The Crime Writers’ Association

Dagger in the Library

The Dagger in the Library is a prize for a body of work by an established crime writer which has long been popular with borrowers from libraries. It also rewards authors who have supported libraries and their users.

The Dagger in the Library is awarded to an author writing in Britain and nominated by libraries in the UK.

Current holder

Peter May

Scottish multiple award-winning author, with book series set in the Outer Hebrides, France and China, Peter has a legion of ardent fans for his atmospheric thrillers and sales to match.

I was delighted to win the Dagger in the Library this year, not least because of my long and fruitful association with libraries – as a borrower.

When I was a child the whole family went to the library every Friday night, returning laden with books for the week’s reading ahead. As a young, aspiring writer in my late teens and early twenties, I haunted my local library, devouring the books I could not afford to buy.

Back then we took it as a given that we would always have free access to books and learning. It is only now, as government cuts force libraries to close down all over the country, do we realise what a precious social resource is being squandered.

What the great philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie, realised more than a century ago when he funded the creation of more than 2,500 libraries worldwide, was that free access to books for all is one of the fundamental cornerstones of a civilised society.

To remove, or even chip away at that, is to fatally undermine our society, depriving the next generation of the resources it will require to build the future.
Peter May, winner of the CWA Dagger in the Library 2021.




Lin Anderson
Nicci French
Lisa Jewell
Erin Kelly
Peter May
Denise Mina
Margaret Murphy
James Oswald
L J Ross
C L Taylor

The Judges

Sue Wilkinson (Chair)
Sue Wilkinson has worked in public libraries for more than 40 years and is Events and Engagement Manager at the Library of Birmingham. Before taking up this post, she was a prison librarian for many years. Having spent a lot of time with the real thing, she finds crime fiction much more entertaining, and looks forward to discovering new writers and crime genres.

Ian Anstice
Ian Anstice is a Locality Librarian for Cheshire West and Chester Council and has worked for the same service of 26 years. However, he is more widely known outside of that service as being the editor of Public Libraries News. He is a keen walker of schnauzers but promises us he does fit in the time to read the occasional book as well.

Kay Easson
Kay Easson has worked in libraries for 30 years. She has had experience of working in school, public and independent libraries, the latter for nearly two decades at the Lit & Phil in Newcastle upon Tyne. Crime fiction is an important part of its collection and over the years the library has welcomed many crime writers, from Dorothy L. Sayers to CWA Diamond Dagger winner Ann Cleeves. Kay has been one of the co-organisers of Newcastle Noir, Newcastle’s annual crime-writing festival.

Mirka Duxberry
Mirka Duxberry is one of the Library Development Managers and has worked for Shropshire Libraries for over 14 years. She believes in the power of stories, reading and libraries and is passionate about languages. She continuously promotes the value and benefits of libraries to partners and the wider community and helps to develop new services.

Marleen Kennedy
Marleen Kennedy can’t remember a life before words and reading. After growing up in a household where no holiday or festivity was complete without at least one new book, it’s hardly surprising she now owns more books than shelf space while her Kindle is about to explode. Having left the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam for the peace and quiet of the Irish countryside she counts herself lucky to have worked as a branch librarian for the Cavan County Council Library Service for the past ten years. Marleen also writes romances under the name Helena Stone.

Jennifer Stewart
Jennifer Stewart is a Service Development Librarian with Fife Cultural Trust, and has worked in public libraries for over twenty years, passing on her passion for reading to anyone who is willing to listen. She is regularly to be found mixing with all sorts of criminal types via the pages of a book, and loves discovering new crime writers.

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