2021 Dagger Awards

CWA logo: a black square with two white crossed daggers and the text CWA

Organized by the UK's Crime Writers Association, the Dagger Awards recognize excellence in crime writing.  Entries are predominantly submitted by publishers and judged by industry professionals.  To learn more, visit the CWA website.

See the 2021 winners below!


Gold Dagger

The best crime novel by an author of any nationality, originally written in English, first published in the UK during the Judging Period. The broadest definition of the crime novel defines eligible books as including thrillers, police procedurals, mysteries, pyschological and other suspense novels and spy fiction. 


Book cover: We Begin at the End. Behind the title is a dramatic stormy sky, over a vast field.

We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker



Book cover: Blacktop Wasteland.  In front of a faded and beat up sedan, a rear view mirror reflects a Black man in a suit jacket. Book cover: Troubled Blood. Two figures walk down a dark street, their bodies silhouetted against an old streetlamp. Above them, the sky is a giant clock, with roman numerals marking the hours.

Book cover: House of Correction. Beneath a cloudy sky and on the edge of a vast body of water stands a small shack. Book cover: Midnight Atlanta. The title is written sideways in blocky letters. Behind the word Atlanta is a colorful cityscape at night. In the top right corner, red text reads: "Atlanta 1956. There's the news, and there's truth." Book cover: The Postscript Murders.  In front of a green background, a White hand emerges from an open book.  At the intersection between hand and book is a rose, and balancing on the finger's tip is a gun.

Blacktop Wasteland by S. A. Cosby

Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith

House of Correction by Nicci French

Midnight Atlanta by Thomas Mullen

The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths



Ian Fleming Steel Dagger

Ian Fleming said there was one essential criterion for a good thriller, ‘one simply has to turn the pages’.  Eligible books in this category are thrillers set in any period and include, but are not limited to, spy fiction, psychological thrillers and action/adventure stories.


Book cover: When She Was Good.  Behind the white, handwritten title is a photo of a While woman with golden hair falling into her face. Parts of the photo glow red, as if the film was slightly corrupted.

When She Was Good by Michael Robotham



Book cover: One by One. In a snowy landscape, and avalanche plunges down the side of a mountain, billowing towards a line of evergreen trees. Book cover: The Devil and the Dark Water. In front of a pattern of dark waves is a compass with an anchor on a chain.

Book cover: The Nothing Man. The cover art is stylized to feature a book cover ripping away. On the cover is a dark photograph of purple light past a railing, with the text of the title. Above the cover, yellow bits of paper stick out, marking pages. Below the title text and just above the "rip" is the text "A survivor's search for the truth". Below, the authors name appears on a solid burgundy background. Book cover: Troubled Blood. Two figures walk down a dark street, their bodies silhouetted against an old streetlamp. Above them, the sky is a giant clock, with roman numerals marking the hours.   Book cover: We Begin at the End. Behind the title is a dramatic stormy sky, over a vast field.

One by One by Ruth Ware

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard

Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith

We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker



John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger

This award is for the best crime novel by a first-time author of any nationality first published in the UK in English during the Judging Period.


Book cover: The Creak of the Stairs. A lighthouse stands in silhouette against a white background, red light shining from the top and from the open door. To the left of the lighthouse, across a rocky landscape, stands a small silhouetted figure.

The Creak of the Stairs by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir



 Book cover: The Bone Jar.  Across an icy pond is a person standing among a grove of gnarled trees, silhouetted against a white sky. Book cover: Fortune Favors the Dead.  In noir cartoon style, two figures stand and look at one another across a road. One wears a white dress shirt tucked into dark pants, the other wears a red dress. Behind them, a cityscape rises in blue and yellow, against a night sky. Book cover: Three-fifths. The cover is simple, with the top half featuring white text against a black background, and the bottom with black text against a white backround.

The Bone Jar by S W Kane

Fortune Favors the Dead by Stephen Spotswood

Three-Fifths by John Vercher



Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger

This award is for crime novels (defined by the broadest definition including thrillers, suspense novels and spy fiction) as long as the book was not originally written in English and has been translated into English for UK publication during the Judging Period.


Book cover: The Disaster Tourist. In front of a blue and yellow background lies a woman in a blue dress, under a red and white spotted umbrella.

The Disaster Tourist by Yun Ko-eun, translated by Lizzie Buehler



Book cover: Anxious People. The illustration features two figures standing in front of an orange background. They face away from the viewers and away from each other.  Book cover: The Coral Bride. A small amount of lace floats in front of a deep blue background, intertwined with a white net.

Book cover: The Seven Doors. Behind two white doors, a blue chair stands in the middle of a blue floor. Book cover: To Cook a Bear. An orange tinted landscape of trees is torn to reveal two faces: an adult looking down at a child. Book cover: Three. Three white and red peaches sit on a table. Above them, a small orange butterfly flies downward, in front of a dark background.

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman, translated by Neil Smith

The Coral Bride by Roxanne Bouchard, translated by David Warriner

The Seven Doors by Agnes Ravatn, translated by Rosie Hedger

To Cook a Bear by Mikael Niemi, translated by Deborah Bragan-Turner

Three by D A Mishani, translated by Jessica Cohen



ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction

This award is for any non-fiction work on a crime related theme by an author of any nationality as long as the book was first published in the UK in English during the Judging Period.


Book cover: Written in Bone. In front of a textured yellow background is an anatomical diagram of the bones of the foot, with different bones labeled with numbers. A subtitle, written in red, reads: "Hidden stories in what we leave behind."

Written in Bone by Sue Black



Book cover: These are not gentle people. A dark stormy sky over a prairie. Text beneath the title reads: "Two dead men. Forty suspects. The trial that broke a South African town" Book cover: We Keep the Dead Close. A photograph, tinged in red and pink, features a woman looking directly at the camera, her straight black hair framing her round face. At the bottom, a white banner features the title and author, with a red block of text reading: "A murder at Harvard and a half century of silence" Book cover: Dancing with the Octopus. Behind the handwritten title is a faded photograph of a White family. Three blonde children sit in the back of a van, grinning at the camera, while a shirtless man leans against the vehicle with a baby on his back. Book cover: Agent Sonya. Beneath a sky studded with planes, a woman with a bike walks away from the camera. Text across the top reads: "Moscow's most daring wartime spy"

These Are Not Gentle People by Andrew Harding

We Keep the Dead Close by Becky Cooper

Dancing with the Octopus by Debora Harding

Agent Sonya by Ben MacIntyre


For more categories & longlisted titles, visit the CWA website.