The Diamond Dagger
This year's winner
The Diamond Dagger award recognises authors whose crime writing careers have been marked by sustained excellence, and who have made a significant contribution to the genre.
Alongside his career as a prolific novelist, Martin Edwards is a renowned editor, reviewer, columnist and versatile writer of non-fiction, and is a leading authority on crime fiction. He has also enjoyed a separate career as a solicitor, and is recognised for his expertise in employment and equal opportunities law.
Andrew Taylor, chair of the Diamond Dagger sub-committee and winner of the award in 2009, said: “I’m delighted that the CWA Committee has decided to honour Martin with this year’s Diamond Dagger. Given the range and quality of his work, together with his enormous contribution to the genre as a whole, he is the perfect recipient.”
Linda Stratmann, CWA Chair, said: “Martin Edwards has been honoured not only as an award-winning author and editor, but also as a tireless promoter of crime writing. He researches and preserves the history of the genre, and has introduced the modern reader to classics of the past that might otherwise have been forgotten.”
Martin’s first novel, All the Lonely People, was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Memorial Dagger in 1991. Since then his crime writing has won multiple awards in the UK and US. In 2018 he received the CWA Dagger in the Library, awarded by British librarians. He has won the CWA Short Story Dagger, the CrimeFest H.R.F. Keating award, and in 2014 the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham Prize. His novels have been shortlisted for the Theakston’s Prize and the Lakeland Book Award, while in 2017 his non-fiction book The Golden Age of Murder was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger. In the US he has received the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allan Poe award, an Agatha award, and two Macavity awards from Mystery Readers International. In 2017 he received the Poirot award for his outstanding contribution to the genre.
Martin Edwards said: “The Diamond Dagger is special because it’s conferred by my fellow authors and because the previous winners are so illustrious. To be part of the warm and welcoming community of crime writers for the past thirty years has been a joy. I fell in love with crime fiction when as a young boy I first discovered Agatha Christie. From then on, my only ambition was to write a detective novel that people might enjoy reading. But I never imagined receiving an accolade like this. I’m truly honoured.”
Originally known for his Harry Devlin and the Lake District Mysteries series, Martin is now making waves with his 1930s-set thrillers. His latest novel Gallows Court revived the Golden Age of crime fiction with a unique twist, featuring the character Rachel Savernake, and was last year nominated for the CWA Historical Dagger and shortlisted for the eDunnit award. The sequel, Mortmain Hall, is published in April by Head of Zeus.
In 2015, Martin followed in the footsteps of Agatha Christie, G. K. Chesterton and Dorothy L. Sayers by being elected President of the Detection Club, the world’s oldest social network of crime writers. The Club will celebrate its 90th birthday this year by publishing Howdunit (HarperCollins), edited by Martin; a masterclass of crime writing by leading exponents of the genre. He is consultant to the British Library’s bestselling Crime Classics series, and wrote the award-winning companion volume, The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books. He is also archivist of the Detection Club and the CWA and a former Chair of the CWA. Author of over sixty short stories, since 1996 he has been the editor of the CWA’s annual anthology.
Martin was born in Knutsford, Cheshire, and now lives in Lymm. After graduating with a first class honours degree in law from Balliol College, Oxford, he became a solicitor, acting for many high profile clients. He was head of employment law at Mace & Jones, and subsequently a partner with Weightmans LLP, with whom he remains a consultant. Author of four editions of Equal Opportunities Handbook, he says, “The appeal of fiction is not so very different from the appeal of employment law. Both concern conflicts in human behaviour – and how best to resolve them.”
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.
Crime authors praise for Martin:
“Martin Edwards is not only a fine writer but he is also ridiculously knowledgeable about the field of crime and suspense fiction. He wears his learning lightly and is always the most congenial company. He is also a great champion of crime writing and crime writers. He has been an active (and proactive) member of the CWA for many years and has guided countless writers into publication through his scrupulous editorship of short story anthologies. His novels feature an acute sense of place as well as deep psychological insights. As a solicitor, he knows the legal world more intimately than most of his fellow novelists. He is a fitting winner of the Diamond Dagger.” – Ian Rankin
“Martin knows more about crime fiction than anyone else working in the field today. He’s always been a fan of the genre and his passion shines through in his work: the fiction, the non-fiction and the short stories. In his editing, he’s brought new writers and forgotten favourites to discerning readers. I’m delighted his work is being recognised in this way.” – Ann Cleeves
“Martin’s fiction alone makes him a truly worthy winner of the Diamond Dagger. His editorial excellence, his erudition, his enthusiasm for and contributions to the genre, his support of other writers, and his warm-hearted friendship are the icing on the cake.” – Lee Child
“Martin Edwards is a thoroughly deserved winner of this prized award. He has contributed so much to the genre, not only through the impressive canon of his own wonderfully written novels, but through his tireless work for crime writing in the UK.” – Peter James
“Martin is not only one of the finest crime writers of his generation. He is the heir to Julian Symons and H.R.F. Keating as the leading authority on our genre, fostering and promoting it with unflagging enthusiasm, to the benefit of us all. I’m delighted that our community can show its gratitude by honouring him in this way.” – Peter Lovesey
“Martin Edwards is a wonderful choice to receive the Diamond Dagger. He takes stellar roles in both the legal profession and crime-writing in a way few could manage. He’s a very fine writer but has also devoted huge energy to both the CWA and Detection Club – all done quietly and companionably, which is a rare thing. I love a man who takes care of archives. I am delighted for him, but as we always say: it’s for lifetime achievement – but please don’t stop what you do so well!” – Lindsey Davis
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, whether originally or in translation. The award is made purely on merit without reference to age, gender or nationality.