The Dagger Awards Celebrate the Best in Crime Writing


The Dagger Awards, administered by the UK's Crime Writers' Association, are presented annually to some of the best writers of crime fiction and nonfiction.  There are ten separate awards, ranging from the Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement to the Dagger in the Library, for a body of work favored by library patrons.  Check out this year's winners!


The Diamond Dagger--Ann Cleeves


One of the Crime Writers' Association's highest honors, the Diamond Dagger is presented to a writer "whose crime writing careers have been marked by sustained excellence, and who have made a significant contribution to the genre."  This year's winner is Ann Cleeves, author of thirty books including The Crow Trap, Cold Earth, and Thin Air.  Two of her series, the Vera Stanhope Mysteries and the Shetland Mysteries, have been adapted for television.


The Gold Dagger--The Dry, by Jane Harper

Awarded annually to the year's best crime novel of the year, the Gold Dagger was first awarded in 1955, though at the time it went by the name of "the Crossed Red Herrings Award."  This year's winning title, by Australia-based writer Jane Harper, is her debut novel.




The Ian Fleming Steel Dagger--Spook Street, by Mick Herron

James Bond creator Ian Fleming once said that in a good thriller, “one simply has to turn the pages.”  That's the kind of book that the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger honors, and this year's winner fits the bill!  Mick Herron, who already has a Gold Dagger to his name, has crafted a story about a retired spy for whom the onset of dementia threatens to reveal secrets of his career.



The John Creasey New Blood Dagger--Tall Oaks, by Chris Whitaker

Named for prolific crime writer John Creasey, the New Blood Dagger celebrates a first novel by an author of any nationality newly published in the UK.  Unfortunately, this year's winner, a thriller by Chris Whitaker, is not yet available in the US.





The International Dagger--The Dying Detective, by

Leif G W Persson, translated by Neil Smith

The International Dagger honors a work of crime fiction, be it thriller, detective story, mystery, or suspense, that was originally written in a language other than English and has been translated for the first time during the judging period.  This year's award goes to author Leif G W Persson, who is not only an experienced crime writer, but also Sweden's most renowned psychological profiler.  The novel honored, The Dying Detective, was translated by Neil Smith, who also translates the work of Jo Nesbø.


The Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction--Close But No Cigar: A True Story of Prison Life in Castro's Cuba, by Stephen Purvis

This award honors a non-fiction title newly published in the UK that centers on crime, including biographies, histories, and true-crime stories.  Stephen Purvis' book tells his own story of arrest and imprisonment in Cuba, where he'd been a successful businessman for years before coming under suspicion by Raul Castro's State Security.



The Dagger in the Library--Mari Hannah

This award goes to an author whose work is particularly beloved by the library-goers of the UK.  This year's winner, Mari Hannah, is the author of several mystery books as well as a scriptwriter for mystery series with the BBC.  Her books include Fatal Games and The Murder Wall.  Her latest, The Silent Room, will be out in the US in January.




The Short Story Dagger--"The Trials of Margaret" by L C Tyler, published in Motives for Murder, edited by Martin Edwards

Short stories about some facet of crime that make their debut during the judging period in any paid UK publication are eligible for the Short Story Dagger award.  This year's winner appears in the anthology Motives for Murder, which, unfortunately, is not yet available in the US.



The Debut Dagger--Strange Fire, by Sherry Rankin

The Debut Dagger is a unique award in that it is bestowed to an unpublished author based on the strength of a completed manuscript.  Though there's no guarantee of publication, the shortlisted manuscripts are presented to top agents and publishers, and previously undiscovered authors have a chance to shine.  Sherry Rankin, this year's winner, is a professor in Abilene, Texas.  Keep an eye out for her novel, Strange Fire, which may be published soon!


The Historical Dagger--A Rising Man, by Abir Mukherjee

The Historical Dagger honors a historical crime novel newly published in the UK.  Novels must be set at least 50 years in the past to count as "historical."  Abir Mukherjee's novel is set in colonial India, and begins with the murder of a senior British official.  The detectives on the hunt, Wyndham and Banerjee, also feature in other works by Mukherjee.