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The Dagger Awards, with Ali Karim --


© 2004 Ali Karim

So here I am again in the heart of the City of London to celebrate the best of the best in the world of Crime, Mystery and Thriller Fiction. As the rain came down, I tugged the lapel of my raincoat and braved the journey with the other 290 guests headed to The Brewery [the venue that has played host for the last three years for the CWA Daggers]. The format is a luncheon in the King George III Room with a private bar and a blood red carpet. We have a treat this year with Greg Dyke [being the after-lunch speaker] former Director General of the BBC [who resigned in the aftermath of the Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction debacle earlier this year], who incidentally has a biography currently on the bookshelves entitled ‘Inside Story’.

This is the first Dagger Awards Luncheon to be sponsored by the BCA and they will be announcing the winner of their own Mystery Thriller People’s Choice award. Book Club Associates are a strong advocate of the genre, and have been welcomed by the CWA to support the most prestigious awards in the UK crime fiction calender.

The CWA has also formed a partnership with the National Library for the Blind to promote their activities and help to raise funds. One result is that the Foyle Foundation is providing finance which will enable all the winning books in the Dagger Awards to be converted into Braille. It is believed that this is the first time that a series of major awards has been made available in this format. Crime writing being one of the most popular genres, the CWA is particularly pleased to bring it to a wider audience in this manner. Peter White - BBC disability correspondent and long-term supporter of the NLB - would speak at the luncheon.

I arrived early and grabbed a cold beer and met up with Mick Jecks the current chair and thanked him for my invite. I chatted with Danuta Reah, Janet Laurence and Zoe Sharp who helped organise this event devoting time and energy to ensure it all ran smoothly.

I noticed that The Daggers have been a truly international affair when I scanned the table lists and seating plans and smiled at the significant numbers of American colleagues who had come across the atlantic for the event.

The first hour was spent mingling with the assembled. I really enjoy meeting up with old friends [especially this year, because I have been so busy] and catching up with what has been happening within the genre. Maxim Jakubowski and I chatted about the launch of ‘Behind the Mask’ in autumn 2005 – the next book by Thomas Harris about the early life of Hannibal Lecter. Maxim apart from being a critically acclaimed novelist and anthology editor is also the owner of Murderone Bookstore in Charing Cross and he told me that he planned to open the shop at midnight again on the eve of the release of ‘Behind the Mask’. I told Maxim that I would be there to sample his Chiati and Fava Beans yet again.

I then met up with American uber-sellers Karin Slaughter and Jeff Deaver and congratulated them on the tremendous achievments of scaling the UK Charts. Jeff indicated that ‘Garden of Beasts’ [the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger nominated thriller based in wartime Germany] had not done as well in the USA. I suggested that was due to the European flavour he had injected into the work. Jeff Deaver recently got to the No 1 slot in terms of paperback sales with his last Lincoln Rhyme thriller ‘The Vanished Man’, and had his head-spinning collection of short story work ‘Twisted’ as well ‘Garden of Beasts’ out on release.

I then had a chat with Simon Kernick who was excited by his upcoming thriller ‘A Good Day to Die’ and I congratulated him on his recent Barry Award nomination at Bouchercon – the second so far as he was shortlised in 2003 also. I reminded him that it took John Connolly three years before he finally won a Barry so he mustn’t lose heart!

I had a drink with Henry Jefferys [Hodder UK] who had a proof of Blood Memory by one of my favourite authors Greg Iles. Greg is over in the UK next week and I planned an interview with him as I have followed his diverse thrillers since his novel Spandau Phoenix. Henry was very excited and had brought the ARC of Blood Memory for me personally – so I bought him a drink for his trouble.


I then met up with Jim Kelly who has recently published his debut The Water Clock in the US and I had been most impressed by his follow up Firebaby. Jim was again nominated for a Dagger and I wished him well. The real acheivement in my book is the nomination, because the shortlists were fierce and I wondered what a difficult task it would be for the judges to select a winner from some truly memorable novels.

Then I popped outside had bumped into Val McDermid as well as Jenni Murray from the BBC accompanied by a very well looking Mike Ripley in top jovial form.

When I returned I mingled some more and took some pictures with my partner in crime Shots Editor-in-Chief Mike Stotter. We noticed Richard Reynolds of Heffers Bookshop Cambridge and thanked him for the sponsorship of – Richard is the crime-buyer and one of the most knowlegable people in the genre. The only problem is I end up expanding my TBR [To be Read pile] each time we meet. Then Jeff of CADS, David Stuart Davies of Sherlock Magazine, Red Herrings, Mike and I [of Shots] had a chat with Adrian Muller who was organising Left Coast Crime 2005 [to be held in Bristol UK] next year, which was great news for us Europeans – and with Mike Connelly being GoH at Harrogate in 2005 – what a great year lined up [and that was without consideration to Hannibal Lecter coming to a bookstore!].

Mike Jecks then announced for all of us to take our seats as the luncheon was about to be served. I was on table twelve [Journalists] – and my dining partners were the thriller writer Zoe Sharp, Mark Lawson and Robyn Read from the BBC, John Dugdale, Janet Lawrence, Left-Coast-Crime Man Adrian Muller and my old friends Liz and Myles.

Luncheon was started with a Tomato Quiche [which helped soak up some of the wine that started to flow in my direction]. I was careful this year as at the Lunch last year I managed to spill a big glass of red-wine over Zoe – and she was very good natured about the incident when I reminded her. Zoe is a novelist that is launching in the US and I predict will be a big name in the genre as she is gathering a large following. She has published so far KILLER INSTINCT, RIOT ACT, HARD KNOCKS, FIRST DROP and I would check out because if you like your thrillers fast and traced with gunfire, Zoe’s your writer.

I asked her about the genesis of her character Charlie Fox 'The idea of a tough, self-sufficient heroine who didn't suffer fools gladly and could take care of herself is one I've had lying around for quite a few years. Things have improved a lot recently, but at that time the vast majority of female characters in books and films were only good at looking decorative and screaming while they waited to be rescued by the men!

'I decided early on that Charlie Fox was going to be very different. She arrived almost as a full-grown character and I never thought of her by any other name. At the start of the first book, Killer Instinct, she is a self-defence instructor with a slightly shady military background and a painful past.

'In Riot Act Charlie has moved on to working in a gym, and by the time she's involved in the events of 'Hard Knocks' she is in training for her new career - as a bodyguard. It was the perfect choice for an ex-Special Forces trainee who never found herself quite in step with life outside the army that rejected her.

'There are some who might feel that Charlie is a bit too hard at times, but she's been made that way by events in her life and, as you find out during the course of the series, things are not about to get any easier. She's a fighter and a survivor, and I get the feeling that if I met her I'd probably like her a lot. I'm not so sure she'd say the same about me...

I had first bumped into Zoe a few years back at Bodies in the Bookshop and we carried out a short interview, and her insight made me explore her work. Then last year I spilled a glass of wine over her at the 2003 Daggers, so this year I was extra careful. We chatted about her missing Bouchercon 2003 in Las Vegas due to an appendix operation, but she had throughly enjoyed Bochercon 2004 in Toronto. We both were coming to Bouchercon 2005 in Chicago – My excuse was I need to meet up with my dear friends Jon, Ruth and Jennifer Jordan [] as well as the excellent companion George Easter who tirelessly works at – as well as the myriad other friends and contacts within the US Crime / Mystery and Thriller community.


The main course was lamb and I have to admit that The Brewery serves an excellent lunch and the wine provided was eminantly quaffable.Over the luncheon, I discussed with Mark Lawson and Robyn Read how much I enjoyed BBC Radio 4’s Front Row and apprecaited the support they gave the genre. Both of who were big readers within the genre.


And naturally we talked a great deal about books, and I even mentioned my high regard for Dennis Lehane’s work, especailly his astounding ‘Shutter Island’.


The desert [strawberry cheesecake] came far too quickly for me, as I talked so much and was followed by coffee and the main event was scheduled to kick-off.


Michael Jecks then took the podium and we all hushed as he warmly welcomed us all to the 2004 CWA Dagger Awards. He told everyone that this year was the biggest attendance with 290 people at the ceremony. Mike himself is very well known in the genre for his historical crime novels, and I am amazed at how he maintains his output while chairing The CWA at the same time, and this year has seen some major changes. The first being the hugely positive step of involving Book Club Associates as one of the main sponsors of the event and with their bookclub this can only stimulate interest in the genre.

Mike then introduced our ‘after lunch’ speaker – Greg Dyke former Director General of the BBC, who felt welcome amongst the crime writing fraternity as he’d just released his own book ‘Inside Story’. His speech was hugely entertaining and peppered with wit as he made cautious reference to the US elections and the Iraqi WMD affair which resulted him leaving the BBC. He also indicated that he was a big reader of Crime / Mystery fiction and during his time in broadcasting was involved in commisioning the Poirot Mysteries as well as the Ruth Rendell Inspector Wexford Mysteries for TV. His speech was very funny and informative. He apologised that he had to leave, and would miss out on the award ceremony as he had a prior engagement with the Police Federation.

The next speaker to the podium was Peter White - BBC disability correspondent and long-term supporter of the National Library for the Blind. Peter who also is visually impaired, spoke at length at how Braille books had been so important to him as a child and how they are still and why he works so hard to try and raise money to get more books available for the blind. Anyone interested in making a donation to this important charity should check the website :-

Peter then told us a tale about one of his pet hates, the stereotype that the blind always have a guidedog. He was on the Tube one night when a fellow traveller asked him where his guide-dog was. Somewhat irriated he said ‘Oh no! I must have left him on the train’ but the traveller took him seriously and called a railway officer and before long, a whole section of the underground had been halted as a search ensued to look for a lost guide-dog. Feeling guilty he confessed that he had played a ‘joke’ and was told not to do it again. His message was for everyone to look beyond the stereotype.

After the speechs we then launched into the award ceremony.



The Leo Harris Award is for the best contribution to the CWA monthly bulletin, Red Herrings over a twelve-month period, chosen by the current editor, David Stuart Davies.

It is named after Leo Harris, who edited Red Herrings from 1987 until his death in 1997. As a memorial to his time in the editor’s chair, Leo’s wife Jane instigated the award. Since her death, Leo’s daughter, Rosalind Dick has continued to fund it and she will present the winner with their cheque for £150.

The winner was Joan Lock who remarked that the award was a very nice surprise even though she no longer contined with her column!


Nominated and judged by librarians and awarded to a body of work, not just a single title.

£1500 prize money, sponsored by Random House.

The Award was presented by Susan Sandon, Publisher with CHA Division, Random House.

The shortlist comprised :-

Mark Billingham

Christopher Brookmyre

Jim Kelly

Alexander McCall Smith

Stuart Pawson

Andrew Taylor

The winner was Alexander McCall Smith who was born in Zimbabwe in 1948 and educated there and in Scotland. He is married with two daughters and lives with his wife in Edinburgh. An internationally-known Professor of Medical Law, he was until very recently also a member of the International Bioethics Commission of UNESCO and vice-chairman of the Human Genetics Commission for the UK.

He has written more than 50 titles, from reference works to children’s titles. ‘The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency’ series, set in Botswana, was first published in 1988 by Polygon, a small Edinburgh-based publishing house. Word-of-mouth promotion led to a quiet growth of sales which exploded into five million copies in English and 31 languages world-wide. Six titles are currently available (now as Abacus paperbacks), the most recent being ‘In the Company of Cheerful Ladies’.  In addition, a new series was launched by Polygon in August 2003 (‘Portuguese Irregular Verbs’) and this too is a UK best-seller.

‘These tales have given the genre a new lease of life. The heroine, Precious Ramotswe, is a wholly original character whose approach to detective work is both ingenious and humane. We gain an insight into a country that is in transition and the old and the new exist together, while the gentle humour and wit of the writing appeal to readers who would not normally read crime novels. McCall Smith writes beautifully, at a measured pace, giving you the time and space to consider what his characters (and what characters!) are saying and thinking and why. And all are carried along by a woven fabric of story - crimes to solve, puzzles to unravel, questions to be asked and answered, people to be remembered and moved on.’

Unfortuntaly Professor Alexander McCall Smith was unable to be present due to a long-standing prior engagement. However he had sent a letter which was to be read in the event he did win. In the letter he thanked everyone who had supported him and would donate his prize money to start a short story competition in Botswana to stimulate literacy.


For unpublished authors of fiction.

£250 prize money, sponsored by Orion.

This was presented by Malcom Edwards, Managing Director, Orion who thanked Kat Mitchell for her efforts in organising this catorgory where unpublished writers submit a synopsis and sample chapter [3,000] words for a proposed novel. Previous winners have received publishing contracts and the award is the first step of the ladder for many.

Short list comprised :-

Paula Bouwer (Eire) - ‘George Trenque and the Old School Tie’

Kenneth Carlisle (UK) - ‘The Gardener’

Fay Cunningham (UK) - ‘Sleeping Dogs’

Jim Doherty (USA) - ‘An Obscure Grave’

Tom Flynn (Australia) -  ‘Cheap Day Return’

Ellen Grubb (UK) - ‘The Doll Makers’

Jude Larkin (Australia) - ‘Dead Meat’

Andrew Murphy (Northern Ireland) - ‘Redman’s Revenge’

Louise Penny (Canada) - ‘Still Life’

Phyllis Smallman (Canada) - ‘Margarita Nights’

Germaine Stafford (Italy) - ‘Fallen Women’

Otis Twelve (USA) - ‘Sometimes a Prozac Notion’

Eugene Wang (USA)  - ‘Murder in Crowded Hours’

Geoffrey D West (UK) - ‘Deadly Contact’

It is so exciting to see these new talents arrive, and how truly international the Daggers have become.

The winner was Ellen Grubb with her work entitled ‘The Doll Makers’


£1500 prize money, sponsored by


This was presented by Peter White, disability correspondent for the BBC.

Shortlisted were :-

Mark Billingham - ‘Dancing Towards the Blade’ from Men from Boys - Heinemann

Mat Coward - ‘Persons Reported’ from Green for Danger - Do-Not Press

Jeffery Deaver - ‘The Weekender’ from Twisted - Hodder & Stoughton

Val McDermid - ‘The Consolation Blonde’ from Mysterious Pleasures -  Little, Brown

Don Winslow - ‘Douggie Doughnuts’ from Men from Boys - Heinemann

A genuinely surprised Jeff Deaver was called to the Podium to receive the award. He was not lost for words as he thanked his agent, publisher and many of his colleagues. He said he had the best people in the business supporting him.

If you’ve not read Deaver – Shame on you!

Jeffery Deaver is the author of fourteen suspense novels. His books have been translated into a dozen languages. Deaver was born in Chicago, attended the University of Missouri, and received his law degree from Fordham University in New York. In 1990 he quit practicing law to write full time. He lives in California and Virginia.

Jeffery Deaver loves writing short stories. 'All bets are off,' he says. 'Short stories are like a sniper's bullet. Fast and shocking. I can make good bad and bad badder, and most fun of all, really bad seem good.' And that is exactly what he does in these seventeen superb short stories. This is collection of short stories that is instantly gripping and impossible to put down, taking your breath away time and time again. Nothing is as it seems in the twisted world of Jeffery Deaver.


£3000 prize money, sponsored by the Estate of Ellis Peters and her publishers, Headline, and the Time Warner Book Group.

This was presented by Marion Donaldson, of Headline.

Short list

Barbara Cleverly - ‘The Damascened Blade’ - Constable & Robinson

Marjorie Eccles - ‘The Shape of Sand’ - Allison & Busby

Tom Franklin - ‘Hell at the Breech’ - Flamingo

Janet Gleeson - ‘The Thief-Taker’ - Transworld

Matthew Pearl - ‘The Dante Club’ - Vintage

Steven Saylor - ‘The Judgement of Caesar’ - Constable & Robinson

Laura Wilson - ‘The Lover’ - Orion

The winner of this award was Barbara Cleverly’s ‘The Damascened Blade’, as announced at a reception at The House of St Barnabas-in-Soho, Greek Street, London W1, on Tuesday, October 19th. Ms Cleverly was presented with her Dagger at the lunch.

Barbara Cleverly - ‘The Damascened Blade’ - Constable & Robinson

‘An evocative and exciting book very much in the tradition of golden age crime. Politics, revenge, intrigue and murder amongst a memorable cast of characters set on the North West Frontier of India in 1922.’

Barbara Cleverly was born in the north of England and is a graduate of Durham University. She has spent her working life in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, where she now lives. She has one son and five stepchildren.

‘The Damascened Blade’ is her third novel featuring Joe Sandilands, who is based on a relation of Ms Cleverly’s husband - Brigadier Harold Richard Sandilands (1876-1961), a daring soldier, who served in India at different periods throughout his career.

The New York Times named ‘The Last Kashmiri Rose’, the first Joe Sandilands novel, as one of the best mystery books of 2002. She was inspired to write it by being short listed for the CWA Debut Dagger in 2000. She followed up her initial success with ‘Ragtime in Simla’. Constable & Robinson have recently published the fourth title in the series, ‘The Palace Tiger.’



For first books by unpublished writers.

£1000 prize money, sponsored by BBC Audiobooks.

The award was presented by Jan Paterson of BBC Audiobooks.

Short list comprised :-

Denise Hamilton - ‘The Jasmine Trade’ - Orion

Mark Mills- ‘Amagansett’ - Fourth Estate

Catherine Shaw - ‘The Three Body Problem’ - Allison & Busby

Stav Sherez - ‘The Devil’s Playground’ - Penguin Michael Joseph

The winner was Mark Mills- ‘Amagansett’ - Fourth Estate

A great cheer went up as Mark had many of his friends and supporters in the audience.

‘A very well written and atmospheric novel, set on Long Island in 1947. A fisherman finds the body of his lover in his nets...’

Mark Mills is a screenwriter whose film credits include The Reckoning, an adaptation of Barry's Unsworth's ‘Morality Play’. ‘Amagansett’ is his first novel. He is currently researching his next novel, set in a colonial community in Java in the late nineteenth century.

Amagansett, a small fishing town near the tip of Long Island, off the east coast of America, is a place Mark Mills knows well, having visited it repeatedly over the past 15 years. Generations have followed the same calling as their forefathers, fishing the dangerous Atlantic waters but the stability of the local community is shattered when the body of a beautiful New York socialite turns up in the fishermen’s nets. The story is set in 1947 and captures the life of a community whose way of life is disappearing, its demise hastened by war in Europe and the incursions of wealthy city dwellers in search of a playground.


For the best adventure/thriller novel in the vein of James Bond.

£2000 prize money, sponsored by Ian Fleming Publications Ltd.

The award was presented by Zoë Watkins of Ian Fleming Publications Ltd

Short list :-

Jeffery Deaver - ‘Garden of Beasts’ - Hodder & Stoughton

Dan Fesperman - ‘The Warlord’s Son’ - Transworld

Joseph Finder - ‘Paranoia’ - Orion

Mo Hayder - ‘Tokyo’ - Transworld

Stephen Leather - ‘Hard Landing’ - Hodder & Stoughton

Adrian McKinty - ‘Dead I May Well Be’ - Serpent’s Tail

Daniel Silva - ‘The Confessor’ - Penguin

It was announced that Joseph Finder - ‘Paranoia’ was highly commended – which I was delighted by, because I found this highly entertaining thriller one of my best reads of 2004.

The winner however was Jeff Deaver again!

‘Cat and mouse chase through Berlin in the run up to the 1936 Olympics. Evocative of the period, unrelenting pace with a tension that never lets up. This is a new departure for Deaver which keeps his trademark twists. A real page-turner.’

Jeffrey Deaver was born in Chicago, attended the University of Missouri and received his law degree from Fordham University, New York. In 1990, he quit practising law to write full-time and is the author of 14 suspense novels in a dozen languages. He lives in California and Virginia.

Paul Schumann, a German-American living in New York in 1936, is a hit-man known for his brilliant tactics and for taking only ‘righteous’ jobs. But when a hit goes wrong and Schumann is nabbed, he’s offered a stark choice: kill Reinhard Ernst, the man behind Hitler’s rearmament scheme and walk free forever, or be sent to Sing-Sing and the electric chair. Set in Berlin in the year of the pre-war Olympics, the novel is packed with fascinating period detail. There is plenty of action as Schumann stalks Ernst and is himself pursued by the entire Third Reich security apparatus.

I spoke to Jeff Deaver afterwards and congratulated him for this double-win at the Daggers and he was most gracious and again genuinely surprised.

I would also recommend Joe Finder’s Paranoia to those not familiar with his work :-

‘Industrial espionage in a high-tech environment which Q would envy is the basis for this fresh and engrossing thriller. Exciting to the very last line.’

Joseph Finder writes extensively on espionage and international affairs for The New York Times, The Washington Post and The New Republic. He lives in Boston, USA, with his wife and daughter. 

His novel ‘Paranoia’ is an acid portrayal of how people act in the modern corporate environment. It taps into basic wish-fulfillment fantasy about ambition and success and post-Enron disillusionment with big business. The story centres on a bright young executive who is appalled at the way that the departure of a colleague, leaving the company after many years’ loyal service, is allowed to go unnoticed by senior management. He plots revenge against the company by accessing a secret slush fund and throwing a lavish leaving party for his wronged colleague. Caught out, he does a deal with his employers: in exchange for not facing embezzlement charges and jail, he must infiltrate a high-tech rival company. As he becomes a rising star in his new job, his loyalties are divided and ultimately he seeks to break the bonds with his former employers.


£2000 prize money, sponsored by

This was presented by Christian Friege, Chief Executive of BCA.

Short listed:

John Dickie - ‘Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia’ -Hodder & Stoughton

Rebecca Gowers - ‘The Swamp of Death: A True Tale of Victorian Lies and Murder’ - Hamish Hamilton

Steve Holland - ‘The Trials of Hank Janson: The True Story Behind the Censorship and Banning of Hank Janson’s Books in the UK’ - Telos Publishing

Mende Nazer /Damien Lewis - ‘Slave: The True Story of a Girl’s Lost Childhood and her Fight for Survival’ - Time Warner

Sarah Wise - ‘The Italian Boy: Murder and Grave Robbery in 1830s London’ - Jonathan Cape

This resulted in a tie with John Dickie - ‘Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia’ sharing the award with Sarah Wise - ‘The Italian Boy: Murder and Grave Robbery in 1830s London’

‘Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia’

‘An examination of the origins of the Sicilian Mafia. A thorough, well-informed and well-written book that explains the rise of the Mafia and its culture.’


‘Cosa Nostra’ is the first book in English to tell the complete story of the Sicilian Mafia. Through face-to-face interviews with protagonists on both sides of the law and academic research, Dickie has put together a gripping study that demolishes preconceptions about the Mafia. Their roots are not, as it has been supposed, lost in Sicily’s murky, peasant past. The beginnings of Cosa Nostra are modern and urban. The first noted Mafia activity took place around Palermo just after Italian unification in 1860.

Dickie follows the Mafia from its inception through to its arrival in America, its persecution under Mussolini and rebirth after the war, its influence finally extending beyond Sicily into Italian national politics and culminating in the indictment of Andreotti, seven times Prime Minister, for colluding with organised crime. The story continues right up to the present day with the near defeat of the Mafia following the murder of anti-Mafia judge Falcone and the frustrating though familiar tale of the lack of political will needed to finish the job. 

John Dickie is both an academic cultural historian and an advertising copywriter and researcher for several major international companies. He is Senior Lecturer in Italian at UCL and has written many articles and a previous academic book on Italy, ‘Darkest Italy’ and edited another, ‘Disasters in Italy since 1860.

Sarah Wise - ‘The Italian Boy: Murder and Grave Robbery in 1830s London’ - Jonathan Cape

‘A fascinating insight into the history of English bodysnatching and murder but most importantly setting it firmly in the social history of the time.’

Sarah Wise’s first book is a fascinating historical investigation that illuminates a macabre episode in 1830s London and brings the capital’s underclass roaring back to life. Towards the end of 1831, the authorities unearthed a series of crimes in East London that appeared to echo the notorious Burke and Hare killings in Edinburgh three years earlier. After a long investigation, it became known that a group of body snatchers were supplying the anatomy schools with fresh ‘examples’ for dissection. The case became known as ‘The Italian Boy’ and caused a furore which led directly to the passing of controversial legislation and marked the demise of body snatching in Britain.

Sarah Wise is a freelance journalist and a regular contributor to The Guardian, The Independent on Sunday Review and The Times. She completed an MA in Victorian Studies at Birkbeck College, London in 1996.



Voted for by members of

Prize of an engraved glass bowl and a Dagger, sponsored by the BCA.

This was a new award presented by Christian Friege, Chief Executive of BCA and voted by the members of the BCA Thriller and Mystery Bookclub

Short listed:

Harlan Coben - ‘Just One Look’ - Orion

Michael Connelly - ‘The Narrows’ - Orion

Reginald Hill - ‘Good Morning, Midnight’ - HarperCollins

Val McDermid - ‘The Torment of Others’ - HarperCollins

James Patterson - ‘Third Degree’ - Headline

Karin Slaughter - ‘Indelible’ - Century

A delighted Reg Hill came to the podium to accept the award, he remarked rather cheekily that as Jeff Deaver had the best team in the business, he’d thank his team who he thought were also the best team in the business.

Reginald Hill has been widely published in both England and the United States. He received Britain's most coveted mystery writers' award, the Cartier Diamond Dagger, as well as the Golden Dagger for his Dalziel-Pascoe series. He lives with his wife in Cumbria, England.

Yorkshire coppers Andy Dalziel and Peter Pascoe are investigating the suicide of prominent businessman, Pal Maciver. It seems to be a clear-cut case: he shot himself while sitting at his desk in his locked study. But things are not quite what they seem. When Pascoe digs deeper, he finds threads going back to another, almost identical death - that of Maciver's father. And even more disturbing: Pascoe's boss, Detective Superintendent Dalziel, was the officer on that case.

With Dalziel checking his every move, Pascoe is forced to lead his own investigation, plunging into the past to uncover truths about the Maciver family, particularly Pal's relationship with his step-mother, the beautiful and enigmatic Kay Kafka. He soon realizes that the implications of Maciver's death stretch far beyond the borders of Yorkshire. And when a key witness, exotic hooker Dolores - Lady of Pain - disappears, the death takes on a far more complicated and mysterious face.

And finally we came to the last and most prestigious award for the afternoon


For the top crime novel of the year, and the runner-up.

£3000 and £2000 prize money, sponsored by

Again the dapper Christian Friege, Chief Executive of BCA stepped up to the podium to announce the two winners.

Short list

John Harvey - ‘Flesh and Blood’ - Heinemann

Mo Hayder - ‘Tokyo’ - Bantam

Val McDermid - ‘The Torment of Others’ - HarperCollins

James W Nichol - ‘Midnight Cab’ - Canongate

Sara Paretsky - ‘Blacklist’  - Hamish Hamilton

Laura Wilson - ‘The Lover’ – Orion

The Silver Dagger was awarded to John Harvey who was greeted to a large cheer by the London crowd. And if you’ve not read Harvey, man are you missing a master of the genre!

‘A finely tuned police procedural that is told with subtlety and delicacy. It ranges through Britain sociologically and topographically, peopled with engaging and fully-rounded characters. The human face of crime fiction.’

John Harvey - poet, dramatist and occasional broadcaster - is the author of ten Charlie Resnick novels, the first of which, ‘Lonely Hearts’, was named by The Times as one of the '100 Best Crime Novels of the Century.'

In ‘Flesh and Blood,’ retired Detective Inspector Frank Elder is haunted by the past and in particular by the unsolved disappearance of a 16-year-old girl in 1988. Two men convicted a year later for the brutal rape and murder of another young girl are his prime suspects. When he hears that one of the men has been released early from prison, he returns to the scene of the crime. When the man breaks parole, disappears and yet another young girl is murdered, Elder’s involvement becomes crucial. The criminal still in prison seems to be able to wield frightening power over his ex-partner even from his prison cell and the new murder has all the hallmarks of their earlier crimes. Taunted by postcards from the killer, Elder battles with his own demons as he and his family are inexorably drawn into the heart of the crime

And the Gold went to CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger winner Sara Paretsky who was unable to be present due to a conflict in schedule. She sent a letter which not unusually had a political slant and her worreis about the current political environment in the world and in the USA. Her novel is based upon the murky politics of today’s America.

 ‘A powerful piece of Chicago gothic that engages with the important issues of our time. The author’s empathy with the downtrodden and deprived is delivered through the medium of powerfully evoked characterisation in a wide ranging and ambitious plot.’

Sarah Paretsky was brought up in rural Kansas and now lives in Chicago. After a variety of jobs ranging from dishwashing to marketing, she now writes full-time. She is a founder and past President of Sisters in Crime, an advocacy group for women in the thriller field, and in 2002 she won the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for lifetime achievement.

Called in to investigate reports of an intruder at derelict Larchmont Hall in wealthy New Solway, V.I. Warshawski stumbles into a deeper mystery of murder and betrayal. After turning up a dead journalist in an ornamental pond, she begins to piece together a dark puzzle that stretches back to the McCarthy years and has links to the history and intrigues of two of Chicago’s most powerful families. Slowly, Larchmont offers up its secrets - political, financial and sexual. Meanwhile, V.I. finds herself involved in the case of a young boy whose possible terrorist connections make him a target in the wake of 9/11 - and not just for the US government. As cases collide with shocking consequences, it seems someone is desperate for the past to stay buried. The question is who, why and what lengths they will go to in order to stop V.I. from finally bringing the truth to light?

So after the awards there was time to re-mingle, drink some more beer and talk to friends and colleagues.

After which a group headed to a local hostelry where we toasted the winners and applauded all the shortlisted. Mike Stotter and I mingled and spent a pleasant evening talking to our friends and colleagues.

I spent a great deal of time talking to Geoff Bradley [Publisher of CADS Magazine] – who is a veritable mine of information about the golden age. We shared similar reading patterns, and spent a few hours talking about writers of our youth such as Dornford Yates, Ian Fleming, James Hadley Chase, Robert Bloch, Hammond Innes, Alistair MacLean, D L Sayers, Agatha Christie, Leslie Charteris, Ellery Queen et. al and we finally came to the same conclusion that right at the very top resides Geoffrey Household – who wrote the definative golden age thriller - ‘Rogue Male’ a precurser to the anti-hero who peppers contempary work.

Never read ‘Rogue Male’? – Shame on you!

Not heard about CADS? – Shame on you!

Editor/Publisher: Geoff Bradley
Sample issue: £5 (UK) or £6.50 or $10 (USA/Canada) airmail. Please make cheques payable to G.H. Bradley.
Address: CADS, 9 Vicarage Hill, South Benfleet, Essex, SS7 1PA England
A British crime mag, edited by Geoff Bradley

More Info :-

So after that delightful chat with my friend Geoff of CADS a group of us headed toward Covent Garden and banqueted at a Sushi Bar until the early hours.

Another great event hosted by The Crime Writers Association and I pass my thanks for their hospitality.

There’s some great books out there – please check out the shortlisted as well as the winners. Well done to all the writers shortlisted!

© 2004 Ali S Karim

Ali S Karim is an industrial chemist, freelance journalist and book reviewer living in England. He is Assistant Editor at Shots Ezine and also contributes to January Magazine, Deadly Pleasures Magazine and Crimespree Magazine. Ali is also an associate member of The Crime Writers Association (CWA) of Great Britain. He is currently working on ‘Black Operations’, a violent techno-thriller set in the world of plant viruses and out-of-work espionage agents.