The CWA John Creasey Dagger 2008
Winner: Matt Rees
Prize: £1,000, sponsored by BBC Audio Books
Matt Rees has won the 2008 John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger with The Bethlehem Murders, published by Atlantic Books. He was presented with his dagger and a cheque for £1000 by past CWA chairman Philip Gooden.
Writing later in his blog, Matt Rees said “It's a great thrill, recognition for my book and my work. The prize is a real dagger — I don't know how I'm going to get it through airport security and back to Jerusalem...”
The Crime Writers' Association's New Blood Dagger, for first books by previously unpublished writers, is awarded in memory of CWA founder John Creasey. 2008 marks the centenary of his birth, on September 17, 1908.
This year as last, the CWA and Duncan Lawrie Dagger Awards were presented at a black tie dinner at the elegant Four Seasons Hotel on Park Lane in London, in the presence of the guest of honour Gyles Brandreth. The event began with a drinks reception at 6:30pm, followed by dinner in the ballroom at 7:45pm, before the winners were announced.
In awarding the prize, the judges said: ‘The intensity and integrity of the novel gave it credibility and placed the crime into its social and political context. The scenes of destruction and terror in Bethlehem are well explored and the characterisation excellent. An excellent debut novel.’
Synopsis: For decades, Omar Yussef has been a teacher of history to the children of Bethlehem. When a favourite former pupil, George Saba, is arrested for collaborating with the Israelis in the killing of a Palestinian guerrilla, Yussef is convinced that he has been framed. With George facing imminent execution, Yussef sets out to prove his innocence. As Yussef falls foul of his headmaster and the local police chief, time begins to run out for Saba. Saba's home is bombed, members of his family are murdered. But with no one else willing to stand up for the truth, it is up to Yussef to act, even as bloodshed and heartbreak surround him.
Matt Rees is a mystery novelist who lives in Jerusalem. As a journalist, he has covered the Middle East for over a decade, with the vast majority of that time spent amongst Palestinians and Israelis. He was Time Magazine's Jerusalem bureau chief from June 2000 until January 2006, and was previously Middle East correspondent for The Scotsman. He was born in Wales in 1967 and studied at Oxford University and the University of Maryland. Rees wrote award-winning stories about the violence of the Aqsa intifada for Time. The Bethlehem Murders is published in the United States as The Collaborator of Bethlehem.
Matt Rees's web site is www.mattbeynonrees.com
The other shortlisted authors, all of whom will receive a year's free CWA membership, were:
|Zoë Ferraris||The Night of the the Mi’raj||Little, Brown|
|Elena Forbes||Die With Me||Quercus|
|Caro Ramsay||Absolution||Michael Joseph (Penguin)|
|Tom Rob Smith||Child 44||Simon & Schuster|
Follow the link for more details about those shortlisted books, and why the judges chose them.
Marion Arnott (Chair) - short story writer, winner of the CWA Short Story Dagger, 2001 and shortlisted twice
Dreda Say Mitchell - winner of the 2005 CWA John Creasey Dagger
Danuta Reah - crime writer, former Chair of the CWA from 2005-2006, and winner of the CWA Short Story Dagger in 2005, also writes as Carla Banks