Masterminding enough horrific crimes between them to give even hardened pros like Sherlock and Morse the collywobbles, this year's Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards shortlist showcases the UK's most wanted crime fiction and drama.
The winners of 13 Awards will be announced at The Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards on Thursday 18 October at the Grosvenor House Hotel. The awards include the CWA Gold Dagger for the Best Crime Novel of the Year, the CWA Steel Dagger for the Best Thriller of the Year, and the CWA New Blood dagger for the Best New Crime Writer of the Year, alongside the Specsavers Bestseller Dagger and Film and TV-based Daggers.
Will it be a case of second time lucky for MR Hall who is looking to take home the illustrious CWA Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel of the Year sponsored by Constable & Robinson, for The Flight after missing out to William Broderick in 2009? It's anyone's guess as the barrister-turned-screenwriter slugs it out against Irish journalist Gene Kerrigan's The Rage, a suspense driven storm of violence set in the backstreets of Dublin. Australian Chris Womersley's Bereft is also jostling for glory, his broadcaster's ear put to full use in a novel which quivers with the cadences of fear, set against the lurching menace of the Spanish Flu epidemic. All three should be wary of NJ Cooper, previously Chair of the Crime Writers' Association, whose latest novel Vengeance in Mind is also shortlisted. Her victim is discovered pinned to the kitchen table by butcher's knives, brutally castrated. With an opener like that, Cooper proves she isn't an author to be trifled with. The winner will be presented with their Dagger by bestselling author M.C. Beaton.
The CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger, sponsored by Goldsboro Books, also looks set to require some forensic analysis to work out a winner from such a well matched crop of talent, all delving into the psychological frailties of the human condition. Wiley Cash's Land More Kind than Home drags readers into the religious fanaticism of his Deep South youth, its murky underbelly revealed through the smothering of an autistic child. Tanya Byrne also explores the loss of innocence and neglect in a compulsive first person exploration of identity from inside the Archway Young Offenders Institution in Heart-Shaped Bruise. They will wrangle for the top spot with psychologist Tom Wright's first novel, What Dies in Summer, whose tale of a Texan serial killer preying upon young girls draws on personal experience and those of his patients, and Ewart Hutton's Good People which exposes the depraved brutality hidden behind the manicured lawns of rural respectability.
The CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger (sponsored by Ian Fleming Publications) will be hotly contested too. Former Mi6 worker Charles Cumming, regarded as one of the best of the new generation of British spy writers, will see A Foreign Country thrash it out against Megan Abbott's Dare Me, another tale of uttermost loyalty to one's clan, as the bitter power rivalries of a cheerleading squad are revealed. They'll fight it out against two novels revelling in the threatening darkness of cyber space, Robert Harris's The Fear Index oozing with the stench of paranoia, whilst Neal Stephenson's Reamde which portrays the jarring, poisoned world of hacking.
Competition is as fierce as ever amongst the best known names in the trade, with Stuart MacBride, Ann Cleeves, Kathy Reichs, Jo Nesbo and Anthony Horowitz all shortlisted for the Specsavers Bestseller Dagger. This award honours the success of authors throughout their careers, and is chosen by the reading public.
Readers can check out the official website at www.crimethrillerawards.com and to register their vote for the favourite bestselling author online. The winner will be presented with the Bestseller Dagger at the awards ceremony on the 18th October, after all the votes are counted on 12th October.
Peter James, Chair of the Crime Writers Association, commented: "I am very proud that this year's Crime Thrillers Award shortlists show a truly broad-range of high quality work, by great authors, in the most popular of all fiction genres."
The cream of acting talent is also recognised at the Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards with categories for Best UK and International Crime Series, Best Actor, Best Actress in a Crime series and Best Film.
The British public will also have the chance to vote for their favourite detective duo by phone vote. The shortlist is as follows:
- DCI Banks - DCI Alan Banks & DS Annie Cabbot - Call 090 16 16 14 01
- Above Suspicion - DC Anna Travis & DCS James Langton - Call 090 16 16 14 02
- Scott and Bailey- DC Jane Scott & DC Rachel Bailey - Call 090 16 16 14 03
- Lewis - DI Robbie Lewis & DS James Hathaway - Call 090 16 16 14 04
- Whitechapel - DI Joseph Chandler & DS Ray Miles - Call 090 16 16 14 05
- Vera - DCI Vera Stanhope & DS Joe Ashworth - Call 090 16 16 14 06
The vote opens on the 7th September at midday.
Dame Mary Perkins, Specsavers founder, said: "As someone who personally enjoys a bloodcurdling read, it's been a pleasure to be a part of the Crime Thriller Awards, almost since their very beginnings. Last year's Awards were another great success and we're very proud to be involved in this annual showcase of world class writing, acting and production."
The Shortlists for Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards are as follows:
The CWA Gold Dagger – sponsored by Constable & Robinson
The Rage by Gene Kerrigan (Harvill Secker)
Bereft by Chris Womersley (Quercus)
Vengeance in Mind by N.J. Cooper (Simon and Schuster)
The Flight by M.R. Hall (Mantle)
The John Creasey New Blood Dagger – sponsored by Goldsboro Books
Land More Kind than Home by Wiley Cash (Bantam)
Heart-Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne (Headline)
What Dies in Summer by Tom Wright (Canongate)
Good People by Ewart Hutton (Blue Door)
The Ian Fleming Steel Dagger – sponsored by Ian Fleming Publications
Dare Me by Megan Abbott (Picador)
Reamde by Neal Stephenson (Atlantic Books)
A Foreign Country by Charles Cumming (HarperCollins)
The Fear Index by Robert Harris (Hutchinson)
The Specsavers Bestseller Dagger
The Film Dagger
The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Bros)
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Sony)
The Guard (Optimum)
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Studio Canal)
The TV Dagger
Appropriate Adult (ITV Studios/ITV1)
Line of Duty (BBC/BBC2)
Sherlock: Series 2 (Hartswood Films/BBC1)
Wallander (Left Bank Pictures,Yellow Bird/BBC1)
Whitechapel: Series 3 (Carnival/ITV1)
The International TV Dagger
Boardwalk Empire: Season 2 (HBO/Sky Atlantic)
Dexter: Season 6 (Showtime Networks, John Goldwyn Productions, The Colleton Company, Clyde Phillips Productions/FX)
Homeland (Teakwood Lane Productions, Showtime Productions, Cherry Pie Productions, Keshet Media Group, Fox 21/Channel 4)
The Bridge (Danmarks Radio, Sveriges Television/BBC4)
The Killing Ii: Forbrydelsen (Arrow Films/BBC4)
The Best Actress Dagger
Brenda Blethyn for Vera (ITV Studios/ITV1)
Claire Danes for Homeland (Teakwood Lane Productions, Showtime Productions, Cherry Pie Productions, Keshet Media Group, Fox 21/Channel 4)
Sofie Gråbøl for The Killing II (Arrow Films/BBC4)
Sofia Helin for The Bridge (Danmarks Radio, Sveriges Television/BBC4)
Maxine Peake for Silk (BBC/BBC1)
The Best Actor Dagger
Kenneth Branagh for Wallander (Left Bank Pictures,Yellow Bird/BBC1)
Steve Buscemi for Boardwalk Empire (HBO/Sky Atlantic)
Benedict Cumberbatch for Sherlock (Hartswood Films/BBC1)
Damien Lewis for Homeland (Teakwood Lane Productions, Showtime Productions, Cherry Pie Productions, Keshet Media Group, Fox 21/Channel 4)
Dominic West for Appropriate Adult (ITV Studios/ITV1
The Best Supporting Actress Dagger
Frances Barber for Silk (BBC/BBC1)
Kelly Macdonald for Boardwalk Empire (HBO/Sky Atlantic)
Archie Panjabi for The Good Wife (Scott Free Productions, King Size Productions, Small Wishes, CBS Productions/More 4)
Sarah Smart for Wallander (Left Bank Pictures, Yellow Bird/BBC1)
Una Stubbs for Sherlock (Hartswood Films/BBC1)
The Best Supporting Actor Dagger
Alun Armstrong for Garrow's Law (Shed Media/BBC1)
Alan Cumming for The Good Wife (Scott Free Productions, King Size Productions, Small Wishes, CBS Productions/More 4)
Phil Davis for Silk & Whitechapel (Silk: BBC/BBC1)(Whitechapel: Carnival/ITV1)
Laurence Fox for Lewis (ITV Studios/ITV1)
Martin Freeman for Sherlock (Hartswood Films/BBC1)