Annal: 2006 Gold Dagger Award for Nonfiction

Results of the Dagger Award in the year 2006. Beginning this year, the award is biennial.

Book:The Dagenham Murder

The Dagenham Murder: The Brutal Killing of PC George Clark, 1846

Linda Rhodes, Lee Shelden, Kathryn Abnett

In June 1846, 20 year old Dagenham police constable George Clark was brutally murdered while on night duty. This lavishly-illustrated book is the first full-length study of a killing that shocked the nation but was to remain unsolved. Many suspects and motives have been put forward, with one theory even implicating Clark’s own police colleagues.

The authors were all born and bred in the Dagenham area, and have used original sources to uncover new facts and insights into this fascinating case. The action ranges from rural Essex to London’s prisons and convict hulks, from the wilds of British Columbia to the Australian goldfields.

Along the way we meet a cross-section of the early Victorian community, from the monarch herself down to the wretched victims of the “Hungry 40s”.

Book:And Then the Darkness

And Then the Darkness: The Fascinating Story of the Disappearance of Peter Falconio and the Trials of Joanne Lees

Sue Williams

While driving through the Australian outback two young English tourists are flagged down by a predatory stranger. There’s a single gunshot, and then the darkness….

Peter Falconio’s disappearance in 2001 sparked one of the biggest manhunts and mysteries in Australia’s history. The only witness was Peter’s girlfriend, Joanne Lees, who was found wandering the highway, her hands bound in front of her and tape matted in her hair. The only clue was a pool of blood found by police at the back of the couple’s kombi. Joanne’s account of her ordeal—the apparent murder of her partner, her binding and gagging, and her miraclous escape into the bush—provoked a frenzy of media interest and a huge police operation, but clues to the attacker’s identity were scarce, and as police blunders mounted, doubts about Joanne’s story began to surface. Was this seemingly innocent English backpacker teling the truth?

Book:A Death in Belmont

A Death in Belmont

Sebastian Junger

In the spring of 1963, the quiet suburb of Belmont, Massachusetts, is rocked by a shocking sex murder that exactly fits the pattern of the Boston Strangler. Sensing a break in the case that has paralyzed the city of Boston, the police track down a black man, Roy Smith, who cleaned the victim’s house that day and left a receipt with his name on the kitchen counter. Smith is hastily convicted of the Belmont murder, but the terror of the Strangler continues.

On the day of the murder, Albert DeSalvo—the man who would eventually confess in lurid detail to the Strangler’s crimes—is also in Belmont, working as a carpenter at the Jungers’ home. In this spare, powerful narrative, Sebastian Junger chronicles three lives that collide—and ultimately are destroyed—in the vortex of one of the first and most controversial serial murder cases in America.

Book:The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions

The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions

Sister Helen Prejean

Sister Helen Prejean was a little-known Roman Catholic nun from Louisiana when in 1993 her first book, Dead Man Walking, challenged the way we look at the death penalty in America. It became a #1 New York Times bestseller and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Now in The Death of Innocents, she takes us to the new moral edge of the debate on capital punishment: What if we’re killing the wrong man?

Dobie Gillis Williams, an indigent black man from rural Louisiana with an IQ of 65, was accused of a brutal rape and murder. Williams’s inept defense counsel, later disbarred for unethical practice for unrelated cases, allowed the prosecution’s incredibly contrived scenario of the crime to go unchallenged. Less than two years after Williams’s execution in January 1999, the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to kill a man so mentally disabled. …[more]

Book:The Story of Chicago May

The Story of Chicago May

Nuala O'Faolain

A unique, ruminative biography-a fascinating excursion into the American underworld at the dawn of the twentieth century, the life of an unrespectable Irish woman, and the hidden inner life of any woman who has tried to choose the unconventional path-by the author of the New York Times bestsellers Are You Somebody? and My Dream of You.

Nuala O’Faolain, the author of three consecutive New York Times bestsellers, has come upon a story that is not only a perfect match for her literary gifts but also takes her career in a surprising and rich new direction. This Irish woman writer who achieved international fame with a remarkably candid appraisal of her own unorthodox life has taken as her subject another daughter of Ireland-this one a notorious criminal and unrepentant, independent woman.

The legend says that May was a tall girl with glorious hair and big blue eyes, compellingly attractive to men. At nineteen,…[more]

Book:Under and Alone

Under and Alone: The True Story of the Undercover Agent Who Infiltrated America's Most Violent Outlaw Motorcycle Gang

William Queen

In 1998, William Queen was a veteran law enforcement agent with a lifelong love of motorcycles and a lack of patience with paperwork. When a “confidential informant” made contact with his boss at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, offering to take an agent inside the San Fernando chapter of the Mongols (the scourge of Southern California, and one of the most dangerous gangs in America), Queen jumped at the chance, not realizing that he was kicking-starting the most extensive undercover operation inside an outlaw motorcycle gang in the history of American law enforcement.

Nor did Queen suspect that he would penetrate the gang so successfully that he would become a fully “patched-in” member, eventually rising through their ranks to the office of treasurer, where he had unprecedented access to evidence of their criminal activity. After Queen spent twenty-eight months as “Billy St. John,” the bearded, beer-swilling, Harley-riding gang-banger,…[more]

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