The Endeavour Historical Crime Fiction Award 2014 Shortlist

Posted: May 29, 2014 in Book Awards, England, Historical, spy story, USA

51L9kyz3feL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_51ANBYTT1nL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_51MIKOBq3-L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_51kss+dFjYL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_51Ll7rHYubL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_61S3rEHE0cL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_51ycKO1H8bL._There is a new sponsor for the CWA Historical Crime Fiction Prize, the Endeavour press. There is a shortlist of seven novels and the award will be made on the 30th June 2014. I think historical crime fiction is the most difficult sub genre to write successfully. Simply because the author has to add accurate  historical research to the mix of plot, character and atmosphere. 

My thoughts on the shortlist:

The Devil in the Marshalsea: Antonia Hodgson

Set in London’s Marshalsea debtors prison in 1727 this debut novel hopefully will live up to the hype. “Detail and atmosphere rivals The Master, Dickens, with added crime.”

The Late Scholar: Jill Paton Walsh

A novel which moves Dorothy L. Sayers characters Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane into the 1950s. I have read so little of Miss Sayers that I couldn’t compare it to the originals.

Kitty Peck and the Music Hall Murders: Kate Griffin

I got the impression from reading reviews of this book that it was a young adult book, but if it is good enough it does not matter who is the intended readership. Is it good enough?

Treachery: S.J.Parris

The fourth Giordano Bruno adventure set in Elizabethan England 1583. Monk, poet and detective Giordano is just the man to work for Sir Francis Walsingham in foiling Spanish plots against England and her Virgin Queen. 

The City of Strangers: Michael Russell

This is the second in a series set in the years just before the Second World War with protagonist Garda Sergeant Stefan Gillespie. The first The City of Shadows was set in Dublin and Danzig, this sequel in 1939 New York. 

Theft of Life: Imogen Robertson

London, 1785. The unconventional Harrriet Westerman and anatomist Gabriel Crowther investigate the murder of a former West Indies planter and face the reality of the slave trade. 

The Dead Can Wait: Robert Ryan

I was intrigued by the blurb of this book. “At a time when Sherlockian recreations are ten-a-penny, Ryan’s Dr Watson at War series seems likely to be the one that would most have won the approval of Conan Doyle himself.”

Didn’t Conan Doyle became totally bored with Sherlock Holmes, and attempt to kill him off at the Reichenbach Falls? 

I find it rather depressing that two out the seven shortlisted books use characters created by dead writers. Perhaps I am being very unfair, I frequently am.

When entries that did not make the shortlist come from writers such as Laura Wilson, Joe R. Lansdale, Robert Harris [the superb An Officer And A Spy], Robert Goddard, Michael Ridpath, Patrick Easter and John Lawton, I wonder if my status as an amateur historian and apprentice reviewer is under threat.        

  1. “I wonder if my status as an amateur historian and apprentice reviewer is under threat.” Of course not Norm. Do not take it personally. 😉

  2. Sarah says:

    I’ve just finished the Kate Griffin book which I really enjoyed. I hope to read the Perez Reverte sometime.

  3. Barbara says:

    I didn’t know there was such a prize as the CWA Historical Crime Fiction Prize!!! Looks like a great site for book reccomendations for myself!

  4. AnnaM says:

    I agree that the shortlist was a bit depressing, particularly the omission of Robert Harris. Can you recommend other good historical crime fiction, ideally set in the first half of the 20th century? Sarah Waters is my absolute fave. I’m struggling to find anyone nearly as good.


    • Norman Price says:

      Anna, one very good series is by Maurizio De Giovanni featuring Commissario Ricciardi and that is set in Fascist Italy during the early 1930s. There is also Rebecca Cantrell’s Hannah Vogel series also set during the 1930s in Germany, and a series set in pre Great War Vienna by Frank Tallis; featuring the psychologist Max Liebermann. Then there are books set during that period by Alan Furst, Aly Monroe, Philip Kerr and John Lawton. All are excellent in my opinion.
      I have to agree about Sarah Walters the plot twist in the award winning Fingersmith is in the Agatha Christie class.

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