973 R. H. Shimer Squaw Point
1972 A. H. Z. Carr  Finding Maubee
1971 Lawrence Sanders The Anderson Tapes
1970 Joe Gores A Time for Predators
1969 E. Richard Johnson Silver Street
1968 Michael Collins Act of Fear
1967 Ross Thomas The Cold War Swap
1966 John Ball In the Heat of the Night
1965 Harry Kellerman Friday the Rabbi Slept Late
1964 Cornelius Hirschberg The Florentine Finish
1963 Robert L. Fish The Fugitive
1962 Suzanne Blanc The Green Stone
1961 John Holbrooke The Man in the Cage
1960 Henry Slesar The Grey Flannel Shroud
1959 Richard Martin Stern The Bright Road to Fear
1958 William Rawle Weeks Knock and wait a While
1957 Donald McNutt Rebecca's Pride
1956 Lane Kauffman The Perfectionist
1955 Jean Potts Go, Lovely Rose
1954 Ira Levin A Kiss Before Dying
1953 William Campbell Gault Don't Cry for Me
1952 Mary McMullen Strange Hold
1951 Thomas Walsh Nightmare in Manhattan
1950 Alan Green What a Body
1949 Mildred davis The Room Upstairs
1948 Fredric Brown The Fabulous Clipjoint
1947 Helen Eustis The Horizontal Man
1946 Julius Fast Watchful at Night