Friday, November 5, 2010

Tough choice for judges as historical crime fiction award is announced

The Crime Writers’ Association tonight (UK time - November 4) announced the winner for this year’s prestigious Ellis Peters Historical Award.

Established for the best historical crime novel (set in any period up to 35 years prior to the year in which the award will be made) by an author of any nationality, the award commemorates the life and work of Ellis Peters (Edith Pargeter) (1913-1995), a prolific author perhaps best known as the creator of Brother Cadfael.

CWA chair Tom Harper said: “The Ellis Peters Award has seen the judges given a really tough choice. The strength of the field confirms the robust health of historical fiction.”
The judging panel was Sir Bernard Ingham, Barry Forshaw, Jake Kerridge, Eileen Roberts and Geoffrey Bailey. They said: “Two books were very close, which was unusual, and overall the standard was incredibly high.”

The winners were announced during an event at Little, Brown Book Group, 100 Victoria Embankment, London.

ResultsThe Ellis Peters Historical Award Prize £3,000
Sponsors: The Estate of Ellis Peters, Headline Book Publishing Company and Little, Brown Book Group

WinnerREVENGER by Rory Clements
1592. England and Spain are at war, yet there is peril at home, too. The death of her trusted spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham has left Queen Elizabeth vulnerable. Conspiracies multiply. The quiet life of John Shakespeare is shattered by a summons from Robert Cecil, the cold but deadly young statesman who dominated the last years of the Queen’s long reign, insisting Shakespeare re-enter government service. His mission: to find vital papers, now in the possession of the Earl of Essex. When John Shakespeare infiltrates this dissolute world he discovers not only that the Queen herself is in danger – but that he and his family are also a target.

Judges’ comments: “Revenger is an exuberant piece of writing, which is beautifully constructed and shows authoritative knowledge of the period. It was felt to be a sharp piece of writing told with panache and a vivid sense of place.”

Runner upHEARTSTONE by CJ Sansom
Summer, 1545. England is at war. Henry VIII's invasion of France has gone badly wrong, and a massive French fleet is preparing to sail across the Channel. As the English fleet gathers at Portsmouth, the country raises the largest militia army it has ever seen. The King has debased the currency to pay for the war, and England is in the grip of soaring inflation and economic crisis. Meanwhile, Matthew Shardlake is given an intriguing legal case by an old servant of Queen Catherine Parr. Asked to investigate claims of 'monstrous wrongs' committed against a young ward of the court, which have already involved one mysterious death, Shardlake and his assistant Barak journey to Portsmouth. Events converge on board one of the King's great warships, primed for battle in Portsmouth harbour, the Mary Rose.

Judges’ comments: “The two mysteries in Heartstone are well-entwined as it covers one of the most important historical times of turbulence and change, which echo current affairs with ill-advised forays into foreign territory. Unputdownable with a marvellous depth of character.”

Also on the shortlist were:Washington Shadow – Aly Monroe
Judges’ comments: “A very real story and politically aware.”

Heresy – S J Parris
Judges’ comments: “In this masterly tale set mainly in Oxford, Sir Francis Walsingham appears amidst historical and religious turmoil.”

To Kill A Tsar – Andrew Williams
Judges’ comments: “An energetic book set in Nineteenth Century St Petersburg, which deals with Russian terrorists and echoes those of a more modern IRA.”

The Anatomy of Ghosts – Andrew Taylor.
Judges’ comments: “An intriguing concept told with aplomb.”

Having highly commended the other four books on the shortlist, the judges also mentioned several that just missed out.

The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag – Alan Bradley
Let The Dead Lie – Malla Nunn
Assassin’s Prayer – Ariana Franklin
A Razor in Wrapped Silk – R N Morris.

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1 comment:

  1. Craig,

    I haven't read either the winner or the runner-up novel, but I have read the first three in CJ Sansom's superb "Mathew Shardlake" series. I can understand why it placed so high and wouldn't have been surprised if it had taken the top spot.