CWA Dagger Preview

Tomorrow’s Dagger luncheon promises to be a lively affair, and I’m aiming to have results, commentary and pictures up in a fairly timely fashion. To that end, I’ve set up yet another Flickr site for those brave souls who happen to have digital cameras or cameraphones and want to subject their semi-drunken, blurry snaps upon the mystery world. And if you’re not a member of Flickr, you can email pics directly to whom53things AT photos DOT flickr DOT com and they should appear on the group site, too.

In the meantime, Transworld’s crime and thriller editor extraordinaire, Selina Walker, sets up some of the controversy that has dogged this year’s Gold Dagger shortlist:

Past Gold Dagger winners have included Ruth Rendell, Minette

Walters, Val McDermid, James Lee Burke and Ian Rankin, whose award for Black and Blue is reputed to have been a breakthrough on the way to bestsellerdom.


awards matter. However, anyone expecting a selection of this year’s

top-selling crime writers to be nominated is in for a disappointment.

In a vintage year which saw new novels by, among others, Rankin,

McDermid, Denise Mina and Mark Billingham in the UK, and Michael

Connelly, Kathy Reichs and Karin Slaughter in the US, the judges have

announced a highly controversial shortlist of six, featuring four

novels in translation and one published posthumously.

Walker’s careful to note her own interests — what with Carl Hiaasen’s SKINNY DIP published in the UK by Transworld — but she ends with a plea:

[A]s a keen fan and editor of crime and thriller writing, I must still

pose the question: does such a list, with its clear preference for

crime in translation, really represent the extraordinary breadth of

crime writing today, or the current wealth of literary talent?


a shortlist for any literary award can be controversial, and, after

twice judging the Début Dagger myself, I know only too well the time

and responsibility involved. But one does wonder why, and how, the

judges have chosen such a very narrow shortlist.


a dedicated crime fan, I end with a plea to the judges and to the CWA:

next year, can we see a selection that does justice to all that crime

writing has to offer?

It all depends on the judging pool. Considering this year’s, I can’t say the shortlist was all that surprising to me, really…but if there’s a more diverse group of judges for the 2006 crop, chances are the shortlist will reflect this.