Given in the past to some of crime writing’s biggest names, from Elmore Leonard to Frederick Forsyth and Val McDermid, the Diamond Dagger is for a career of “sustained excellence”, and for a “significant contribution” to the genre. James is best known for his series about detective superintendent Roy Grace, who investigates a serial killer targeting young women in Brighton in You Are Dead, his 11th and most recent outing.
The CWA called James a “master storyteller”, who has “most deeply impressed” with his Roy Grace books. “Committed to telling the truth about life inside the British police force, Peter has forged strong links to the Sussex police, often going out alongside working police officers and detectives to observe the reality of their jobs,” said the crime writers’ organisation. “This research gives his work an authenticity respected by working detectives and that thrills his readers.”
Crime writer Len Tyler, chair of the CWA, called James “King of the police procedural”. The author, who has sold 16m books, combines “up-to-the-minute accuracy with tight plotting and a fast pace” in his novels, according to Tyler, who also pointed to Sussex police’s decision to give James an “outstanding public service” award in 2012, for his scripting of a short video raising awareness about rape to teenagers, and to his honorary doctorate from Brighton University.