A number of leading crime authors are in contention for this year’s CWA Daggers, which will be presented at a glittering black-tie occasion at the Grange City Hotel in Cooper’s Row, London on Thursday October 26, sponsored by Pan Macmillan. Mick Herron, author of Spook Street featuring Jackson Lamb, is shortlisted for both the Gold and the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger. He’s no stranger to the Daggers, having been shortlisted multiple times and having carried off the Gold Dagger in 2013 for Dead Lions, featuring the same spy. However, he has stiff competition. Shortlisted for the Gold this year are Belinda Bauer with The Beautiful Dead, Ray Celestin with Dead Man’s Blues and Derek B Miller’s The Girl in Green, all three former Dagger winners, and the much acclaimed debuts The Dry by Jane Harper and A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee. In the Ian Fleming Steel, Mick faces competition from American author Megan Abbott with You Will Know Me, J S Carol with The Killing Game and stand-out novels by Jules Grant, John Hart and William Ryan.
A Rising Man is also in contention for the Endeavour Historical Dagger, but Abir Mukherjee is up against no less an author than Denise Mina with The Long Drop and the highly regarded Luke McCallin with The Ashes of Berlin, not to mention Steven Price and former Dagger shortlist stars M J Carter and Michael Russell. The John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger for a debut is probably the most sought-after award for new crime writers and the chair of judges, acclaimed editor and CWA vice chair Maxim Jakubowski, said this year the field was exceptionally strong. Ragdoll by Daniel Cole, Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land, Sirens by Joseph Knox, Tall Oaks by Chris Whitaker, The Pictures by Guy Bolton and Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard are the contenders.
For the Short Story Dagger, the former and current chair of the CWA are both in contention; L C Tyler for The Trials of Margaret and Martin Edwards for Murder and Its Motives. Both appear in a collection ‘Motives for Murder’, edited by Edwards – the CWA’s chair and author of the award-winning The Golden Age of Murder is also the editor of the soon-to-be released CWA anthology, ‘Mystery Tour’. A story by Michael Ridpath from ‘Motives for Murder’, The Super Recogniser of Vik, is also shortlisted. Two other collections, ‘Sunshine Noir’ and ‘The Highway Kind’, have authors on the shortlist: Leye Adenle for The Assassination, Ovidia Yu for Snakeskin and James Sallis for What You Were Fighting For. The International Dagger has been won multiple times including the last two years by Pierre Lemaître – while his translator Frank Wynne has earned the winner’s accolade over the last three. Lemaître and Wynne are in contention again this year with Blood Wedding, but face competition from some big names including former Dagger winner Fred Vargas and Leif G W Persson. In the shortlist for the Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction, always an interesting and eclectic list, household name Kate Summerscale is one among a field of six strong contenders for A Wicked Boy.
The Debut Dagger is unlike the other CWA awards as it’s a competition for an opening to an unpublished crime novel. Five writers are shortlisted: two, Sherry Rankin and Spike Dawkins, from the USA. It’s testament to the importance of the award that all five will be present at the Dagger Awards on Thursday – and a longlisted writer for good measure. The entries are sent to UK literary agents interested in crime fiction – and winners and shortlisted writers alike have earned publishing contracts in previous years. The Dagger in the Library, which is unique for being a literary prize nominated by librarians, has already been decided and will be awarded to Mari Hannah. In a year which has seen the CWA appoint a Libraries Champion in Ruth Dudley Edwards, this award gains kudos every year. Nominations for the 2018 award open next month. Events culminate with the CWA Diamond Dagger. This is awarded for a career’s outstanding contribution to crime fiction as nominated by CWA members, and was announced earlier in the year: popular author Ann Cleeves, creator of the books behind TV series Vera and Shetland. Ann – the only living author to ever have had two major drama series run concurrently on TV – is published by event sponsors Pan Macmillan. Says Ann: ‘It’s a huge honour to be recognized by my peers, the crime-writers whose books, friendship and support I’ve enjoyed for more than thirty years. I am privileged to have had such a happy career and I will always be grateful for the support of booksellers and forever indebted to the passion and expertise of librarians, without whom I wouldn’t still be writing today.’
And finally, the Red Herring – an occasional prize, first awarded in 1959 and presented since to those who go the extra mile in their support of the CWA and crime writing – will also be awarded at the ceremony this year.
The after-dinner speaker is Robert Thorogood, creator and writer of TV’s Death in Paradise, and Master of Ceremonies is the witty crime fiction expert Barry Forshaw, author of Brit Noir and many other titles.