The next time that the Crime Writers’ Association asks me to be MC for the Dagger Awards dinner (if, that is, they ever do again), I may do it in the style of Joel Grey in Cabaret. I will go for a chalk white face and rouged lips, and begin the evening with a chorus of Wilkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome. For the 2018 dinner at London’s Grange hotel, however, it was just a question of checking that the moths hadn’t got to my dress suit so that if I had a picture taken (like the one accompanying this piece with Dagger winners Michael Connelly and Steve Kavanagh) I would be at least partially presentable. As usual, the evening was great fun, with generous helpings of the collegiate spirit that distinguishes the crime fiction community. The winners (listed below) were enthusiastically applauded not just by their publishers but by every other publisher present — can you imagine that happening in most other industries? As usual, it was a teetotal evening for me — at least until I finished my public speaking (something that didn’t inhibit the irrepressible Steve Kavanagh. But his speech was one of the hits of the evening – so what do I know?). The Dagger Awards – a very popular series of wins this year – were as follows:
THE CWA DIAMOND DAGGER
Congratulations to Michael Connelly, who has been awarded the Diamond Dagger!
The Diamond Dagger is awarded each each to an author whose crime writing career has been marked by sustained excellence, and who has made a significant contribution to the genre.
“This is truly exciting. How can a writer who writes about a guy trying make sense of things in Los Angeles ever expect to receive recognition from such a fine group from so far away? It’s beyond anything I could have imagined, and I am very honoured and humbled,” – Michael Connelly
As the creator of Harry Bosch, Mickey Haller and Renee Ballard, Connelly’s contribution to crime writing is inarguable significant. He books are beloved bestsellers and award is very well deserved.
THE CWA GOLD DAGGER
by Steve Cavanagh
Leonard Howell’s worst nightmare has come true: his daughter Caroline has been kidnapped. Not content with relying on the cops, Howell calls the only man he trusts to get her back.
… THE MAN WHO KNOWS THE TRUTH …
Eddie Flynn knows what it’s like to lose a daughter and vows to bring Caroline home safe. Once a con artist, now a hotshot criminal attorney, Flynn is no stranger to the shady New York underworld.
… OR THE ONE WHO BELIEVES A LIE?
However, as he steps back into his old life, Flynn realizes that the rules of game have changed – and that he is being played. But who is pulling the strings? And is anyone in this twisted case telling the truth…?
A missing girl, a desperate father and a case that threatens to destroy everyone involved – Eddie Flynn’s got his work cut out in the thrilling new novel from the author of The Defence.
THE CWA IAN FLEMING STEEL DAGGER
by Attica Locke
When it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules – a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger working the backwoods towns of Highway 59, knows all too well. Deeply conflicted about his home state, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. Until duty called him back.
So when allegiance to his roots puts his job in jeopardy, he travels up Highway 59 to the small town of Lark, where two murders – a black lawyer from Chicago and a local white woman – have stirred up a hornet’s nest of resentment. Darren must solve the crimes – and save himself in the process – before Lark’s long-simmering racial fault lines erupt.
THE CWA JOHN CREASEY (NEW BLOOD) DAGGER
by Melissa Scrivner Love
Lola stands next to Garcia while he mans the grill in their craggy square of backyard. The barbeque has just begun, and the women are clustered gossiping, while the men hold sweating beers. Lola prefers the periphery.
Business has been good lately in their tiny nugget of South Central Los Angeles, where a legit man has two choices: landscaping off-the-books for West Side white cash, or sweating through twelve-hour shifts at a factory in Vernon. Garcia does not make his living either way. If Lola were like the other women at her barbeque, she would spend her work day perched on a padded stool behind a dollar-store cash register. But Lola is not like the other women in Huntington Park.
Suddenly: a sharp knock on the front door, probably a cop. Lola goes to answer it. The man standing there is Mexican, not Mexican-American, like everybody else here. Lola searches his face for a bead of sweat but comes up empty. She has never met him, but she knows his name. Everyone in this neighbourhood knows his name. They call him The Collector, and he won’t give them long.
THE CWA ALCS GOLD DAGGER FOR NON-FICTION
Blood on the Page
by Thomas Harding
In June 2006, police were called to number 9 Downshire Hill in Hampstead. The owner of the house, Allan Chappelow, was an award-winning photographer and biographer, an expert on George Bernard Shaw, and a notorious recluse, who had not been seen for several weeks. Someone had recently accessed his bank accounts, and attempted to withdraw large amounts of money. Inside the darkened house, officers found piles of rubbish, trees growing through the floor, and, in what was once the living room, the body of Chappelow, battered to death, partially burned and buried under four feet of paper.
The man eventually arrested on suspicion of his murder was a Chinese dissident named Wang Yam- a man who claimed to be the grandson of one of Mao’s closest aides, and a key negotiator in the Tiananmen Square protests. His trial was the first in modern British history to be held ‘in camera’- closed, carefully controlled, secret. Wang Yam was found guilty, but has always protested his innocence.
Thomas Harding has spent the past two years investigating the case, interviewing key witnesses, investigating officers, forensic experts and the journalists who broke the story, and has unearthed shocking and revelatory new material on the killing, the victim and the supposed perpetrator. It is a crime that has been described in the press and by the leading detective as ‘the greatest whodunnit’ of recent years- an extraordinary tale of isolation, deception and brutal violence, stretching from the quiet streets of north London to the Palace of Westminster and beyond. It is an explosive new work of non-fiction from an author working at the height of his powers.
THE CWA HISTORICAL DAGGER
by Rory Clements
June 1939. England is partying like there is no tomorrow, gas masks at the ready. In Cambridge the May Balls are played out with a frantic intensity – but the good times won’t last… In Europe, the Nazis have invaded Czechoslovakia, and in Germany the persecution of the Jews is now so widespread that desperate Jewish parents send their children to safety in Britain aboard the Kindertransport. Closer to home, the IRA’s S-Plan bombing campaign has resulted in more than 100 terrorist outrages around England.
But perhaps the most far-reaching event of all goes largely unreported: in Germany, Otto Hahn has produced the first man-made fission and an atomic device is now a very real possibility. The Nazis set up the Uranverein group of physicists: its task is to build a superbomb. The German High Command is aware that British and US scientists are working on similar lines. Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory is where the atom was split in 1932. Might the Cambridge men now win the race for a nuclear bomb? Hitler’s generals need to be sure they know all the Cavendish’s secrets. Only then will it be safe for Germany to wage war.
When one of the Cavendish’s finest brains is murdered, Professor Tom Wilde is once more drawn into an intrigue from which there seems no escape. In a conspiracy that stretches from Cambridge to Berlin and from Washington DC to the west coast of Ireland, he faces deadly forces that threaten the fate of the world.
THE CWA INTERNATIONAL DAGGER
After the Fire
by Henning Mankell, tr Marlaine Delargy
Fredrik Welin is a seventy-year-old retired doctor. Years ago he retreated to the Swedish archipelago, where he lives alone on an island. He swims in the sea every day, cutting a hole in the ice if necessary. He lives a quiet life. Until he wakes up one night to find his house on fire.
Fredrik escapes just in time, wearing two left-footed wellies, as neighbouring islanders arrive to help douse the flames. All that remains in the morning is a stinking ruin and evidence of arson. The house that has been in his family for generations and all his worldly belongings are gone. He cannot think who would do such a thing, or why. Without a suspect, the police begin to think he started the fire himself.
Tackling love, loss and loneliness, After the Fire is Henning Mankell’s compelling last novel.
THE CWA SHORT STORY DAGGER
‘Nemo Me Impune Lacessit’ by Denise Mina
THE CWA DAGGER IN THE LIBRARY
Nominated by libraries.
THE CWA DEBUT DAGGER
For the opening of a crime novel from a writer without a traditional publishing contract.
The Eternal Life of Ezra Ben Simeon by Bill Crotty