Strong shortlist for historical crime fiction award
The Crime Writers’ Association has announced the shortlists for this year’s prestigious Ellis Peters Historical Award.
Established for the best historical crime novel (set in any period up to 35 years prior to the year in which the award will be made) by an author of any nationality, the award commemorates the life and work of Ellis Peters (Edith Pargeter) (1913-1995), a prolific author perhaps best known as the creator of Brother Cadfael.
CWA chair Margaret Murphy said: “The Ellis Peters judges have again identified a terrifically strong list for the Historical Award. Each historical period, from the sixteenth century to World War II, is wonderfully evoked by these talented writers.”
The winner will be announced on Thursday 29th October. 6.30pm to 8.30pm drinks reception, with the announcement itself at 7pm, at Six Fitzroy Square, London.
The shortlist for the Ellis Peters Historical Award Prize £3,000 (Sponsors: The Estate of Ellis Peters, Headline Book Publishing Company and Little, Brown Book Group) is:
Rennie Airth THE DEAD OF WINTER
Judges’ comments: Patient detection unravels the seemingly motiveless murder of a Polish girl in1944 London, a crime that reaches back to Paris on the brink of invasion and forwards to a stunning conclusion. A beautifully paced and carefully-drawn evocation of a war-weary society, and a police force dependent on over-retirement age detectives pitched against a pitiless criminal.
Philip Kerr IF THE DEAD RISE NOT
Judges’ comments: Bernard Gunther, ex-Berlin cop, now house detective in the first-class Hotel Adlon as Nazi power becomes unstoppable, grapples with murder, corruption and the politics involved with Berlin’s 1936 hosting of the Olympic Games. Nearly twenty years later Bernie faces echoes of that time in pre-Castro Cuba, where he once more becomes involved with murder, corruption and politics. A tightly controlled plot twists and turns in a wryly witty narrative and the historical settings breathe reality.
Published by: Quercus
Shona MacLean THE REDEMPTION OF ALEXANDER SEATON
Judges’ comments: Early seventeenth-century Scotland: murder and religious prejudice, witch hunts, disgrace, loyalties, betrayal, love and redemption all combine in a beautifully told story that brings to life the struggles of a complex young man as he strives to expose the murder of a friend he failed. The writing is fresh, interesting issues are raised and the book builds a subtle picture of the times and the people.
Mark Mills THE INFORMATION OFFICER
Judges’ comments: In the summer of 1942 Malta is on the brink of invasion. Mark Mills combines the stresses of this perilous situation on Maltese society with a murder investigation that exposes treachery and betrayal. The volatile atmosphere of the constantly-bombed tiny island, the complex relationships that exist between the Maltese and the Allied servicemen who attempt to make merry knowing life could be brutally short, build into an engrossing mystery.
Andrew Williams THE INTERROGATOR
Judges’ comments: An unusual crime novel that centres on an investigation during the Second World War into whether Allied codes have been broken. The investigation is carried out – against orders – by an interrogator of German naval prisoners of war. A highly suspicious death occurs amongst the prisoners. The gradual growth of a relationship between the interrogator and a female signals officer working in the Admiralty’s Operational Intelligence Centre parallels those which develop between interrogator and interrogated, and between the prisoners themselves. Betrayal results on all sides. This complex and well-written book offers a fascinating insight into a little-explored area of the conduct of war.
Publisher: John Murray
Laura Wilson AN EMPTY DEATH
Judges’ comments: Another compelling look at wartime London exploring the stresses and strains of four years living under bombing, rationing, and the threat of invasion. An intricate plot switches between a murder investigation by Inspector Stratton, a campaign by a sinister figure without medical qualifications to turn himself into a doctor, and the struggles of Stratton’s wife and her sister to cope with a psychotic survivor of bombing as well as wartime deprivations. The nature of trust is explored. Small details of civil and police life after four years of war build up to a shattering climax.
Publishers: Orion Publishing Group
LONGLISTED AUTHORS OF SPECIAL MERIT
The CWA Ellis Peters judging panel has also asked for the following books from their long list to be published in recognition of their merit.
Rory Clements MARTYR
Publisher: John Murray
Marjorie Eccles BROKEN MUSIC
Publisher: Allison & Busby
Janet Laurence (Chair) - author of the Darina Lisle and Canaletto crime series, and Writing Crime Fiction, former chair of the CWA
Geoffrey Bailey – Bookseller specialising in crime
Sir Bernard Ingham – Press Secretary to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and crime fiction fan
Maureen Lyle – Crime reviewer and enthusiastic reader
Eileen Roberts – Originator and organiser of St Hilda’s annual crime symposium in Oxford, mystery and crime enthusiast
How fascinating that the majority of the finalist novels are set during or in the build up to World War 11.
I have not read a lot of historic crime fiction - purely a reflection of too many novels to read, too little time. But many of these look tempting.
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