Annal: 2008 Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award for Historical Crime Novel

Results of the Dagger Award in the year 2008.

Book:Stratton's War

Stratton's War

Laura Wilson

London, June 1940. When the body of silent screen star Mabel Morgan is found impaled on railings in Fitzrovia, the coroner rules her death as suicide, but DI Ted Stratton of the CID is not convinced. Despite opposition from his superiors, he starts asking questions, and it becomes clear that Morgan’s fatal fall from a high window may have been the work of one of Soho’s most notorious gangsters.

MI5 agent Diana Calthrop, working with senior official Sir Neville Apse, is leading a covert operation when she discovers that her boss is involved in espionage. She must tread carefully—Apse is a powerful man, and she can’t risk threatening the reputation of the Secret Service.

Only when Stratton’s path crosses Diana’s do they start to uncover the truth. But as they discover Morgan’s connection with Apse and their mutual links to a criminal network and a secretive pro-fascist organisation, they begin to realise that the intrigues of the Secret Service are alarmingly similar to the machinations of war-torn London’s underworld.

Book:Bleeding Heart Square

Bleeding Heart Square

Andrew Taylor

It’s 1934, and the decaying London cul-de-sac of Bleeding Heart Square is an unlikely place of refuge for aristocratic Lydia Langstone. But as she flees her abusive marriage there is only one person she can turn to—the genteelly derelict Captain Ingleby-Lewis, currently lodging at No. 7.

However, unknown to Lydia, a dark mystery haunts 7 Bleeding Heart Square. What happened to Miss Penhow, the middle-aged spinster who owns the house and who vanished four years earlier? Why is a seedy plain-clothes policeman obsessively watching the square? What is making struggling journalist Rory Wentwood so desperate to contact Miss Penhow?

And why are parcels of rotting hearts being sent to Joseph Serridge, the last person to see Miss Penhow alive…?

Legend has it the Devil once danced in Bleeding Heart Square—but is there now a new and sinister presence lurking in its shadows?

Book:The Death Maze

The Death Maze: A Novel

Ariana Franklin

Ariana Franklin combines the best of modern forensic thrillers with the drama of historical fiction in the enthralling second novel in the Mistress of the Art of Death series, featuring medieval heroine Adelia Aguilar.

Rosamund Clifford, the mistress of King Henry II, has died an agonizing death by poison-and the king’s estranged queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, is the prime suspect. Henry suspects that Rosamund’s murder is probably the first move in Eleanor’s long-simmering plot to overthrow him. If Eleanor is guilty, the result could be civil war. The king must once again summon Adelia Aguilar, mistress of the art of death, to uncover the truth.

Adelia is not happy to be called out of retirement. She has been living contentedly in the countryside, caring for her infant daughter, Allie. But Henry’s summons cannot be ignored, and Adelia must again join forces with the king’s trusted fixer,…[more]

Book:Death on a Branch Line

Death on a Branch Line: Jim Stringer, Steam Detective

Andrew Martin

It’s the sweltering summer of 1911, and one Friday evening a special train rolls into York station. It carries a young aristocrat recently found guilty of murdering his father in the sleepy village of Adenwold. He is briefly entrusted into the custody of railway detective Jim Stringer, and he warns of another murder likely to happen in the same village—that of his brother, a reclusive intellectual. Jim and his wife Lydia take the train along the near deserted branch line to Adenwold. Here they encounter a host of likely suspects and the intended victim, as Jim has one weekend in which to stop a murder and unravel a conspiracy of international dimensions.

Book:A Quiet Flame

A Quiet Flame: A Bernie Gunther Mystery

Philip Kerr

Philip Kerr returns with his best-loved character, Bernie Gunther, in the fifth novel in what is now a series: a tight, twisting, compelling thriller that is firmly rooted in history.

A Quiet Flame opens in 1950. Falsely fingered a war criminal, Bernie Gunther has booked passage to Buenos Aires, lured, like the Nazis whose company he has always despised, by promises of a new life and a clean passport from the Perón government. But Bernie doesn’t have the luxury of settling into his new home and lying low. He is soon pressured by the local police into taking on a case in which a girl has turned up dead, gruesomely mutilated, and another—the daughter of a wealthy German banker—has gone missing. Both crimes seem to connect to an unsolved case Bernie worked on back in Berlin in 1932. It’s not so far-fetched that the cases might be linked: after all, the scum of the earth has been washing up on Argentine shores—state-licensed…[more]

Book:Revelation

Revelation: A Matthew Shardlake Mystery

C.J. Sansom

It is spring, 1543 and King Henry VIII is wooing Lady Catherine Parr, whom he wants for his sixth wife—but this time the object of his affections is resisting. Archbishop Cranmer and the embattled Protestant faction at court are watching keenly, for Lady Catherine is known to have reformist sympathies.

Matthew Shardlake, meanwhile, is working on the case of a teenage boy, a religious maniac who has been placed by the King’s council in the Bedlam hospital for the insane. Should he be released as his parents want, when his terrifying actions could lead to him being burned as a heretic?

Then, when an old friend is horrifically murdered, Shardlake promises his widow—for whom he has long had complicated feelings—to bring the killer to justice. His search leads him to connections not only with the boy in Bedlam, but with Archbishop…[more]

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