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The CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger

Shortlist

Out of the many exciting submissions received this year, from established names and newcomers alike, the judges were particularly pleased to see some powerful fresh explorations of the genre. Themes ran from present day spies and terrorism to a focus on psychological edge, and we read explosive storylines alongside those with harrowing personal repercussions for the protagonists. Gillian Flynn was chosen as winner of the 2007 Ian Fleming Steel Dagger from a shortlist of seven. The other six names on the shortlist were:

Alex Berenson - The Faithful Spy - Random House
Harlan Coben - The Woods - Orion
RJ Ellory - City of Lies - Orion

Michael Marshall - The Intruders - HarperCollins
Michael Robotham - The Night Ferry - Little, Brown
Karin Slaughter - Triptych - Random House

Here are more details about the shortlisted books, and why the judges chose them:


The Faithful Spy

Alex Berenson

The Faithful Spy

Random House

John Wells, the only American ever to penetrate al Qaeda, has been undercover so long that the CIA is no longer sure he’s loyal – or even alive. Since before the attacks in 2001, Wells has been hiding in the mountains of Pakistan, biding his time, building his cover. Now, on the orders of Omar Khadri – the mastermind spearheading al Qaeda attacks on America – Wells is coming home. Neither Khadri nor Jennifer Exley, Wells’s CIA case officer, quite know what to expect.

During his years in the mountains, Wells has become a Muslim and begun to doubt the Americans’ agenda. Yet he hates al Qaeda and the way it uses Islam to justify its murderous assaults on innocents. He is a man alone, and the CIA does not know whether to trust him. But as their high-tech intelligence gathering strategy fails and Khadri moves closer to unleashing the most devastating terrorist attack in history, Wells and Exley know they must find a way to stop him, with or without the government’s approval.

Alex Berenson

Judges’ comments:
‘A very assured first novel, exciting, well-informed and engrossing with the most mature take on the threat of terrorism from Al Qaeda in this year's crop of thrillers. An excellent read.’

Alex Berenson is a reporter for The New York Times who has covered topics ranging from the occupation of Iraq to the flooding of New Orleans. He graduated from Yale University in 1994 with degrees in history and economics. This is his first novel. He lives in New York City.


The Woods
 
Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben

The Woods

Orion

Twenty years ago, Paul Copeland's sister was among four teenagers who disappeared in the woods at a summer camp. Now raising a daughter alone, after the death of his wife, he balances family life with a career as a prosecutor. But when a homicide victim is found with evidence linking him to Copeland, the well-buried secrets of the past are threatening everything. Is this body one of the campers who disappeared with his sister? Could his sister be alive? Copeland has to confront so much he left behind that summer 20 years ago: his first love, Lucy, his mother who abandoned the family, and the secrets that his parents might have been hiding even from their own children. He must decide what is better left hidden in the dark and what truths can be brought to the light. And can he find absolution?

Judges’ comments:
‘Gripping. This departure from his usual series crackles along with excellent dialogue and fast-paced plot. A really good blend of past intrigue and present dangers.’

Harlan Coben was the first ever author to win all three major crime awards in the US. He is now global bestseller with his mix of powerful stand-alone thrillers and Myron Bolitar crime novels. He has appeared worldwide in the bestseller lists. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and four children.

Author website: www.harlancoben.com


City of Lies
 
RJ Ellory

RJ Ellory

City of Lies

Orion

John Harper's mother died when he was just seven years old and he was raised in New York by an aunt he barely knew. He never knew his father - he died shortly after he was born. He was living a comfortable existence in Miami until one liquor store heist that goes wrong turns John's existence on its head. It seems that his father didn't die all those years ago - in fact, he has thrived in the New York underworld. But now the man himself lies critically injured in a Manhattan hospital and it's time for father and son to meet at last. And it seems that John's father was working on something when he got caught in the heist - something very big indeed. And powerful people all over the city want in on it. The only problem is that the only person with the key to it is John...

Judges’ comments:
‘Told in a unique style, peopled with highly believable characters with dialogue that is evocative of 1940s classic noir. New York City lives and breathes in this distinctive thriller.’

R.J. Ellory originally studied graphics and photography, he intended to pursue a career in photojournalism, but for many reasons - all of them well within his control - this never came to fruition. He started writing more than ten years ago and hasn't stopped since. His novels have been translated into Italian, German and Dutch, and his novel Candlemoth was also shortlisted for the Steel Dagger in 2003. He divides his time between his work as a novelist and voluntary programmes in the areas of drug rehabilitaion and youth literacy. He is married with one son, and lives in England.

Author website: www.rogerjonellory.com


The Intruders

Michael Marshall

The Intruders

HarperCollins

Jack Whalen was an LAPD patrol cop for twelve years. He left under a cloud and now he's not really sure what he is. One thing he does know is that he loves his wife, Amy. So when she goes missing his world is shaken. Jack sets out to search for her, only to discover that there is something far more mysterious going on than her apparent disappearance. Then Jack is contacted by a childhood acquaintance, now a lawyer, who wants Jack's help in solving a puzzle that involves some unsolved slayings: could there be more to his sudden reappearance in Jack's life than he's letting on? Meanwhile, a ten-year-old girl goes missing after an encounter with a sinister stranger. It gradually becomes clear, however, that she's very far from defenceless... Searching for answers in the dark secrets of a past that still haunts him, Jack discovers that the truth has roots deeper and darker than he ever feared.

Michael Marshall

Image copyright ©
Steve Double 2006

Judges’ comments:
‘A book that is impossible to put down. It has pace, a marvellously believable lead character, and a plot that grips all the way through to a surprising conclusion.’

Michael Marshall (Smith) is a bestselling novelist and screenwriter. His first novel, Only Forward, won the August Derleth and Philip K. Dick awards. Spares and One of Us were optioned for film by DreamWorks and Warner Brothers. The Straw Men trilogy - The Straw Men, The Lonely Dead and Blood of Angels - were international bestsellers. He is a three-time winner of the BFS Award for short fiction, and his stories are collected in two volumes - What You make It and More Tomorrow and other stories (which won the International Horror Guild Award).

He lives in North London with his wife Paula, a son and two cats. Author website: www.michaelmarshallsmith.com


The Night Ferry

Michael Robotham

The Night Ferry

Little, Brown

Struggling detective Alisha Barba is trying to get her life back on track after almost being crippled by a murder suspect. Now on her feet again she receives a desperate plea from an old school friend, who is eight months pregnant and in trouble. On the night they arrange to meet, her friend is run down and killed by a car and Alisha discovers the first in a series of haunting and tragic deceptions. She embarks upon a dangerous journey that will take her from London's East End to Amsterdam's red light district and into a violent underworld of sex trafficking, slavery and exploitation.

Michael Rowbotham

© Mike Newling

Judges’ comments:
‘Very involving and accomplished, especially in the portrayal of the female Sikh lead character. Robotham handles his subject with great deftness and perception in this modern take on people smuggling.’

Michael Robotham was born in Australia in 1960, and grew up in small country towns before starting a career as a journalist in 1979 on a newspaper in Sydney. For the next fourteen years he worked for newspapers in Australia, Europe, Africa and America. In 1993 he quit journalism to become a ghostwriter, collaborating with politicians, pop stars, psychologists, adventurers and showbusiness personalities to write their autobiographies.

His first novel The Suspect, acieved international success and his second The Drowning Man, won the Ned Kelly Award in 2005. Michael can most often be found working in his 'pit of despair' (basement office) on Sydney's northern beaches where he funds the extravagent lifestyles of a wife and three daughters.

Author website: www.michaelrobotham.com


Triptych

Karin Slaughter

Triptych

Random House

When Atlanta police detective Michael Ormewood is called out to a murder scene at the notorious Grady Homes, he finds himself faced with one of the the most brutal killings of his career. As a one-off killing it's shocking, but when it becomes clear that it's just the latest in a series of similar attacks, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are called in, and Michael is forced into working with Special Agent Will Trent of the Criminal Apprehension Team - a man he instinctively dislikes. But then, only twenty-four hours later, the violence Michael sees around him every day explodes in his own back yard. And it seems the mystery behind the first death is inextricably entangled with a past that refuses to stay buried ...

Karin Slaughter

Judges’ comments:
‘Compulsive reading. Slaughter has moved away from her series to produce a skilfully and confidently written analysis of a killer and how his crimes over time have affected him and those around him. Utterly convincing and hideously believable.’

Karin Slaughter grew up in a small south Georgia town and has been writing short stories and novels since she was a child. She is also the author of the bestselling novels Blindsighted, Kisscut, A Faint Cold Fear, and Indelible - all set in Grant County. Triptych is her first standalone novel. In 2007 she will return to Grant County with Skin Privilege.

Author website: www.karinslaughter.co.uk


This year's CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger judges

Corinne Turner (Non-Judging Chair) - Managing Director, Ian Fleming Publications

Seraphina Granelli - head of retail with Millivres Prowler, Europe’s biggest gay and lesbian publisher and retailer, and former manager of Waterstone’s, Piccadilly

Michael Jecks - founder member of Medieval Murderers, author of the Templar series, former Chair of the CWA.

Mike Stotter - editor of Shots e-zine, award-winning children’s author

Zoë Watkins - Publishing Manager of Ian Fleming Publications

Gordon Wise - former bookseller and publisher with Pan Macmillan and John Murray, now a literary agent