Ms. Locke, reached by email, declined further comment. “I’ve kind of said everything I want to about it,” she wrote.
Ms. Fairstein could not be reached for comment on Wednesday, and officials with the Mystery Writers of America did not immediately respond to calls and emails. “We are taking seriously the issues raised by Attica Locke,” read a statement posted to the organization’s website. “Our board is going to discuss these concerns as soon as possible and make a further statement soon.”
On Facebook, novelist Andrew Gross defended Ms. Fairstein as a worthy Edgar Award recipient. “But for a person who has devoted her career to real-world situations that have advanced women’s rights to be attacked and demonized by people whose toughest real-world decisions are how to define a gerund or what book to review is a sign that the inmates are truly running the asylum,” Mr. Gross wrote.
Kellye Garrett, a novelist, said in an interview on Wednesday that Mystery Writers of America should rescind the award if Ms. Fairstein does not volunteer to give it up. Ms. Garrett praised the organization but said its leaders should explain how they came to choose Ms. Fairstein in the first place. “It’s not a secret, her connection to the Central Park Five,” she said.
“They have work to do,” Ms. Garrett said, “especially when it comes to inclusivity and embracing writers from marginalized communities.”
At an anxious moment in the city’s history, with violent crime near its peak, police in 1989 arrested five boys, all black and Hispanic and ages 14 to 16, for the rape and near-fatal beating of Trisha Meili, a 28-year-old white woman who was attacked as she jogged through Central Park after work.
All five youths said their confessions were coerced. But all were convicted in 1990. Four of the teenagers spent about seven years in prison. The other was incarcerated for 13 years. Twelve years after the convictions, DNA evidence pointed to a serial rapist, Matias Reyes, who confessed to the attack while serving a life sentence for other crimes. The Manhattan district attorney agreed to vacate the Central Park Five convictions in 2002. The five — Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana Jr. and Kharey Wise — later received a settlement from the city totaling nearly $45 million.