The winners of the 2020 CWA Daggers, which honour the very best in the crime writing genre, have been announced.
The world-famous Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) Daggers are the oldest awards in the genre and have been synonymous with quality crime writing for over half a century.
The winners were announced during a live virtual ceremony (on evening of 22 October), hosted by one of the UK’s leading experts on crime fiction, the writer and reviewer Barry Forshaw. The evening also featured guest speaker, Richard Osman.
The 2020 CWA Gold Dagger for the best crime novel went to Michael Robotham for Good Girl, Bad Girl, featuring forensic psychologist, Cyrus Haven. Born in Australia, Michael worked as a journalist in Australia, America and the UK as senior feature writer for the Mail on Sunday before becoming a ghost writer collaborating with politicians and show business personalities to write their autobiographies. Since his first psychological thriller, The Suspect caused a bidding war at the London Book Fair in 2002, his novels have won numerous awards and have been translated into 25 languages. He was previously awarded the Gold Dagger for Life or Death in 2015.
Lou Berney has won the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for best thriller for November Road, a poignant crime novel set against the assassination of JF Kennedy. The novel attracted widespread acclaim from reviewers and fellow authors alike, with Stephen King declaring it ‘exceptional’. The American author has previously won the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, Barry, and Oklahoma Book awards. Berney was also Highly Commended in the CWA Gold Dagger category.
The much-anticipated John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger highlights the best debut novels. This year the accolade goes to Trevor Wood for The Man on the Street, featuring a homeless veteran grappling with PTSD, dubbed by Lee Child as ‘an instant classic’. Wood, a journalist and playwright, has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. He served in the Royal Navy for 16 years.
Abir Mukherjee wins the Sapere Books Historical Dagger for his fourth novel featuring Sam Wyndham, Death in the East. The accountant turned crime writer was inspired to become an author after watching Lee Child on breakfast TV say he started writing age 40. Abir’s debut, A Rising Man, won the Dagger for best historical crime novel in 2017. Death in the East explores the legacy of colonialism in India.
The Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger goes to Hannelore Cayre for The Godmother, translated by Stephanie Smee. Hannelore Cayre is an award-winning French novelist, screenwriter and director, as well as a practising criminal lawyer. The Godmother has been made into a feature film starring Isabelle Huppert. Stephanie Smee, who lives in Sydney, worked as a lawyer in Sydney and London before becoming a translator, specialising in French to English.
The ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction is awarded to Casey Cep, a staff writer at the New York Times whose first book Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee, has received acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. An instant New York Times bestseller, Furious Hours was a Barack Obama Book of the Year.
The CWA Daggers are one of the few high-profile awards that honour the short story. Lauren Henderson receives the Short Story Dagger for #Me Too which features in the anthology Invisible Blood, edited by Maxim Jakubowski.
Linda Stratmann, Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association, said: “The winners, and all those who were in contention for a Dagger are, as always, to be commended. One thing the pandemic and lockdown has taught us is the value and importance of books and storytelling – for escapism and comfort and for our well-being. Books have always been the conduit to other worlds and into other lives. They let us know we are not alone, so our 2020 virtual awards feel even more significant as many vulnerable people are in enforced isolation and we are all socially distancing. We’re proud to celebrate the crime genre.”
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 it goes to Scottish novelist Christopher Brookmyre, whose books mix comedy, politics and social comment. The journalist turned award-winning novelist is widely considered as one of Britain’s leading crime authors, selling more than two million copies of his novels in the UK alone.
One of the anticipated highlights of the annual Daggers is the Debut Dagger competition, open to unknown and uncontracted writers. The competition for unpublished writers can lead to them securing representation and a publishing contract. This year the winner is Josephine Moulds for Revolution Never Lies. Anna Caig was Highly Commended for The Spae-Wife.
The Best Crime and Mystery Publisher of the Year Dagger, which celebrates publishers and imprints demonstrating excellence and diversity in crime writing, goes to Orenda Books. The London-based publisher was established in 2014 by Karen Sullivan.
Writer Barry Forshaw, MC for the Dagger Awards evening, said: “The CWA Dagger Awards are the most prestigious prizes in crime fiction, and this year has furnished a particularly strong set of books and authors. Nothing dampens the excitement of the Daggers – not even pandemics!”
One of the UK’s most prominent societies for the promotion and promulgation of crime writing, the CWA was founded in 1953 by John Creasy; the awards started in 1955 with its first award going to Winston Graham, best known for Poldark. They are regarded by the publishing world as the foremost British awards for crime-writing.
Michael Robotham: Good Girl, Bad Girl (Sphere)
Lou Berney: November Road (Harper Fiction) – Highly Commended
IAN FLEMING STEEL DAGGER
Lou Berney: November Road (Harper Fiction)
JOHN CREASEY (NEW BLOOD) DAGGER
Trevor Wood: The Man on the Street (Quercus Fiction)
SAPERE BOOKS HISTORICAL DAGGER
Abir Mukherjee: Death in the East (Harvill Secker)
CRIME FICTION IN TRANSLATION DAGGER
Hannelore Cayre: The Godmother, translated by Stephanie Smee (Old Street Publishing)
SHORT STORY DAGGER
Lauren Henderson: #Me Too in Invisible Blood, edited by Maxim Jakubowski (Titan Books)
ALCS GOLD DAGGER FOR NON-FICTION
Casey Cep: Furious Hours (William Heinemann)
DAGGER IN THE LIBRARY
Josephine Moulds: Revolution Never Lies
Anna Caig: The Spae-Wife – Highly Commended