Autumnal thoughts on those CWA Daggers

Posted: October 31, 2014 in Book Awards, Conan Doyle, England, Historical, Norway

photoxii The unusually mild and dry autumn weather in Devon this year has affected my reading, simply because we have been out a lot enjoying the sunshine. I do have another of my quizzes in preparation to keep readers busy over the holiday period. These were a feature of the blog in earlier years and I hope this one will tempt people to enter for the prize. More about this in a few weeks.

Interestingly the folks at Thriller Books Journal seem to approve of  some of my efforts as they informed me of their item Crime Fiction Blogs Worth Investigating [part eight]. 

Crime Scraps Review:

News, reviews and thoughts about crime fiction by Norman Price, a man with NOIR written through him like a stick of rock. Tremendous.

I would have thought that if there was a word written through me at the moment it was probably RHEUMATISM, but it was very pleasant to read such a flattering appraisal. 🙂

It has encouraged me to make a few comments on the recent CWA Daggers handed out a few days ago at the Specsavers Crime and Thriller Awards.

ctacutoutweb-300x263The Best Actress Dagger: Keeley Hawes, Line of Duty

 The Best Actor Dagger: Matthew McConaughey, True Detective

The Best Supporting Actor Dagger: James Norton, Happy Valley

The Best Supporting Actress Dagger: Amanda Abbington, Sherlock

The TV Dagger: Happy Valley

The Film Dagger: Cold in July

The International TV Dagger: True Detective.

The Specsavers ITV3 Crime Thriller Book Club Best Read: Peter May, Entry Island 

 Crime Writers’ Association Goldsboro Gold Dagger for the Best Crime Novel of the Year: Wiley Cash, This Dark Road to Mercy 

 Crime Writers’ Association John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger for the Best New Crime Writer of the Year: Ray Celestin, The Axeman’s Jazz 

 Crime Writers’ Association Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for the Best Thriller of the Year: Robert Harris, An Officer and a Spy 

Last year I read the Gold Dagger novel Dead Lions by Mick Herron, which I enjoyed very much, and will certainly read this year’s winner This Dark Road To Mercy by Wiley Cash, a previous winner in 2012 of the John Creasey New Blood Dagger. I will also try and get round to reading Entry Island by Peter May.

I was very pleased to see that An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris won this year’s CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, it was one of my best five reads of 2013photoxx1

An Officer and a Spy is not only an exciting read, but perhaps might educate those who read it to the dangers of  anti-Semitism, and politicians attempting to cover up gross miscarriages of justice. That list of my best reads of 2013 also included the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger winner the masterly Norwegian By Night by Derek B. Miller

In picking the Robert Harris book for the 2014 Steel Dagger the judges have chosen a quality novel after last year’s poor choice of Ghostman by Roger Hobbs. I read Ghostman and deciding that I did not want to be too negative deliberately did not review it. My failing memory and time have mollified my feelings somewhat, but I still do not think it warranted a prestigious dagger.

My reasons were that Ghostman was a first person monologue by Jack, a professional armed robber, a man who lives off the grid, and who gave readers  a series of laundry lists of how to get in through a locked door, how brilliant he was, how a shovel makes a terrible weapon, how clever he was, and how he blended into the background by arriving in a simple private jet, and how successful he was. But despite being this master criminal he failed to notice his car had a tracking device installed etc etc etc etc…..

I can’t remember much more about it except all the characters were totally amoral thugs, and criminal geniuses, one proved that by telling Jack how he had made a young child drink drain cleaner. Personally I lost interest in Ghostman at that point, but in reality that probably means it will be made into a high grossing movie starring Brad, or Ben or Tom, or all three. 

On a more positive note TV programs that I watched and enjoyed received three daggers: James Norton-Best Supporting Actor in Happy Valley, Best TV series-Happy Valley, and Best Actress-Keeley Hawes in Line of Duty [written by Jed Mercurio].

Happy Valley was written by Sally Wainwright, the creator of another brilliant TV series Scott & Bailey, which has unfortunately  just ended on ITV. In any other year Sarah Lancashire who played police Sergeant Catherine Cawood in Happy Valley would have won Best Actress, but Keeley Hawes did produce a mesmeric performance as Detective Inspector  Lindsay Denton in the superb Line of Duty. 

I think that Happy Valley, Line of Duty, and other gritty series like Southcliffe, and Mayday prove that the best of British TV crime series can match any Nordic or American  series, with the possible exception of the Dickensian brilliance of The Wire. But then of course almost everyone in The Wire was British. 😉  

  1. Margot Kinberg says:

    Norman – Thanks for your thoughts on these awards. I honestly haven’t been following those shows as well as I ought; it’s good to hear though that some of these shows were good 🙂

  2. Kathy D. says:

    Congratulations on the raves for Crime Scraps Review. It’s well-deserved.

    I have not seen Line of Duty or Happy Valley. I’ll see if my library has these series. I do enjoy Scott & Bailey. I liked Broadchurch, too, and Hinterland, the Welsh detective series. And the two-part Escape Artist was just brilliant. David Tennant and Sophie Okonado were brilliant as two jousting barristers, with a psychopathic killer mixed in. Lots of mind games.

    In concur that British mysteries series are very good. Oops, I forgot a favorite: The Bletchley Circle.

  3. Norman Price says:

    Thanks Kathy.

    I think you would enjoy both Line of Duty and Happy Valley as there are such good roles played by women. A bit of violence but always essential to the plot and not overdone.

    I have to admit missing Broadchurch, a disaster especially as I think Olivia Colman is brilliant in anything she does. I must get our DVD player working and get that Broadchurch boxed set.

    I did enjoy Hinterland. This was another series that showed viewers that if you wanted some very dark noir you didn’t have to watch subtitled Danish or Swedish.

    I like the way The Bletchley Circle captured some of the bleakness and poverty of post war Britain. We still had bomb sites all over England in the 1960s.

  4. Kathy D. says:

    Olivia Coleman is brilliant, I concur. Unfortunately, over here, although David Tennant is one of the detectives in Gravepoint, a redo of Broadchurch, Coleman is not in it. A more glamorous actress is playing the same part. Anna Gunn is fine, but she’s not Coleman.

    On The Bletchley Circle, one of the pluses to women viewers who loved it over here is that it showed the intelligence and capability of a group of women who did crucial and difficult jobs during WWII. All of them used their skills and talents to solve post-war crimes and were quite adept at doing so.
    And while watching the series, I was blown away by Anna Maxwell Martin.

    Over in Britain, you have the opportunity to see her in many plays, movies and TV shows, but we did not see her until Bletchley ran — and we loved her.

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