Thursday, October 22, 2009

Former Franciscan Friar wins CWA Gold Dagger

Overnight (NZT), the prestigious The Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards 2009 were hosted by comedian Alan Davies at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel.

The culmination of a six-week season of ITV3 crime and drama programming, the Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards 2009 will be televised on ITV3 on Tuesday, 27th October at 9pm. The CWA Dagger Awards are the longest established literary awards in the UK and are internationally recognised as a mark of excellence and achievement. You can read a lot more about the Daggers, and see lists of all of the previous winners, on the CWA website here.

Former Franciscan friar and practising barrister William Brodrick won the top award, the CWA Gold Dagger, for his novel A WHISPERED NAME. The judges described the book as "A moving novel that stretches the parameters of the crime genre, intertwining past and present and throwing light on a neglected aspect of World War One."

It seems the passion for historic settings is running hot in crime fiction, just as it is in literary fiction (as shown by the recent Man Booker nominees and winner etc).

The publisher's blurb for A WHISPERED NAME states: "When Father Anselm meets Kate Seymour in the cemetery at Larkwood, he is dismayed to hear her allegation. Herbert Moore had been one of the founding fathers of the Priory, revered by all who met him, a man who'd shaped Anselm's own vocation. The idea that someone could look on his grave and speak of a lie is inconceivable.

But Anselm soon learns that Herbert did indeed have secrets in his past that he kept hidden all his life. In 1917, during the terrible slaughter of the Passchendaele campaign, a soldier faced a court martial for desertion. Herbert, charged with a responsibility that would change the course of his life, sat upon the panel that judged him. In coming to understand the court martial, Anselm discovers its true significance: a secret victory that transformed the young Captain Moore and shone a light upon the horror of war."

You can read The Times review of the novel HERE, and The Telegraph review HERE.

According to the CWA website, Brodrick grew up in Britain, Australia and Canada, receiving various forms of Catholic education. On leaving school he became an Friar. After completing his novitiate in Ireland, Brodrick was sent to a parish-based community in London while attending Heythrop College, where he took degrees in philosophy and theology. He subsequently left the Order and worked with the homeless, helping to set up a charity, the Depaul Trust.

He then studied law and began practise as a barrister, specialising in personal injury. Of his career at the bar, he says, ‘It was everything that I liked; courteous argument, independence of thought and a civilised environment’. He now lives with his wife and young children in France.

The other books shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger (best crime novel of the year) were:
When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson
In the Dark by Mark Billingham
Hit and Run by Lawrence Block
The Coroner by M R Hall
Dark Times In The City by Gene Kerrigan

I will post more about some of the other awards winners shortly.

Thoughts on Brodrick's win? The other shortlisted books? Comments welcome...


  1. See for more information about The Daggers

  2. I can't comment on whether it's a deserved win as I haven't read this one (yet, it's been on my wishlist though). However I tend not to rely on a book's awards for steering me towards a good read - sometimes I enjoy award winners and sometimes I don't. No matter how hard judging committees work to be objective I don't think I believe art can be judged any way other than subjectively and so award wins are just an opinion.

  3. Thanks Roger - I just threw up the news this morning to start spreading the word - I've gone back and added some more links and credits to the CWA now...

  4. Karen and I just looked for this book in Waterstones - it was in the general fiction category (with some others by the same author). Did not seem to be being marketed as crime in any way, or in any way! (Nobody had pulled it out and put it on a table with "CWA dagger winner" on it - even though they had lots of signed copies from the previous night's crime evening - but they did seem to have only one copy in the shop!)