Annal: 2003 Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award for Historical Crime Novel

Results of the Dagger Award in the year 2003.

Book:The American Boy

The American Boy

Andrew Taylor

Edgar Allan Poe is the American boy, a child standing on the edge of mysteries.

In 1819, two Americans arrive in London, and soon afterwards a bank collapses. A man is found dead and horribly mutilated on a building site. An heiress flirts with her inferiors. A poor schoolmaster struggles to understand what is happening before it destroys him and those he loves.

But the truth, like the youthful Poe himself, has its origins in the new world as well as the old. Buried deep in the novel’s core is a bitter episode of corruption and divided loyalties during the War of 1812, the inconclusive struggle between the newly independent United States and the world’s one global superpower.

The American Boy is a 21st-century novel with a 19th-century voice. It is a a multilayered literary murder story…[more]

Book:The Advocate

The Advocate

Marcello Fois, Patrick Creagh

The incident occurred in Nuoro, Sardinia, about a hundred years ago. A prosperous farmer was shot dead in his olive grove, and his hired hand, a young man called Zenobi, was found guilty In absentia—he had gone to ground already after being accused of theft and was now a bandit with a price on his head. An open-and-shut case. Only the lawyer was willing to see whether the evidence for either charge stood up against the facts. Neither the courts nor the police wanted to reopen the case; the boy had effectively admitted his guilt by absconding. The lawyer’s only recourse was to set up a trap of his own…

Book:Blood on the Wood

Blood on the Wood: A Nell Bray Mystery

Gillian Linscott

When the suffragette movement is bequeathed a valuable painting by campaigner Philomena Venn, suffragette and amateur sleuth Nell Bray agrees to retrieve it. The plan is simple: Collect the picture from Philomena’s widower, Oliver, take it to Christie’s, and sell it to raise much-needed funds. But Nell is in for a surprise when she returns from the Vennes’ home in the Cotswolds: The painting he has given her is a fake!

When Oliver refuses to hand over the real painting, his son, political activist Daniel Venn, suggests an alternative plan to Nell: Why doesn’t she break into the house and switch the paintings? Against her better judgment she agrees, and in the process she uncovers a far more serious crime—a brutal murder in which she is now personally embroiled….

Once again, Gillian Linscott guides her delightfully starchy heroine through the politics, personalities, and perils of early twentieth-century England.

Book:The Bridge of Sighs

The Bridge of Sighs: A Novel

Olen Steinhauer

It’s August, 1948, three years after the Russians “liberated” the nation from German Occupation. But the Red Army still patrols the capital’s rubble-strewn streets, and the ideals of the Revolution are but memories. Twenty-two-year-old Detective Emil Brod finally gets his chance to serve his country, investigating murder for the People’s Militia.

The first victim is a state songwriter, but the facts point to a political motive. Emil would like to investigate further, but his colleagues in Homicide are suspicious or silent: He is on his own in this new, dangerous world.

The Bridge of Sighs launches a unique series of crime novels featuring a cast of characters in an ever-evolving landscape, the politically volatile terrain of Eastern Europe in the second half of the 20th century.

Book:Dissolution

Dissolution

C.J. Sansom

It is the winter of 1537 and England is divided into those faithful to the Catholic Church and those loyal to the King and the newly established Church of England. Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s feared vicar-general, crusades against the old Church with savage new laws, rigged trials, and a vast network of informers. Queen Anne Boleyn has been beheaded and monasteries are being dissolved-their treasures pillaged and their lands eyed greedily by courtiers and country gentry. But having put down one people’s rebellion, Cromwell fears another might topple the realm. So, when one of his commissioners is murdered in the monastery at Scarnsea on the south coast of England, he enlists his fellow reformer, Matthew Shardlake, a lawyer renowned as “the sharpest hunchback in the courts of England,” to head the inquiry.

When Shardlake and his young clerk and protégé, Mark Poer, arrive at Scarnsea, the two are greeted with thinly veiled…[more]

Book:London Dust

London Dust

Lee Jackson

A brilliant debut mystery novel set in Victorian London. Natalie Meadows jumps from Blackfriars Bridge to escape the horror she has just witnessed. But she is rescued and feels duty-bound to find the murderer of her best friend, the music hall star Nellie Warwick.

Book:The White Russian

The White Russian: A Novel

Tom Bradby

St. Petersburg, 1917—the glittering capital of the Tsarist empire and a city on the brink of revolution– where the jackals of the secret police maneuver for their own survival and their aristocratic masters indulge in one final moment of hedonism.

For Sandro Ruzsky, chief investigator of the St. Petersburg police department, this decaying world provides the opportunity for a new beginning. Recently returned from a three-year banishment to Siberia (for pursuing a case his superiors would have like buried), Ruzsky is welcomed back to the city of his birth by a gruesome discovery: the bodies of a young couple found on the ice of the frozen river Neva just outside the Tsar’s Winter Palace.

The dead woman was a nanny at the palace, the man, an American from Chicago. The brutality of their deaths seems an allegory for the times, and the investigation leads Ruzsky, at every turn, dangerously close to the royal family. He is also drawn back…[more]

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