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Knives out: The CWA Daggers 2013

Last night was the Crime Writers Association Dagger Awards ceremony - our crime buyer Joseph Knobbs brings you the highlights from an evening with the nicest people in the world...

Posted on 25th October 2013 by Guest contributor

It is a truth universally acknowledged that, by and large, crime writers are the nicest people you could hope to meet. It might be because the scene has always been supportive, or it might be because they write out all the angst in their novels. Either way: people getting stabbed in the back remain firmly fictional.

To that end, it’s always a pleasure to be around the likes of Lee Child, Ian Rankin and Mark Billingham- wowing the room with writing anecdotes and pitch-black humour.

On the TV side, Broadchurch was the clear winner, bagging no less than three awards. The lineage of the show can be traced back to Scandinavian crime dramas like The Killing – and its popularity proves that people are still in love with dark, character-driven mysteries. Attendees seemed surprised that Luther didn’t take away any awards. Idris Elba was the most beloved and popular man in the room.


Idris Elba is thrilled to meet our crime buyer Joseph Knobbs.

Idris Elba is thrilled to meet our crime buyer Joseph Knobbs.

Much more interestingly, though, the books! It was great to see the Daggers rewarding novels that our bookshops have been behind from the off.

Team Waterstones were absolutely thrilled to see our Book Club favourite, Norwegian By Night take away the John Creasy New Blood Dagger. I’ve eulogised about this one at every given opportunity, but it really is something special. An American-penned Scandinavian thriller, beautifully written, and shot through with Curb Your Enthusiasm/Woody Allen-esque humour. (Listen to our Book Club podcast about it to see how much our reading group loved it - Ed.)

Continuing the trend of books we’ve been behind from the start, Roger Hobbs took the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for best thriller. Ghostman, his debut novel, has the style of a Lee Child novel and – given that the author is only in his mid-twenties – he’s someone we’ll definitely be hearing more about.

Excitingly, Malcolm Mackay took the Crime Thriller Book Club Best Read award. He also won book of the year at the Bloody Scotland crime fiction festival in September. Anyone who’s read The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter has fallen head over heels for this emerging author. His soon-to-be-completed Glasgow trilogy has re-written the rule book for Scottish crime, and he’s an author who could be absolutely huge.

Mick Herron fought off stiff competition from the likes of Belinda Bauer and Lauren Beukes for the Golden Dagger award. His book, Dead Lions, is published by Soho press – and it’s great to see a smaller publisher running off with the prize. Dead Lions is a treat: filled with spooks, intrigue and the dark past of the cold war – it sees London under the looming threat of a terrorist attack.

The great and the good of the crime fiction community have, once again, rewarded a varied and deserving list of authors – ensuring that new readers will find them. The bookseller reaction to the winning books has been great and I’m sure we’ll all be looking forward to what’s next from Miller, Hobbs, Mackay and Herron.

Huge thanks to the Crime Writers Association.

Joseph Knobbs, for Waterstones.com/blog