The CWA Dagger in the Library, 2003

Winner: Stephen Booth

Sponsor: The Random House Group

Prize: £1500

This award, sponsored by the Random House Group, goes to the author whose work has given most pleasure to readers. It is judged by librarians. The winner, who takes the dagger and £1500, is Stephen Booth. He was nominated for his crime novels that portray so exactly the way of life in the Derbyshire hills and moorlands. His characters are very gripping, the people and the scenes become "alive" as you read.

Christopher Brookmyre was the highly commended runner-up. His highly original storylines, combined with teasingly clever twists and elaborate hoaxes make each of his novels an experience which refuses to remain within the usual bounds of the crime genre.

The winner's name was announced and the Dagger presented at the CWA 50th Jubilee Dagger Awards Lunch in London on Thursday 13 November 2003.

The other shortlisted authors (in alphabetical order) were:

Ann Cleeves
It is easy to see how much her writing has developed over her 15 novels; her last three books have been stunning, especially The Sleeping and the Dead. All her books are very popular with library readers.

Julie Parsons
Writes dark but satisfying psychological chillers. The Dublin setting adds interest and the narratives flow like a stream of "consciousness", leaving the reader unsure where the characters and plot are going next.

Mike Ripley
Readers devour his books hungrily, eager for the sense of humour, warmth of character and entertaining plotting which distinguish his crime novels.


The Dagger in the Library is awarded to "the author of crime fiction whose work has given most pleasure to readers", as nominated by UK libraries and judged by a panel of librarians. It is intended to encourage authors at the "up and coming" stage of their careers rather than established favourites, so that nominations of authors whose discovery has particularly delighted readers are welcome. Those nominated should be alive at the time of the nomination and preferably working in Britain. The broadest definition of the crime novelist is used; it can include authors of thrillers, suspense novels, spy fiction and period fiction as well as more traditional forms like "cosies" , "hard-boiled" and police procedurals.

The 2002 Dagger in the Library was won by Yorkshire-born author Peter Robinson. It is sponsored by publishers The Random House Group Inc.

The 2003 award was judged entirely by librarians; the non-voting Chair is Judith Rhodes and the voting judges are all librarians who have regular direct contact with the public.

Libraries had until 16th August 2003 to produce nominations - one form per library, but a second choice could be included to assist the judges in case of a tie. They were asked to supply a statement (100 words maximum) in support of their first choice.