Tough choice for judges of historical crime fiction prize
Rory Clements wins the CWA Ellis Peters Award
CJ Sansom comes a close second
Rory Clements has won the £3000 CWA Ellis Peters Historical Award 2010 with Revenger, published by John Murray. Responding to the announcement, he said “I am thrilled and very surprised. I didn't think I had a chance in such a strong shortlist.” The runner up was CJ Sansom, with Heartstone (Mantle).
CWA chair Tom Harper said: “The Ellis Peters Award has seen the judges given a really tough choice. The strength of the field confirms the robust health of historical fiction.” The judging panel was Sir Bernard Ingham, Barry Forshaw, Jake Kerridge, Eileen Roberts and Geoffrey Bailey. They said: “Two books were very close, which was unusual, and overall the standard was incredibly high.”
The winner was announced on Thursday November 4th, at an event at sponsor Little, Brown’s headquarters in London. Nominations closed on 1 August for books published between September 16 2009 and September 15 2010.
The other four books on the shortlist were highly commended:
Washington Shadow by Aly Monroe (John Murray)
Heresy by S J Parris (HarperCollins )
Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor (Michael Joseph)
To Kill A Tsar by Andrew Williams (John Murray)
The judges also mentioned several more books that just missed out:
The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag by Alan Bradley (Orion)
Let The Dead Lie by Malla Nunn (Mantle)
Assassin’s Prayer by Ariana Franklin (Bantam Press)
A Razor in Wrapped Silk by R N Morris (Faber and Faber)
Judges’ comments: This second novel to feature the Elizabethan ‘intelligencer’ John Shakespeare captures all the danger but also all the excitement of living in capricious times when a wrong word can get you sent to the Tower. An exuberant novel that revels in the sights and smells of Tudor England.
Rory Clements has had a long and successful newspaper career including being Features Editor and Associate Editor of Today, Editor of the Daily Mail’s Good Health Pages and, most recently, Editor of the health section at the Evening Standard. He is now writing full-time in an idyllic corner of Norfolk.
His website is www.roryclements.com
C J Sansom
Judges’ comments: Massive, colourful and ambitious, this is a double mystery for Sansom’s wily lawyer Mathew Shardlake. The background of Tudor England - with Henry’s ill-advised foreign wars having modern resonances - is a stunning backdrop.
C. J. Sansom was educated at Birmingham University, where he took a BA and then a Ph.D. in history. After working in a variety of jobs, he retrained as a solicitor and practised in Sussex, until becoming a full-time writer. He lives in Sussex.
Judges’ comments: This novel shows that your allies can do you as much harm as your enemies as MI6 agent Peter Cotton gets caught up in diplomatic intrigue in Washington. Monroe conjures up a world of murder and double dealing in beautifully lyrical prose.
Aly Monroe was born and educated in England. She has spent a large part of her life abroad – mostly in Spain, where she worked as a teacher, translator and voice-over, and ran Shakespeare workshops for teachers and actors. She is married and has three children.
Her official website is www.alymonroe.com
S J Parris
Judges’ comments: An astonishingly accomplished first outing for Giordano Bruno, monk, poet and sleuth, investigating skulduggery in Elizabethan Oxford. Parris has resurrected an undeservedly forgotten figure and her depiction of a society riven by religious intolerance is timely.
S.J.Parris is the pseudonym of Stephanie Merritt. Born in 1974, she has worked as a critic and feature writer for a variety of newspapers and magazines as well as radio and television. She currently writes for the Observer.
The Anatomy of Ghosts
Michael Joseph, Penguin Books
Judges’ comments: This is Andrew Taylor at his considerable best; a wonderfully atmospheric - and labyrinthine -- mystery set in a period Cambridge evoked with all the skill that Taylor is famous for.
Andrew Taylor won the 2009 Cartier Diamond Dagger, awarded for his sustained excellence in crime writing. He lives with his wife and two children in the Forest of Dean on the English/Welsh border.
His website is www.andrew-taylor.co.uk
To Kill A Tsar
Judges’ comments: Compromised characters with difficult moral choices are at the centre of To Kill a Tsar. Set in a strongly realised nineteenth-century St Petersburg and dealing with the first significant terrorist cell of the modern era, this is bravura storytelling.
Andrew Williams is an acclaimed BBC drama documentary producer and the author of two bestselling non-fiction books: The Battle of the Atlantic and D-Day to Berlin. To Kill a Tsar is his second book, after The Interrogator.
His website is www.andrewwilliams.tv
The CWA Ellis Peters Historical Award is sponsored by the Estate of Ellis Peters, Headline Book Publishing Company and Little, Brown Book Group. It is given to the best historical crime novel (set in any period up to 35 years prior to the year in which the award will be made) by an author of any nationality, and commemorates the life and work of Ellis Peters (Edith Pargeter) (1913-1995), a prolific author perhaps best known as the creator of Brother Cadfael.