Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Dagger in the Library: honouring authors' body of work

Today marks the announcement of the shortlist for the CWA 2015 Dagger in the Library award, sponsored by Dead Good.
This year readers compiled the longlist as crime lovers everywhere were invited to vote online for their three favourite authors. Six authors were then shortlisted by a panel of judges including previous winner Sharon Bolton, CWA Director Lucy Santos and a group of UK librarians.
Unlike most other literary prizes, the Dagger in the Library honours an author’s whole body of work to date, rather than a single title. Previous winners of the award include Sharon Bolton, Belinda Bauer, Steve Mosby, Mo Hayder, Colin Cotterill, Stuart MacBride and Alexander McCall Smith.
The CWA Dagger in the Library shortlist 2015 (in alphabetical order):
Ann Cleeves (Pan Macmillan)
Mark Billingham (Little, Brown)
Christopher Fowler (Transworld)
Elly Griffiths (Quercus)
Peter James (Pan Macmillan)
Peter May (Quercus)
For me, as a reader and reviewer, that is an exceptionally strong shortlist. Perhaps the best or strongest shortlist in some years. All of those authors deserve to be honoured, and would make great additions to the list of winners, so it will be interesting to see who the judges pick. 

A decade ago, before I became professionally involved in the genre, Mark Billingham was one of my three favourite modern crime writers (along with Michael Connelly and James Lee Burke), so in many ways - nostalgia, quality, and others - I'd like to see him win. In prior years I've wondered how the creator of Tom Thorne hasn't been a past winner of an award celebrating a "whole body of work". 

But then I'm also very fond of some of the other authors on the list, and have great respect for them all. I've had the pleasure of interviewing both Peter James and Peter May for magazine articles (and James onstage at the Auckland Writers Festival), so I have some further bias there, to be fair. All in all, you can't go wrong by heading along to your local bookstore or library and grabbing a few books from any author on the list. 

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