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The CWA Debut Dagger

The winners

The winner of the Debut Dagger is Alan Bradley, with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. David Jackson is Highly Commended with Pariah. There's more details about both on the main 2007 Debut Dagger page.

The Runners-up

The quality of submissions was very strong, and narrowing it down to twelve from the longlist was the most arduous task of a demanding job: arduous because there were simply so many good entries. The ten runners-up listed below can console themselves with the thought that in previous years, for a good number of shortlisted authors, making the shortlist has been the first step to a successful writing career.

The runners-up and their entries (in alphabetical order) are:

Martin Brackstone (UK): Maletski’s Motive
Nesta Brzozowski (UK): With a View to Death
Fay Cunningham (UK): Cry Baby
Gordon W. Dale (USA): Rome Was Never Like This
C. J. Harper (USA): The Shadow of the Dead
D.J. McIntosh (Canada): The Witch of Babylon
Gerard O’Donovan (UK): White Lion
James Oswald (UK): Natural Causes
Peter James Peacock (UK): Towers of London
Martie de Villiers (UK): Solitaire


Martin Brackstone

Martin can’t remember a time he hasn’t wanted to be a novelist. He began his first novel in 1982 but abandoned it eight years later. For over twenty-five years he earned a living as an advertising copywriter, but unlike Faye Weldon or Salman Rushdie, can’t lay claim to any classic lines. In 2003, he retrained as an English language teacher and has been happy to use the notorious quiet season to continue work on Maletski’s Motive, which he began way back in 1996 and, after a recent lost bet with his daughter, vowed to complete before 2007 was out.

Maletski’s Motive

Emotionally fragile homicide cop Larry Kurtin and his alluring new partner Louisa Silver investigate a bizarre, seemingly motiveless murder during San Francisco’s morning commute.


Nesta Brzozowski

I was born and brought up in Edinburgh. After reading English at Lancaster and American Studies at Nottingham, I became a teacher. I have lived in the Eden Valley in North Cumbria for eighteen years. I am married and am the mother of three teenagers.

I have always been interested in the idea of ‘belonging’. Although I was raised in Scotland, my parents were Welsh and confined themselves to a small circle of similarly stranded Welsh-speaking immigrants. I married a second generation Pole and have one of ‘those’ names. I have lived in different parts of England and have never quite been sure where I ‘belonged’. I am fascinated by people who are born, raised, live and die in one place.

I read widely but always return to crime fiction. I am especially drawn to the ordinary detective – Wexford, Wycliffe, Brunetti – solving the extraordinary crime.

With a View to Death

With a View to Death is set in the Lake District and introduces DCS Jack Runcie. New to the area, Runcie heads a small team investigating a lakeside murder which has been linked to a terror campaign, waged against holiday-home owners and tourists, which threatens to destroy the local economy. Runcie is under pressure to solve this case quickly but is not helped by the tensions and conflicts within his investigating team, nor by his own position as ‘offcomer’.


Fay Cunningham

I have been writing since I was a child. I worked for Woman’s Own, the Daily Express and a small publishing house before I took time out to have a family. During the children’s school years I wrote short stories for women’s magazines.

I have been shortlisted for the Debut Dagger three times. The last time was in 2004 with a novel called Sleeping Dogs, also featuring Gina Cross.

I live in a small house near the river in Colchester with my husband and two Cornish Rex cats.

Cry Baby

Gina Cross is a forensic artist with a special talent, she can see the faces of the dead. Pregnant teenagers are being targeted by an agency selling babies abroad, one young girl has already been found dead just after giving birth, and now a friend’s teenage sister has gone missing.


Gordon W. Dale

Gordon Dale spent his childhood in such disparate regions as the Sub-Arctic, the Canadian prairies, and Central-East Africa. He began his writing career at age sixteen by winning second place, and ten dollars, in the annual poetry contest of a small-town newspaper. (A copy of the text remains in the family archives, preserved for the edification of future generations. The ten dollars, alas, have been quite lost to history.) Gordon has been a stock broker, business executive, management consultant, and freelance writer of travel and adventure articles. A Canadian citizen, he lives with his wife in the San Francisco Bay area.

Rome Was Never Like This

Rome Was Never Like This explores two fundamental issues: What is the role of the individual in a society—our society—in which civil liberties are increasingly threatened? And in such a society, how far must a man go to get the attention of a government that has murdered his child?


C. J. Harper

Charlie Rethwisch, alias C. J. Harper, is a writer trapped in a lawyer’s body. For now, Charlie only lets C. J. out of the house for meetings with Crème de la Crime, his mystery writer’s group which includes authors William Kent Krueger, Monica Ferris, Carl Brookins and Susan Runholt. C. J. is currently working on The Shadow of the Falls, the second book in his “Shadow” series featuring Gouvernor Ness. C. J. lives with Charlie, Charlie’s wife, Dana, and their two children in Plymouth, Minnesota.

The Shadow of the Dead

When he finds himself on the run from a phony murder rap, Gouvernor Ness, a young, street-smart thief, is cast down a path that will lead him from the dark corners of skid row to the shiny marble halls of power, a journey that will force him to confront not only a desperate killer but the painful secrets that lie buried in his past.


D.J. McIntosh

D.J. McIntosh, former co-editor of the Crime Writers of Canada newsletter Fingerprints, holds a degree in English from the University of Toronto. A full time writer and avid art collector, she is based in Toronto and admits to a deep infatuation with New York. Her award winning work of short craft mystery fiction A View To Die For was published in Bloody Words: The Anthologyby Baskerville Press. Her short story The Hounds of Winter will be released this fall. She has won several awards for her technical publications.

The Witch of Babylon

As John Madison sets out on a search to recover stolen Iraqi antiquities, an even darker secret casts a long shadow over his quest.


Gerard O’Donovan

Gerard O’Donovan has worked as a journalist and critic for many UK newspapers and magazines over the past 15 years, mostly on the subject of television for the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Times. He is a founder member of the Criminal Classes writers’ group. Despite an ongoing love affair with Suffolk, he currently lives in Bristol.

White Lion

is a novel about lust, murder and bad, bad timing in a tight-knit Suffolk community. It is a story of wholly different lives that collide for only an instant – but with horrific consequences.


James Oswald

James has held a bewildering variety of jobs over the years, ranging from Farm Hand to Financial Adviser, Web Designer to Wine Merchant, all to support his writing addiction. Having begun with comic scripts, fantasy epics and science fiction, he turned his hand to the crime genre in 2005, writing a series of short stories featuring Inspector Tony McLean – the detective who gets assigned all the truly weird cases. Natural Causes is James’ first attempt at a full length crime novel. He currently lives in rural Wales with three dogs, one cat and a very understanding girlfriend.

Natural Causes

Someone is killing Edinburgh’s elder statesmen, cutting them open and removing bits, and it is up to Detective Inspector Anthony McLean to find whoever is responsible. But how are these deaths linked to the remains of a young girl, ritually murdered and walled up in a long-forgotten basement? And what has that to do with a series of violent suicides across the city?


Peter James Peacock

Pete Peacock was born in London in 1953 and always dreamt of being a writer. But it was only whilst convalescing from illness that he found time to pen his first novel, Stealing Thunder, a story that went on to be shortlisted for the 2004 Hodder & Stoughton sponsored Harry Bowling Award A longlisting followed in 2006, before his second work, The Heart of the Enemy secured success in two International Story competitions.

A move to the Isle of Man to write full time proved fruitful with his third novel, Towers of London, shortlisted in this years Debut Dagger Awards.

Towers of London

Two ambitious East Enders take on gangland London as they strive to rebuild their shattered city after the war.


Martie de Villiers

I'm 33, South African, originally from Johannesburg, but I have lived in London for the last four years. I became interested in writing after university and since my move to London I've attended several writing course, mostly at the London City University. I'm currently studying graphic design (part time) and I also work for a language school (also part time).

Solitaire

Two women, Ingrid, a diamond thief hoping to make a fresh start, and Amanda, a cop determined to make her pay for her crimes are thrown together in a chase through the Namib desert as they attempt to escape an armed gang after 10 million dollar's worth of diamonds that Ingrid has hidden and fully intends to keep.


The Debut Dagger Judges

Philip Gooden (Chair), author of historical mysteries and reference books on the English language, and Chair of the CWA

Emma Hargrave, Managing Editor, Tindal Street Press

Bill Massey, Editorial Director, Orion

Sara Menguc, Literary Agent

Keshini Naidoo, Assistant Editor, HarperCollins (Avon)

Sarah Turner, Senior Commissioning Editor, Transworld Publishers