CWA chair Peter James said: “Historical fiction remains as popular as ever and has seen the creation of some of crime writing’s most enduring characters. This year’s books continue that fine tradition.“
The winner will be announced on November 30 at the Athenaeum in London. The shortlist is:
- Rory Clements, PRINCE: Rory Clements won the Ellis Peters award last year for Revenger, the second instalment in his John Shakespeare series. Prince is the third book to feature this Elizabethan intelligencer, and finds Shakespeare caught up in the infighting between the Queen's rival favourites, Robert Cecil and Lord Essex, as he investigates a series of bombings targeting Dutch immigrants in London. There are some clever references to twenty-first-century concerns, as well as the wit and breakneck pace we have come to expect from Clements.
- Sam Eastland, THE RED COFFIN: Sam Eastland's second novel sees the return of the brilliant special investigator Inspector Pekkala, once the trusted advisor of Tsar Nicholas II, now forced to work for Stalin. It is 1939 and rogue Russian soldiers are trying to precipitate war with Germany before Stalin's secret weapon is ready-- a super tank known as the "red coffin". This manages to be a superbly entertaining thriller while fully conveying the horrors of life under Stalin.
- Gordon Ferris, THE HANGING SHED: The Hanging Shed was a massive success even before its print incarnation hit the bookshops, when it became one of the most downloaded books in Britain after being released on the Amazon Kindle. The setting is Glasgow in 1946, and the author's delineation of the immediate post-war years has a bristling immediacy. Ferris’s protagonist Brodie is an ex-policeman, forced to save a childhood friend from hanging via a daunting odyssey through the dangerous backstreets of the Gorbals, obstructed by both bent coppers and murderous razor gangs.
- Andrew Martin, THE SOMME STATIONS: Martin's novels featuring railway detective Jim Stringer reveal their treasures in subtle fashion with a winning synthesis of period atmosphere, intriguing plotting and a passion for steam railways. The Somme Station plunges into the horrors of WW1 trench combat. Stringer and his unit must undertake dangerous nocturnal assignments: driving the trains taking munitions to the front. Death is everywhere, as the trains travel through blasted surrealistic landscapes, and a single-minded military policeman continues to investigate a killing that occurred before the departure for France.
- RN Morris, THE CLEANSING FLAMES: Reading this splendid fourth entry in the RN Morris sequence of riffs on the detective Porfiry from Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment is a bittersweet experience, as Morris is about to put the character on hold. In the new book, St Petersburg is in flames, and the fires are harbingers of the revolution that will tear the country apart. After a post-winter thaw, a body surfaces in a canal, and Porfiry is in business again. As before, character building, locale, and historical detail are all beautifully balanced.
- Imogen Robertson, ISLAND OF BONES: This is Imogen Robertson's third novel to feature her wilful heroine Mrs Harriet Westerman and gives us some background to her sleuthing sidekick, the eccentric and reclusive amateur anatomist Gabriel Crowther, as the duo head to the Lake District to investigate when one corpse too many is found in the ancestral tomb at Gabriel's family seat. Robertson expertly juggles family politics, murder mystery and kidnap thriller, while giving a fascinating picture of country life in the late 18th century.
- Eileen Roberts (Chair) - Originator and organiser of St Hilda’s annual crime symposium in Oxford, mystery and crime enthusiast
- Geoffrey Bailey - Bookseller specialising in crime
- Barry Forshaw - Edits Crime Time and is a talking head for the ITV Crime Thriller author profiles and BBC TV documentaries. A prolific writer, he has been Vice Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association.
- Sir Bernard Ingham - Press Secretary to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and crime fiction fan
- Jake Kerridge - the crime fiction critic of the Daily Telegraph