Colin Cotterill and Margaret Murphy

Colin Cotterill with Margaret Murphy Photo: Fiona Davies

The CWA Dagger in the Library, 2009

Sponsor: The Random House Group

Colin Cotterill has won the 2009 CWA Dagger in the Library, which carries a prize of £1500 to the author, plus £300 to a participating library’s readers’ group.

This annual award is given to "the author of crime fiction whose work is currently giving the greatest enjoyment to library users"; authors are nominated by UK libraries and Readers’ Groups and judged by a panel of librarians. In making the award to Colin, the judges said An unusual hero in an unusual setting. Quirky, funny and very appealing. His books are a truly beautiful read.

The award is given for the body of an author's work, not for an individual title, and those nominated must be alive at the time of the nomination and should preferably be working in Britain. The broadest definition of the crime novelist is used; it can include authors of thrillers, suspense novels, spy fiction and period fiction as well as more traditional forms like "cosies", "hard-boiled" and police procedurals.

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 winner was announced at a drinks reception held at the Tiger Tiger nightspot in London on the evening of July 15 2009.

Colin Cotterill lives in Chumphone in the south of Thailand with his wife and several dogs. He has taught, trained teachers and worked for UNESCO in the region. For several years he was involved in the rehabilitation of abused and trafficked children. He now writes full time.

The Coroner's Lunch - Quercus (2007)
Thirty-Three Teeth - Quercus (2007)
Disco for the Departed - Quercus (2008)
Anarchy and Old Dogs - Quercus (2008)
Curse of the Pogo Stick - Quercus (2008)
The Merry Misogynist - Quercus (2009)

His publisher is Quercus and his web site is

In all six writers were shortlisted, about whom the judges said: ‘A very strong and varied list from which it was difficult to select the short list — reflecting the vigour and range of contemporary crime writing.’ The other five are listed below:

Here are more details of the shortlisted authors:

Simon Beckett

Simon Beckett

Judges’ comments: ‘His books are gripping right from the opening line and notable for descriptions of dead and decaying bodies. Excellently hidden twists and turns. Very sympathetic lead character.’

After an MA in English, Simon Beckett spent several years as a property repairer before teaching in Spain. Back in the UK, he played percussion in several bands. He has been a freelance journalist since 1992, writing for national British newspapers and magazines. Some of his more memorable assignments have included going on police drugs raids, touring brothels with a vice unit and trying to learn how to win a gun fight in Nevada. It was a visit to the Body Farm in Tennessee that was the inspiration behind the internationally bestselling David Hunter novels, which have now been translated into over 20 languages.

Simon Beckett is published by Bantam. His web site is

Bibliography - David Hunter novels:
Whispers of the Dead - Bantam Press (2009)
Written in Bone - Bantam Press (2008)
The Chemistry of Death - Bantam Press (2006)

Photo credit: Peter Dench

R J Ellory

R J Ellory

Judges’ comments: ‘Sensitively written. Full of depth. Multi-layered and with a real sense of place and an understanding, in the widest sense, of political manoeuverings.’

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 twelve years ago and hasn't stopped since. His novels include the bestselling A Quiet Belief In Angels, which was a Richard & Judy Book Club selection in 2008 and was shortlisted for numerous prizes. His other novels have been translated into nineteen additional languages and both City of Lies and Candlemoth were shortlisted for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger in 2007 and 2003 respectively. He is married with one son, and currently lives in England.

His publisher is Orion and his web site is

Candlemoth - Orion (2003)
Ghostheart - Orion (2004)
A Quiet Vendetta - Orion (2005)
City Of Lies - Orion (2006)
A Quiet Belief In Angels - Orion (2007)
A Simple Act Of Violence - Orion (2008)
The Anniversary Man - Orion (2009)

Ariana Franklin

Ariana Franklin

Judges’ comments: ‘Original, lively and colourful. Her novels allow the reader to learn effortlessly about little-known historical backgrounds’

Ariana Franklin was born in Devon and, like her father, became a journalist. At one point she was the youngest journalist on Fleet St, but she abandoned her career in national newspapers to settle down in the country, bring up two daughters, study medieval history and write. She is the author of a series of critically acclaimed historical thrillers featuring 12th century anatomist, Adelia Aguilar: Mistress of the Art of Death, winner of the 2007 CWA Ellis Peters Historical Award, The Death Maze, Relics of the Dead and forthcoming in July, The Assassin’s Prayer. Ariana is married to film critic and broadcaster Barry Norman and lives in Hertfordshire.

Her publisher is Bantam Press / Bantam and her web site is

Bibliography - The Mistress of the Art of Death series:
Mistress of the Art of Death - Bantam Press (2007)
The Death Maze (US title: The Serpent's Tale) - Bantam Press (2008)
Grave Goods - Bantam Press (2009)
The Assassin’s Prayer (US title: A Murderous Procession) - Bantam Press (July 2010)

Photo credit: © Mary Jane Russell

Peter James

Peter James

Judges’ comments: ‘Very authentic police procedurals with realistic settings. Dark and pacy.’

Peter James was educated at Charterhouse then at film school. He lived in North America for a number of years, working as a screenwriter and film producer before returning to England. His novels, including the number one bestseller Possession, have been translated into thirty languages and three have been filmed. All his novels reflect his deep interest in the world of the police, with whom he does in-depth research, as well as science, medicine and the paranormal. He has produced numerous films, including the The Merchant Of Venice, starring Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons and Joseph Fiennes. He divides his time between his homes in Notting Hill in London and near Brighton in Sussex.

His publisher is Pan Macmillan and his web site is

Bibliography - 19 books, the most recently the Detective Superintendent Roy Grace series:
Dead Simple - Macmillan (2005)
Looking Good Dead - Macmillan (2006)
Not Dead Enough - Macmillan (2007)
Dead Man's Footsteps - Macmillan (2008)
Dead Tomorrow - Macmillan (2009)

Photo credit: © Gareth Ransome

Michael Robotham

Michael Robotham

Judges’ comments: ‘Has an ability to write convincingly as varied, authentically-drawn characters’’

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, his third, The Night Ferry, was shortlisted for the 2007 CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for best thriller and for the 2007 Ned Kelly Award in Australia, and the fourth, Shatter, was also shortlisted for the Steel Dagger, in 2008.

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.

His publisher is Sphere and his website

The Suspect - Sphere (2004)
The Drowning Man - Sphere (2005)
The Night Ferry - Sphere (2007)
Shatter - Sphere (2008)


Chair: Mark Benjamin, formerly Team Librarian with Northumberland County Council

Vice-Chair: Cheney Gardner, Reading Development Manager, London Borough of Richmond on Thames

Wendy Molyneux, Community Access Librarian, Warrington Borough Council

Jonathan Gibbs, I.T. and Operations Librarian, Barbican Library, City of London

Karen Fraser, Customer Services Librarian, Shetland Library

Helen McNabb, Bibliographic Services Officer, Vale of Glamorgan Council

Deb Ryan, Senior Librarian Reader Services, RNIB National Library Services