Annal: 2003 Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award for Best Thriller

Results of the Dagger Award in the year 2003.

Book:The Small Boat of Great Sorrows

The Small Boat of Great Sorrows

Dan Fesperman

Vlado Petric, former detective in war-torn Sarajevo, has left his beloved homeland to join his wife and daughter in Germany, where he scratches a meagre living among the dust of former conflicts on the building sites of the new Berlin.

Returning home one evening, he finds an enigmatic American investigator waiting for him. Calvin Pine works for the International War Crimes Tribunal, and he tells Petric that they want him to go to The Hague. It doesn’t take Petric long to accept, especially when Pine tells him who they are after: one of the men who may be responsible for the terrible massacre of Srebrenica.

What Petric doesn’t know is that he is also being used as bait for a murderer from the previous generation; a man whose activities in the Second World War make the current generation of killers look like amateurs.

As Petric travels from modern-day Germany, through the ruins of Bosnia, to the peaceful hills of southern Italy where bitter, unresolved tensions still crackle beneath the surface, the stakes become all too personal. And he soon finds that investigating the mysteries of the past can be every bit as dangerous as finding his way through the war zones of the present.

Book:Candlemoth

Candlemoth

Roger Jon Ellory

Daniel Ford has thirty days to live. Accused of the horrific murder of his best friend Nathan twelve years before, he has exhausted all appeals and now faces the long walk to the electric chair. All he can do is make peace with his God.

Father John Rousseau is the man to whom the last month of Daniel’s life has been entrusted. All the two men have left to do is rake over the last ashes of Ford’s existence.

So he begins to tell his story. Beginning with his first meeting with Nathan, aged six, on the shores of a lake in 1952, through first loves, Vietnam, the death of Kennedy and finally their flight from the draft which ended in Nathan’s brutal murder…Meanwhile the clock is ticking and the days are running out…

Book:The Company

The Company: A Novel of the CIA

Robert Littell

With a sharp eye for the pathos and absurdity of the Cold War, Robert Littell crafted his first novel, the now legendary spy thriller The Defection of A.J. Lewinter. Christopher Lehmann-Haupt of The New York Times called it “a perfect little gem, the best Cold War thriller I’ve read in years,” and the praise kept coming with critics hailing Littell as “the American Le Carré” (New York Times) and raving that his books were “as good as thriller writing gets” (The Washington Post).

For his fourteenth novel, Robert Littell creates an engrossing, multigenerational, wickedly nostalgic yet utterly candid saga, bringing to life through a host of characters-historical and imagined-the over 40 years of the CIA-”the Company” to insiders. At the heart of the novel is a stunningly conceived mole hunt involving such rivals and allies as the MI6, KGB, and Mossad. …[more]

Book:Empire State

Empire State

Henry Porter

The head of the US National Security Agency is assassinated in a spectacular set piece killing at Heathrow…An airport employee and his family are found murdered in their council house in Uxbridge…In New York, a fashionable Upper East Side osteopath receives two postcards showing the Empire State Building…A group of migrant workers are brutally gunned down in Macedonia…The quest to find the link between these apparently random events is pursued by Robert Harland—drawn back to a world he thought he’d left behind with a dual role for the UN and MI6.

Book:The Nightspinners

The Nightspinners: A Novel

Lucretia Walsh Grindle

“Without so much as a motion or a sound, Marina and I are weaving words. We are sliding them along the bar of light from the hall that filters under the door. We are sending phrases, paragraphs, laughter, faster and faster, like flights of moths across the dark space of the room. Braiding the strands of our secret cocoon, we are nightspinning.”

Growing up in rural Georgia, Susannah and her twin sister, Marina, silently communicated in a secret language they called “nightspinning.” But as they grew older, Susannah tired of having a doppelgänger, particularly one who could read her every thought. After college, when their mother died, Susannah made her escape.

Years later, now an up-and-coming restaurant designer living in a handsome Philadelphia brownstone, Susannah has left the past safely behind her. But in doing so, she’s also left Marina behind, and this betrayal fills her with guilt. Then Marina…[more]

Book:Persuader

Persuader: A Jack Reacher Novel

Lee Child

Jack Reacher. The ultimate loner.

An elite ex-military cop who left the service years ago, he’s moved from place to place…without family…without possessions…without commitments.

And without fear. Which is good, because trouble—big, violent, complicated trouble—finds Reacher wherever he goes. And when trouble finds him, Reacher does not quit, not once…not ever.

But some unfinished business has now found Reacher. And Reacher is a man who hates unfinished business.

Ten years ago, a key investigation went sour and someone got away with murder. Now a chance encounter brings it all back. Now Reacher sees his one last shot. Some would call it vengeance. Some would call it redemption. Reacher would call it…justice.

Book:Traitor's Kiss

Traitor's Kiss

Gerald Seymour

Officially the Cold War is over. Between former enemies, the hand of friendship is exchanged in public. In private, though, the intelligence war goes on.

An English trawler strays into Russian waters. When it returns, the captain has a package to deliver to British intelligence. For the next four years a high-ranking Russian naval officer, Viktor Archenko, passes valuable information to MI6. Suddenly he stops using the dead drop. His contacts in London know nothing about him—but they know he is under suspicion. The time has come to get him out.

But a new breed plays the spy game now; men like Gabriel Locke. They have no interest in irrelevant Cold War sparring, or the risk of a spy scandal. There are deals to be done and alliances to be made. They would rather leave Archenko to fend for himself. He is, after all, a throwback and an embarrassing one at that. Only one veteran agent realizes that there is much more at stake than a man’s life. Only he dares ask the question: if the war is over, who will fight the peace?

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