The Crime Writers’ Association

Daggers announced in glittering gala dinner evening

M.W. Craven has won the CWA Gold Dagger for his novel The Puppet Show.

The Daggers, which were announced (24 October) at a glittering awards ceremony at the Leonardo Royal Hotel, London, are regarded by the publishing world as the foremost British awards for crime-writing.

The first in M.W. Craven’s Detective Washington Poe series, The Puppet Show drew critical acclaim from crime authors Martina Cole, Peter James and Mick Herron – who described it as a “thrilling curtain raiser”.

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.

Craven, who lives in Carlisle, served in the armed forces and became a probation officer before crediting the CWA Debut Dagger competition in 2013, for which he was shortlisted, for opening the door for a career as an author.

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.

Linda Stratmann, Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association, said: “2019’s winners show the incredible range and quality of authors at work in the crime writing genre today. The Daggers recognise both established and emerging names, and we are incredibly proud of the reputation and longevity the Daggers have, nationally and internationally.”

Writer Barry Forshaw, MC for the Dagger Awards evening, added: “The Daggers are the ultimate celebration of the fact that crime fiction remains an evergreen area of modern publishing, with fresh trends continually appearing, and traditional forms undergoing constant reinvigoration.”


2019 CWA Daggers – The Winners

CWA GOLD DAGGER: M. W. Craven: The Puppet Show (Constable / Little Brown)

CWA JOHN CREASEY NEW BLOOD: Chris Hammer: Scrublands (Wildfire)

CWA ALCS GOLD DAGGER FOR NON-FICTION: Ben Macintyre: The Spy and the Traitor (Viking)

CWA IAN FLEMING STEEL DAGGER: Holly Watt: To The Lions (Raven Books)

CWA INTERNATIONAL DAGGER: Dov Alfon: A Long Night in Paris, tr Daniella Zamir (MacLehose Press)

CWA SAPERE BOOKS HISTORICAL DAGGER: S.G. MacLean: Destroying Angel (Quercus Fiction)

CWA SHORT STORY DAGGER: Danuta Kot writing as Danuta Reah: ‘The Dummies’ Guide to Serial Killing’ in The Dummies’ Guide to Serial Killing and other Fantastic Female Fables (Fantastic Books)

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


CWA DEBUT DAGGER: Shelley Burr: Wake

Highly commended: Catherine Hendricks: Hardways


DIAMOND DAGGER: Robert Goddard


Chris Hammer’s powerful debut Scrublands claimed the CWA John Creasey New Blood award.

Hammer, a journalist for more than 30 years, set Scrublands in the scorched landscape of Australia, featuring his flawed protagonist, journalist and former foreign correspondent, Martin Scarsden. The Guardian said Hammer’s lyrical writing evoked a “profound sense of place.”

Ben Macintyre’s The Spy and the Traitor, a tale of betrayal, duplicity and raw courage that changed the course of the Cold War, was awarded the CWA ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction.

The No. 1 Sunday Times Bestseller reveals the dramatic role played by MI6 in recruiting and cultivating a serving KGB insider and was hailed by John Le Carré as “the best true spy story I have ever read.”

To The Lions by Holly Watt received the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger.

Featuring a female journalist who stumbles upon a dark conspiracy, it was praised as a “first-rate Fleet Street novel” by the Sunday Times. Watt, an investigative journalist, has worked on MP’s Expenses and the Panama Papers and written for major broadsheets in the UK.

Israeli author Dov Alfon received the CWA International Dagger for A Long Night in Paris. Daniella Zamir was the translator.

A former intelligence officer of Unit 8200, the most secretive arm of the Israel Defence Forces, Alfon was also editor in chief of Israel’s most influential newspaper, Ha’aretz.

A Long Night in Paris – his first work of fiction – was praised by the Financial Times for Alfon’s insider knowledge.

The CWA Sapere Books Historical Dagger went to S.G. MacLean for Destroying Angel, the third in her Seeker series. Set in 1655 in Yorkshire, the gripping historical thriller features Captain Damian Seeker from Oliver Cromwell’s handpicked guard. Shona MacLean has an MA and PHD in History from the University of Aberdeen.

Danuta Kot, writing as Danuta Reah, was the winner of her second CWA Short Story Dagger for The Dummies’ Guide to Serial Killing. She last received the award in 2005.

The CWA Dagger in the Library went to Kate Ellis, who was previously shortlisted for the award in 2017. Her win was extremely popular as a result.

Kate Ellis has sold over three-quarters of a million books worldwide, known for her Devon-set historical crime Wesley Peterson series and spooky DI Joe Plantagenet based in North Yorkshire. She beat stalwarts M C Beaton, Mark Billingham, John Connolly, C J Sansom and Cath Staincliffe for the Dagger which is voted on exclusively by librarians, chosen for the author’s body of work and support of libraries.

The Debut Dagger competition for unknown and uncontracted writers saw Australian author Shelley Burr win for her novel, Wake. Highly commended was American writer, Catherine Hendricks, for Hardways.

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

This year also saw the inaugural Best Crime and Mystery Publisher of the Year go to No Exit Press.

The first new Dagger category in over a decade celebrates publishers and imprints demonstrating excellence and diversity in crime writing. No Exit Press is one of the UK’s leading independent publishers of crime fiction. Over its 30 years of business, it’s published numerous award-winning titles and prides itself on uncovering new talent.

On the night, Robert Goddard was presented with the 2019 Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement, the highest honour in British crime writing.


For further media info please contact Ann Chadwick, M: 07534 892715.

Notes to Editors


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. Robert Goddard was announced as the 2019 recipient in the spring.


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.


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.



Presented to Robert Goddard.


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)


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 (Raven Books)

Tim Willocks: Memo from Turner (Jonathan Cape)



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 and 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)



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)


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 and Sugar (Mantle)


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 Kot writing as 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 Killers 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)


M C Beaton

Mark Billingham

John Connolly

Kate Ellis

C J Sansom

Cath Staincliffe


(A competition for the opening of a crime novel by an uncontracted writer)

Shelley Burr: Wake

Jerry Crause: The Mourning Light

Catherine Hendricks: Hardways

David Smith: The Firefly

Fran Smith: A Thin Sharp Blade


Faber & Faber

Harper Fiction (HarperCollins)

HQ (HarperCollins)

No Exit Press (Oldcastle Books)

Orenda Books

Pushkin Vertigo (Pushkin)

Raven Books

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



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