Jake Arnott and Kate Elton

The CWA Dagger in the Library, 2005

Jake Arnott

Sponsor: The Random House Group

This Dagger is nominated and judged by librarians and awarded to a body of work, not just a single title. The £1500 prize money is sponsored by Random House. Kate Elton, Publishing Director of Arrow, presented the cheque and Dagger to Jake Arnott. Joolz Denby was Highly Commended for this award.

Jake Arnott was born in 1961, and lives in London. He worked as a labourer, a mortuary technician, a theatrical agent's assistant, an artist's life model and a sign language interpreter before his debut novel, The Long Firm, was published by Sceptre in 1999 to huge public and critical acclaim. He Kills Coppers and Truecrime followed to equal acclaim in 2001 and 2003, and in 2004 The Long Firm was made into a widely-praised television series by the BBC. His fourth novel, Johnny Come Home, will be published in April 2006.

‘In his first clever, complex, well-written story, Jake Arnott provided an illuminating glimpse into the underworld of the 60s in London society. Subsequent novels maintain the same high standard and with taut plots, strong settings and a wide variety of characters, his oeuvre is making a real impact on contemporary crime fiction.’

The judges received 152 nominations, for a total of 99 authors, from 68 libraries/ Readers' Groups, from which the shortlist was drawn up. The other authors on that list are:

Joolz Denby

Joolz Denby

(Highly commended) With their darkly compelling psychological twists and deep emotional challenges, Joolz Denby's novels are making a mark on the literary scene. The quality of the writing is of the very highest, and she was deservedly shortlisted for the Orange Prize with Billie Morgan whose opening impact and brilliantly evocative sense of place "knocked the socks off" our readers.

Mark Billingham

Mark Billingham

These are dark, disturbing, "edge of your seat" reads set within a backdrop of urban violence. Over the series of DCI Thorne titles, Billingham has given the reader innovative plots that keep you guessing and characters that have developed as the series has. His narrative style, characterisation, contemporary setting and plots all combine to create an excellent addition to the British police procedural sub-genre, and is reflected in the issues from libraries that his books get.

Nikki French

Nicci French

These novels are consistently literate and never disappoint in writing quality. They are gripping and un-put-downable, and their pace and original and interesting characters make these psychological thrillers extremely popular with readers.

Mo Hayder

Photo: © Andre Heeger

Mo Hayder

Mo Hayder's challenging psychological thrillers pull no punches. They are extremely original and provide darkly satisfying reads but are not an easy ride. They demand considerable emotional involvement from their readers but this is well repaid!

Martyn Waites

Martyn Waites

Martyn Waites writes dark, disturbing and enthralling crime novels based in the region of his birth - the North East. Meticulously researched, his novels deliver an accurate social commentary as well as a riveting read. The sense of place is paramount but characters are important, too, and journalist Stephen Larkin is a tough and honourable hero.

This Dagger is awarded to "the author of crime fiction whose work is giving the greatest enjoyment to readers", as nominated by UK libraries and Readers' Groups and judged by a panel of librarians. It emphasises the rôle played by libraries in providing an audience for authors whose careers are developing, so that nominations of authors whose discovery has particularly delighted readers (rather than established favourites) are especially welcome. The award is given for the body of an author's work, not for an individual title, and 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.

Recent winners include Peter Robinson, Stephen Booth and Alexander McCall Smith, while Christopher Brookmyre and Jim Kelly have been Very Highly Commended.

The Award is judged entirely by librarians; in 2005 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 1st August 2005 to produce nominations — up to 3 per library or Readers' Group. Each individual library or Readers' Group may make a nomination, so that any authority can submit as many forms as it has libraries and Readers' Groups!