Friday, October 23, 2009

Harlan Coben wins first-ever Bestseller Dagger

Further to my posts yesterday commenting on two of the major winners at the 2009 Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards (which will be televised on ITV3 next week - at 9pm on 27 October), I thought I would also address in more detail one of the other major winners on the night; US thriller writer Harlan Coben, who won the first-ever Bestseller Dagger, a brand new award voted by the public during the first three weeks of September.

Coben's win may have been something of a surprise, considering it is being reported as having been British voters who gave him the award ahead of four 'homegrown' crime writers: Alexander McCall Smith, Nicci French, Dick Francis, and Martina Cole. However, as I noted on 8 September, internationals could vote online as well - although no doubt a large percentage of the voters were British.
The blurb from the award organisers said: "The reward for consistently good writing is the ability to sell books by name alone, then comes bestsellerdom and commercial success. The five authors on this shortlist all have many bestsellers to their name but who is your favourite and who should win the ITV3 Bestsellers Dagger?"

The Guardian reported Coben, who'd travelled to the Crime Writers' Association's Crime Thriller awards ceremony from his home in New Jersey with his 10-year-old son, as saying it was a real thrill to win the first-ever Bestseller Dagger. "The only time I'd have expected to be on a list with those four names is in a restaurant, so it's just sort of stunning ... Maybe there's a little more love for me in the UK [than there is in the US]."

Coben said he was particularly pleased to win a prize voted for by readers. "The readers are the ones who let us live our dreams," he said. "I try to write books which are really compelling – that you'd take on vacation and rather than going out, you'd read in your hotel room because you had to find out what happened. Hopefully that's what readers are responding to."
As I said on 8 September, it is unclear how the five shortlisted authors were chosen over other bestselling crime/thriller writers (Michael Connelly? Ian Rankin? Mark Billingham? Stieg Larsson? James Patterson?) for this inaugural award, but no one could argue that they each sell massive quantities of their books, and are bonafide 'bestsellers'.

In terms of the five shortlisted authors, I myself voted for Coben (although my vote might have been different if other big-name bestsellers had been included), and am glad to see him win, especially as I enjoyed his latest Myron Bolitar book (see my review of LONG LOST) earlier this year.

Probably the most on-point comment from my review is: "A thriller of the highest standard. It takes a true master to have the reader laughing out loud one moment, and squirming the next."

The New Jersey native is no stranger to winning awards - since he published his debut DEAL BREAKER (the first Myron Bolitar novel) in 1995, he has racked up an impressive trophy cabinet. He is reportedly the first writer to have won an Edgar Award, a Shamus Award, and an Anthony Award (which some consider the top three US crime writing awards). He has also won France's Le Grand Prix des Lectrices de Elle for fiction award (for his standalone TELL NO ONE), amongst other award wins, nominations, and accolades.

What do you think of Harlan Coben's win in the ITV3 Bestseller Dagger? Have you read any or his, or the other nominees, books? Who is your favourite 'big-name', or 'bestselling' crime or thriller writer? Comments welcome.


  1. Craig - Thanks for this post on Harlan Coben. I have to admit to being a major fan of Alexander McCall Smith, so on that score, I'd have liked to see Smith win. However, Coben certainly is talented.

  2. I have read three of the five writers on the list--Coban, Smith, and Francis. I would rank him above the other two. But, to be honest, I've only read one book by each of them, so they really aren't in the top twenty of my favorites list.

    My favorite would have to be P. D. James.