Annal: 2005 Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award for Historical Crime Novel

Results of the Dagger Award in the year 2005.

Book:Dark Fire

Dark Fire: A Matthew Shardlake Novel

C.J. Sansom

It is 1540, and Matthew Shardlake, the lawyer renowned as “the sharpest hunchback in the courts of England,” is pressed to help a friend’s young niece who is charged with murder. Despite threats of torture and death by the rack, the girl is inexplicably silent. Shardlake is about to lose her case when he is suddenly granted a reprieve—one that will ensnare him in the dangerous schemes of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s feared vicar-general.

In exchange for two more weeks to investigate the murder, Shardlake accepts Cromwell’s dangerous assignment to find a lost cache of “dark fire,” a legendary weapon of mass destruction. Cromwell, out of favor since Henry’s disastrous marriage to Anne of Cleves, is relying on Shardlake to save his position at court, which is rife with treasonous conspiracies.

With its wonderful attention to period detail and its brilliant handling of suspense, Dark Fire is sure to win comparisons with Margaret George’s Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles and captivate readers of Philippa Gregory and David Liss.

Book:After the Armistice Ball

After the Armistice Ball: A Dandy Gilver Murder Mystery

Catriona McPherson

Dandy Gilver, her husband back from the War, her children off at school and her uniform growing musty in the attic, is bored to a whimper in the spring of 1923 and a little light snooping seems like harmless fun. And what could be better than to seek out the Duffy diamonds, stolen from the Esselmont’s country house, Croys, after the Armistice Ball? Before long, though, the puzzle of what really happened to the Duffy diamonds has been swept aside by the sudden, unexpected death of lovely young Cara Duffy in a lonely seaside cottage in Galloway. Society and the law seem ready to call it an accident but Dandy, along with Cara Duffy’s fiancé Alec, is sure that there is more going on than meets the eye.

What is being hidden by members of the Duffy family: the watchful Lena, the cold and distant Clemence and old Gregory Duffy with his air of quiet sadness, not to mention Cara herself whose secret always seems just tantalizingly out of view? Dandy must learn to trust her instincts and swallow most of her scruples if he is to uncover the truth and earn the right to call herself a sleuth.

Book:The God of Chaos

The God of Chaos

Tom Bradby

Cairo, June 1942: A city blistering under the lash of a relentless summer, and panicked by the implacable advance of Hitler’s most talented general, Erwin Rommel. It is the worst possible time and place for the body of a senior British officer to be found in a rubbish bin, bathed in blood.

His murder has been made to look like a political assassination by local extremists opposed to British rule, but former New York cop, Joe Quinn, isn’t buying that. He senses more fundamental human emotions at play. For Quinn, it’s like old times, a reminder of his past. Thrown out of the New York police as a liability after the death of his son, he probably shouldn’t be a cop any longer, but maybe he’s just what this case needs. The investigation leads him through the underbelly of a violent and seedy city to the heart of the Cairo high command, and the possibility that a highly placed spy is feeding sensitive secrets to Rommel,…[more]

Book:Mortal Mischief

Mortal Mischief: Book 1 of The Liebermann Papers

Frank Tallis

In 1900s Vienna, Psychoanalyst Dr Max Liebermann is called in to help with police investigations into the murder of a young medium.

In this first of a new series of psychoanalytical detective novels set in Vienna, Dr Max Liebermann is a young psychoanalyst—and disciple of Freud. The world of 1900s Vienna is one where philosophy, science and art flourish and are hotly debated in the coffee shops. Psychoanalysis is still developing and is viewed with a mixture of excitement and suspicion.

Liebermann’s good friend Oskar Rheinhardt is a Detective Inspector—hard working but lacking Liebermann’s insights and forensic eye, and so it is through Rheinhardt that Liebermann is called upon to help with police investigations surrounding the death of a beautiful young medium in what seems at first to be supernatural circumstances. When Liebermann attempts to get to the bottom of the mystery, he also must decide whether he is to follow his father’s advice and marry the beautiful but reserved Clara.

Book:The Palace Tiger

The Palace Tiger: A Detective Joe Sandilands Mystery

Barbara Cleverly

India, 1922: Joe Sandilands, Scotland Yard detective, is staying with Governor Sir George Jardine in Simla when there is some unexpected news. Sir George sends Joe off to the Princely State of Ranipur in the company of Edgar Troop, an experienced hunter, at the request of the Maharajah, an old ally of the British. A man-eating tiger is terrorizing the northern villages, and the two men are invited to join a hunting party in the forest. But the quality of the weaponry with which Sir George supplies him raises Joe’s suspicions. The rifle will be perfect for the tiger, but why has he also been issued with the small Browning M pistol, designed for use on human targets?

The Maharajah is dying and the succession is unclear. His first son has recently been killed in a panther-related incident. Then a second son dies dramatically before Joe’s eyes. The third and last remaining son—the favorite successor in the eyes…[more]

Book:The Portrait

The Portrait

Iain Pears

An influential art critic in the early years of the twentieth century journeys from London to the rustic, remote island of Houat, off France’s northwest coast, to sit for a portrait painted by an old friend, a gifted but tormented artist living in self-imposed exile. Over the course of the sitting, the painter recalls their years of friendship, the double-edged gift of the critic’s patronage, the power he wielded over aspiring artists, and his apparent callousness in anointing the careers of some and devastating the lives of others. The balance of power between the two men shifts dramatically as the critic becomes a passive subject, while the painter struggles to capture the character of the man, as well as his image, on canvas.

Reminiscing with ease and familiarity one minute, with anger and menace the next, the painter eventually reveals why he has accepted the commission of this portrait, why he left London suddenly and mysteriously at the height of his success, and why…[more]

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