The 2022 shortlists for the prestigious Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) Dagger awards, which honour the very best in the crime-writing genre, have been announced.
Created in 1955, the world-famous CWA Daggers are the oldest awards in the genre and have been synonymous with quality crime writing for over half a century.
The Gold Dagger, which recognises the crime novel of the year, sees debut author Jacqueline Bublitz on the shortlist of six. Before You Knew My Name was called “extraordinary” by the CWA judges. Also in contention are Abir Mukherjee, a previous winner of the CWA Historical Dagger for The Shadows of Men praised for its “intricate plotting”, and the bestselling ‘Southern noir’ crime writer, SA Cosby, for Razorblade Tears.
Razorblade Tears, a dynamic revenge thriller that “pulls at the heartstrings” also makes it onto the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger shortlist. Sponsored by Ian Fleming Publications Ltd, the Fleming family-owned company that looks after the James Bond literary brand, this award celebrates the thriller of the year. Cosby is up against past CWA Gold Dagger winner, MW Craven, who is in contention with Dead Ground, alongside established names including Laura Lippman and Linwood Barclay.
The anticipated John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger is awarded to the best debut novel of the year. Among the rising stars is Janice Hallett, shortlisted with her debut The Appeal, which was a Sunday Times Crime Book of the Year, praised as a “dazzlingly clever cosy crime novel”. Also on the shortlist is How to Kidnap the Rich by Rahul Raina, described by The Times as a “joyous love/hate letter to contemporary Delhi.”
Booker Prize winner John Banville is a heavyweight contender on the Historical Dagger shortlist. The prizewinning novelist and literary polymath is in the running for April in Spain. Banville is up against Ray Celestin whose novel set in 1960s Los Angeles, Sunset Swing, is also up for the Gold Dagger.
The Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger sees the award-winning Finnish author Antti Tuomainen make the shortlist with The Rabbit Factor translated by David Hackston. It follows the quirky story of a statistical mathematician, who finds himself mixed up with shady businessmen. He’s up against the high-profile Bullet Train by Kōtarō Isaka, translated by Sam Malissa, which is set to hit cinemas starring Brad Pitt and Sandra Bullock.
Maxim Jakubowski, Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association, said: “So many good titles and authors appeared on our long lists, but in a year of such overall excellence, to reach the shortlist is a terrific achievement. Congratulations to all the nominees, writers both established and new, publishers large and small; a diversity of quality demonstrating the independence of our judges.”
The CWA Daggers are one of the few high-profile awards that honour the short story. This year sees the bestselling Norwegian juggernaut Jo Nesbø on the shortlist with his story “London” from his first book of short stories, The Jealousy Man. Novelists Caroline England and Bryony Pearce are other names on the list.
The ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction shortlist includes the “absorbing” account of a trafficked New Zealand woman in The Disappearance of Lydia Harvey by Julia Laite. Also, Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe makes the list with his account of the Sackler family, who exploited America’s pain industry, fuelling the opioid epidemic. Judges praised it as a “tribute to investigative journalism”.
The Dagger in the Library is voted on exclusively by librarians, chosen for the author’s body of work and support of libraries. This year sees firm favourites from the genre on the shortlist: Cath Staincliffe, Edward Marston, Lin Anderson, Mark Billingham and Susan Hill.
The Best Crime and Mystery Publisher of the Year Dagger, which celebrates publishers and imprints demonstrating excellence and diversity in crime writing, sees publishing goliath HarperCollins on the list with its imprint Harper Fiction, as well as independent publisher Titan Books, part of the Titan Entertainment Group, which began life in the Forbidden Planet store in London.
The Daggers also celebrate unpublished authors with its annual competition for aspiring crime novelists. The competition to find the best new voices in the genre has been going for over 20 years. The winner will receive £500 as well as the attention of leading agents and top editors; over two dozen past winners and shortlisted Debut Dagger authors have been signed to date.
The CWA Diamond Dagger, awarded to an author whose crime-writing career has been marked by sustained excellence, is announced in early spring each year and in 2022 it was awarded to CJ Sansom.
The CWA Dagger shortlists were announced on 13 May at a reception hosted at CrimeFest.
The Dagger awards ceremony will be held at the Leonardo City hotel in London on 29 June, coinciding with National Crime Reading Month, which takes place throughout June. Tickets are available now from the CWA.
The Shortlists in Full:
Before You Knew My Name, Jacqueline Bublitz (Little, Brown; Sphere)
Sunset Swing, Ray Celestin (Pan Macmillan; Mantle)
Razorblade Tears, SA Cosby (Headline Publishing Group; Headline)
The Unwilling, John Hart (Bonnier Books UK Ltd; Zaffre)
The Shadows of Men, Abir Mukherjee (Penguin Random House; Harvill Secker)
The Trawlerman, William Shaw (Quercus; riverrun)
Find You First, Linwood Barclay (HarperCollins; HQ)
The Pact, Sharon Bolton (Orion)
The Devil’s Advocate, Steve Cavanagh (Orion)
Razorblade Tears, SA Cosby (Headline Publishing Group)
Dead Ground, MW Craven (Little, Brown; Constable)
Dream Girl, Laura Lippman (Faber)
JOHN CREASEY (NEW BLOOD) DAGGER
Welcome to Cooper, Tariq Ashkanani (Thomas & Mercer)
Repentance, Eloísa Díaz (Orion Publishing Group; Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
The Mash House, Alan Gillespie (Unbound; Unbound Digital)
The Appeal, Janice Hallett (Profile Books; Viper Books)
Where Ravens Roost, Karin Nordin (HarperCollins; HQ)
How to Kidnap the Rich, Rahul Raina (Little, Brown)
Waking the Tiger, Mark Wightman (Hobeck Books)
April in Spain, John Banville (Faber)
Sunset Swing, Ray Celestin (Pan Macmillan; Mantle)
Crow Court, Andy Charman (Unbound)
Not One of Us, Alis Hawkins (Canelo)
Edge of the Grave, Robbie Morrison (Pan Macmillan; Macmillan)
A Corruption of Blood, Ambrose Parry (Canongate Books)
CRIME FICTION IN TRANSLATION DAGGER
Hotel Cartagena, Simone Buchholz translated by Rachel Ward (Orenda Books)
Bullet Train, Kōtarō Isaka translated by Sam Malissa (Penguin Random House; Harvill Secker)
Oxygen, Sacha Naspini translated by Clarissa Botsford (Europa Editions UK Ltd; Europa Editions)
People Like Them, Samira Sedira translated by Lara Vergnaud (Bloomsbury Publishing; Raven Books)
The Rabbit Factor, Antti Tuomainen translated by David Hackston (Orenda Books)
SHORT STORY DAGGER
‘Blindsided’ by Caroline England in Criminal Pursuits: Crime Through Time edited by Samantha Lee Howe (Telos Publishing)
‘London’ in The Jealousy Man and other stories by Jo Nesbⱷ edited by Robert Ferguson (Penguin Random House; Harvill Secker)
‘With the Others’ by TM Logan in Afraid of the Shadows edited by Miranda Jewess (Criminal Minds)
‘Flesh of a Fancy Woman’ by Paul Magrs in Criminal Pursuits: Crime Through Time edited by Samantha Lee Howe (Telos Publishing)
‘Changeling’ by Bryony Pearce in Criminal Pursuits: Crime Through Time edited by Samantha Lee Howe (Telos Publishing)
‘When I Grow Up’ by Robert Scragg in Afraid of the Shadows edited by Miranda Jewess (Criminal Minds)
ALCS GOLD DAGGER FOR NON-FICTION
The Devil You Know: Stories of Human Cruelty and Compassion, Dr Gwen Adshead & Eileen Horne (Faber)
The Dublin Railway Murder, Thomas Morris (Penguin Random House; Harvill Secker)
The Unusual Suspect, Ben Machell (Canongate Books)
The Disappearance of Lydia Harvey: A true story of sex, crime and the meaning of justice, Julia Laite (Profile Books)
Empire of Pain, Patrick Radden Keefe (Pan Macmillan; Picador)
The Irish Assassins: Conspiracy, Revenge and the Murders that Stunned an Empire, Julie Kavanagh (Atlantic Books; Grove Press UK)
DAGGER IN THE LIBRARY
Faber & Faber
HarperCollins; Harper Fiction
Penguin Random House; Michael Joseph
Pushkin Press; Pushkin Vertigo
Profile Books; Viper
DEBUT DAGGER Sponsored by ProWritingAid
Henry’s Bomb, Kevin Bartlett
Holloway Castle, Laura Ashton Hill
The 10:12, Anna Maloney
The Dead of Egypt, David Smith
The Dieppe Letters, Liz Rachel Walker