Crime Writers’ Association Members to be polled in its 60th Jubilee Year
Some six hundred crime-writing members of the Crime Writers’ Association are being asked to answer three simple questions as part of the celebrations surrounding the Association’s 60th Anniversary. (It was founded by prolific crime novelist John Creasey on Guy Fawkes Day, 1953.)
These questions are: A) Who is the Best Ever crime writer? B) Which is the Best Ever crime novel? and C) Which is the Best Ever crime series?
It’s fifteen years since the CWA did a similar poll. On that occasion the Dead triumphed convincingly over the Living.
Hardboiled American writer, Raymond Chandler (1888-1959), was the clear winner of Best Ever Crime Writer, by a margin of 50% over second-placed Agatha Christie (1890-1976). Dorothy L Sayers (1893-1957) came third.
Best Ever crime novel was indisputably Sayers’ The Nine Tailors (1934), followed by Chandler’s The Big Sleep (1939) and The Moonstone (1868) by Wilkie Collins, the first detective novel in the English language.
Chandler’s Philip Marlowe novels and stories won Best Crime Series, followed by Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey and Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.
But a lot can change in fifteen years and Alison Joseph, the new Chair of the CWA, thinks many contemporary crime writers will give the Late Greats a run for their money. She says:
‘Crime fiction has always had a deservedly huge readership, but, more than ever, readers expect a lot. We see authors today stretching the limits of the genre, examining the truth of criminality, its causes, its effects, yet still telling page-turning stories.’
So, for example, could Val McDermid depose Agatha Christie as Queen of Crime? Elmore Leonard take over Chandler’s Mean Streets? P D James or Ruth Rendell ring the changes on Dorothy L Sayers? Ian Rankin replace Arthur Conan Doyle as crime’s Top Scot?
Or will the posthumously-famous Stieg Larsson leap over the lot of them?
‘Personally I think it will be close-run thing. A great work of fiction, in whatever genre, whenever it was written, is a rare thing, and it may well be that Sayers, Chandler et al, still merit their place at the top. Watch this space.’
The results of the polling will be announced later in the year.
Notes To Editors:
Membership of The Crime Writers’ Association is open to an author with one crime novel produced (or about to be produced) by a bona fide publisher, with associate membership also offered to those in the publishing industry.
John Creasey, founder of the CWA, wrote over seven hundred books under almost thirty names.
Alison Joseph is a crime novelist and radio dramatist. A Violent Act, her latest novel, is out now.
For further information please contact Lucy Santos, Director of the CWA, at firstname.lastname@example.org or on tel: 0792125291