William Brodrick

The CWA Gold Dagger 2009 Winner: William Brodrick

“I would like to dedicate this award to the memory of Harry Patch and the generation he came to represent.”

Prize: £2,500, sponsored by Booksdirect

London, Wednesday, 21st October, 2009: WILLIAM BRODRICK has won the 2009 CWA Gold Dagger and a cheque for £2500. He was presented with his award at The Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards 2009, a prestigious event hosted by comedian Alan Davies at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel.

The CWA Dagger Awards are the longest established literary awards in the UK and are internationally recognised as a mark of excellence and achievement. The Gold Dagger is the year’s top award, for the best crime novel written in English by an author of any nationality. William Brodrick has joined a long and illustrious line stretching back to 1955 and The Little Walls by Winston Graham, now best known as the author of the Poldark novels.

The judges described A Whispered Name as ‘A moving novel that stretches the parameters of the crime genre, intertwining past and present and throwing light on a neglected aspect of World War One.’ In accepting his award, William Brodrick said: “I find myself in the hinterland of speechlessness... I would like to dedicate this award to the memory of Harry Patch and the generation he came to represent.”

William Brodrick grew up in Britain, Australia and Canada, receiving various forms of Catholic education. On leaving school he became an Augustinian Friar. After completing his novitiate in Ireland, Brodrick was sent to a parish-based community in London while attending Heythrop College, where he took degrees in philosophy and theology. He subsequently left the Order and worked with the homeless, helping to set up a charity, the Depaul Trust.

He then studied law and began practise as a barrister, specialising in personal injury. Of his career at the bar, he says, ‘It was everything that I liked; courteous argument, independence of thought and a civilised environment’.

See William Brodrick talk about A Whispered Name on the Whole Story Audio Books website.

He lives with his wife and young children in France.

A Whispered Name

A Whispered Name

William Brodrick

Little, Brown

Synopsis: When Father Anselm meets Kate Seymour in the cemetery at Larkwood, he is dismayed to hear her allegation. Herbert Moore had been one of the founding fathers of the Priory, revered by all who met him, a man who'd shaped Anselm's own vocation. The idea that someone could look on his grave and speak of a lie is inconceivable. But Anselm soon learns that Herbert did indeed have secrets in his past that he kept hidden all his life. In 1917, during the terrible slaughter of the Passchendaele campaign, a soldier faced a court martial for desertion. Herbert, charged with a responsibility that would change the course of his life, sat upon the panel that judged him. In coming to understand the court martial, Anselm discovers its true significance: a secret victory that transformed the young Captain Moore and shone a light upon the horror of war.

The other shortlisted books (described in more detail below) were:

Kate Atkinson: When Will There Be Good News? (Black Swan/Transworld)
Mark Billingham: In the Dark (Little, Brown)
Lawrence Block: Hit and Run (Orion)
MR Hall: The Coroner (Pan Macmillan)
Gene Kerrigan: Dark Times In The City (Harvill Secker)

When Will There Be Good News?

When Will There Be Good News?

Kate Atkinson

Black Swan/Transworld

Synopsis: In rural Devon, six-year-old Joanna Mason witnesses an appalling crime. Thirty years later the man convicted of the crime is released from prison.

In Edinburgh, sixteen-year-old Reggie works as a nanny for a G.P. But Dr Hunter has gone missing and Reggie seems to be the only person who is worried.

Across town, Detective Chief Inspector Louise Monroe is also looking for a missing person, unaware that hurtling towards her is an old friend — Jackson Brodie — himself on a journey that becomes fatally interrupted.

Judges’ comments: ‘A multifaceted and thought-provoking exploration of the aftermath of a savage family killing.’

Kate Atkinson was born in York and now lives in Edinburgh. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award. She is the author of a collection of short stories, Not the End of the World, and of the critically acclaimed novels Human Croquet, Emotionally Weird, One Good Turn and Case Histories, which introduced her readers to Jackson Brodie, former police inspector turned private investigator. She was shortlisted for the 2007 Dagger in the Library.

In the Dark

In the Dark

Mark Billingham

Little, Brown

Synopsis: A rainy night in London. Shots are fired into a car which swerves on to the pavement, ploughing into a bus stop. It seems that a chilling gang initiation has cost an innocent victim their life. But the reality is far more sinister&helip;

One life is wiped out and three more are changed forever: the young man whose finger was on the trigger; an ageing gangster planning a deadly revenge, and the pregnant woman who struggles desperately to uncover the truth. Two weeks away from giving birth, how will she deal with a world where death is an occupational hazard?

In a city where violence can be random or meticulously planned, where teenage gangs clash with career criminals and where loyalty is paid for in blood, anything is possible. Secrets are uncovered as fast as bodies, and the story’s final twist is as breathtakingly surprising as they come.

Judges’ comments: ‘A cutting, topical take on drug crime in contemporary London, with a brilliantly engineered twist.’

Mark Billingham is a stand-up comedian, appearing regularly at the Comedy Store. He has also written drama for children's television, including Knight School which won the Royal Television Society Award for best children's drama.

Hit and Run

Hit and Run

Lawrence Block


Synopsis: When Keller gets the call to make a hit on a man in Iowa, he's tempted to pass. So far he's been lucky in his chosen profession, and he's got enough stashed away to retire. Just one more, he thinks. But he quickly finds that this job might not just mark the end of his career - it could be the end of him, period.

After three days in a motel room he realises he was never meant to make the hit - he was just supposed to take the fall when a prominent politician was gunned down by someone else. Suddenly he's on the run, all the evidence pointing the cops his way and literally nowhere to go.

Judges’ comments: ‘Immoral and highly entertaining, Block makes us root for his hitman anti-hero.’

Lawrence Block was awarded the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger in 2004. He is also a Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America. He is the author of many novels and short stories and has won numerous awards for his mystery writing. He lives and works in New York City.

The Coroner

The Coroner

MR Hall

Pan Macmillan

Synopsis: When lawyer, Jenny Cooper, is appointed Severn Vale District Coroner, she’s hoping for a quiet life and space to recover from a traumatic divorce, but the office she inherits from the recently deceased Harry Marshall contains neglected files hiding dark secrets and a trail of buried evidence.

Could the tragic death in custody of a young boy be linked to the apparent suicide of a teenage prostitute and the fate of Marshall himself? Jenny’s curiosity is aroused. Why was Marshall behaving so strangely before he died? What injustice was he planning to uncover? And what caused his abrupt change of heart?

In the face of powerful and sinister forces determined to keep both the truth hidden and the troublesome coroner in check, Jenny embarks on a lonely and dangerous one-woman crusade for justice which threatens not only her career but also her sanity.

Judges’ comments: ‘A very strong debut with a highly original female protagonist.’

M. R. Hall is a screenwriter and producer and former criminal barrister, a profession he left due to a constitutional inability to prosecute. Educated at Hereford Cathedral School and Worcester College, Oxford, he lives in the Wye Valley in Monmouthshire with his wife, journalist Patricia Carswell, and two sons. Aside from writing, his main passion is the preservation and planting of woodland. In his spare moments, he is mostly to be found amongst trees.

Dark Times In The City

Dark Times In The City

Gene Kerrigan

Harvill Secker

Synopsis: Danny Callaghan is having a quiet drink in a Dublin pub when two men with guns walk in. They're here to take care of a minor problem - petty criminal Walter Bennett. On impulse, Callaghan intervenes to save Walter's life. Soon, his own survival is in question. With a troubled past and an uncertain future, Danny finds himself drawn into a vicious scheme of revenge.

Dark Times in the City depicts an edgy city where affluence and cocaine fuel a ruthless gang culture, and a man’s fleeting impulse may cost the lives of those who matter most to him.

Judges’ comments: ‘The seamy and menacing side of a modern Dublin awash in a sea of cocaine and drug warfare.’

Gene Kerrigan grew up in Cabra West, Dublin. He was Journalist of the Year in 1985 and 1990. He is the author of a number of books, including the bestselling Hard Cases. He writes for the Sunday Independent in Dublin.


Dr Ann Ferguson is a retired consultant anaesthetist, with a longstanding fascination for crime writing. Since retiring, she has worked as a medical historian, with a particular interest in curare and arrow poisons.

Barry Forshaw’s books include British Crime Writing: An Encyclopedia, The Rough Guide to Crime Fiction and Italian Cinema. He has written for the Independent, the Express and The Times, and edits Crime Time.

Margaret Kinsman is a London-based academic with teaching and research interests in women's writing and crime and mystery fiction. She is Executive Editor of the scholarly publication CLUES: A Journal of Detection.

Heather O'Donoghue is Reader in Old Norse literature at Linacre College, University of Oxford. She regularly reviews crime fiction for the Times Literary Supplement, and is an avid reader of crime writing of all kinds.

Steve Pound worked on the London buses, as a seaman and for ten years as a hospital porter. A mature graduate of the London School of Economics and the Labour MP for Ealing North since 1997 Steve takes a keen interest in criminality and its literary depiction.

David Wilkerson is Commercial Manager for Publishing and Retail at the British Library. Formerly a manager for both Heffers of Cambridge and Ottakar's Bookstores, he lives in the Cambridgeshire Fens.

Richard Reynolds (Chair) is the organiser of regular events for readers of crime fiction at Heffers in Cambridge, including the annual Bodies in the Bookshop, and is an expert in crime fiction.