Tom Rob Smith

Photo: © CJ Bauer

The CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger 2008
Winner: Tom Rob Smith with Child 44

Prize: £2000, sponsor: Ian Fleming Publications Ltd

Tom Rob Smith has won the 2008 CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger with Child 44, published by Simon & Schuster. Uniquely for this award, the judges have Highly Commended David Stone for The Echelon Vendetta (Penguin).

2008 marks the centenary of Ian Fleming's birth, and Tom was presented with his dagger and the £2000 cheque by Corinne Turner, managing director of Ian Fleming Publications, at the Awards Dinner held at the Four Seasons Hotel in London's Park Lane on Thursday 10th July.

Judges’ comments: ‘This powerful debut evokes the double unthink disorientation and paranoia of the Stalinist era, while never losing sight of the more intimate story. Location and period take it a notch above the usual serial killer narrative.’

Child 44 Synopsis: MGB officer Leo Demidov is a man who never questions the Party Line. He arrests whomever he is told to arrest. He dismisses the horrific death of a young boy because he is told to, because he believes the Party stance that there can be no murder in Communist Russia. Leo is the perfect soldier of the regime. But suddenly his confidence that everything he does serves a great good is shaken. He is forced to watch a man he knows to be innocent be brutally tortured. And then he is told to arrest his own wife. Leo understands how the State works: Trust and check, but check particularly on those we trust. He faces a stark choice: his wife or his life. And still the killings of children continue ...

Tom Rob Smith was born in l979 to a Swedish mother and an English father and was brought up in London where he still lives. He graduated from Cambridge in 2001 and spent a year in Italy on a creative writing scholarship. Tom has worked as a screenwriter for the past five years, including a six-month stint in Phnom Penh storylining Cambodia's first ever soap.

He has decided to donate his winner's cheque to the National Library for the Blind. For several years now, the CWA has supported the NLB and all of the winning books have been transcribed into Braille, thanks to a grant from the Foyle Foundation.

Child 44 was also shortlisted for the 2008 John Creasey New Blood Dagger and has subsequently (July 29th) made the longlist for the 2008 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

Overall the judges commented: ‘Amongst an avalanche of formulaic and derivative submissions, it was refreshing to find a core of distinctive and genuinely thrilling novels.’ The other books on the shortlist were:

Mo HayderRitualTransworld
Gregg HurwitzI See YouLittle, Brown
Michael RobothamShatterSphere (Little, Brown)

Follow the link for more details about those shortlisted books, and why the judges chose them:


Corinne Turner (Chair): managing Director of Ian Fleming Publications Ltd.

Charlie Higson: Author of four adult thrillers and the Young Bond series for children, as well as numerous TV comedy projects including The Fast Show.

Michael Jecks: Author of twenty-five books in the Templar Series, founder of Medieval Murderers, ex-Chairman of the CWA and Morris Dancer!

Simon Robertson: Buyer for Waterstones Bookseller Ltd.

Zoë Watkins: Publishing Manager of Ian Fleming Publications Ltd.

Gordon Wise: Former bookseller and publisher, now literary agent.