Annal: 2008 Gold Dagger Award for Nonfiction

Results of the Dagger Award in the year 2008.

Book:Nationality: Wog: The Hounding of David Oluwale

Nationality: Wog: Hounding of David Oluwale

Kester Aspden

When the body of David Oluwale, a rough sleeper with a criminal record and a history of mental illness, was pulled out of the River Aire near Leeds in May 1969, nobody asked too many questions about the circumstances of his death. A police charge sheet from three months before had ‘UK’ scored out, and his nationality replaced with a handwritten ‘WOG’. This ‘social nuisance’ went unmourned to a pauper’s grave. A year and a half later, rumours that the Nigerian man had been subject to a lengthy campaign of abuse from two police officers led to the opening of the grave and a difficult criminal investigation. Drawing on original archival material only just released into the public domain, and interviews with police officers and lawyers involved in the eventual prosecution of two Leeds City Police officers, Kester Aspden’s chilling book revisits one of the most notorious racist crimes in British history.

Book:The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed Bishop Gerardi

The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed Bishop Gerardi

Francisco Goldman

The first nonfiction book from acclaimed novelist Francisco Goldman, who began his career as a writer covering the 1980s wars in Central America for Harper’s, The Art of Political Murder is the story of the murder investigation of a Guatemalan bishop with the twisting plot and colorful characters of a Graham Greene novel.

Bishop Juan Gerardi, Guatemala’s leading human rights activist, was bludgeoned to death in his garage on a Sunday night in 1998, two days after the presentation of a groundbreaking church-sponsored report implicating the military in the murders and disappearances of some two hundred thousand civilians. Realizing that it could not rely on police investigators or the legal system to solve the murder and bring those responsible to justice, the church formed its own investigative team, a group of secular young men in their twenties who called themselves Los Intocables (the Untouchables). Known in Guatemala as “The Crime of the Century,”…[more]

Book:Into the Darkness

Into the Darkness: An Account of 7/7

Peter Zimonjic

On the morning of 7 July 2005, Peter Zimonjic, a Canadian journalist living and working in London, was travelling on an eastbound Circle line train heading towards Edgware Road. Coming in the opposite direction was a train carrying Mohammed Sidique Khan with a bag full of explosives. As the trains passed each other in the tunnel, Sidique Khan detonated his bomb. Peter’s train came to a standstill and he managed to smash the window in his carriage and crawl into the carnage where he and several others spent the next hour desperately trying to help the injured and dying.

Into the Darkness will reconstruct the story of the day at all four bomb sites based on intensive interviews with dozens of survivors. In the form of a dramatic narrative this book will document the bravery, the triumphs, the despairs, and the shortfalls that occurred on a day when the innocence of thousands of ordinary commuters was lost forever.

Book:The Lost Boy

The Lost Boy

Duncan Staff

The series of child murders that took place in and around Manchester in the 1960s shocked and scandalised the country. In a sensational case Myra Hindley and Ian Brady were tried and sentenced to life in prison. The horrific nature of their crimes made them two of the most reviled characters in Britain. Four children were murdered by Hindley and Brady and buried on Saddleworth Moor; the body of one of their victims, Keith Bennett, is yet to be found.

With unprecedented access to Myra Hindley’s papers combined with the cooperation of the families of the victims, the police and expert witnesses, Duncan Staff has written a definitive account of these terrible events. He casts new light on the motivation for the murders, the nature of Hindley’s relationship with Brady and her life in prison. In bringing together this evidence, Staff calls for a renewed effort to find the body of Keith Bennett.

The Lost Boy is a classic work of investigative journalism and the gripping story of the most notorious crimes in Britain of the last one hundred years.

Book:The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: or The Murder at Road Hill House

Kate Summerscale

It is a summer’s night in 1860. In an elegant detached Georgian house in the village of Road, Wiltshire, all is quiet. Behind shuttered windows the Kent family lies sound asleep. At some point after midnight a dog barks. The family wakes the next morning to a horrific discovery: an unimaginably gruesome murder has taken place in their home. The household reverberates with shock, not least because the guilty party is surely still among them. Jack Whicher of Scotland Yard, the most celebrated detective of his day, reaches Road Hill House a fortnight later. He faces an unenviable task: to solve a case in which the grieving family are the suspects.

In The Suspicions of Mr Whicher Kate Summerscale untangles the facts behind this notorious case, bringing it back to vivid, extraordinary life.

Book:Violation

Violation: Justice, Race and Serial Murder In the Deep South

David Rose

Over eight terrifying months in the 1970s, seven elderly women were raped and murdered in Columbus, Georgia, a city of 200,000 people whose history and conservative values are typical of America’s Deep South. The victims, who were strangled in their beds with their own stockings, were affluent and white, while the police believed from an early stage that the killer was black. In 1986, eight years after the last murder, an African-American, Carlton Gary, was convicted and sentenced to death. Though many in Columbus doubt his guilt, he is still on death row.

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