The CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger 2002

Sarah Waters wins with FINGERSMITH

Sarah Waters has won the Crime Writers' Association Ellis Peters Dagger for best historical crime novel for her book Fingersmith, published by Virago. The announcement was made at a reception at the Crime in Store bookshop in Store Street, London, on Wednesday 30 October. The book was also short-listed for the Man Booker Award. The Ellis Peters judges described it as a dark and subtle novel. It is set in Victorian England and, the judges say, creates a stunning atmosphere of wickedness and fear. "Scene after scene brilliantly brings to life the period and the characters involved in a cunning scheme to defraud an heiress."

The prize is £3,000 and an ornamental dagger. The award is sponsored by publishers Headline and Little Brown and the estate of Ellis Peters.

Chairman of the judges, Susanna Yager, said: "Fingersmith announced itself as the winner as soon as we read it. It is an outstanding book in any category."

Sarah Waters said, "It is wonderful to have won. My passion for historical fiction was what got me writing in the first place."

The other shortlisted novels (with judges comments) were:

Lindsey Davis - The Jupiter Myth (Century)
A colourful depiction of Britain under Roman rule is the setting for an absorbing detective story with a lively cast of characters and plenty of narrative drive. The historical details have an authentic feel and the personalities are cleverly shown to be both very different from us and yet very alike.

Philip Gooden - The Pale Companion (Constable)
This Elizabethan murder mystery has a nicely underplayed actor as detective and some intriguing interplay between the members of his theatrical company.

Gillian Linscott - Dead Man Riding (Virago)
The characters are particularly well drawn in this deftly constructed murder mystery set in 1900, which vividly creates the feeling of hope and excitement at the start of a new century.

Jose Carlos Samoza - The Athenian Murders (Abacus)
This was one of the most original entries for the award, an entertaining puzzle with two parallel narratives. It has a memorable hero and a very clever plot, which successfully combines a powerful intellectual argument with some witty dialogue. (Although unsuccessful here, this novel went on to win the CWA The Macallan Gold Dagger.)

Martin Stephen - The Desperate Remedy (Little Brown)
This 17th century thriller is a rattling good yarn, with a dashing hero, backed up by impressively solid research and an excellent grasp of the politics of the period.