2023 Dagger Awards Winners Announced
2023 CWA Dagger Awards Announced
The winners of the 2023 CWA Daggers, which honour the very best in the crime writing genre, have been announced.
The prestigious 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.
Vaseem Khan, Chair of the CWA, said: “This year’s CWA Daggers, in the CWA’s 70th jubilee year, continued the tradition of recognising both the broad appeal of the genre, and the wide spectrum of writers now operating within it, showcasing the full creative range of modern crime writing.”
George Dawes Green receives the CWA Gold Dagger for The Kingdoms of Savannah.
Judges praised the ‘intricately constructed’ novel as a ‘timeless fable.’ A masterpiece of Southern Gothic noir, George Dawes Green’s sprawling mystery explores class and power structures after a brutal murder. He is best known for his runaway bestseller The Juror, the basis for the movie starring Demi Moore.
William Shaw, co-Vice Chair of the CWA, said: “After a fourteen-year hiatus, George Dawes Green’s triumphant return with The Kingdoms of Savannah is a bravura demonstration of the extraordinary power of crime fiction. Peopled with vividly-drawn characters from every Southern walk of life, this compelling mystery achieves something remarkable in peeling back the skin of Georgia’s troubled history to expose a society whose opulence was always built on something very dark.”
Past winners of the CWA Gold Dagger, which recognises the best crime novel of the year, include John le Carré, Reginald Hill, and Ruth Rendell.
The winner of the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger is John Brownlow for Agent Seventeen. Awarded for best thriller, the Dagger is sponsored by Ian Fleming Publications Ltd, the Fleming family-owned company that looks after the James Bond literary brand.
Agent Seventeen, a debut thriller from the British-Canadian screenwriter, centres on an elite hitman who must remain one step ahead of his many rivals if he wants to stay alive. It was praised by the judges as a ‘deceptively layered’ blockbuster thriller and ‘roller-coaster’ tale. Brownlow is best known as a screenwriter of Sylvia, starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Daniel Craig, and the TV series, Fleming.
The anticipated ILP John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger highlights the best debut crime novel. This year, the accolade goes to Hayley Scrivenor for Dirt Town, praised by the CWA judges as a ‘haunting mystery.’ Dirt Town, which follows the case of a missing girl in small-town Australia, was described by The Guardian as “outback noir that lives up to the hype.”
The CWA Historical Dagger goes to DV Bishop for The Darkest Sin. Set in Renaissance Florence, The Darkest Sin is an atmospheric historical thriller that judges praised as ‘well-researched’ and ‘gripping to the end.’
The ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction goes to Wendy Joseph for Unlawful Killings: Life, Love and Murder: Trials at the Old Bailey. The revealing, humane and gripping stories from Wendy Joseph, a retired Old Bailey judge, were praised as a ‘rare glimpse beneath the wig, with significant observations on the justice system.’
The Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger, sponsored by former CWA Chair, Maxim Jakubowski in honour of his wife Dolores Jakubowski, goes to Javier Cercas for Even the Darkest Night, translated by Anne McLean. The leading Spanish literary author was commended for his ‘complex characters’ and ‘striking sense of place.’
The CWA Daggers are one of the few high-profile awards that honour the short story. Hazell Ward scoops the award for Cast a Long Shadow, an emotional tale of murder that leads to a man condemned by suspicion by a whole village. Ward delivers a, ‘truly emotional ride with a twist.’
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 Sophie Hannah.
The Sunday Times bestselling writer is published in 49 languages and 51 territories. Her books have sold millions of copies worldwide. Hannah is the author of the new Poirot mysteries with the blessing of Agatha Christie’s family and estate.
One of the anticipated highlights of the annual Daggers is the Debut Dagger competition, sponsored by ProWritingAid. The international competition is open to uncontracted writers. This year, the award goes to Jeff Marsick for Sideways, about a 26-year-old army veteran, Gage, suffering from PTSD.
The Dagger for the Best Crime and Mystery Publisher, which celebrates publishers and imprints demonstrating excellence and diversity in crime writing, goes to Viper (Profile Books).
Viper’s books include Sunday Times bestsellers The Appeal by Janice Hallett and The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward, and Reese Witherspoon Book Club sensation, The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave.
A CWA Red Herring, for services to crime writing and the CWA, were awarded to Gary Stratmann and Corinne Turner.
Maxim Jakubowski, former Chair of CWA, said: “As the husband of crime writer Linda Stratmann, a past CWA Chair, Gary Stratmann has accidentally found himself at the heart of our community and has taken it to it like a fish to water; ever supportive, convivial, he has become the de facto CWA photographer, social gadfly, and visual historian.”
On Corinne Turner, Maxim said: “As the head of Ian Fleming Publications, Corinne Turner has not only been a stalwart CWA sponsor, but has also lent her knowledge, business advice, sensible management experience and invaluable financial know how to our board. She has been a major factor into making us a more professional body, and has always been available with a smile on her face.”
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 2023 it was awarded to Walter Mosley.
One of the most versatile and admired writers in America, Mosley is the author of more than 60 critically acclaimed books, that cover a wide range of genres. His work has been translated into 25 languages.
The winners were announced at a Gala Dinner at the Leonardo City Hotel in London on Thursday 6 July. The ceremony was compered by bestselling authors Victoria Selman and Imran Mahmood. Charlie Higson, the Fast Show actor, comedian, and author of the recent James Bond novel On His Majesty’s Secret Service and many Young Bond volumes, was the after-dinner speaker.