The CWA The Macallan Gold Dagger for Non-fiction 2002
Dead Man's Wages
The judges were impressed by the range and quality of the submissions of this year's CWA Non-Fiction Gold Dagger. This area of crime writing continues to attract authors of real excellence. The winner, receiving the Dagger plus £2000, is Lillian Pizzichini for Dead Man's Wages (Picador)
The judges said: "As a first book, this promises well for the future career of the author, if she continues to write. It is a clever reconstruction of the life of her grandfather, Charlie Taylor: a conman who used the postwar building boom, and the proliferation of illegal gaming clubs, to penetrate High(er) society, as well as the Flying Squad. He lived life on the edge, making and losing fortunes, with an unrelenting desire to control everything, and everybody, around him. As Pizzichini writes: 'I was lucky. I came in at the end, and the worst and the best were over... All that is left for me to do is to rob the secrets of his grave.'"
The Macallan Daggers are sponsored by The Macallan, distillers of the finest Single Highland Malt Whisky, in association with the Crime Writers' Association.
The Gold Dagger for non-fiction was founded by The Crime Writers' Association in 1978. The CWA continues to manage the award today.
The other shortlisted books were:
Miranda Carter - Anthony Blunt, His Lives (Macmillan)
A first-class example of meticulous biographical research. It places Blunt firmly within his milieu - or, rather, milieus: on the one hand, the dedicated world of art-historical attribution; and, on the other hand, the shady circle of the Cambridge-educated homosexual traitors. Miranda Carter brings to life the players in both of theses games, and brilliantly uncovers the cold, withdrawn, personality of the central character and the sources of his motivation.
Don Hale (with Marika Huns & Hamish McGregor) - Town Without Pity (Century)
The first-hand account of a local newspaper editor's almost single-handed fight to clear Stephen Downing of the Bakewell murder of Wendy Sewell. A blow-by-blow story (sometimes over-detailed-too many 'cups of tea') of Don Hale's long investigation into the case, which resulted in the exoneration of Downing after 27 years in jail, during which time he persistently protested his innocence. Hale's 8-year campaign gained him 15 national and international awards for journalism.
Julian Earwaker & Kathleen Becker - Scene of the Crime (Aurum)
The judges felt that this book did not fall within the criteria of the non-fiction award, being in effect a guide to the geography of British crime fiction. However, they applauded the careful research and first class production of this informative book.