The Crime Readers' Association

CWA Daggers 2022 announced

1st July 2022

Ray Celestin, MW Craven, Janice Hallett and Mark Billingham awarded 2022 CWA Daggers.

The winners of the 2022 CWA Daggers, which honour the very best in the crime writing genre, have been announced.

Ray Celestin takes home two Daggers for his novel Sunset Swing. Celestin was awarded the CWA Gold Dagger for the crime novel of the year as well as the Historical Dagger.

Sunset Swing is the closing act of Celestin’s City Blues Quartet set in Los Angeles at the end of 1967. Judges praised the novel for its cast of original characters that mingle with historical figures on a big and ‘evocative canvas’.

Maxim Jakubowski, Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association, said: “This is a book bursting with heart, soul and spirit, at once all-encompassing and intimate, superbly paced and immaculately constructed. It’s a testimony to this book that Ray has scooped not just one, but two CWA Daggers.”

Past winners of the CWA Gold Dagger include John le Carré, Reginald Hill and Ruth Rendell.

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.

The winner of the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger is MW Craven for Dead Ground. 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.

MW Craven credited the CWA Debut Dagger competition in 2013 for opening the door to his career as an author. He went on to win the CWA Gold Dagger in 2019 for The Puppet Show.

Dead Ground was praised by the judges for its complex characters and deftly constructed plot: “Once again Craven proves himself the master in the art of writing suspense and action.”

The anticipated John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger highlights the best debut novels.

This year the accolade goes to Janice Hallet for The Appeal, which was a Sunday Times Crime Book of the Year, praised as a “dazzlingly clever cosy crime novel”.

The ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction goes to Julia Laite for The Disappearance of Lydia Harvey: A True Story of Sex, Crime and the Meaning of Justice, a poignant account of the short life of a New Zealand woman trafficked as part of the burgeoning sex trade at the start of the twentieth century.

This is the first year the Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger has been sponsored by the CWA Chair, Maxim Jakubowski, in honour of his wife Dolores Jakubowski, now suffering from Alzheimer’s, who was a translator and university lecturer, and a great friend to the crime-writing community. Maxim will sponsor the Dagger in her honour in perpetuity.

This year the Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger 2022, sponsored in honour of Dolores Jakubowski, goes to Simone Buchholz for Hotel Cartagena, a tense hostage drama set in a hotel in Hamburg.

The CWA Daggers are one of the few high-profile awards that honour the short story. Paul Magrs scoops the award for ‘Flesh of a Fancy Woman’, praised as “a wonderfully evocative mix of the Dickensian and the Ealing black and white films.”

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 Mark Billingham.

After a career as an actor and stand-up comedian, Billingham published his first crime novel in 2001. He’s best known for his London-based detective Tom Thorne, which series was adapted by Sky TV starring David Morrissey. His latest book is Rabbit Hole.

This year the chair of the Dagger in the Library judges, Sue Wilkinson MBE, sadly died. At the event the CWA paid tribute to Sue for her passion for reading and her hard work, and thanked Ian Anstice for assuming the role of Acting Chair.

One of the anticipated highlights of the annual Daggers is the Debut Dagger competition, open only to uncontracted writers. The competition can lead to securing representation and a publishing contract – corporate and associate members of the CWA can access the shortlisted entries and often go on to make offers to the writers.

This year, the winner of the Debut Dagger 2022 sponsored by ProWritingAid is Anna Maloney, who has written for TV and works as a script consultant. Her novel, The 10:12, is about a train hijacking and the woman who leads a counter attack, and the aftermath.

The Dagger for the Best Crime and Mystery Publisher, which celebrates publishers and imprints demonstrating excellence and diversity in crime writing, goes to Faber & Faber. The shortlist is selected by a representative group of leading book reviewers, booksellers, agents and journalists.

The CWA’s Red Herring, for services to crime writing and the CWA, was awarded posthumously in memory of Thalia Proctor, who died this year aged 51, and was highly regarded in publishing circles. Maxim said: “Thalia endeared herself to everyone and will be sadly missed.” Her family were present to collect the award.

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, author of the acclaimed Matthew Shardlake series set in Tudor times, as well as standalones such as alternative history Dominion.

On the night, the previous two winners of the Diamond Dagger, Martina Cole in 2021 and Martin Edwards in 2020, were also celebrated after the hiatus of the pandemic.

The winners were announced at a Gala Dinner at the Leonardo City Hotel on Cooper’s Row in London on Wednesday 29 June. The ceremony was compered by genre expert and author, Barry Forshaw, and bestselling author Victoria Selman. CWA Booksellers Champion and bestselling author Elly Griffiths was the after-dinner speaker.

Maxim said: “It’s always an honour to be part of the annual Dagger awards. This year feels extra special as it’s the first time we’ve gathered to celebrate the best in crime writing since 2019. I’d like to congratulate not only all the winners, but also all those shortlisted. It’s a terrific achievement.”

One of the UK’s most prominent societies, the CWA was founded in 1953 by John Creasey; the awards started in 1955 with its first award going to Winston Graham, best known for Poldark.

Dagger Winners 2022

CJ Sansom

Sunset Swing, Ray Celestin (Macmillan; Mantle)

Dead Ground, MW Craven (Little, Brown; Constable)

The Appeal, Janice Hallett (Profile Books; Viper Books)

Sunset Swing, Ray Celestin (Pan Macmillan; Mantle)

The Disappearance of Lydia Harvey: A True Story of Sex, Crime and the Meaning of Justice, Julia Laite (Profile Books)

CWA CRIME FICTION IN TRANSLATION DAGGER sponsored in honour of Dolores Jakubowski
Hotel Cartagena, Simone Buchholz and translated by Rachel Ward (Orenda Books)

‘Flesh of a Fancy Woman’ by Paul Magrs in Criminal Pursuits: Crime Through Time edited by Samantha Lee Howe (Telos Publishing)

Mark Billingham

Faber & Faber

CWA DEBUT DAGGER sponsored by ProWritingAid
The 10:12 by Anna Maloney

THE CWA RED HERRING for services to crime writing and the CWA
In memory of Thalia Proctor

The winners announcements are available on the CWA website, as well as via its Facebook, Twitter #CWADaggers and YouTube channel.

CWA Dagger Judging Panels

The judges, who have been deliberating on the submissions from publishers include leading authors, bloggers, newspaper reviewers, academics and media professionals.

You can view the judging panel for each category on the CWA website: The Daggers — The Crime Writers’ Association (

Dagger Sponsors

ALCS – Sponsors of the Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction

The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) is a not-for-profit organisation started by writers for the benefit of all types of writers. Owned by its members, ALCS collects money due for secondary uses of writers’ work. It is designed to support authors and their creativity; ensure they receive fair payment and see their rights are respected. It promotes and teaches the principles of copyright and campaigns for a fair deal. It represents over 100,000 members, and since 1977 has paid around £500 million to writers (

Ian Fleming Publications Ltd – Sponsors of the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger

Ian Fleming Publications Ltd is the Fleming family-owned company that looks after the James Bond literary brand, by promoting and making available all of Ian Fleming’s 007 books across the world.  They also keep the brand alive through the publication of new stories by authors such as Anthony Horowitz, William Boyd, Jeffery Deaver, Sebastian Faulks, Raymond Benson, John Gardner, Kingsley Amis, Samantha Weinberg, Steve Cole and Charlie Higson.  Alongside James Bond publishing, the company also manages the rights for Fleming’s two non-fiction books and his only children’s book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

ProWritingAid – Sponsors of the Debut Dagger

ProWritingAid was created by writers, for writers. Our primary goal is to help new writers get their stories and ideas across in the clearest and most effective way possible. We are passionate about language and believe good stories are intrinsically entwined with the words and phrases used to express them. ProWritingAid will never replace a human editor (our software can’t spot your plot holes!) Rather, our software helps you self-edit to a deeper level so that when you send your manuscript off to a human editor, they can focus on the content of your writing and not spend their time fixing basic writing issues like passive voice or emotion tells.

We are thrilled to sponsor the Debut Dagger competition. ProWritingAid’s primary goal is to help more writers get their stories out into the world, and the Debut Dagger is such an amazing opportunity for new crime writers to get their work in front of people that matter.

Maxim Jakubowski – Sponsor of the Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger

The Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger is sponsored by the CWA Chair, Maxim Jakubowski, in honour of his wife Dolores Jakubowski, who was a translator and university lecturer but now suffers from Alzheimer’s.

Maxim said: “Dolores is well-known to the crime writing community as she’s been at my side for decades at book launches, parties, Dagger Award dinners and festivals worldwide, where she was always popular and a good friend to many involved in the genre.”

Maxim will sponsor the Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger in her honour in perpetuity, beginning this year and continuing after his tenure in the Chair.

About the CWA

The CWA was founded in 1953 by John Creasey. Its aim is to support, promote and celebrate this most durable, adaptable and successful of genres and the authors who write within it. It runs the prestigious CWA Dagger Awards, which celebrate the best in crime writing.

A thriving, growing community with a membership encompassing authors of all ages and at all stages of their careers, the CWA is UK-based, yet attracts many members from overseas.

It supports author members (plus literary agents, publishers, bloggers and editors) with a monthly magazine; a digital monthly newsletter from sister company the Crime Readers’ Association showcasing CWA authors and their books and events that goes to around 12,000 subscribers; and Case Files, a bimonthly ezine highlighting new books by CWA members.

The CWA also supports the Debuts; as yet unpublished writers, many of whom enter the Debut Dagger competition and the Margery Allingham Short Mystery competition.

The CWA run an annual conference and hold chapter meetings throughout the UK so members can access face-to-face networking and socialising.

It supports libraries and booksellers, with three Library Champions and a Booksellers Champion. It has links with various festivals and many other writers’ organisations such as the Society of Authors.

The CWA runs National Crime Reading Month in June:

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