|On a mild November evening the UK publishing world gathered at Six Fitzroy Square, London W1 to discover who won this year’s CWA Ellis Peters Historical Crime Award. The award is sponsored by the Estate of Ellis Peters and her publishers, the Headline Book Publishing Group and the Little, Brown Book Group. After a brief introduction by David Shelley representing Little, Brown and the Ellis Peters esatate he handed over the proceeding to Janet Laurence. After giving the audience a run down of the entries she announced that the winner, and recipient of the £3000 prize money was ARIANA FRANKLIN.
The CWA Ellis Peters Historical Crime Award judging panel consisted of Janet Laurence (Chair), Sir Bernard Ingham, Maureen Lyle, Jessica Mann and Colin Murray. This year’s shortlist contains a wide-ranging selection, from Henry II’s England to post-war Munich and Tuscany, via the Victorian railways, and nineteenth century Istanbul and Canada. All are to be greatly enjoyed.
The shortlist, in alphabetical order by author, is as follows:
Judges’ comments: ‘Ariana Franklin has found a unique female protagonist, an Italian doctor trained in the study of death and brought to England as assistant to a renowned investigator charged by Henry II with the solving of murder. In this seductive book, characters leap into life, scenes form a closely woven and colourful tapestry, the central figure of Adelia, the mistress of the art of death, has an unusual charm, and the plot darkens as the story progresses.’
Ariana Franklin - MISTRESS OF THE ART OF DEATH - Bantam Press
Judges’ comments: ‘A second outing for Jason Goodwin’s eunuch sleuth, now having to dedicate his talents to clearing his name from the accusation of murder in nineteenth century Istanbul. The loving evocation of the city, its food, architecture, ethnic diversity and rivalries, and the political unrest that seethes as the Sultan lies dying, provides a compelling backdrop to a tale that twists and turns, and involves a host of memorable characters, including a magnetic heroine. The climax in the city’s underground water system is thrilling.’
Jason Goodwin - THE SNAKE STONE - Faber and Faber
Judges’ comments: ‘PhilipKerr’s German PI protagonist, Bernie Gunther, is working in 1949 Munich. This is a tale where nothing is what it seems on the surface, where the difficulty for Bernie is to distinguish one thing from another, whether it concerns war crimes, murder, dirty deals, or what the motives are for engaging his services. In a complex, multi-layered tale, characterisation, period atmosphere and the eventual unfolding of the facts all ring true and provide a satisfying whole.’
Philip Kerr - THE ONE FROM THE OTHER - Quercus
Andrew Martin - MURDER AT DEVIATION JUNCTION - Faber and Faber
Judges’ comments: ‘Another attractive mystery featuring the engagingly straight-forward pre-First World War railway detective, Jim Stringer. Andrew Martin marries together a cast of memorable and totally believable characters with a devious plot involving a secret society. Railways weave their own spell as lightly incorporated period detail assists in producing an absorbing crime novel that is peppered with atmospheric train journeys in the depths of winter.’
Mark Mills, THE SAVAGE GARDEN, HarperCollins
Judges’ comments: ‘Post war Tuscany, a sixteenth century garden and a wartime killing are woven together in an atmospheric and psychologically involving novel. The mysteries of the garden, the tensions in the family Docci, the emerging personality of the Cambridge architectural student who teases out much more than the secrets of the historic garden, all combine in a compelling read from the author of the highly regarded THE WHALEBOAT HOUSE (originally published as AMANGANSETT).’
Judges’ comments: ‘A marvellously evoked tale of murder and the disappearance of a seventeen-year-old boy into the icy wastes of Canada in the second half of the nineteenth century. The unlocking of the murder mystery involves the solving of past crimes as well as the present, explores the question of personal and ethnic identity, commercial corruption, parent/child relationships, greed, loyalty and love; major themes that the first-time author tackles with authority and imagination.’
Stef Penney - THE TENDERNESS OF WOLVES - Quercus