Saturday, 19 May 2018

2018 CWA Dagger Longlists


Gold Dagger
Head Case by Ross Armstrong (HQ)
The Liar by Steve Cavanagh (Orion)
London Rules by Mick Herron (John Murray)
Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane (Little Brown)
Sunburn by Laura Lippman (Faber & Faber)
Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke (Serpent’s Tail)
You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood (Michael Joseph)
A Necessary Evil by Abir Mukherjee (Harvill Secker)
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (Raven Books)
Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic (Pushkin Vertigo)

Ian Fleming Steel Dagger
The Switch by Joseph Finder (Head of Zeus)
London Rules by Mick Herron (John Murray Publishers)
If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch (Harvill Secker)
Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke (Serpent’s Tail)
An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth (Wildfire)
A Necessary Evil by Abir Mukherjee (Harvill Secker)
Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips (Doubleday)
The Chalk Man by C J Tudor (Michael Joseph)
The Force by Don Winslow (HarperFiction)

The CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger
Gravesend by William Boyle (No Exit Press)
I.Q by Joe Ide (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Soho Dead by Greg Keen (Thomas & Mercer)
Girl In Snow by Danya Kukafka (Picador)
Lola by Melissa Scrivner Love (Point Blank)
East Of Hounslow by Khurrum Rahman (HQ)
Ravenhill by John Steele (Silvertail)
My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent (Fourth Estate)
The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (Raven Books)
Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic Pushkin Vertigo

The CWA International Dagger
Zen and the Art of Murder by Oliver Bottini tr. Jamie Bulloch (MacLehose)
The Shadow District by Arnaldur Indriðason tr. Victoria Cribb (Harvill Secker)
Three Days and a Life by Pierre Lemaitre tr. Frank Wynne (MacLehose)
After the Fire by Henning Mankell tr. Marlaine Delargy (Harvill Secker)
The Frozen Woman by Jon Michelet tr. Don Bartlett (No Exit Press)
Offering to the Storm by Dolores Redondo tr. Nick Caistor & Lorenza Garzía, (HarperCollins)
Three Minutes by Roslund & Hellström tr. Elizabeth Clark Wessel, (Quercus/riverrun)
Snare by Lilja Sigurdardóttir tr. Quentin Bates, (Orenda)
The Accordionist by Fred Vargas tr. Sian Reynolds (Harvill Secker)
Can You Hear Me? By Elena Varvello tr. Alex Valente (Two Roads/John Murray)

The CWA Historical Dagger
A Necessary Evil by Abir Mukherjee (Harvill Secker)
Death in the Stars by Frances Brody (Piatkus)
Fire by L. C. Tyler (Constable)
Lightning Men by Thomas Mullen (Little Brown)
Merlin at War by Mark Ellis (London Wall Publishing)
Money in the Morgue by Ngaio Marsh & Stella Duffy (HarperCollins)
Nine Lessons by Nicola Upson (Faber & Faber)
Nucleus by Rory Clements (Zaffre Publishing)
Prussian Blue by Philip Kerr (Quercus Fiction)
The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellows (Sphere)

The CWA Short Story Dagger
The Corpse on the Copse by Sharon Bolton from “The Body” Killer Women Crime Club Anthology 2 Edited by Susan Opie (Killer Women Ltd)
The Last Siege of Bothwell Castle by Chris Brookmyre from Bloody Scotland ( Historic Environment Scotland)
Too Much Time by Lee Child from No Middle Name: The Complete Collected Jack Reacher Stories (Bantam Press)
Second Son by Lee Child from No Middle Name: The Complete Collected Jack Reacher Stories (Bantam Press)
Authentic Carbon Steel Forged by Elizabeth Haynes from Deadlier: 100 of the Best Crime Stories Written by Women Edited by Sophie Hannah (Head of Zeus)
Smoking Kills by Erin Kelly from “The Body” Killer Women Crime Club Anthology 2 Edited by Susan Opie (Killer Women Ltd)
Nemo Me Impune Lacessit by Denise Mina from Bloody Scotland (Historic Environment Scotland)
Accounting for Murder by Christine Poulson from Mystery Tour: CWA Anthology of Short Stories Edited by Martin Edwards (Orenda Books)
Faking a Murder by Kathy Reichs and Lee Child from Match Up Edited by Lee Child (Sphere)
Trouble is a Lonesome Town by Cathi Unsworth from Deadlier: 100 of the Best Crime Stories Written by Women Edited by Sophie Hannah (Head of Zeus)

CWA Dagger In The Library
Selected by nominations from libraries.
Simon Beckett
Martina Cole
Martin Edwards
Nicci French
Sophie Hannah
Simon Kernick
Edward Marston
Peter May
Rebecca Tope

The shortlists in all of these categories will be announced in July, with winners to be declared during a Dagger Awards dinner in London on Thursday 25 October 2018.  Congratulations to all the nominated authors.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction Finalists


Finalists for the eighth annual Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction: The prize was authorized by the late Harper Lee, and established in 2011 by the University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird. It is given annually to a book-length work of fiction that best illuminates the role of lawyers in society and their power to effect change. 

Nominated books -

Exposed by Lisa Scottoline (St. Martin’s Press)
Proof by C.E. Tobisman (Thomas & Mercer)
Testimony by Scott Turow (Grand Central)
The award ceremony will take place on 1st September 2018 during the Library of Congress National Book Festival.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

The Anonymity of Bayswater: British Book Awards 2018



I was delighted to be asked by The Bookseller to sit on their 2018 judging panel, to help evaluate the best in Crime and Thriller for the 2018 ‘Nibbies’ [aka The British Book Awards]. As an advocate for the biggest selling fiction genre in the UK, how could I refuse?
The British Book Awards are organised by The Bookseller and after our reading, the judges met up at London’s Groucho Club, where the debating continued until the various judges agreed to the winners.

And soon, I found myself dusting down my tuxedo and heading into London, for the awards, hosted at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel opposite Hyde Park, in Park Lane. I often attend events and meetings in this part of London; and when I do, I have found the services of a rather fine hotel that is reasonably priced (for this area of London), and is anonymous - but is a 30 minute walk along the Bayswater Road from The Grosvenor.


This was my first time as a ‘nibbie’ judge, and the first time I found myself at the British Book Awards, and what a splendid event, for there is comfort to be in the company of fellow bibliophiles, many of whom I’ve known for more years than I would admit to without my lawyer present.


The main themes of the evening (talking points) were, Axel Scheffler when receiving Illustrator of the Year Award, gave a most passionate and personal speech about his horror of the so-called Brexit. Pan Macmillan have kindly uploaded the speech HERE


Later Philip Pullman mirrored Axel’s thoughts with his acceptance speech for Author of the Year, and received a standing ovation as Lee Child presented him with his award, which we recorded here –


Though the Oliphant in the Room, was debut novelist Gail Honeyman, with her novel ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS PEFECTLY FINE, winning several awards, and here she is on the podium –


The Full Results are available from the Bookseller HERE who have shared photos of the evening.


Though the moment when legendary publisher Tim Hely-Hutchinson was honoured at the end of the evening was poignant, and we captured some video >


So after thanking my hosts from The Bookseller, it was time to head off to my hotel.
I walked back purposefully, working off the dinner and the excesses of my Gin consumption from tonight’s British Book Awards. As I traversed the Bayswater Road, I felt like a swarthy version of Ian Fleming’s aristocratic Secret Agent, complete with Tuxedo and a purposeful gait, in my stride.
I reflected upon a most enjoyable evening bumping into people I’ve known for many years. Though I’m principally known for my obsessive interest in Crime & Thriller, the Nibbies (British Book Awards) however cast a much wider net, taking in all sectors of British Publishing.

As I walked along the Bayswater Road, I thought about espionage fiction, and the judging for Ian Fleming Publications and the Crime Writer’s Association, with the Steel Dagger. As I walked in the early hours back to my Hotel, I smiled thinking of John Le Carre’s The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, which the CWA awarded “The Dagger of Daggers” in 2005 – see here
Though dressed more as James Bond; Bayswater reminded me of George Smiley and of course Alec Leamas, as John Le Carre once described the semi-Soviet anonymity of Bayswater: “They walked to her flat through the rain and they might have been anywhere — Berlin, London, any town where paving stones turn to lakes of light in the evening rain, and the traffic shuffles despondently through wet streets.”
Read More Here about the anonymous spies in London, and where they reside.

When I arrived at my anonymous hotel, just off the Bayswater Road, but before Notting Hill, I looked in the mirror recalling one question that made me ponder.
Over dinner I got talking, and was asked “……so why do you enjoy Crime & Thriller Fiction so much, it can’t be healthy for the mind, the volumes you read?’

I smiled like Tom Ripley “....because it relaxes me, it calms me and makes me think. I find the more disturbing, the better, and therefore the more calming...” I replied laughing.

Sometimes we need distraction, at other times Crime and Thriller Fiction makes us think, and realise how fortunate we are, compared to the very worst that this reality has to offer. Pick up a newspaper if you wish to challenge my thinking.

Later, my assertion was reinforced by writer Matt Haig who was one of the award presenters, for he thanked those in publishing for the help they give, because reading is good for our mental well-being.

I winked at my colleague who had enquired at my obsession with Crime & Thriller Fiction, gesturing at Matt Haig

“Besides, we get to see Philip Pullman sitting on the table next to us.” I continued gesturing to the table next to ours.

It might sound a bit weird, but reading does help us manage reality, for as Stephen King once said ‘life is not a support system for the arts, it’s the other way around’


And a tip of the hat to Crime Writer Cathi Unsworth, for spotting the reason why I stay just “off the Bayswater Road”

Photos and Text (c) 2018 A Karim



Rebecca Alexander on Transforming a ghost story into procedural crime


From the very beginning, A Baby’s Bones was a crime story. Burial rites were very important in the Elizabethan era. Being denied a regular burial was a punishment, and the dumping of two people down a well suggested they had been murdered. Someone was trying to conceal the crime. I loved writing fantasy elements like the suggestion that the house is haunted, but at its heart, the book was about a possible crime far in the past. I leave it to the reader’s imagination to decide whether Solomon Seabourne’s efforts at alchemy had any effects, in the past or present.

The contemporary strand did have to change. I think investigating such brutal events must affect people working on it, and Sage and her students are overshadowed by the bones emerging from the well. The place, the story of the bodies and the associated burial tell a story that affects the people around it, from the family living in the cottage to the villagers. I’m not one of those writers who can plan meticulously, so the moment I started writing a scene in the sixteenth century cottage the atmosphere started to affect the story. I think the jury is still out on whether the house is haunted and whether it affected the behaviour of the people around it – I shall leave it to the readers to decide for themselves. But some people are vulnerable to atmosphere and to the violent events they are excavating.

I’m a big fan of crime, mostly (but not exclusively) by female authors. I want to understand what intersection of thinking and emotions cause people to commit crimes. When I was working as a psychologist I found people were often planning acts they had seriously considered, like the mercy killing of a sick or demented relative, for example, or even getting revenge on someone. They rarely acted on these impulses, but the idea was there. I wanted to explore the motivations of the different characters, from the deceived wife to the lovelorn man to the rejected lover. Why do people lose it and try and kill someone? Sometimes even the person themselves can’t understand after the red mist has cleared.

Researching the forensic side was fascinating. Val McDermid’s Forensics was an inspiration here, as well as texts on the work of forensic archaeology. Sage’s systematic consideration of the evidence as it’s revealed is very like solving a crime. Archaeologists find artefacts and interpret them in the same way that we form a theory of how a crime was committed. We’re all, as writers and readers, building stories as Sage shows us the evidence. Writing, for me, is like reading in slow motion, I don’t know what’s going to happen next either.

A Baby’s Bones by Rebecca Alexander (Titan Books)
Archaeologist Sage Westfield has been called in to excavate a sixteenth-century well, and expects to find little more than soil and the odd piece of pottery. But the disturbing discovery of the bones of a woman and new born baby make it clear that she has stumbled onto an historical crime scene, one that is interwoven with an unsettling local legend of witchcraft and unrequited love. Yet there is more to the case than a four-hundred-year-old mystery. The owners of a nearby cottage are convinced that it is haunted, and the local vicar is being plagued with abusive phone calls. Then a tragic death makes it all too clear that a modern murderer is at work...