Margaret Murphy and Cath Staincliffe

Murder Squad scoop the CWA Short Story Dagger

Margaret Murphy and Cath Staincliffe share the prize

5 July 2012: The 2012 CWA Short Story Dagger is shared between two stories from Murder Squad: Best Eaten Cold and Other Stories, edited by Martin Edwards and published by The Mystery Press: The Message by Margaret Murphy and Laptop by Cath Staincliffe. They were presented with the joint Dagger and cheques for £250 each at the CWA Awards Ceremony held this evening at One Birdcage Walk in London.

Martin Edwards, Margaret Murphy and Cath Staincliffe are all founder members of Murder Squad, a virtual collective of northern crime writers, which has inspired many other writers to come together to promote their work.

This competition was open to any crime short story first published in the UK in English in a publication that pays for contributions, or broadcast in the UK in return for payment, between 1st June, 2011 and 31st May, 2012.

If there were a Dagger for best editor Martin Edwards would be a shoo-in this year as two of the other four stories on this year’s shortlist, The Golden Hour by Bernie Crossthwaite and He Did Not Always See Her by Claire Seeber were in Guilty Consciences edited by him and published by Severn House.

The other two shortlisted stories were Hixton by William Kent Krueger, from Crimes by Moonlight, edited by Charlaine Harris, published by Gollancz, and A Long Time Dead by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins from The Best American Mystery Stories 2011, edited by Harlan Coben and Otto Penzler, published by Corvus.

Here are more details of the winning stories and their authors:

Murder Squad: Best Eaten Cold and Other Stories

The Message

Margaret Murphy

From Best Eaten Cold

Order Best Eaten Cold from Amazon UK

Synopsis – 1971. A young boy with his eye on a Raleigh Chopper commits a mortal sin by stealing a bag from a car belonging to an IRA man. His attempt to make amends leads to unintended consequences.

Judges comments – A fresh take on the old chestnut of terrorism and religion. A clever mix of innocent thievery and evil intent, with a clever and satisfying twist at the end. Two well-drawn characters both pressurised in different ways.

Margaret Murphy is the author of nine internationally acclaimed psychological thrillers – both stand-alone and police series. Her work has been published in the UK and USA, and has been translated into seven language across Europe. She has been shortlisted for the critics’ and reviewers' First Blood award for crime fiction, and the Crime Writers' Association (CWA) Dagger in the Library. Margaret ran the 2006-7 CWA Debut Dagger, and in 2009-10 was Chair of the CWA. She was RLF Writing Fellow in Liverpool Hope and Chester University from 2008-2011, and has tutored creative writing at Masters level as well as presenting talks and workshops in creative writing for library groups and literature festivals.

Murder Squad: Best Eaten Cold and Other Stories


Cath Staincliffe

From Best Eaten Cold

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Synopsis – A woman thief steals a laptop, which reveals a serial killer’s progress. When she belatedly tries to hand it in she is grilled under suspicion by the police.

Judges comments – An unpredictable narrative, which successfully takes in modern technology. A good read, absorbing, with well-drawn descent into a fate she did not quite deserve. The lyrical ending is stunning.

Manchester based crime writer Cath Staincliffe is the author of the Sal Kilkenny private eye stories and creator and scriptwriter of Blue Murder, ITV’s hit detective drama starring Caroline Quentin as DCI Janine Lewis. She also writes the Scott & Bailey books, based on the much loved ITV1 police series. She is an avid reader and likes hill-walking, messing about in the garden and dancing (with far more enthusiasm than grace).

and more details about the other stories on the shortlist:

Guilty Consciences

The Golden Hour

Bernie Crossthwaite

From Guilty Consciences

Order Guilty Consciences from Amazon UK

Synopsis – A little girl disappears, and a police hunt follows. The story is interspersed with another hunt- by an enthusiastic amateur photographer interested only in getting the perfect picture in the ‘Golden Hour’ of day – also the time period known by police as that of maximum danger for kidnap victims..

Judges comments – Well-written, well structured and neat. An absorbing read with a simple juxtaposition of views and concerns with the alternating narrators playing off each other very effectively. Good, suitably undramatic finish.

Bernie Crossthwaite has written plays for radio and stage, and has won awards for her short stories, several of which have been broadcast on Radio 4. Her first crime novel, If It Bleeds, featuring press photographer Jude Baxendale, was longlisted for the new writing prize at the Guildford Book Festival. She lives in North Yorkshire.

Crimes by Moonlight


William Kent Krueger

From Crimes by Moonlight

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Synopsis - A journalist goes looking for his missing brother and finds the retired state investigator who investigated the disappearance living on a pig farm with the owner of the Sweet Shoppe the only connection to the disappearances that took place. The meeting ends with surprising results and a new appreciation of pigs.

Judges comments – A convincingly creepy atmosphere in a tale that successfully blindsides the reader several times. That rare thing– a paranormal crime tale that captures the imagination.

William Kent Krueger was raised in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon. He briefly attended Stanford University—before being kicked out for radical activities. After that, he logged timber, worked construction, tried his hand at free-lance journalism, and eventually ended up researching child development at the University of Minnesota. He currently makes his living as a full-time author. He's been married for over 30 years to a marvelous woman who is an attorney. With his wife and two children, he makes his home in St. Paul, a city he dearly loves.

Krueger writes a mystery series set in the north woods of Minnesota. His protagonist is Cork O’Connor, the former sheriff of Tamarack County and a man of mixed heritage—part Irish and part Ojibwe. The eleventh book in this award-winning series, Northwest Angle, was published in 2011.

Guilty Consciences

He Did Not Always See Her

Claire Seeber

From Guilty Consciences

Order Guilty Consciences from Amazon UK

Synopsis – A wife whose husband continuously subjects her to a torrent of domestic abuse and flirts with the other members of her reading group gets her revenge and freedom in a most unusual manner.

Judges comments – Takes on Roald Dahl on his own territory and trumps him brilliantly. Reading groups will never seem the same.

Born in London with a love of all things dramatic, Claire Seeber began her career as an actress. Soon deciding she'd rather pull strings safely behind the scenes, Claire forged a successful career in documentary television, enabling her to travel the world, glimpsing into lives otherwise unseen. Also a feature-writer for newspapers such as The Guardian, Independent on Sunday and The Telegraph, Claire now combines (furious) scribbling with keeping a beady eye on her toddler and her brand-new baby.

The Best American Mystery Stories 2011

A Long Time Dead

Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins

from The Best American Mystery Stories 2011

Order The Best American Mystery Stories 2011 from Amazon UK

Synopsis – P.I. Mike Hammer spots a multiple murderer he knows he saw die in the electric chair and realises that a switch was made allowing the man to continue his spate of killing – including the family of the man who helped him. Hammer decides that justice must be done and seen to be done!

Judges comments – A compelling and enjoyable read with an intriguing enough puzzle about whether he was right or not – and how it was done. Good strong finish with an appropriate end.

Mickey Spillane, who died in 2006, was an American author of crime novels, many featuring his signature detective character, Mike Hammer. More than 225 million copies of his books have sold internationally. Since his death, his friend and literary executor, Max Allan Collins, began the task of editing and completing Spillane’s unpublished typescripts, including A Long Time Dead.



Ayo Onatade Chairperson – does interviews, writes and reviews on all things crime fiction for a number of crime fiction websites including and Crimespree Magazine. She is also a judge for the HWA (Historical Writers Association) Goldsboro Crown. Ayo can also be found blogging at Shotsmag Confidential.

Paul Johnston was born in Edinburgh and educated there and at Oxford. He has won the CWA John Creasey Memorial Dagger (in 1997 with Body Politic) and the Sherlock Award. The Silver Stain (Crème de la Crime) is his thirteenth novel. He is completing a PhD in Creative Writing.

Adrian Magson is a freelance writer, crime author and reviewer, with more than 300 short stories published in magazines and anthologies in the UK and overseas.