Annal: 2002 Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award for Historical Crime Novel

Results of the Dagger Award in the year 2002.

Book:Fingersmith

Fingersmith

Sarah Waters

From the author of the New York Times Notable Book Tipping the Velvet and the award-winning Affinity: a spellbinding, twisting tale of a great swindle, of fortunes and hearts won and lost, set in Victorian London among a family of thieves.

Sue Trinder is an orphan, left as an infant in the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a “baby farmer,” who raised her with unusual tenderness, as if Sue were her own. Mrs. Sucksby’s household, with its fussy babies calmed with doses of gin, also hosts a transient family of petty thieves-fingersmiths-for whom this house in the heart of a mean London slum is home.

One day, the most beloved thief of all arrives-Gentleman, a somewhat elegant con man, who carries with him an enticing proposition for Sue: If she wins a position as the maid to Maud Lilly, a naïve gentlewoman, and aids Gentleman in her seduction, then they will all share in Maud’s vast inheritance. Once the inheritance is secured, Maud will be left to live out her days in…[more]

Book:The Athenian Murders

The Athenian Murders

Jose Carlos Somoza

In this brilliant, highly entertaining, and intriguing novel, Jose Carlos Somoza intertwines two darkly compelling riddles, forcing us to confront the ways in which we interpret reality.

In ancient Athens, one of the pupils of Plato’s Academy is found dead. His idealistic teacher Diagoras is convinced the pupil’s death is not as accidental as it appears, and asks the famous Heracles Pontor, the “Decipherer of Enigmas,” to investigate. As the death toll rises, the two men find themselves drawn into the dangerous underworld of the Athenian aristocracy, risking their own lives to solve the riddle of these young men’s deaths. Simultaneously, a second plot unfolds: that of the modern-day translator of the ancient text, who, as he proceeds with his work, becomes convinced that the original author has hidden a second meaning in the text, one that can be interpreted through certain repeated words and images. As the story advances, however,…[more]

Book:Dead Man Riding

Dead Man Riding: A Nell Bray Mystery

Gillian Linscott

After three years of traipsing across Europe with her lovesick, widowed mother, Nell Bray has finally found her way to Oxford University. There she has befriended the beautiful Imogen and the charming Midge.

When the three girls decide to accept an invitation by their male classmates to join a reading party in the country during vacation—accompanied by a dashing philosophy don with a reputation for stirring up trouble—they go against what is quickly becoming the obsolete conventions of the nineteenth-century.

Once they arrive in the country, they are greeted by the unpleasant fact that their host has been accused of murder when a local boy is missing. Rather than return home, however, the six students and their mentor decide to put down their books and put their intellectual prowess to the test by solving the mystery.

This combination of mystery and learning—with some college crushes and loves along the way—makes Dead Man Riding Gillian Linscott’s best mystery to date.

Book:The Desperate Remedy

The Desperate Remedy: Henry Gresham and the Gunpowder Plot: A Novel

Martin Stephen

Thief. Informer. Double-dealer. Pimp. Will Shadwell may not be the most moral of men, but to gentleman spy Henry Gresham he is invaluable. During the reign of King James I a man must know his enemies to survive and Shadwell is one of Gresham’s best sources.

Then Shadwell is discovered brutally murdered. And before Gresham is able to establish why, he is summoned by the man he fears most: Robert Cecil, the King’s Machiavellian Chief Secretary. Cecil wants Gresham to investigate Sir Francis Bacon’s private life. When Gresham begins his inquiries, he uncovers a plot so audacious it is scarcely believable: a conspiring clutch of Catholic lords and a trail of gunpowder underneath the Houses of Parliament.

From the court of King James to the deadly underworld of Jacobean London, Martin Stephen’s superb debut novel is as rich in atmosphere as it is in tension. Historical fiction of the highest order, The Desperate Remedy is a thrilling tale of courtly machinations.

Book:The Jupiter Myth

The Jupiter Myth: A Marcus Didius Falco Mystery

Lindsey Davis

The fourteenth Falco novel is a tale of love, gangsters and female gladiators—including one from Falco’s own past.

Falco and his family are staying in London when Falco is summoned to the scene of a murder. The victim, Verovolcus, was a renegade with ties to Roman crime magnates operating in London, but he was also close to King Togidubnus. So when he is discovered stuffed head-first down a well, a tricky diplomatic situation develops that Falco must defuse, and which leads him into the seedy underbelly of London. There is a newly built amphitheatre in town, with female gladiators, but Falco soon realizes that the initially troublesome gladiators—including one from his own bachelor past—may just give him the edge he needs to solve Verovolcus’ murder, as the gangsters are pursued back to the Italian town of Ostia for a final showdown.

Book:The Pale Companion

The Pale Companion: A Shakespearean Murder Mystery

Philip Gooden

Midsummer 1601. Nick Revill and his fellow actors in the Chamberlain’s Men are journeying across the Wiltshire Downs for a country-house presentation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It should be a pleasant, well-paid jaunt to celebrate a noble marriage, but things go wrong from the start.

On a brief stopover in the market town of Salisbury, the locals make clear their dislike of actors by beating up Nick, a painful experience relieved only by his meeting with the local magistrate Adam Fielding—and Fielding’s beautiful daughter Kate. When the Chamberlain’s Men arrive at their destination, Instede House, they enter a tense family atmosphere. Lord Elcombe is pushing his older son into a marriage that the son seems set against, while in the nearby woods a wild man called Robin talks in fiddles of long-hidden family secrets. In another quarter of the great estate lodges a traveling band of fire-and-brimstone morality…[more]

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