The world-famous Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) Daggers are the oldest awards in the genre, and have been synonymous with quality crime writing for over half a century.
Past winners of the prestigious Gold Dagger, which is awarded for the crime novel of the year, include Ian Rankin, John le Carré, Reginald Hill and Ruth Rendell. This year sees 2019’s winner of the Gold Dagger, M W Craven, return with The Curator. The former probation officer credited the CWA Debut Dagger competition in 2013 for opening the door to his career as an author.
Amer Anwar, who won the Debut Dagger competition in 2008, makes the list with Stone Cold Trouble. Anwar is up against the mighty JK Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith, alongside multi-award-winning authors including Nicci French, Elly Griffiths and Antonia Hodgson.
The Ian Fleming Steel Dagger is famed for showcasing blockbuster thrillers – past winners include Gillian Flynn and Robert Harris. Robert Galbraith is once more in the running, along with Ian Rankin, Stuart Turton, Catherine Ryan Howard, Ruth Ware and Michael Robotham, last year’s Gold winner.
Holly Watt, who won the Fleming Dagger in 2019, also returns to the longlist with The Dead Line. Another to watch on the Fleming longlist is Chris Whitaker; his book Tall Oaks won the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger in 2017. Whitaker is long-listed for his latest novel We Begin At The End, which was a Waterstones Thriller of the Month and has sold in 17 territories, with screen rights snapped up by Disney.
Linda Stratmann, Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association, said: “The CWA Dagger awards are unparalleled for their reputation and longevity. The longlists showcase authors – established and new – at the top of their game. It’s not surprising that sales of crime fiction have been so strong during Covid-19. Both fiction and non-fiction have proven to be a great escape for many as we have been stuck at home. As our longlists show, these stories and insights take readers all over the world and through time, from Bombay of the 1950s to ancient Athens to modern-day California and many points between."
“Crime books can be thrilling mysteries, but they can also provide social commentary, insights into true crime, or explore big questions in life. The vast and diverse talent in these longlists show why it’s the UK’s most popular and enduring genre. We are proud to provide a platform for debut, emerging and established authors, and to honour the very best in crime writing.”
The much-anticipated John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger highlights the best debut novels. Among the rising stars of 2021 is Susan Allot with her Australian-set debut, The Silence, praised by the Wall Street Journal as ‘emotionally wrenching’.
New writing duo Chris Rickaby and Barney Thompson, writing under the pseudonym Ben Creed, also feature with their debut, City of Ghosts, a tense historical novel set in 1951 Russia. The global theme continues with Stephanie Scott’s accomplished debut, What’s Left of Me Is Yours, set in modern day Japan, exploring romantic and familial love, duty and murder.
Booker prize winner John Banville is a heavyweight contender on the Sapere Books Historical Dagger longlist. The prizewinning novelist and literary polymath, considered Ireland’s greatest living novelist, is in the running for Snow, his first murder mystery published under his real name rather than his nom de plume, Benjamin Black.
This Sapere Books Historical Dagger longlist also includes Nicola Upson, who was shortlisted for the award in 2018, and S J Parris, whose Giordano Bruno books, Heresy, Sacrilege and Treachery have all been previously shortlisted. Vaseem Khan also features on the list as he swaps his contemporary light-hearted Baby Ganesh Agency series with his historical crime novel Midnight at Malabar House, set in 1950s Bombay.
The Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger sees the bestselling Jo Nesbo on the list with his stand-alone thriller, The Kingdom, translated by Robert Ferguson. Joining the Norwegian is Swedish writer Mikael Niemi with his sumptuous blend of historical fact with fictional intrigue, To Cook a Bear, centred around the Laestadian revivalist movement of the 1850s, translated by Sarah Death.
From one of Israel’s most beloved writers is Three by D A Mishani, translated by Jessica Cohen, and from South Korea, Yun Ko-eun’s original and inventive thriller The Disaster Tourist makes the longlist, with translator Lizzie Buehler.
The CWA Daggers are one of the few high-profile awards that honour the short story. Christopher Fowler, the award-winning author of the Bryant & May mystery novels, has written over 50 novels and short story collections. Fowler, who won the CWA Dagger in the Library in 2015, is longlisted for his short story, Head Count. The list also features acclaimed authors Clare Mackintosh and Stuart Turton. Founding member of the North East Noir crime writers’ group, Robert Scragg, also dominates the category as an editor and writer of short stories.
The ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction features the 2020 CWA Diamond Dagger winner, Martin Edwards, with Howdunit. A renowned editor, prolific novelist, and leading authority on crime fiction, Howdunit offers a masterclass in crime writing by leading exponents of the genre.
Dan Smith also features with The Peer and the Gangster which tells the incredible story of one of the largest-scale political cover-ups in British history – the 1964 scandal of an alleged homosexual affair between Lord Boothby, a well-known member of the House of Lords, and London’s most notorious mobster Ronnie Kray.
The Dagger in the Library is voted on exclusively by librarians, chosen for the author’s body of work and support of libraries. This year sees firm favourites from the genre including Nicci French, Lisa Jewell, Margaret Murphy, Erin Kelly, Peter May and Denise Mina on the longlist.
The Best Crime and Mystery Publisher of the Year Dagger, which celebrates publishers and imprints demonstrating excellence and diversity in crime writing, pits big publishing houses Harper Fiction and Faber & Faber against independent publishers such as No Exit Press.
The CWA Dagger shortlist will be announced in May with the awards ceremony taking place at the start of July. The 2021 Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement, the highest honour in British crime writing, has already been announced, awarded to Martina Cole.
The Longlists in Full:
Amer Anwar: Stone Cold Trouble (Dialogue Books, Little, Brown Book Group)
S A Cosby: Blacktop Wasteland (Headline, Headline Publishing Group)
M W Craven: The Curator (Constable, Little, Brown Book Group)
Ben Creed: City of Ghosts (Welbeck Fiction, Welbeck Publishing Group)
Garry Disher: Peace (Viper, Profile Books)
Mick Finlay: Arrowood and the Thames Corpses (HQ, HarperCollins)
Nicci French: House of Correction (Simon & Schuster)
Robert Galbraith: Troubled Blood (Sphere, Little, Brown Book Group)
Elly Griffiths: The Postscript Murders (Quercus)
Antonia Hodgson: The Silver Collar (Hodder & Stoughton)
S G Maclean: The House of Lamentations (Quercus Fiction, Quercus)
C D Major: The Other Girl (Thomas & Mercer)
Thomas Mullen: Midnight Atlanta (Little, Brown, Little, Brown Book Group)
S J Parris: Execution (Harper Fiction, HarperCollins)
Tade Thompson: Making Wolf (Constable, Little, Brown Book Group)
Nicola Upson: The Dead of Winter (Faber)
Chris Whitaker: We Begin at the End (Zaffre, Bonnier)
Rebecca Whitney: The Hidden Girls (Mantle, Pan Macmillan)
IAN FLEMING STEEL DAGGER
Charles Cumming: Box 88 (HarperFiction, HarperCollins)
Robert Galbraith: Troubled Blood (Sphere, Little, Brown Book Group)
Ryan Gattis: The System (Picador, Pan Macmillan)
Ian Rankin: Song for the Dark Times (Orion Fiction, The Orion Publishing Group)
Rod Reynolds: Blood Red City (Orenda Books)
Craig Robertson: Watch Him Die (Simon & Schuster)
Michael Robotham: When She Was Good (Sphere, Little, Brown Book Group)
Catherine Ryan Howard: The Nothing Man (Atlantic Books)
Stuart Turton: The Devil and the Dark Water (Raven Books, Bloomsbury Publishing)
Ruth Ware: One by One (Harvill Secker, Vintage)
Holly Watt: The Dead Line (Raven Books, Bloomsbury Publishing)
Chris Whitaker: We Begin at the End (Zaffre, Bonnier Books UK)
JOHN CREASEY (NEW BLOOD) DAGGER
Eva Björg Ægisdóttir: The Creak on the Stairs (Orenda)
Susan Allott: The Silence (Borough, HarperCollins)
Emma Christie: The Silent Daughter (Welbeck Publishing)
Catherine Cooper: The Chalet (Harper Fiction, HarperCollins)
Ben Creed: City of Ghosts (Welbeck Publishing)
Judi Daykin: Under Violent Skies (Joffe Books)
Egan Hughes: The One That Got Away (Little Brown, Sphere)
S W Kane: The Bone Jar (Thomas & Mercer)
Rob McInroy: Cuddies Strip (Ringwood Press)
Stephanie Scott: What's Left of Me Is Yours (Orion, Weidenfeld)
Stephen Spotswood: Fortune Favours the Dead (Headline, Wildfire)
John Vercher: Three Fifths (Pushkin Press)
S R White: Hermit (Headline)
SAPERE BOOKS HISTORICAL DAGGER
J M Alvey: Justice for Athena (Canelo Digital Publishing Limited)
John Banville: Snow (Faber)
Vaseem Khan: Midnight at Malabar House (Hodder & Stoughton)
Laurie King: Riviera Gold (Allison & Busby)
Chris Lloyd: The Unwanted Dead (Orion Fiction, The Orion Publishing Group)
S J Parris: Execution (HarperFiction, HarperCollins)
Ben Pastor: The Night of Shooting Stars (Bitter Lemon Press)
Michael Russell: The City Under Siege (Constable, Little, Brown Book Group)
David S. Stafford: Skelton’s Guide to Domestic Poisons (Allison & Busby)
A D Swanston: Chaos (Bantam Press, Transworld)
Nicola Upson: The Dead of Winter (Faber)
Ovidia Yu: The Mimosa Tree Mystery (Constable, Little, Brown Book Group)
CRIME FICTION IN TRANSLATION DAGGER
Fredrik Backman: Anxious People, translated by Neil Smith (Michael Joseph, Penguin)
Roxanne Bouchard: The Coral Bride, translated by David Warriner (Orenda Books)
Marc Elsberg: Greed, translated by Simon Pare (Black Swan, Penguin)
Yun Ko-eun: The Disaster Tourist, translated by Lizzie Buehler (Serpent's Tail)
Volker Kutscher: The March Fallen, translated by Niall Sellar (Sandstone Press)
D A Mishani: Three, translated by Jessica Cohen (Riverrun, Hachette Book Group)
Jo Nesbo: The Kingdom, translated by Robert Ferguson (Harvill Secker, Penguin)
Håkan Nesser: The Secret Life of Mr Roos, translated by Sarah Death (Mantle, Pan Macmillan)
Mikael Niemi: To Cook a Bear, translated by Deborah Bragan-Turner (Maclehose Press, Quercus)
Agnes Ravatn: The Seven Doors, translated by Rosie Hedger (Orenda Books)
Maike Wetzel: Elly, translated by Lyn Marven (Scribe UK)
SHORT STORY DAGGER
Robert Scragg: ‘A Dog is for Life, Not Just for Christmas’ in Afraid of the Christmas Lights, edited by Robert Scragg (Robert Scragg)
Elle Croft: ‘Deathbed’ in Afraid of the Light, edited by Robert Scragg (Robert Scragg)
Dominic Nolan: ‘Daddy Dearest’ in Afraid of the Light, edited by Robert Scragg (Robert Scragg)
Adam Southward: ‘Especially at Christmas’ in Afraid of the Christmas Lights, edited by Robert Scragg (Robert Scragg)
Christopher Fowler: ‘Head Count’ in First Edition: Celebrating 21 Years of Goldsboro Books (The Dome Press)
Victoria Selman: ‘Hunted’ in Afraid of the Christmas Lights, edited by Robert Scragg (Robert Scragg)
Clare Mackintosh: ‘Monsters’ in First Edition: Celebrating 21 Years of Goldsboro Books (The Dome Press)
Stuart Turton: ‘Murder Most Vial’ in First Edition: Celebrating 21 Years of Goldsboro Books (The Dome Press)
Livia Llewelyn: ‘One of These Nights’ in Cutting Edge: Noir Stories by Women, edited by Joyce Carol Oates (Pushkin Press, Pushkin Vertigo)
James Delargy: ‘Planting Nan’ in Afraid of the Light, edited by Robert Scragg (Robert Scragg)
Simpson Grears: ‘The Foot of the Walk Murders’ in The Foot of the Walk Murders, edited by Simpson Grears (Rymour Books)
ALCS GOLD DAGGER FOR NON-FICTION
Sue Black: Written in Bone (Doubleday, Penguin)
Amanda Brown: The Prison Doctor; Women Inside (HQ, HarperCollins)
Becky Cooper: We Keep the Dead Close (William Heinemann, Penguin)
Martin Edwards: Howdunit (Collins Crime Club, HarperCollins)
Andrew Harding: These Are Not Gentle People (MacLehose, Quercus)
Debora Harding: Dancing with the Octopus (Profile Books Limited)
Nick Hayes: The Book of Trespass (Bloomsbury Circus, Bloomsbury Publishing)
Ben MacIntyre: Agent Sonya (Viking, Penguin)
Jax Miller: Hell in the Heartland (HarperCollins)
Daniel Smith: The Peer and the Gangster (The History Press)
Ravi Somaiya: Operation Morthor (Viking, Penguin)
Kate Summerscale:The Haunting of Alma Fielding (Bloomsbury Circus, Bloomsbury Publishing)
Mark Townsend: No Return (Guardian, Faber & Faber)
DAGGER IN THE LIBRARY
L J Ross
C L Taylor
Bitter Lemon Press
Faber & Faber
Head of Zeus
No Exit Press