THE CRIME WRITERS’ ASSOCIATION®

The 2001 CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger

Andrew Taylor wins with The Office Of The Dead

ANDREW TAYLOR is this year's winner of the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger, the UK's leading literary prize for writers of historical crime fiction. The author won the award for The Office Of The Dead (HarperCollins).

The judges also want to specially commend the runner up, Michael Pearce. They wished it had been possible to award a Silver Dagger too!

The winner was announced at a champagne reception at the London crime fiction bookshop Crime in Store on Wednesday, October 24. Andrew Taylor was presented with a cheque for £3,000, and he received his ornamental dagger at the Dagger Award Lunch on Friday, the 16th of November at The Brewery in London.

THE OFFICE OF THE DEAD

Andrew Taylor, £5.99 Paperback (HarperCollins, ISBN 0-0064-9655-5)
This skilfully plotted novel is set in Fifties England, with a wonderful recreation of the dreary post-war atmosphere and some fascinating characters. The first person narrative is very effective in creating a real feeling of the period, while deftly unravelling a most absorbing puzzle.

Andrew Taylor is the award-winning author of a number of crime novels, including the Dougal series, the Lydmouth Books and The Barred Window. He and his wife live with their children in the Forest of Dean.

Also nominated for the Historical Dagger were:
LINDSEY DAVIS for Ode To A Banker (Century)
HANNAH MARCH for A Distinction Of Blood (Headline)
MICHAEL PEARCE for A Cold Touch Of Ice (HarperCollins)
STEVEN SAYLOR for Last Seen In Massilia (Robinson)
PENN WILLIAMSON for Mortal Sins (HarperCollins)

The CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger award was set up in memory of Ellis Peters and is sponsored by the Estate of Ellis Peters, Headline Book Publishing Ltd and Little, Brown & Co (UK).

The convenor of the judges was Sunday Telegraph crime critic Susanna Yager; the other judges were historical crime specialist Mike Ashley, last year's winner Gillian Linscott, and historian Anne Somerset.

Commented Susanna Yager:
"Andrew Taylor's book was one of the first titles we read and it made a lasting impression on us. It's original and elegantly structured, with an authentic portrait of post-war provincial England and characters who clearly belong there. And, most important, it's an extremely good read."

The CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger is awarded to a novel with a crime theme and a historical background of any place or period up to 1965, published in the UK for the first time between 1st January 2000 and 15th September 2001.

This year the judging period was extended by eight months in order to bring future Historical Daggers in line with all other CWA literary awards. The CWA would like to thank the judges for the extra time and effort this involved.


The short-listed titles:

ODE TO A BANKER: Lindsey Davis, £9.99 Paperback (Century, ISBN 0-7126-7854-9)

A classic murder mystery set in Vespasian's Rome, this is notable for its verve, likeable characters, rich historical background, narrative drive, humour and considerable learning lightly worn.

Lindsey Davis was born and brought up in Birmingham. She read English at Oxford and was a civil servant for 13 years and now writes full-time. She was the recipient of the first CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger in 1999.

A DISTINCTION OF BLOOD: Hannah March, £17.99 Hardback (Headline, ISBN 0-7472-7281-6)

Hannah March was born and brought up in Peterborough on the edge of the Fens and was a student on the University of East Anglia MA Course in Creative Writing under Malcolm Bradbury and Angela Carter.

A COLD TOUCH OF ICE: Michael Pearce, £5.99 paperback (HarperCollins, ISBN 0-0065-1472-3)

This is a most entertaining book, full of witty dialogue and likeable characters. The historical and geographical background of Edwardian Cairo is extremely well created and the judges were struck by how well the author dealt with issues like nationalism, women's place in society, even love, without being heavy-handed or preachy.

Michael Pearce grew up in the (then) Anglo-Egyptian Sudan among the various tensions he draws on for his Mamur Zapt Series. The novel is his thirteenth in the series. He lives in London.

LAST SEEN IN MASSILIA: Steven Saylor, £6.99 Paperback (Robinson, ISBN 1-8411-9431-X)

A well written novel set during the Roman Civil Wars, this has some of the ambiguity and sophistication of an ancient world Le Carre. The portrait of a city under siege and the vividly created characters make a fascinating background to the mystery.

Steven Saylor's work has been praised for its historical accuracy as well as for its passion, mystery and intrigue. He lives in Berkeley, California.

THE OFFICE OF THE DEAD: Andrew Taylor, £5.99 Paperback (HarperCollins, ISBN 0-0064-9655-5)

This skilfully plotted novel is set in Fifties England, with a wonderful recreation of the dreary post-war atmosphere and some fascinating characters. The first person narrative is very effective in creating a real feeling of the period, while deftly unravelling a most absorbing puzzle.

Andrew Taylor is the award-winning author of a number of crime novels, including the Dougal series, the Lydmouth Books and The Barred Window. He and his wife live with their children in the Forest of Dean.

MORTAL SINS: Penn Williamson, £5.99 Paperback (HarperCollins, ISBN 0-0071-0268-2)

An extremely well composed book, set in 1920s New Orleans, this has a stunning sense of place, full of atmosphere, with memorable characters and a cleverly handled mystery.

Penn Williamson grew up in New Orleans and now lives in California.