The CWA International Dagger Shortlist 2014

Posted: May 19, 2014 in Book Awards, France, Historical, Iceland, Spain









Arnaldur Indridason- Strange Shores translator Victoria Cribb

Pierre Lemaitre – Irene translator Frank Wynne

Arturo Perez-Reverte – The Siege translator Frank Wynne 

Olivier Truc – Forty Days without Shadow translator Louise Rogers LaLaurie

Simon Urban – Plan D translator Katy Derbyshire

Fred Vargas- Dog Will Have His Day translator Sian Reynolds

I have only read one of the books on this shortlist and will probably only read one more before the award is made on 30 June. Although this should mean I am not qualified to comment I have never let lack of qualifications discourage me in the past. This is the first time in the history of the International Dagger, which admittedly only goes back to 2006, that there is no Swedish book shortlisted. I wonder if this is because of the existence of the Petrona Award. The Swedish novel Linda, As In The Linda Murder by Leif G.W.Persson won this award defeating among others the International Dagger shortlisted Strange Shores by Icelandic author Arnaldur Indridason. Of course Olivier Truc’s highly acclaimed Forty Days without Shadow, although originally written in French, is set in Lapland so there is still a Scandinavian connection.

The International Dagger has been dominated by French and Swedish books; of the 54 books nominated from 2006 to 2014 French books make up 14 and Swedish 12, with the Italians coming in third with nine. The French have won the dagger five times, the Swedes twice and Andrea Camilleri won in 2012.

Why have I read so few of this year’s list? In the past I have read them all or almost all the shortlist. 

Arnaldur Indridason’s Strange Shores I have read and I thought it was a dull depressing read, and below the very high standards set by the earlier books in the series.   

Dog Will Have His Day by Fred Vargas. I may get round to reading this, but I did not enjoy The Three Evangelists [a past winner of the Dagger] as much as the Adamsberg series, which is one of my top favourite detective series.

Pierre Lemaitre’s Irene is the first book in the Camille Verhoeven series. The second book Alex was translated into English last year and deservedly, despite the violent content, won a share of the International Dagger. Why these books were published out of order is beyond my comprehension? Jo Nesbo’s Oslo Trilogy suffered a similar fate with The Devil’s Star number 3 in the trilogy was published in English first! 

I am surprised that I haven’t read any of Arturo Perez-Reverte’s books as some of them feature chess and the works of Alexandre Dumas, two of the few subjects I know something about. But The Siege is a formidable 672 pages long, and I wonder if  historical crime fiction might be out of place in the International Dagger field. 

Simon Urban’s Plan D set in a world where the Berlin Wall never fell has been compared to Fatherland by Robert Harris. But the translator Katy Derbyshire has said it is more literary with “long sentences running on for whole paragraphs”. Certainly the 528 page book’s first sentence gives the reader no inkling that they are beginning a book  of great literary merit. If it wins I will read it otherwise not for me.

Forty Days Without Shadow by Olivier Truc set in Lapland has won seventeen international awards, and I will definitely read this one and hopefully write a review before the winner is announced.    

  1. icewineanne says:

    Thanks so much for the insightful reviews even if you haven’t read all of the titles 🙂
    I will also read Forty Days based on your review. I’ll try to read this one before your review comes out, as I love to read your reviews after I, too, have read the book.

  2. Glad to see “Forty Days” is your ‘definitely to read’ title! I look forward reading your thoughts. I was originally asked to read the book in French for Portobello, who kindly passed my rave report to author Olivier Truc’s agent. Happily, Little, Brown took the plunge and commissioned me for the translation. The CWA shortlisting is great news – really well deserved coverage for the novel. The next-in-series is due out in French in September.

  3. Norman Price says:

    Louise, thanks very much for your comment. It is always helpful to get the translator’s opinion of a book. I am now really looking forward to reading Forty Days.

  4. Tara Sonin says:

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  5. Sarah says:

    I’m a big fan of Perez Reverte and I haven’t read this book. I’m looking on Amazon now!

  6. […] Norm reports on the dearth of Swedes in the shortlist for the International Dagger. Since it was launched in 2006 (when people got cross that an Icelandic author, Arnaldur Indridason, won the Gold Daggar) the International Daggar has always had at least one Swedish enty.  This time there’s only one Nordic author included – and he’s an old lag. However, a French author, Olivier Truc, has a book set in Finmark with Reindeer police (!), which almost counts. […]

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