Ryan David Jahn wins the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger 2010
Simply being listed alongside such talents as the other finalists was an honour. To win, and be brought into the company of writers such as Walter Mosley and Minette Walters, who have gone on to such fine careers, is unbelievable — an indescribable thrill.
Ryan David Jahn has won the 2010 CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger and the prize of £1000 for Acts of Violence, published by Macmillan New Writing. The judges described his book as “ A very accomplished debut, a gripping thriller based on a real event in 60’s America. Moving quickly from perspective to perspective, it scoops the reader up from page one and does not let go. This is not only a crime novel, but a brilliant evocation of 60’s New York in terms of its prejudices, its corruption and its humanity.”
Our photo (© 2010 Fiona Davies) shows Ryan David Jahn (right) with CWA Chair Tom Harper.
This award is made in memory of CWA founder John Creasey, for first books by previously unpublished writers. The announcement was made at the Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards, held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on October 8th. The Awards ceremony was also screened on ITV3 during the following week.
Ryan David Jahn grew up in Arizona, Texas and California. He left school at sixteen to work in a record store and subsequently joined the army. Since 2004 he has worked in television and film. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife Mary.
His website is ryandavidjahn.com Here he talks about the book:
The other three finalists were:
Rupture, Simon Lelic (Picador)
The Holy Thief, William Ryan (Mantle )
The Pull of the Moon, Diane Janes (Robinson)
These books were chosen from the eight books shortlisted on July 23rd. CWA Chairman Tom Harper said then: “The shortlists this year are incredibly strong, and that for the John Creasey has some exciting new talents, all working at the top of their game.”
The CWA Dagger Awards are the longest established literary awards in the UK and are internationally recognised as a mark of excellence and achievement.
Acts of Violence,
Ryan David Jahn
Synopsis: Katrina Marino is about to become America’s most infamous murder victim. This is Katrina’s story, and the story of her killer. It is also the story of Katrina’s neighbours, those who witnessed her murder and did nothing: the terrified Vietnam draftee; the woman who thinks she’s killed a child, and her husband who will risk everything for the truth; the former soldier planning suicide and the man who saves him. And others whose lives are touched by the crime: the elderly teacher whose past is catching up with him; the amateur blackmailer who’s about to find out just what sort of people he’s been threatening; the corrupt cop who believes he is God’s ‘red right hand’.
Judges’ comments: A very accomplished debut, a gripping thriller based on a real event in 60’s America. Moving quickly from perspective to perspective, it scoops the reader up from page 1 and does not let go. This is not only a crime novel, but a brilliant evocation of 60’s New York in terms of its prejudices, its corruption and its humanity.
Synopsis: In the depths of a sweltering summer, teacher Samuel Szajkowski walks into his school assembly and opens fire. He kills three pupils and a colleague before turning the gun on himself. Lucia May, the young policewoman who is assigned the case, is expected to wrap up things quickly and without fuss. The incident is a tragedy that could not have been predicted and Szajkowski, it seems clear, was a psychopath beyond help.
Soon, however, Lucia becomes preoccupied with the question no one else seems to want to ask: what drove a mild-mannered, diffident school teacher to commit such a despicable crime? Piecing together the testimonies of the teachers and children at the school, Lucia discovers an uglier, more complex picture of the months leading up to the shooting. She realises too that she has more in common with Szajkowski than she could have imagined. As the pressure to bury the case builds, she becomes determined to tell the truth about what happened, whatever the consequence.
Judges’ comments: Not all victims are innocent and not all perpetrators are guilty. This book explores the reconstruction of a horrific crime with its background and its complex motivations in the everyday context of an urban school. Where does autocracy end and where does bullying begin?
Simon Lelic has worked as a journalist and currently runs his own business. He was born in Brighton in 1976 and recently returned with his family to live there.
The Holy Thief
Synopsis: Moscow, 1936 and Stalin's Great Terror is beginning. In a deconsecrated Church, a young woman is found dead, her mutilated body displayed on the altar for all to see.
Captain Alexei Dimitrevich Korolev, finally beginning to enjoy the benefits of his success with the Criminal Investigation Division of the Moscow Militia, is asked to investigate. But when he discovers that the victim is an American citizen, the NKVD -the most feared organisation in Russia- becomes involved. Soon, Korolev's every move is under close scrutiny and one false move will mean exile to The Zone, where the enemies of the Soviet State, both real and imagined, meet their fate in the frozen camps of the far north.
Committed to uncovering the truth behind this gruesome murder, Korolev,enters the realm of the Thieves, who run Moscow's underworld. And as more bodies are discovered and the pressure from above builds, Korolev begins to question who he can trust; and who, in this Russia where fear, uncertainty and hunger prevails, are the real criminals. Soon, Korolev will find not only his moral and political ideals threatened, but also his life …
Judges’ comments: This book gives the reader a powerful evocation of Stalin’s Russia where the need for unequivocal compliance with the new regime contrast with the optimism based on Stalin’s promises of change. Interwoven with this background is a tense, well-realised crime narrative of torture and violence that enmeshes an uneasy star of the Russian police, Alexei Korolev.
William Ryan is an Irish writer who has lived in London for a number of years. After leaving Ireland after university, he practised briefly as a barrister in London. In his spare time, he wrote on an occasional basis for television and film before deciding to take writing more seriously. He completed a Masters in Creative Writing at St Andrews University in 2005. The Holy Thief is the first in a series of cases and adventures for Alexei Korolev. William is married and lives in West London.
The Pull of the Moon
Constable and Robinson
Synopsis: Knowledge is power, but secrets are more powerful still… secrets have a life of their own and a way of working themselves to centre stage.
When Kate Mayfield receives a letter from Mrs Ivanisovic, she realises that the secret she has kept for more than thirty years is not so safe as she imagined. Haunted by the echoes of a vanished summer which changed her life for ever, Kate is forced to confront memories she would rather forget… a dead white face in a flickering beam, not flinching when the soil hit it… Mrs Ivanisovic is dying and demands to be told the truth, but is Kate’s story of love, lies and murder really what Mrs Ivanisovic wants to hear? And how much does she herself already know?
Judges’ comments: A powerful psychological thriller in the vein of the early Barbara Vine. Four youngsters come together in an isolated country house where petty jealousies and grudges lead to catastrophic consequences.
Diane Janes grew up in Birmingham. In between marrying and raising two children she worked in seemingly every field, from mortgages to engineering, until eventually she gave up the day job to write full time. This resulted in two shortlistings for the CWA Debut Dagger and subsequent publication. Diane has lived in the north of England for the last twenty years. When not writing or lecturing she enjoys travel and watching tennis.
Her website is www.dianejanes.50webs.com
The other four books that were shortlisted are:
Cut Short, Leigh Russell (No Exit Press)
Martyr, Rory Clements (John Murray)
Random, Craig Robertson (Simon & Schuster)
Stop Me, Richard Jay Parker (Allison & Busby)
No Exit Press
Synopsis: When D.I. Geraldine Steel relocates to the quiet rural town of Woolsmarsh, she expects to find her new home to be somewhere where nothing much ever happens; a space where she can battle her demons in private. But when she finds herself pitted against a twisted killer preying on local young women she quickly discovers how wrong she is... By day, the park is a place for children's games, for people walking their dogs or taking a short cut to avoid the streets. But in the shadows a predator prowls, hunting for a fresh victim.
When an unwitting bystander comes forward as a witness she quickly becomes the next object of his murderous obsessions - someone whom the killer must stop at all costs. D.I. Geraldine Steel is locked into a race against time, determined to find the killer before they discover yet another naked corpse . But can she save the lives of the town's young women - or will Geraldine herself become the killer's ultimate trophy?
Judges’ comments: A book that combines psychological writing with police procedural. A police detective in search of sanctuary finds herself involved in a vicious case of murder. Strong story-telling draws the reader in to this disturbing debut novel that uses settings from Christie with a much darker plot line.
Leigh Russell is a secondary school English teacher, specialising in supporting pupils with Specific Learning Difficulties. She is married with two daughters and lives in Hertfordshire.
Read Leigh Russell’s blog
Synopsis: England is close to war. Within days the axe could fall on the neck of Mary Queen of Scots, and Spain is already gathering a battle fleet to avenge her. Tensions in Elizabeth I’s government are at breaking point. At the eye of the storm is John Shakespeare, chief intelligencer in the secret service of Sir Francis Walsingham.
When an intercept reveals a plot to assassinate England’s ‘sea dragon’, Francis Drake, Shakespeare is ordered to protect him. With Drake on land fitting out his ships, he is frighteningly vulnerable. If he dies, England will be open to invasion. In a London rife with rumour, Shakespeare must decide which leads to follow, which to ignore.
When a high-born young woman is found mutilated and murdered at an illicit printing house, it is political gunpowder – and he has no option but to investigate. But why is Shakespeare shadowed at every turn by the brutal Richard Topcliffe, the blood-drenched priest-hunter who claims intimacy with Queen Elizabeth herself?
Judges’ comments: A fast moving historical crime novel set in Elizabethan England with its turbulent politics, violence and corruption. This book provides a gripping narrative that recreates the complexities of the Shakespearian world from brothel to court.
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
Simon and Schuster
Synopsis: Glasgow is being terrorised by a serial killer the media have nicknamed The Cutter. The murders have left the police baffled. There seems to be neither rhyme nor reason behind the killings; no kind of pattern or motive; an entirely different method of murder each time, and nothing that connects the victims except for the fact that the little fingers of their right hands have been severed. If DS Rachel Narey could only work out the key to the seemingly random murders, how and why the killer selects his victims, she would be well on her way to catching him. But as the police, the press and a threatening figure from Glasgow's underworld begin to close in on The Cutter, his carefully-laid plans threaten to unravel - with horrifying consequences.
Judges’ comments: Random murders unleash gangland warfare in an accomplished and unusual story, told from the killer’s perspective. The police are on the trail of a serial killer who seems to be truly random in his selection of victims. An intriguing book with a new take on an old theme.
During his 20-year career with the Sunday Post in Glasgow, Craig Robertson has interviewed three recent Prime Ministers; attended major stories including 9/11, Dunblane, the Omagh bombing and the disappearance of Madeleine McCann; been pilloried on breakfast television, beaten Oprah Winfrey to a major scoop, been among the first to interview Susan Boyle, spent time on Death Row in the USA and dispensed polio drops in the backstreets of India.
Richard Jay Parker
Allison & Busby
Synopsis: Leo Sharpe’s life is shattered when his wife Laura suddenly disappears. His desperate need to find her turns to obsession when he becomes convinced she’s the latest victim of The Vacation Killer who has claimed eleven lives already – is Laura going to be the twelfth?
The MO is the same every time – a woman disappears and within hours inboxes around the world receive a threatening email. A few days later, grim evidence of the victim’s death is delivered to the police. But in Laura’s case, nothing is sent. Has the killer spared her life? Why? And for how long? For Leo, the clock is ticking…he needs to do everything in his power to stop the killer before it’s too late.
Judges’ comments: A race against time as a man tries desperately quest to save his wife, apparently kidnapped by a relentless serial killer. All the other victims have died after their relatives receive an e-mail challenging them to stop the killer. This is a book that challenges expectations and develops in an unexpected way.
Richard Jay Parker was born in South Wales but moved to London where he enjoyed a successful career as a TV scriptwriter. He now lives in Salisbury.
His website is www.richardjayparker.com
Danuta Reah (Chair) is a crime writer who also writes as Carla Banks. She is an educational consultant who has also taught creative writing. She lives in Sheffield and has written six novels and three non-fiction books.
Chris Simmons is co-founder and, for the past five years, Online Editor of the highly successful UK review fansite, CRIMESQUAD.COM. He possesses an encyclopaedic knowledge of the crime and thriller genre and has a special interest in promoting the work of new authors.
Rhian Davies has a background of pedantry gained in the audit profession, and started blogging about crime fiction in 2005. She has focused on debut authors and those she feels deserve a wider audience in the rich world of the genre.
To be eligible in this round, books must have had their first UK publication between 1 June 2009 and 31 May 2010.