The Crime Writers’ Association

CWA Unveils 2019 Dagger Shortlists

The author behind one of the biggest shows on TV, a world renowned forensic anthropologist and the son of ‘the godfather of tartan noir’ have been shortlisted for the prestigious CWA Dagger awards.

The ten Daggers awarded annually by the CWA are regarded by the publishing world as the foremost British awards for crime-writing.

Luke Jennings is shortlisted for the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for No Tomorrow, a Sunday Times thriller of the month and the basis for the major BBC TV series Killing Eve starring Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer.

Professor Sue Black, who was awarded an OBE for her international human identification work on mass graves, makes the CWA ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction for All That Remains. Black is also the expert forensics adviser to the ‘Queen of Crime’ Val McDermid.

The CWA Sapere Books Historical Dagger sees Liam McIlvanney in the running for The Quaker, which has already won the 2018 McIlvanney Prize, named in honour of his father the godfather of tartan noir, William McIllvanney. He’s up against CJ Sansom with his acclaimed Shardlake series and the award-winning Abir Mukherjee for Smoke and Ashes, the third novel in his historical crime series set in Calcutta.

The world-famous Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) Daggers, which honour the very best in crime writing, are the oldest awards in the genre. Created in 1955, the CWA Daggers have been synonymous with quality crime writing for over half a century.

The award-winning poet, Claire Askew, has been shortlisted for two Daggers for her debut novel All the Hidden Truths hailed by The Times as a ‘thought-provoking’ entry into crime fiction. Askew is in contention for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger – given to the best crime novel by a first-time author. She’s up against Laura Shepherd-Robinson’s Blood & Sugar, hailed by the Financial Times as ‘a novel of astonishing skill.’

Askew is also in the running for the CWA Gold Dagger – the award for the best crime novel, alongside M W Craven with The Puppet Show. Craven served in the armed forces and became a probation officer before crediting the CWA Debut Dagger competition in 2013 for giving him a career as an author. Craven said: “I can draw a direct evolutionary line from being shortlisted in 2013 to the two book deal I signed with Little, Brown in January 2017. Being on the shortlist opened a door.”

The 2019 Debut Dagger competition sees five unknown and uncontracted writers shortlisted.

Linda Stratmann, Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association, said: “The Daggers are unparalleled for their longevity and reputation. Receiving a Dagger award is a something of a holy grail for authors. The CWA prides itself on supporting crime authors by not just recognising established names but as a platform for debut novelists and emerging writers.”

UK Libraries whittled down six crime authors for the prestigious Dagger in the Library prize.

M C Beaton, Mark Billingham, John Connolly, Kate Ellis, C J Sansom and Cath Staincliffe are all nominees, selected by librarians and chosen for their body of work and support of libraries.

The winners will be announced at the Dagger Award ceremony at the Grange City Hotel, London, on 24 October – widely considered as the crime writing event of the year.

Tickets are now available for the Dagger Awards gala dinner. Guest speaker on the night is the writer, broadcaster, dramatist and journalist Lynn Truss, famed for Eats, Shoots and Leaves alongside heraward-winning comic crime novel, A Shot in the Dark. The night is compered by one of the UK’s leading experts on crime fiction, Barry Forshaw.

The Daggers also honour those working in short story form, as well as specific awards for international titles.

One of the UK’s most prominent societies for the promotion and promulgation of crime writing, the CWA was founded in 1953 by John Creasy; the awards started in 1955 with its first award going to Winston Graham, best known for Poldark.

On the night, Robert Goddard will also be presented with the 2019 Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement, the highest honour in British crime writing. His 28th novel, One False Move (Bantam Press), was published in February.

Robert Goddard said: “I’m greatly honoured to be this year’s CWA Diamond Dagger recipient, particularly since it’s an award conferred by my fellow writers, who know about the challenges of the craft from the inside.”



Claire Askew: All the Hidden Truths (Hodder & Stoughton)

M W Craven: The Puppet Show (Constable)

Christobel Kent: What We Did (Sphere)

Donna Leon: Unto Us a Son is Given (William Heinemann)

Derek B Miller: American by Day (Doubleday)

Benjamin Wood: A Station on the Path to Somewhere Better (Scribner)


Claire Askew: All the Hidden Truths (Hodder & Stoughton)

Alex Dahl: The Boy at the Door (Head of Zeus)

Chris Hammer: Scrublands (Wildfire)

Vicky Newham: Turn a Blind Eye (HQ)

Laura Shepherd-Robinson: Blood &Sugar (Mantle)

Vanda Symon: Overkill (Orenda)


Sue Black: All That Remains (Doubleday)

Mikita Brottman: An Unexplained Death (Canongate)

Claire Harman: Murder by the Book (Viking)

Kirk Wallace Johnson: The Feather Thief (Hutchinson)

Ben Macintyre: The Spy and the Traitor (Viking)

Hallie Rubenhold: The Five (Doubleday)



Megan Abbott: Give Me Your Hand (Picador)

Dan Fesperman: Safe Houses (Head of Zeus)

Luke Jennings: Killing Eve: No Tomorrow (John Murray)

Stephen Mack Jones: Lives Laid Away (Soho Crime)

Holly Watt: To the Lions (Bloomsbury)

Tim Willocks: Memo from Turner (Jonathan Cape)


Liam McIlvanney: The Quaker (Harper Fiction)

S G MacLean: Destroying Angel (Quercus Fiction)

Abir Mukherjee: Smoke and Ashes (Harvill Secker)

Alex Reeve: The House on Half Moon Street (Raven Books)

C J Sansom: Tombland (Mantle)

Laura Shepherd-Robinson: Blood & Sugar (Mantle)


Dov Alfon: A Long Night in Paris, tr Daniella Zamir (Maclehose Press)

Karin Brynard: Weeping Waters, tr Maya Fowler & Isobel Dixon (World Noir)

Gianrico Carofiglio: The Cold Summer, tr Howard Curtis (Bitter Lemon Press)

Keigo Higashino: Newcomer, tr Giles Murray (Little, Brown)

Håkan Nesser: The Root of Evil, tr Sarah Death (Mantle)

Cay Rademacher: The Forger, tr Peter Millar (Arcadia Books)


Martin Edwards: Strangers in a Pub in ‘Ten Year Stretch’ edited by Martin Edwards and Adrian Muller (No Exit Press)

Syd Moore: Death Becomes Her in ‘The Strange Casebook’ by Syd Moore (Point Blank Books)

Danuta Reah*: The Dummies’ Guide to Serial Killing in ‘The Dummies’ Guide to Serial Killing and other Fantastic Female Fables’ (Fantastic Books)

Teresa Solana: I Detest Mozart in ‘The First Prehistoric Serial Killer and Other Stories’ by Teresa Solana (Bitter Lemon Press)

Lavie Tidhar: Bag Man in ‘The Outcast Hours’ edited by Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin (Solaris)

*Danuta Kot writing as Danuta Reah.



M C Beaton

Mark Billingham

John Connolly

Kate Ellis

C J Sansom

Cath Staincliffe


The CWA’s renowned competition for the opening of a crime novel by an uncontracted writer

Shelley Burr: Wake

Jerry Krause: The Mourning Light

Catherine Hendricks: Hardways

David Smith: The Firefly

Fran Smith: A Thin Sharp Blade



Presented to Robert Goddard.




Photo of Robert Goddard is copyright by Graham Jepson

Notes to Editors


This award is for the best crime novel by an author of any nationality, originally written in English, first published in the UK during the Judging Period. The broadest definition of the crime novel defines eligible books including thrillers, suspense novels and spy fiction.

It was originally created in 1955, under the name of the Crossed Red Herrings Award. The first winner was Winston Graham for The Little Walls. It was renamed the Gold Dagger in 1960 and has been awarded ever since with variations in its name depending on sponsorship.

Up to 2005 books in translation were eligible for this prize. In 2006 the CWA established a separate dagger, the International, for books in translation, recognising the work of the translator as well as that of the original author.


The CWA Diamond Dagger is selected from nominations provided by CWA members. Nominees have to meet two essential criteria: first, their careers must be marked by sustained excellence, and second, they must have made a significant contribution to crime writing published in the English language.


Ian Fleming said there was one essential criterion for a good thriller, ‘one simply has to turn the pages’.

Eligible books in this category are thrillers set in any period and include, but are not limited to, spy fiction, psychological thrillers and action/adventure stories.


This award is for the best crime novel by a first-time author of any nationality first published in the UK in English during the Judging Period. ‘Best crime novel by a first time author’ means that the author must not have had a novel of any sort published before under any name whatsoever. In the case of novels with more than one author, all the authors must meet this requirement.


This award is for crime novels (defined by the broadest definition including thrillers, suspense novels and spy fiction) as long as the book was not originally written in English and has been translated into English for UK publication during the Judging Period.


This award is for any non-fiction work on a crime related theme by an author of any nationality as long as the book was first published in the UK in English during the Judging Period. This award encompasses, though is not limited to, non-fiction works relating to true crime, historical crime, crime-related biography, crime-fiction literature and critical studies.


This award is for the best historical crime novel, first published in the UK in English during the Judging Period, set in any period up to 50 years prior to the year in which the award will be made. For novels that involve passages set later than this time period, at least three-quarters of the book should be set in an earlier period.


This award is for any crime short story first published in the UK in English in a publication that pays for contributions, or broadcast in the UK in return for payment, during the Judging Period. The term short story refers to a work of fiction no shorter than 1,000 and no longer than 15,000 words.


Chosen by judges: author Leigh Russell, editor Stephanie Glencross (of Gregory and Company), Editorial Director at Bonnier Zaffre Katherine Armstrong and director of literary agency A.M. Heath and Co. Oli Munson.


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


To view past winners, or find out more, please visit


Join the CWA

Become part of a thriving community of successful crime writers with invaluable support, expertise and marketing opportunities for all our members.

Advertise with us