THE CWA's 2004 Gold and Silver Dagger Awards

Sara Paretsky wins the Gold Dagger with Blacklist
and John Harvey wins Silver with Flesh and Blood

Sara Paretsky

Sara Paretsky, photo © 1999 Jack Perno Photography

At the CWA Awards Lunch, Christian Friege, Chief Executive of BCA, presented the CWA Mystery Thriller Book Club Gold Dagger and the £3,000 prize money to Sara Paretsky for Blacklist from Hamish Hamilton, and the Silver Dagger and £2,000 to John Harvey for Flesh and Blood from Heinemann. This prize is awarded annually to the writer of the top crime novel of the year.

Sarah Paretsky was brought up in rural Kansas and now lives in Chicago. After a variety of jobs ranging from dishwashing to marketing, she now writes full-time. She is a founder and past President of Sisters in Crime, an advocacy group for women in the thriller field, and in 2002 she won the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for lifetime achievement.

Sara Paretsky - Blacklist - Hamish Hamilton


The judges described Blacklist book as ‘A powerful piece of Chicago gothic that engages with the important issues of our time. The author's empathy with the downtrodden and deprived is delivered through the medium of powerfully evoked characterisation in a wide ranging and ambitious plot.’

Called in to investigate reports of an intruder at derelict Larchmont Hall in wealthy New Solway, V.I. Warshawski stumbles into a deeper mystery of murder and betrayal. After turning up a dead journalist in an ornamental pond, she begins to piece together a dark puzzle that stretches back to the McCarthy years and has links to the history and intrigues of two of Chicago's most powerful families. Slowly, Larchmont offers up its secrets - political, financial and sexual. Meanwhile, V.I. finds herself involved in the case of a young boy whose possible terrorist connections make him a target in the wake of 9/11 - and not just for the US government. As cases collide with shocking consequences, it seems someone is desperate for the past to stay buried. The question is who, why and what lengths they will go to in order to stop V.I. from finally bringing the truth to light?

John Harvey - Flesh and Blood - Heinemann

The cover of 'Flesh and Blood'

‘A finely tuned police procedural that is told with subtlety and delicacy. It ranges through Britain sociologically and topographically, peopled with engaging and fully-rounded characters. The human face of crime fiction.’

In Flesh and Blood, retired Detective Inspector Frank Elder is haunted by the past and in particular by the unsolved disappearance of a 16-year-old girl in 1988. Two men convicted a year later for the brutal rape and murder of another young girl are his prime suspects. When he hears that one of the men has been released early from prison, he returns to the scene of the crime. When the man breaks parole, disappears and yet another young girl is murdered, Elder's involvement becomes crucial.

John Harvey

Photo: Gilles Plazy/Opale

The criminal still in prison seems to be able to wield frightening power over his ex-partner even from his prison cell and the new murder has all the hallmarks of their earlier crimes. Taunted by postcards from the killer, Elder battles with his own demons as he and his family are inexorably drawn into the heart of the crime.

John Harvey - poet, dramatist and occasional broadcaster - is the author of ten Charlie Resnick novels, the first of which, Lonely Hearts, was named by The Times as one of the '100 Best Crime Novels of the Century.'

The other shortlisted titles are listed below in alphabetical order of the author's name:

Mo Hayder - Tokyo - Bantam
'An ambitious book with powerfully imagined characters and exotic sequences that haunt the memory. A disturbing evocation of a forgotten piece of history.'

Val McDermid - The Torment of Others - HarperCollins
'A troubling and controversial book that explores the relationship between the personal and the professional lives of characters damaged by previous experiences.'

James W. Nichol - Midnight Cab - Canongate
'A gripping novel with a touching and suspenseful opening. Convincing characterisation conveyed through pithy, idiomatic dialogue; and a memorably repellent villain.'

Laura Wilson - The Lover - Orion
'A startlingly accurate rendition of blitz-torn London. A complex narrative, skilfully handled, in which the greatest danger is not necessarily from the Luftwaffe.'

Judging Panel

Geoff Bradley (non-voting Chair)
Barry Forshaw - reviewer and editor of Crime Time magazine.
Francis Grey - an academic who writes about and teaches course on modern crime fiction.
Jane Jakeman - journalist, art historian and writer of both modern and historical crime fiction.
Jenni Murray - writer and BBC presenter of (among other things) Woman's Hour.
Mike Ripley - reviewer and writer of the 'Angel' series of crime novels.