The Crime Writers Association (CWA) completed its 2010 award presentations yesterday, November 4th, with the selection of the winner of the 2010 Historical Dagger, better known as the Ellis Peters Award. Rory Clements received this prize for his book Revenger (John Murray), the second volume in his John Shakespeare series that he sets in Elizabethan England.
John Shakespeare, an investigator who must unravel the many intrigues that beset Queen Elizabeth’s court, made his debut in Clements’ 2009 work, Martyr. He will return in a third book, Prince, scheduled to be released next year.
C.J. Sansom’s Heartstone (Shardlake series, book 5: Mantle), another book in a series set in 16th century England, was declared the runner up. Sansom’s series follows the cases of lawyer Matthew Shardlake and his assistant, Jack Barak.
According to a judging panel consisting of Sir Bernard Ingham, Barry Forshaw, Jake Kerridge, Eileen Roberts and Geoffrey Bailey, having two such strong contenders for the award was unexpected. “Two books were very close, which was unusual, and overall the standard was incredibly high,” the CWA website quoted the judges as saying.
CWA chair Tom Harper agreed. “The Ellis Peters Award has seen the judges given a really tough choice,” he remarked. “The strength of the field confirms the robust health of historical fiction.”
Four additional titles made the shortlist for the award. They were Washington Shadow by Aly Monroe (Peter Cotton series, book 2: John Murray); Heresy by S J Parris (Giordano Bruno series, book 1: HarperCollins ); Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor (Michael Joseph); and To Kill A Tsar by Andrew Williams (John Murray).
The Ellis Peters Award is named in honor Edith Mary Pargeter, who wrote the Brother Cadfael medieval mystery series under the pen name Ellis Peters. The £3,000 prize has been awarded annually since 1999 to the best historical crime novel set up to 35 years prior to the year the award is issued. In 2009, Philip Kerr received the award for If the Dead Rise not, a Bernard Gunther novel set in World War II Germany.
Earlier this year, Great Britain’s Crime Writers Association presented its other awards for excellence in crime fiction. In January Val McDermid received its Cartier Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement;
In June, at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, five other award winners were named. Johan Theorin accepted CWA’s International Dagger for The Darkest Room (Oland series, book 2). Ariana Franklin (Mistress of the Art of Death series) received the 2010 Dagger in the Library. Ruth Dudley Edwards won the Non-Fiction Dagger for her book, Aftermath: The Omagh Bombing & the Families’ Pursuit of Justice. Robert Ferrigno won the 2010 Short Story Dagger for “Can You Help Me Out There,” and Patrick Eden won the Debut Dagger for the opening chapter of A Place of Dying.
Most recently, at the October Specsavers Crime Thiller Awards broadcast Belinda Bauer was named the winner of Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel of 2010 for Blacklands (Corgi). Simon Conway accepted the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for the Best Thriller of 2010 for A Loyal Spy (Hodder & Stoughton), and Ryan David Jahn won the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger for the Best New Crime Writer of the Year for Acts of Violence (Macmillan New Writing).