The Crime Writers’ Association is delighted to announce the shortlists for a number of this year’s Daggers – the prestigious awards that celebrate the very best in crime and thriller writing in 2009.
The CWA Dagger Awards are the longest established literary awards in the UK and are internationally recognised as a mark of excellence and achievement.
The winners will be announced at a drinks reception held at the Tiger Tiger nightspot in London on the evening of July 15. At that event, the shortlist will also be announced for the Gold, John Creasey (New Blood) and Ian Fleming Steel Daggers.
CWA Chair Margaret Murphy said: “The strength of the Daggers shortlists, and even those writers who missed out, shows that crime writing remains in good shape.”
The first phase of shortlists are as follows:
THE CWA INTERNATIONAL DAGGER
For crime, thriller, suspense or spy novels which have been translated into English from their original language, for UK publication. £1000 prize money for the author and £500 for the translator
Karin Alvtegen, Shadow, translated from the Swedish by McKinley Burnett, Canongate 2009 
Judges’ comments: This well-crafted novel of damage repeated from generation to generation infuses melodrama with a meditation on the cost of writing.
Arnaldur Indriðason, Arctic Chill, translated from the Icelandic by Bernard Scudder & Victoria Cribb, Harvill Secker 2008 
Judges’ comments: Indriðason employs a recognised police-procedural form to transcend a familiar Scandinavian gloom into something more interesting – an insistent examination of Iceland’s discovery that its apparently tight little island is implicated in a world-wide social problem.
Stieg Larsson, The Girl Who Played With Fire (MacLehose Press, Quercus), Trans. From the Swedish by Reg Keeland, MacLehose Quercus 2009 
Judges’ comments: This second novel of the Millennium trilogy interweaves an unusual range of characters in a plot of remarkable complexity.
Jo Nesbø, The Redeemer, translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett, Harvill Secker 2009 
Judges’ comments: Harry Hole, Nesbø’s series detective, dominates an impressively twisty plot which ranges from his own career to Norway’s past.
Johan Theorin, Echoes from the Dead, translated from the Swedish by Marlaine Delargy, Doubleday 2008 
Judges’ comments: Working within the genre, Theorin evokes place and social history as well as character, while mastering the balance of clues and plot-twists.
Fred Vargas, The Chalk Circle Man, translated from the French by Siân Reynolds Harvill Secker 2009 
Judges’ comments: This first Adamsberg novel is already a remarkable demonstration of Vargas’s ability to open with an odd event and follow it into an unhappy past.
Ann Cleeves, non-voting chair, is an award-winning crime writer.
MaiLin Li works for Kirklees Libraries and is a freelance literature specialist and promoter.
Ruth Morse teaches English Literature at the University of Paris. She is a frequent contributor to the Times Literary Supplement.
John Murray-Browne is a bookseller.
CWA SHORT STORY DAGGER
Any crime short story first published in the UK in English in a publication that pays for contributions, or broadcast in the UK in return for payment, between 1st June, 2008 and 31st May, 2009. Prize money £1500.
Speaking of Lust by Lawrence Block from Crime Express series (Five Leaves Publications)
Judges’ comments: Four tales of lasciviousness and its fatal aftermath by one of the godfathers of the genre.
One Serving of Bad Luck by Sean Chercover from Killer Year, Lee Child, ed. (Mira)
Judges’ comments: Neat, tight and economical, this is a new take on the private eye; the auguries are good for a major crime writing career for this writer.
Cougar by Laura Lippman from Two of the Deadliest, Elizabeth George, ed. (Hodder & Stoughton)
Judges’ comments: A serrated knife in the gut of gender politics by an expert practitioner of the genre.
The Price of Love by Peter Robinson from The Blue Religion, Michael Connelly, ed. ( Back Bay Books)
Judges’ comments: A boy finally understands the brutal criminal implications of an incident in his childhood.
Served Cold by Zoë Sharp from The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime, Maxim Jakubowski, ed. (Constable & Robinson)
Judges’ comments: Justice, revenge, danger. All elements of a tale of lost love and its tragic consequences.
Mother’s Milk by Chris Simms from The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime, Maxim Jakubowski, ed. (Constable & Robinson)
Judges’ comments: A deceptively low key story of a thief and a conman who has the tables painfully turned on him.
Simon Brett is a radio presenter, man of the theatre and writer of civilized and witty crime entertainments.
Ayo Onatade – not content with running the lives of senior judges, she is also a well-connected crime journalist.
CWA DAGGER IN THE LIBRARY
Sponsored by The Random House Group
Authors are nominated by UK libraries and Readers’ Groups and judged by a panel of librarians. It is awarded to an author for a body of work, rather than a single title. Prize money: £1,500, plus £300 to a participating library’s readers’ group.
Judges’ comments: His books are gripping right from the opening line and notable for descriptions of dead and decaying bodies. Excellently hidden twists and turns. Very sympathetic lead character. Bantam
Judges’ comments: An unusual hero in an unusual setting. Quirky, funny and very appealing. His books are a truly beautiful read. Publisher: Quercus
R J Ellory
Judges’ comments: Sensitively written. Full of depth. Multi-layered and with a real sense of place and an understanding, in the widest sense, of political manoeuverings. Orion
Judges’ comments: Original, lively and colourful. Her novels allow the reader to learn effortlessly about little-known historical backgrounds. Harper Collins
Judges’ comments: Very authentic police procedurals with realistic settings. Dark and pacy. Pan Macmillan
Judges’ comments: Has an ability to write convincingly as varied, authentically-drawn characters. Sphere
Judges’ general comments:
A very strong and varied list from which it was difficult to select the short list – reflecting the vigour and range of contemporary crime writing.
Chair: Mark Benjamin, formerly Team Librarian with Northumberland County Council
Vice-Chair: Cheney Gardner, Reading Development Manager, London Borough of Richmond on Thames
Wendy Molyneux, Community Access Librarian, Warrington Borough Council
Jonathan Gibbs, I.T. & Operations Librarian, Barbican Library, City of London
Karen Fraser, Customer Services Librarian, Shetland Library
Helen McNabb, Bibliographic Services Officer, Vale of Glamorgan Council
Deb Ryan, Senior Librarian Reader Services, RNIB National Library Services
CWA DEBUT DAGGER
Sponsored by Orion
The Debut Dagger is a new-writing competition open to anyone writing in the English language who has not yet had a novel published commercially. First prize is £500 plus two free tickets to the prestigious CWA Dagger Awards and night’s stay for two in a top London hotel. All shortlisted entrants receive a generous selection of crime novels and professional assessments of their entries, and are also be invited to the Dagger Awards presentations.
Frank Burkett – A View from the Clock Tower (Australia)
Judges’ comment: An interesting first-person portrayal of a murder mystery set in Australia… family betrayals and dark secrets from the past.
Aoife Clifford – My First Big Book of Murder (Australia)
Judges’ comments: A crime caper with witty prose and funny visual jokes.
CJ Harper – Backdrop (USA)
Judges’ comments: A likeable PI protagonist and a solid time slip plot… the 1950 Hollywood setting is sexy…
Madeleine Harris-Callway – The Land of Sun and Fun (Canada)
Judges’ comments: A strong sense of place throughout, coupled with good characterisation and a sense of horror.
Renata Hill – Sex, Death and Chocolate (Canada)
Judges’ comments: An entertaining read with witty dialogue and a quick-moving plot.
Mick Laing – The Sirius Patrol (UK)
Judges’ comments: The enclosed feel of the small Greenland community, the characters and tensions within, make fascinating reading.
Susan Lindgren – Forgotten Treasures (USA)
Judges’ comments: Atmospheric, spooky, and absorbing – the heroine is an interesting character with an intriguing background.
Catherine O’Keefe – The Pathologist (Canada)
Judges’ comments: An uncomfortable, sophisticated, read that also manages to be suspenseful.
Danielle Ramsay – Paterfamilias (UK)
Judges’ comments: Strong plot with good red herrings and a clever twist.
Germaine Stafford – A Vine Time for Trouble (Italy)
Judges’ comments: Nicely written cosy-style murder mystery…with the added enticement of the Italian setting.
Martin Ungless – Idiot Wind (UK)
Judges’ comments: A clever and ambitious story tackling challenging issues.
Alan Wright – Murder at the Séance (UK)
Judges’ comments: Convincing settings, atmospheric and with an air of authenticity.
Emma Beswetherick – Senior Fiction Editor, Piatkus
Julie Crisp – Senior Commissioning Editor, Macmillan
Sara O’Keeffe – Senior Commissioning Editor, Orion
Euan Thorneycroft – Authors’ agent (A M Heath)
Julia Wisdom – Publishing Editor, HarperCollins
Chair: Margaret Murphy, Chair of the CWA