THE CWA's 2004 non-fiction Gold Dagger Award

John Dickie and Sarah Wise share the Dagger

At the CWA Awards Lunch, Christian Friege, Chief Executive of BCA, presented the CWA Mystery Thriller Book Club Gold Dagger and the £2,000 prize money jointly to John Dickie for Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia from Hodder & Stoughton, and to Sarah Wise for The Italian Boy: Murder and Grave Robbery in 1830s London from Jonathan Cape. This prize is sponsored by the Mystery Thriller Book Club.

Cosa Nostra

Cosa Nostra

John Dickie

Hodder & Stoughton

'An examination of the origins of the Sicilian Mafia. A thorough, well-informed and well-written book that explains the rise of the Mafia and its culture.'

Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia is the first book in English to tell the complete story of the Sicilian Mafia. Through face-to-face interviews with protagonists on both sides of the law and academic research, Dickie has put together a gripping study that demolishes preconceptions about the Mafia. Their roots are not, as it has been supposed, lost in Sicily's murky, peasant past. The beginnings of Cosa Nostra are modern and urban. The first noted Mafia activity took place around Palermo just after Italian unification in 1860.

John Dickie

Dickie follows the Mafia from its inception through to its arrival in America, its persecution under Mussolini and rebirth after the war, its influence finally extending beyond Sicily into Italian national politics and culminating in the indictment of Andreotti, seven times Prime Minister, for colluding with organised crime. The story continues right up to the present day with the near defeat of the Mafia following the murder of anti-Mafia judge Falcone and the frustrating though familiar tale of the lack of political will needed to finish the job.

John Dickie is both an academic cultural historian and an advertising copywriter and researcher for several major international companies. He is Senior Lecturer in Italian at UCL and has written many articles and a previous academic book on Italy, Darkest Italy and edited another, Disasters in Italy since 1860.

The Italian Boy

The Italian Boy

Sarah Wise

Jonathan Cape

'A fascinating insight into the history of English bodysnatching and murder but most importantly setting it firmly in the social history of the time.'

Sarah Wise's first book, subtitled Murder and Grave Robbery in 1830s London, is a fascinating historical investigation that illuminates a macabre episode in 1830s London and brings the capital's underclass roaring back to life.

Sarah Wise

Towards the end of 1831, the authorities unearthed a series of crimes in East London that appeared to echo the notorious Burke and Hare killings in Edinburgh three years earlier. After a long investigation, it became known that a group of body snatchers were supplying the anatomy schools with fresh 'examples' for dissection. The case became known as 'The Italian Boy' and caused a furore which led directly to the passing of controversial legislation and marked the demise of body snatching in Britain.

Sarah Wise is a freelance journalist and a regular contributor to The Guardian, The Independent on Sunday Review and The Times. She completed an MA in Victorian Studies at Birkbeck College, London in 1996.

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

Rebecca Gowers - The Swamp of Death - Hamish Hamilton
A True Tale of Victorian Lies and Murder
'A revealing story of young men being tempted by the promise of making their fortunes in the New World, but finding that only death and misery awaited them.'

Steve Holland - The Trials of Hank Janson - Telos Publishing
The True Story behind the Censorship and Banning of Hank Janson's Books in the UK:
'The story of a now largely forgotten, salacious and highly successful crime writer, and the confusion in attitudes towards the obscenity laws even before Lady Chatterley.'

Mende Nazer and Damien Lewis - Slave - Time Warner
The True Story of a Girl's Lost Childhood and her Fight for Survival:
'A harrowing personal tale of the loss of innocence of a Sudanese girl captured by Arab raiders and held in slavery both in Khartoum and in London.'

Judging Panel

Joan Lock (Chair) - ex Policewoman and author.
Andrew Cresswell - Chief Crown Prosecutor, Devon and Exeter Crown Prosecution Service.
Dr Allan Jamieson - Director of the Forensic Institute.
Professor Bernard Knight - retired Forensic Pathologist and author.
Robert Richardson - journalist and author.