The Crime Writers’ Association announced the winners of six of its prestigious daggers at an award ceremony that took place last night in London. They included – The Dagger in the Library, The Non-Fiction Dagger, The Debut Dagger, The Ellis Peters Historical Dagger, The International Dagger, and The Short Story Dagger. Often these awards can serve as good recommendations for your reading pile, so here are the winners and some other highlights…
Dagger in the Library
Back in April we reported on the nominees who had made it onto the longlist for the Dagger in the Library – an award that reflects the reading public’s favourite crime writers. This year’s class certainly packed a punch with heavy-weights such as SJ Bolton, Gordon Ferris, Susan Hill, Peter May and Steve Mosby among the 15 hopefuls up for the award.
Last night, the accolade went to UK writer Steve Mosby. He’s the author of six books, with his seventh novel – Dark Room – due out this month. Dark Room introduces us to DI Andrew Hicks, a copper who thinks he knows all about murder. No matter how horrific the death, the reasons behind it are all too explicable, so when a woman is found brutally bludgeoned to death, it all seems cut and dry. When a second victim, with no link to the first, is bludgeoned to death, Hicks is forced to reconsider his theory, and search for a killer who thrives on randomness and chaos.
The Non-Fiction Dagger
The second award of the evening was the Non-Fiction Dagger, which went to The Eleventh Day by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan, with an honorable mention going to Ben Lopez, for his book The Negotiator. The Eleventh Day plots the timeline for the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US a decade ago. The book includes an analysis of documents that were previously classified, and transcripts that chart the events as they unfolded.
The Debut Dagger
This dagger is awarded to a writer of an unpublished work of crime fiction. This year the dagger went to Sandy Gingras (USA) for her novel, Beached, which the judges praised for its fast pace, combined with a great voice and central character, Lola Polenta. Beached tells the story of Lola, a woman whose life is in free fall. Her marriage is on the rocks, career isn’t going in the direction she’d hoped and her house seems to be slipping into the local swamp. Oh, and she’s just messed up a date with the rather attractive Detective Johansen. Life can’t possibly get any worse… then she finds a severed arm.
The Ellis Peters Historical Dagger
UK writer Aly Monroe has beaten off stiff competition from the likes of Nancy Bilyeau’s The Crown, Maurizio de Giovanni’s I Will Have Vengeance, and Philip Kerr’s Prague Fatale, to claim this year’s Historical Dagger with the third book in her series featuring agent Peter Cotton. Icelight is set in 1947. The war may be over but food rationing is still in place, coal supplies are running out and the coldest winter in a decade is setting in. Cotton has been secoded to Operation Sea-snake, but with MI5 battling it out amongst themselves and MI6 riddled with traitors, it’s hard to know who to trust. Cotton has his hands full with an atomic scientist to protect, a bully-boy MP to curb and a dodgy informer to rely on.
In praising the book, the judges said: “This tale of British post-war malaise the third of Monroe’s Peter Cotton thrillers, is authentically downbeat yet absolutely gripping. Monroe has the young le Carré’s ability to conjure atmosphere and a poetic style worthy of Len Deighton.”
The International Dagger
This dagger is awarded for translated crime fiction and the 2012 recipient is not new to the category, having been shortlisted three times in recent years. Fans of Andrea Camilleri’s Montalbano novels will be delighted to hear that The Potter’s Field has finally won Camilleri this coveted award. Other runners and riders included Jo Nesbø’s Phantom, Maurizio de Giovanni’s I Will Have Vengeance, Dark Valley by Valerio Varesi and Thy Will be Done by Åsa Larsson.
The Potter’s Field sees Montalbano investigating what looks to be an execution style killing when a dismembered body is discovered in a field of clay.
The judges said: “Camilleri’s Montalbano novels show just how much can be achieved with familiar materials when a writer conveys the sense of life in a recognisable place. He combines characters, plots, and reflections on Italy’s particular social and political problems, with wry – but never bitter – satire. In this novel the late-afternoon shadows lengthen; Montalbano is feeling his age.”
The Short Story Dagger
The Short Story Dagger is shared by two stories from Murder Squad: Best Eaten Cold and Other Stories, edited by Martin Edwards. The Message by Margaret Murphy is set in 1971 and looks at the consequences of a young boy stealing a bag from an IRA man’s car.
The judges said: “A fresh take on the old chestnut of terrorism and religion. A clever mix of innocent thievery and evil intent, with a clever and satisfying twist at the end. Two well-drawn characters both pressurised in different ways.”
The other was Laptop by Cath Stainliffe. Here a woman steals a laptop which charts the progress of a serial killer. When she attempts to hand it in to the police, she finds herself being quizzed.
The judges said: “An unpredictable narrative, which successfully takes in modern technology. A good read, absorbing, with well-drawn descent into a fate she did not quite deserve. The lyrical ending is stunning.”
The award was presented by last year’s recipient Lindsey Davis, and the current CWA Chair Peter James.
Also last night, the lists were announced for the final three awards – the CWA Gold Dagger, the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, and the CWA John Creasy (New Blood) Dagger. Full listings for the nominations in each of these categories can be found on the CWA website.
Read any of the winning books or authors? Leave your comments below…