Gene Kerrigan and M.C. Beaton

Photo: ITV

Gene Kerrigan wins the CWA Gold Dagger 2012

Sponsored by Constable & Robinson

Gene Kerrigan has won the illustrious £2,500 CWA Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel of the Year for his novel The Rage, beating off competition from NJ Cooper, MR Hall and Chris Womersley. The Judges described his novel as “… a complex noir thriller that’s multi-layered and solidly written, with great style and pace. The depiction of post-crash Dublin has a real sense of menace and threat throughout.”

Bestselling author M.C. Beaton, pictured above with Gene Kerrigan, presented him with his cheque and Dagger at the Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards, which took place in a glittering ceremony at Grosvenor House, London, on Thursday.

Responding to his success, Gene Kerrigan commented: “I’m aware of the writers who have previously received the Gold Dagger and I’m honoured to have my name on the same page.”

The Rage

The Rage

Gene Kerrigan


Synopsis: Vincent Naylor is a professional thief, as confident as he is reckless. Just ten days out of jail, and he’s preparing his next robbery. Already, his plan is unravelling. While investigating the murder of a crooked banker, Detective Sergeant Bob Tidey gets a call from an old acquaintance, Maura Coady. The retired nun believes there’s something suspicious happening in the Dublin backstreet where she lives alone. Maura’s call inadvertently unleashes a storm of violence that will engulf Vincent Naylor and force Tidey to make a deadly choice. The Rage is a masterpiece of suspense, told against the background of a country’s shameful past and its troubled present.

Veteran journalist Gene Kerrigan is the author of four novels, the most recent of which, Dark Times in the City, was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger in 2009.

Order The Rage from Amazon UK

The other books on the shortlist were:

Vengeance in Mind

N.J. Cooper

Simon & Schuster

Vengeance in Mind

Synopsis: Sir Dan Blackwater, well known businessman and philanthropist is found dead one morning in his home on the Isle of Wight. Pinned to the kitchen table with butcher’s knives, he has been castrated in what looks like a gruesome act of revenge. The only other person on the scene is his own PA, Sheena. But when DCI Charlie Trench brings her in for questioning, he discovers that she can’t remember a thing about the events of last night - the shock seems to have caused her to lose her memory.

Unsure whether to believe Sheena’s story, Trench calls in forensic psychologist Karen Taylor to help unblock Sheena’s memory. But as Karen begins her investigation, she will discover there is much more to the Blackwaters than ever met the public eye. And as she lifts the lid on a truly scandalous history, she will put herself in more danger than she could possibly imagine.

The Judges said: “Forensic psychologist Karen Taylor returns in a careful and convincing story with a shocker of an opening, a strong romantic theme, great pace and plotting. The characters are particularly well developed.”

An ex-publisher, past Chair of the Crime Writers' Association, and lifelong Londoner, N J Cooper writes for a variety of newspapers and journals and contributes to many radio programmes such as Woman's Hour and Saturday Review. In 2002 she was shortlisted for the Dagger in the Library, an award that ‘goes to the author whose work has given most pleasure to readers’.

Her website is

Order Vengeance in Mind from Amazon UK

The Flight

M.R. Hall


The Flight
M.R. Hall

Synopsis: When Flight 189 plunges into the Severn Estuary, Coroner Jenny Cooper finds herself handling the case of a lone sailor whose boat appears to have been sunk by the stricken plane, and drawn into the mysterious fate of a ten year-old girl, Amy Patterson, a passenger on 189, whose largely unmarked body is washed up alongside his.

While a massive and highly secretive operation is launched to recover clues from the wreckage, Jenny begins to ask questions the official investigation doesn’t want answered. How could such a high tech plane – virtually impregnable against human error – fail? What linked the high powered passengers who found themselves on this ill-fated flight? And how did Amy Patterson survive the crash, only to perish hours later? Under pressure from Amy’s grieving mother, and opposed by those at the very highest levels of government, Jenny must race against time to seek the truth behind this terrible disaster, before it can happen again.

The Judges said: “Coroner Jenny Cooper attempts to tackle the fall-out after air disaster in Severn estuary. Good balance of the domestic and the professional together with high-tech detail make this an absolutely fascinating and chillingly plausible read.”

M.R. Hall is a screenwriter and producer and former criminal barrister. Educated at Hereford Cathedral School and Worcester College, Oxford, he lives in the Wye Valley in Monmouthshire with his wife and two sons. Also available in the Coroner Jenny Cooper series: The Coroner, The Disappeared, The Redeemed.

His website is

Order The Flight from Amazon UK


Chris Womersley


Chris Womersley

Synopsis: A CRIME UNSPEAKABLE Australia, 1919. Quinn Walker returns from the Great War to the New South Wales town of Flint: the birthplace he fled ten years earlier when he was accused of a heinous act.

A LIE UNFORGIVABLE Aware of the townsmen’s vow to hang him, Quinn takes to the surrounding hills. Here, deciding upon his plan of action, and questioning just what he has returned for, he meets Sadie Fox.

A BOND UNBREAKABLE This mysterious girl seems to know, and share, his darkest fear. And, as their bond greatens, Quinn learns what he must do to lay the ghosts of his past, and Sadie’s present, to rest.

The Judges said: “The setting is refreshingly original; after WWII a soldier returns to rural Australia to face the consequences of a crime he did not commit. With a powerful sense of time and location, this is beautifully crafted, and has a serious point to make about the aftermath of war.”

Chris Womersley was born in Melbourne in 1968. His fiction and reviews have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Granta New Writing and The Age, and in 2007, one of his short stories won the Josephine Ulrick Literature Prize. His first novel, The Low Road, won The Ned Kelly Prize in 2008 for Best First Fiction. Bereft is his second novel.

His website is

Order Bereft from Amazon UK


Richard Reynolds (Chair) has been a bookseller for over thirty years and 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.

Dr Ann Ferguson is a retired consultant anaesthetist, with a great interest in the history of medicine and a longstanding love of crime fiction.

Christopher Fowler is an English thriller writer. In addition to his numerous horror and satire novels, he is also the author of the Bryant and May mysteries.

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.

Zoë Watkins is the Managing Director of intellectual property development company FourteenFiftyFour. Zoë was previously Publishing Manager at Ian Fleming Publications Ltd, and is a former Chair and Judge of the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger.

David Wilkerson is a Commercial Manager at the British Library in London; specialising in Publishing and Retail. He has worked for over thirty-five years in the book industry, primarily as a bookseller, and has spent almost a lifetime reading crime novels.

To be eligible in this round, books must have had their first UK publication between 1 June 2011 and 31 May 2012.

The other four books that were long listed are:
A Land More Kind than Home by Wiley Cash (Transworld/Bantam)
Grandad, There’s a Head on the Beach by Colin Cotterill (Quercus)
Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante (Harvill Secker)
The Child Who by Simon Lelic (Mantle)

A Land More Kind than Home

A Land More Kind than Home

Wiley Cash


Synopsis: Religion is supposed to shield children from the evil of the world … One Sunday nine-year-old Jess Hall watches in horror as his autistic brother is smothered during a healing service in the mountains of North Carolina. Wiley Cash uses this haunting image - inspired by a horrific true event - to spin us into a spellbinding, heartbreaking story about cruelty and innocence, and the failure of faith and family to protect a child. This is a novel thick with stories and characters connected by faith, infidelity, and a sense of hope that is both tragic and unforgettable.

The Judges said: “An evocative, absorbing slice of Americana, this well-constructed Southern-gothic tale has dark touches of Faulkner, and highlights the dangers of all-powerful religious belief and fervour.”

Order A Land More Kind than Home from Amazon UK

Grandad, There’s a Head on the Beach

Grandad, There’s a Head on the Beach

Colin Cotterill


Synopsis: Who do you tell when you wake up to find a severed head on your resort-front beach in the morning? For frustrated ex-crime reporter Jimm Juree it means action. With her former cop grandfather as back up, she sets out to discover how the poor fellow ended up where he did – and why.

On their journey, with the rest of their disjointed family in tow, they uncover gruesome tales of piracy and slavery, violence and murder in the Gulf of Thailand. Are the authorities uninterested because they’re involved, or because the victims aren’t Thai? Whatever the reason, Jimm and her team are going it alone and their lives are under threat. And who exactly are those two elegant women in cabin three and why has the engine number of their car been filed away? Airport hostages and hand grenades, monkeys and naked policemen – once more the sublime and the ridiculous clash at the Gulf Bay Lovely Resort and Restaurant.

The Judges said: “These endearing and engrossing characters return in a fast-paced comical whodunit that strikes a wonderful balance of light-heartedness and tension, highlighting very real problems in the region.”

Order Grandad, There’s a Head on the Beach from Amazon UK

Turn of Mind

Turn of Mind

Alice LaPlante

Harvill Secker

Synopsis: The police are convinced that Jennifer White has killed her best friend. Amanda’s body has been discovered in her home, stabbed to death and with four fingers from her right hand neatly removed. The murder is a horrifying shock to a quiet and genteel neighbourhood. Jennifer’s work as an accomplished surgeon and the stormy nature of her friendship with Amanda make her the prime suspect. However, even Jennifer cannot tell if she really is responsible. Her days are spent in confusion and her memories are fragmented thanks to the Alzheimer’s that is gradually destroying her once brilliant mind.

The Judges said: “A clever original debut from an unusual perspective; this psychological thriller is narrated in the first person through the eyes of someone with dementia. It manages to be suspenseful, unsettling and moving.”

Order Turn of Mind from Amazon UK

The Child Who

The Child Who

Simon Lelic


Synopsis: A quiet English town is left reeling when twelve-year-old Daniel Blake is discovered to have brutally murdered his schoolmate Felicity Forbes. For provincial solicitor Leo Curtice, the case promises to be the most high profile – and morally challenging - of his career. But as he begins his defence Leo is unprepared for the impact the public fury surrounding Felicity’s death will have on his family - and his teenage daughter Ellie, above all. While Leo struggles to get Daniel to open up, hoping to unearth the reasons for the boy’s terrible crime, the build-up of pressure on Leo’s family intensifies. As the case nears its climax, events will take their darkest turn. For Leo, nothing will ever be the same again …

The Judges said: “An intelligent exploration of the moral ambivalence of an underage murderer and the consequences of how things appear from the work-addicted defence lawyer’s perspective make for a riveting read.”

Order The Child Who from Amazon UK