Friday, 28 July 2017

The CWA 2017 Dagger Shortlists

The Crime Writers Association In-conjunction with sponsors Crimefest and The Hazchem Network presented the 2017 CWA Dagger Shortlists in London on Wednesday 26th July [Hosted by Waterstones Piccadilly].

The Full Results from last night can be viewed HERE or downloaded as a .pdf [right click and ‘save as’ to your hard drive].

Shots Magazine obtained permission from the CWA Dagger Liaison Officer Mike Stotter to film the event [it helps as he is also editor-in-chief of Shots Magazine……], so pour yourself a large Gin and watch the proceedings.

All the work the CWA Judges have shortlisted for the 2017 Dagger Awards are well worth exploring, especially prescient for our Summer Holiday Reads - and can all be purchased from the Shots Magazine online bookstore HERE using our search facility.

We present a selection of photographs from the CWA Gathering in London.

More information about Crimefest click Here and remember to book for next year’s event which runs 17-20 May in Bristol in 2018, and we’d urge you to book early as the event is at capacity.

To see what happened at Crimefest 2017 click Here and Here

The winners will be announced at the CWA Annual Dagger Awards on 26th October and we present all the shortlisted work that is in competition for 2017

The CWA Gold Dagger
The Beautiful Dead (Bantam Press) by Belinda Bauer
Dead Man’s Blues (Mantle) by Ray Celestin
The Dry (Little, Brown) by Jane Harper
Spook Street (John Murray) by Mick Herron
A Rising Man (Harvill Secker) by Abir Mukherjee
The Girl in Green (Faber & Faber) by Derek B. Miller

The Ian Fleming Steel Dagger
You Will Know Me (Picador) by Megan Abbott
The Killing Game (Bookouture) by J S Carol
We Go Around in the Night and Are Consumed by Fire (Myriad Editions) by Jules Grant
Redemption Road (Hodder & Stoughton) by John Hart
Spook Street (John Murray) by Mick Herron
The Constant Soldier (Mantle) by William Ryan

The Pictures (Point Blank) by Guy Bolton
Ragdoll (Trapeze) by Daniel Cole
Distress Signals (Corvus) by Catherine Ryan Howard
Sirens (Doubleday) by Joseph Knox
Good Me, Bad Me (Michael Joseph) by Ali Land
Tall Oaks (Twenty 7) by Chris Whitaker

A Dangerous Place (The History Press) by Simon Farquhar
Close But No Cigar: A True Story of Prison Life in Castro’s Cuba (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) by Stephen Purvis
The Scholl Case: The Deadly End of a Marriage (Text Publishing) by Anja Reich-Osang
The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer (Bloomsbury Publishing) by Kate Summerscale
A Passing Fury: Searching for Justice at the End of World War II (Jonathan Cape) by A. T. Williams
Another Day in the Death of America (Guardian Faber Publishing) by Gary Younge

The CWA Endeavour Historical Dagger
The Devil’s Feast (Fig Tree) by M. J. Carter
The Ashes of Berlin (No Exit Press) by Luke McCallin
The Long Drop (Harvill Secker) by Denise Mina
A Rising Man (Harvill Secker) by Abir Mukherjee
By Gaslight (Point Blank) by Steven Price
The City in Darkness (Constable) by Michael Russell

The CWA International Dagger
A Cold Death (4th Estate) by Antonio Manzini, Tr Antony Shugaar
A Fine Line (Bitter Lemon Press) by Gianrico Carofiglio, Tr Howard Curtis
Blood Wedding (MacLehose Press) by Pierre Lemaître, Tr Frank Wynne
Climate of Fear (Harvill Secker) by Fred Vargas, Tr Siân Reynolds
The Dying Detective  (Doubleday) by Leif G W Persson, Tr Neil Smith
The Legacy of the Bones (HarperCollins) by Delores Redondo, Tr Nick Casiter & Lorenza Garcia

The CWA Short Story Dagger
The Assassination by Leye Adenle in Sunshine Noir  (White Sun Books) Edited by AnnaMaria Alfieri & Michael Stanley
Murder and its Motives by Martin Edwards in Motives for Murder (Sphere) Edited by Martin Edwards
The Super Recogniser of Vik by Michael Ridpath in Motives for Murder (Sphere) Edited by Martin Edwards
What You Were Fighting For by James Sallis in The Highway Kind (Mulholland Books) Edited by Patrick Millikin
The Trials of Margaret by LC Tyler in Motives for Murder (Sphere) Edited by Martin Edwards
Snakeskin by Ovidia Yu in Sunshine Noir (White Sun Books) Edited by AnnaMaria Alfieri & Michael Stanley

DEBUT DAGGER sponsored by Orion Publishing Group
For the opening of a crime novel from a writer with no publishing contract.
Strange Fire by Sherry Rankin
The Reincarnation of Himmat Gupte by Neeraj Shah
Lost Boys by Spike Dawkins
Red Haven by Mette McLeod
Broken by Victoria Slotover

The winners of all the above CWA Daggers will be announced at the glittering Dagger Awards Gala Dinner to be held at the Grange City Hotel, London on 26 October. Ann Cleeves will be awarded the Diamond Dagger at the same occasion and Mari Hannah will be presented with the Dagger in the Library award. The after-dinner speaker will be Robert Thorogood, creator and writer of Death in Paradise, and master of ceremonies will be Barry Forshaw, the acclaimed crime fiction expert. Everyone is welcome to attend. For details and a booking form, please visit or email

Thursday, 27 July 2017

2017 Anthony Award Nominations

Best Novel
You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott [Little, Brown]
Where It Hurts by Reed Farrel Coleman [G.P. Putnam’s Sons]
Red Right Hand by Chris Holm [Mulholland]
Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman [William Morrow]
A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny [Minotaur]

Best First Novel
Dodgers by Bill Beverly [Crown]
IQ by Joe Ide [Mulholland]
Decanting a Murder by Nadine Nettmann [Midnight Ink]
Design for Dying by Renee Patrick [Forge]
The Drifter by Nicholas Petrie [G.P. Putnam’s Sons]

Best Paperback Original
Shot in Detroit by Patricia Abbott [Polis]
Leadfoot by Eric Beetner [280 Steps]
Salem’s Cipher by Jess Lourey [Midnight Ink]
Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty [Seventh Street]
How to Kill Friends and Implicate People by Jay Stringer [Thomas & Mercer]
Heart of Stone by James W. Ziskin [Seventh Street] 

Best Short Story
Oxford Girl” by Megan Abbott, Mississippi Noir [Akashic]
Autumn at the Automat” by Lawrence Block, In Sunlight or in Shadow [Pegasus]
Gary’s Got A Boner” by Johnny Shaw, Waiting to Be Forgotten [Gutter]
Parallel Play” by Art Taylor, Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning [Wildside]
Queen of the Dogs” by Holly West, 44 Caliber Funk: Tales of Crime, Soul and Payback [Moonstone] 

Best Critical Nonfiction Work
Alfred Hitchcock: A Brief Life by Peter Ackroyd [Nan A. Talese]
Letters from a Serial Killer by Kristi Belcamino & Stephanie Kahalekulu [CreateSpace]
Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin [Liveright]
Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker by David J. Skal [Liveright]
The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer by Kate Summerscale [Bloomsbury/Penguin] 

Best Children’s/YA Novel
Snowed by Maria Alexander [Raw Dog Screaming]
The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry [Henry Holt]
Tag, You’re Dead by J.C. Lane [Poisoned Pen]
My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier [Soho Teen]
The Fixes by Owen Matthews [HarperTeen] 

Best Anthology
Unloaded: Crime Writers Writing Without Guns – Editor Eric Beetner, [Down & Out]
In Sunlight or in Shadow - Editor Lawrence Block, [Pegasus]
Cannibals: Stories from the Edge of the Pine Barrens - Editor Jen Conley [Down & Out]
Blood on the Bayou: Bouchercon Anthology 2016 – Greg Herren, ed. [Down & Out]
Waiting To Be Forgotten: Stories of Crime and Heartbreak, Inspired by the Replacements – Editor Jay Stringer, [Gutter] 

Best Novella (8,000-40,000 words)
Cleaning Up Finn by Sarah M. Chen [All Due Respect Books]
No Happy Endings by Angel Luis Colón [Down & Out]
Crosswise by S.W. Lauden [Down & Out]
Beware the Shill by John Shepphird [Down & Out]
The Last Blue Glass by B.K. Stevens, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, April 2016 [Dell]

The winner in each category will be announced immediately following the Sunday Brunch on October 15 2017.   The Anthony Award is named for the late Anthony Boucher (William Anthony Parker White), well-known writer and critic from the New York Times, who helped found the Mystery Writers of America.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Africa’s under-appreciated crime fiction

As readers of African crime fiction for fifty years, and writers of it for the past fifteen, we’ve
had a chance to appreciate where it’s come from and watch where it’s reached.
While Africa has a long tradition of storytelling, it seems that African fiction writers only really came to international attention in the fifties with the writings of Nigerian Chinua Achebe and South Africans Alan Paton and Nadine Gordimer.
As far as mysteries are concerned, one really starts with James McClure’s Kramer and Zondi series of the early seventies. Not only are these darn good crime fiction plots, but the relationship between the white Lieutenant Tromp Kramer and the (smarter) black Detective Sergeant Mickey Zondi illustrates and satirises the contradictions and unfairness of apartheid. At about the same time, Ngugi wa Thiong’o wrote Petals of Blood set in post-colonial Kenya, but illustrating the conflict between the inherited colonial ideas and the ambient African cultural ones.
Mysteries with African settings by European writers have a longer history. Among the earliest was the first of Elspeth Huxley’s three Kenya mysteries—Murder at Government House—published in the thirties. While there is the strong sense of Africa that characterises all her books, it’s restricted to the colonial players.
So, African mysteries have some history, and over the last fifteen years there has been an explosion of authors writing contemporary crime fiction in Africa—not only in South Africa but across the continent with writers like Leye Adenle (Nigeria), Kwei Quartey (Ghana), Unity Dow (Botswana) and many others. 
How have readers elsewhere in the world reacted to this new and rich perspective on the continent?  Only a few have made the breakthrough into the international arena.  Writers from overseas who set their work here also have had a mixed reception, some successful like Alexander McCall Smith’s Mma Ramotswe series, but others who are first class cause hardly a ripple. Just as one example, take Robert Wilson’s excellent work—his Africa novels are not as popular as the ones set closer to home.
It was Deon Meyer who took up McClure’s cudgel, using crime fiction set in the post-apartheid era, albeit steeped in its aftermath, to illustrate present day South Africa.  He is probably Africa’s best known crime writer, yet even his excellent police procedurals and thrillers don’t make the same impact overseas as those of many Scandinavian writers.
It certainly isn’t the case that readers are only interested in crime fiction set in their own cultures or written originally in their own language—one only has to look at the huge success of the Nordic writers. What makes their books appealing?  Is it the weather? The cold seeping into your bones and the winter darkness seeping into your heart? Or is it a different writing style, but not too different? Or is it just that they are in fashion?
Or is it something else?
Is it perhaps that readers are reluctant to stray away from cultures they know, away from characters who are more or less like themselves?  For the last month, there has been a blog tour for our latest Detective Kubu mystery, Dying to Live.  Fortunately, the response has been overwhelmingly positive, but several of them contained a message that surprised us.  For a number of these bloggers, who are voracious readers, Dying to Live was a first or rare excursion into Africa.  Some were worried before they started reading that differences in culture would put them off or make the book difficult to read.  By the time they finished the book, far from finding it off-putting, many commented how much they enjoyed being taken to somewhere they didn’t know and to a culture that was quite different, set in the context of a good mystery.  Some said it was a welcome change to read an example of Sunshine Noir rather than Nordic Noir.
So, perhaps the main reason that African mysteries don’t get the recognition we think they deserve is nothing to do with the writer, but rather the setting.  So, how can we persuade readers to become more adventurous?
Last year at the Murder Out of Africa panel at Harrogate, we asked the audience how many of them had read an African mystery.  Only a few had.  Then an audience member commented that he hardly ever heard of African mysteries and asked us why publishers don’t select more African crime fiction books.  Deon spoke for all of us when he replied that the way to get more published with greater visibility was for people to buy more and read more of them.  A literary vicious circle.
So, we urge readers to intersperse their to-be-read piles with books set in different cultures and settings.  It will give writers from these places greater access to the wonderful reading public of the U.K., and give readers the opportunity for exciting armchair travel.

Michael and Stanley
Read Robin Jarossi's review here.
Buy it from SHOTS A-Store
Michael writes a monthly piece on new African crime fiction—Africa Scene—for the International Thriller Writers The Big Thrill online magazine:

Dying to Live by Michael Stanley (Published by Orenda Books)
The body of a Bushman is discovered near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, and the death is written off as an accident. But all is not as it seems. An autopsy reveals that although he’s clearly very old, his internal organs are puzzlingly young. What’s more, an old bullet is lodged in one of his muscles … but where is the entry wound? When the body is stolen from the morgue and a local witch doctor is reported missing, Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu gets involved. As Kubu and his brilliant young colleague, Detective Samantha Khama, follow the twisting trail through a confusion of rhino-horn smugglers, foreign gangsters and drugs manufacturers, the wider and more dangerous the case becomes…