Mick Herron wins the CWA Goldsboro Gold Dagger
Sponsored by Goldsboro Books
Thursday 24 October: This evening, at the Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards 2013, Mick Herron was awarded the CWA 2013 Goldsboro Gold Dagger, for the best crime novel of the Year. His novel, Dead Lions, is published by Soho Crime. The awards ceremony is being televised on itv3 at 9pm on Sunday evening (27 October).
The Judges described his book as “…a well written, wickedly clever send-up of the classic British spy novel featuring a shadowy department in M15, home to various spooks who have in some way failed or messed up in their work for the security services. This collection of misfits and eccentrics is unexpectedly faced with a major and two-fold challenge: the re-emergence of a whole history of Cold War secrets entangled with a very modern enemy and the possibility of a major terrorist attack on London.”
Mick Herron commented: “My shelves are crammed with Gold Dagger-winning novels of the past - The Mermaids Singing, Black and Blue, Bones and Silence. I can’t quite believe I get to put my own book next to them.”
CWA Chair Alison Joseph added: “We are delighted that David Headley of Goldsboro Books has agreed to sponsor the Gold Dagger. We feel that for the CWA it is an ideal partnership, given Goldsboro’s place as one of the most successful independent booksellers and their commitment to crime and thriller fiction. We look forward to a relationship which we are confident will be of great benefit to both organisations.”
Synopsis: London’s Slough House is where the washed-up MI5 spies go to while away what’s left of their failed careers. The “slow horses”, as they’re called, have all disgraced themselves in some way. Maybe they messed up an op and can’t be trusted anymore. Maybe they got too dependent on the bottle—not unusual in this line of work. One thing they have in common, though, is they all want to be back in the action. And most of them would do anything to get there─even if it means having to work with one another. Now the slow horses have a chance at redemption. An old Cold War-era spy is found dead on a bus outside Oxford, far from his usual haunts. The irascible Jackson Lamb is convinced Dickie Bow was murdered. As the agents dig into their fallen comrade's circumstances, they uncover a shadowy tangle of Cold War secrets that seem to lead back to Alexander Popov, who is either a Soviet bogeyman or the most dangerous man in the world. How many more will have to die to keep those secrets buried?
Mick Herron was born in Newcastle and has a degree in English from Balliol College, Oxford. He is the author of two books in the River Cartwright series, Slow Horses and Dead Lions, as well as a mystery series set in Oxford. He now lives in Oxford and works in London. His website is www.mickherron.com
The other three shortlisted authors were:
Belinda Bauer for Rubbernecker (Bantam/Transworld)
Lauren Beukes for The Shining Girls (HarperCollins)
Becky Masterman for Rage Against the Dying (Orion)
Synopsis: ‘The dead can’t speak to us,’ Professor Madoc had said. But that was a lie. Sometimes, only an outsider can get to the truth. Patrick has been on the outside all his life. Thoughtful, but different, infuriating even to his own mother, his life changes when he follows an obsession with death to study anatomy at university. When he uncovers a crime that everybody else was too close to see, he proves finally that he has been right all along: nothing is exactly as it seems. And that there have been many more lies closer to home…
The Judges said: “An astonishing work featuring Asperger’s sufferer Patrick with the author expertly weaving the magic first witnessed in the brilliant Blacklands, in a superbly developed plot using parallel streams to create a mesmerising and thought-provoking psychological suspense. Sometimes gruesome, sometimes comic, sometimes heart-rending but always captivating; a moving novel that will linger after the final page is regretfully turned.”
Belinda Bauer grew up in England and South Africa. She has worked as a journalist and screenwriter and her script The Locker Room earned her the Carl Foreman/Bafta Award for Young British Screenwriters. With her first novel, Blacklands, Belinda won the CWA Gold Dagger in 2010. Her second and third novels, Darkside and Finders Keepers, were highly acclaimed, and in 2013 she has already won the CWA Dagger in the Library for her entire body of work. Belinda is a repeat guest on Front Row and regularly appears at Harrogate Crime Festival. She lives in Wales.
Her website is www.belindabauer.co.uk.
The Shining Girls
Synopsis: The girl who wouldn’t die, hunting a killer who shouldn’t exist… 1930’s America: Lee Curtis Harper is a delusional, violent drifter who stumbles on a house that opens onto other times. Driven by visions, he begins a killing spree over the next 60 years, using an undetectable MO and leaving anachronistic clues on his victims’ bodies. But when one of his intended ‘shining girls’, Kirby Mazrachi, survives a brutal stabbing, she becomes determined to unravel the mystery behind her would-be killer. While the authorities are trying to discredit her, Kirby is getting closer to the truth, as Harper returns again and again…
The Judges said: “The quirky fusion of the sci-fi and crime genres features a time-travelling surreal serial-killer, Harper, whose story begins as a drifter in prohibition-era Chicago. When Harper "steps into sometime else", murdering along the way, he meets his match in the contemporary figures of Kirby, an engaging young journalism intern, and her unlikely sidekick Dan, a burned-out sports writer. The author plays with the abstractions of time, change, decay, memory, and imagination with great assurance and originality.”
Lauren Beukes is a novelist, TV scriptwriter, documentary maker, comics writer and occasional journalist. She won the 2011 Arthur C Clarke Award for her novel Zoo City, set in a fantastical Johannesburg where guilt manifests as spirit animal familiars. Her previous works include Moxyland, a dystopian cyberpunk thriller set in Cape Town under corporate apartheid.
Her website is : laurenbeukes.com.
Rage Against the Dying
Synopsis: In her hey-day, ex FBI agent, Brigid Quinn, not only worked serial killer cases but became their prize. Small and blond, from a distance she looked vulnerable and slight… the perfect bait to catch a killer. But as Quinn got older, she realised she needed to find a protégé, a younger field agent to take her place. So Quinn trains a twenty-two year old and lets her loose in the field. The plan works. Until the Route 66 killer not only takes the bait, but kills the bait. Years on, Quinn is trying to move past the fact that she has a young woman’s death on her conscience. She’s now the perfect Stepford Wife – until she gets a knock on her door. The girl’s body has finally been discovered. Quinn is pulled back into the case and the more she learns about the killer the more she comes to believe, despite the overwhelming forensic evidence to hand, that they have the wrong man.
The Judges said: “Lethally skilled in the art of self-defence, ex-FBI agent Brigid Quinn is a heroine-in-peril forced back into the horrors of her old life. Characterisation and pace ensure a criminally engrossing and assured edge-of-the-seat debut thriller exploring the well-furrowed path of the FBI behavioural science unit pitted against the serial killer, but with a freshness of plot that makes the reader sit-up to attention.”
Becky Masterman spends her days working in a forensic science publishing house and her nights writing “stylish, exhilarating thrillers”. Rage Against the Dying is her debut novel. Becky lives and works in Tucson, Arizona.
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.
Ali Karim is the Assistant Editor of Shots eZine and writes and reviews for many US Magazines and Ezines. He was awarded the 2011 David Thompson Memorial Award for Special Services to the Crime and Thriller Genre in St Louis. Ali is a Board Member and Secretary to Bouchercon [The World Mystery and Crime Convention] and programming chair for Bouchercon 2015.
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.
Pippa Macallister is the daughter of a policeman from Mid-Wales who puts her love of crime fiction down to playing in the (empty) cells of the Victorian police station that was also the local courtroom and the family home. Pippa has helped with the administration of a crime fiction reading group for over 10 years, is an occasional reviewer and is working on a guide to crime fiction set in Cambridgeshire.
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 2012 and 31 May 2013.
Four other books were longlisted:
Sam Hawken for Tequila Sunset (Serpent’s Tail)
Sara Paretsky for Breakdown (Hodder & Stoughton)
Michael Robotham for Say You’re Sorry (Sphere)
Don Winslow for The Kings of Cool (Heinemann)