Ariana Franklin and Barry Norman

Ariana Franklin: winner of the 2010 CWA Dagger in the Library

Sponsor: The Random House Group

Prize: £1500 to the author, plus £300 to a participating library’s readers’ group

The CWA was saddened to learn of the death, on 27 January 2011, of Diana Norman, pictured above in 2007 with her husband Barry Norman. Writing as Ariana Franklin, she had won the 2010 Dagger in the Library, adding this Dagger to her 2007 CWA Ellis Peters Historical Award.

CWA Chair Tom Harper said “Ariana Franklin was a much-loved member of the CWA. The two Daggers she won - the Ellis Peters Award and the Dagger in the Library - show the high regard her books achieved from fans and critics alike. Her death robs crime writing of a rapidly rising talent, and the CWA of a valued friend.”

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. The Dagger was announced at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate on July 23rd. The judges said that Ariana Franklin’s books had a wonderful cast of characters. She wears her research lightly and highlights new aspects of the era.

Simon Beckett was highly commended.

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.

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 The Assassin’s Prayer. Ariana Franklin was married to film critic and broadcaster Barry Norman and lived in Hertfordshire.

Her books are published by Bantam Press / Bantam and her web site remains at

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 (2010)

All the book groups who nominated shortlisted authors are entered into a prize draw for two tickets to the Dagger Awards Ceremony. In addition, there is a prize of £300 to spend on books for the reading group who nominated the winner. This year, three groups nominated Ariana Franklin, and so the prize is shared equally between Canterbury WI Pageturners (Kent), Henry Bloom Noble Library (Douglas, Isle of Man) and Falkirk Library Book Group (Falkirk). The tickets to the awards ceremony were won by Canterbury WI Pageturners.

Authors like Val McDermid and Ian Rankin are well-known amongst the readers of crime fiction but, beneath the top rank of bestsellers are a host of writers, some new and some who have built loyal followings over the years but who have never quite broken through. It is to give a boost to these authors that the Crime Writers’ Association Dagger in the Library Award exists. Again sponsored by the publishers, Random House, the Dagger is awarded to a writer nominated by library users and chosen by a panel of librarians, all of whom work with the public. This year’s panel is chaired by Mark Benjamin, formerly Team Librarian at Hexham Library, and includes librarians from throughout the UK.

Overall the judges said: “The overall standard remains high. It appears to be harder for new authors to come through.” The other authors on this year’s shortlist were:

Simon Beckett
R J Ellory
Mo Hayder

Denise Mina
Chris Simms

Here are more details of the shortlisted authors:

Simon Beckett

Simon Beckett

Judges’ comments: ‘Exciting British addition to the forensic arena. Tackles different ground in each novel.’

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: ‘Beautifully crafted, matching lyrical prose with complex characters and taut storylines.’

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)

Mo Hayder

Mo Hayder

Judges’ comments: ‘Pacy writing. Seamlessly interweaves personal lives of police characters into the plots.’

After leaving school at fifteen, Mo Hayder worked as a barmaid, security guard, film-maker, hostess in a Tokyo club, educational administrator and teacher of English as a foreign language in Asia. She has an MA in creative writing from Bath Spa University, where she now teaches.

She is the author of Birdman, The Treatment, which won the 2001 WHSmith Thumping Good Read Award, Tokyo which was shortlisted for the CWA Gold and Silver Dagger Awards for Novels of the Year, 2004, and Pig Island.

Mo Hayder is published by Bantam. Her web site is

Birdman - Bantam Press (2001)
The Treatment - Bantam Press (2002)
The Devil of Nanking (original title Tokyo - Bantam Press (2004)
Pig Island - Bantam Press (2006)
Ritual - Bantam Press (2008)
Skin - Bantam Press (2009)
Gone - Bantam Press (2010)

Photo credit: Isolde Baum

Denise Mina

Denise Mina

Judges’ comments: ‘Good plots, strong female characters, excellent dialogue. Brings working class Glasgow to life.’

Denise Mina was born in Glasgow in 1966. She left school at sixteen and did a number of poorly paid jobs. Eventually she settled in auxiliary nursing for geriatric and terminal care patients.

At twenty one she started Law school at Glasgow University and went on to research a PhD thesis at Strathclyde University, teaching criminology and criminal law in the meantime. Misusing her grant she stayed at home and wrote Garnethill when she was supposed to be studying instead.

Garnethill won the 1998 CWA John Creasey Dagger and was the start of a trilogy. The Field of Blood started a new series of books following the career and life of journalist Paddy Meehan from the newsrooms of the early 1980s and 1990s.

She has also written a year-long run of Hellblazer for DC Comics and the graphic novel A Sickness in the Family. Her first play Ida Tamson was staged in 2006. In between writing she raises children, mooches about eating toast and listens to thrash metal.

Her publisher is now Orion and her website


Garnethill trilogy
Garnethill - Transworld (1998)
Exile - Transworld (2000)
Resolution - Transworld (2001)

Paddy Meehan novels
The Field of Blood - Transworld (2004)
The Dead Hour - Transworld (2006)
The Last Breath (US title: A Slip of the Knife - Transworld (2007)

Other novels
Sanctum - Transworld (2003)
Still Midnight - Transworld (2009)

Photo credit: © Tim Duncan

Chris Simms

Chris Simms

Judges’ comments: ‘Manchester-set police procedural. Well researched and finely plotted.’

Chris Simms has worked in airports, nightclubs, post offices and telesales centres. After travelling throughout the world he settled near Manchester. Along with previous nominations for Crime Writer’s Association Daggers and the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year, Chris was selected by Waterstone’s as one of their ‘25 Authors for the Future’. He is married with four children and works as a freelance copywriter.

His publisher is Orion and his website

Outside the White Lines - Random House (2003)
Pecking Order - Random House (2004)

Jon Spicer series
Killing the Beasts - Orion (2005)
Shifting Skin - Orion (2006)
Savage Moon - Orion (2007)
Hell's Fire - Orion (2008)
The Edge - Orion (2009)
Cut Adrift - Orion (2010)


Mark Benjamin (Chair) worked as a semi-detached Team Librarian (aka “loose cannon”) with Northumberland libraries from 1980 until 2009 – which probably explains his preference for “loner” crime-fighters from Falco to Robicheaux . Now a free-lance online bookseller.

Cheney Gardner (Vice-Chair) is currently the Reader and Community Services Manager at the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. She has worked in public libraries for about 7 years, many of them spent happily supporting reading groups and promoting reading. She is an avid reader herself and loves a good mystery.

Karen Fraser is Customer Service Librarian with Shetland Library, Britain's most northerly library service. She has reading tastes as wide as her mood swings, but likes to spend the long dark winters immersed in the foulest depths of the crime writers' art.

When Viki Lagus has finished developing the library community in South Tyneside, there is nothing she likes better than surrounding herself with toppling towers of crime fiction books and deciding which one to go for next..!

John Martin is a veteran librarian, patrolling the mean streets of Leicestershire upholding the good name of crime fiction against literary gangsters, saga writers and the hidden underworld of The Booker Prize.

Helen McNabb is the stock manager for the Vale of Glamorgan libraries. She has been working in public libraries for 19 years, and is a keen reader enjoying crime, science fiction and non fiction, and enjoys having new writers suggested by the nominations for the Dagger in the Library

Deborah Ryan currently works at RNIB's National Library Service where she manages a team who help blind and partially sighted readers to get the best out of the meagre 5% of books published in accessible formats. She enjoys a good old-fashioned whodunnit but has discovered new and exciting crime genres while being a Dagger judge.