Annal: 2009 Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award for Historical Crime Novel

Results of the Dagger Award in the year 2009.

Book:If the Dead Rise Not

If the Dead Rise Not: A Bernie Gunther Mystery

Philip Kerr

Berlin 1934. The Nazis have been in power for just eighteen months but already Germany has seen some unpleasant changes. As the city prepares to host the 1936 Olympics, Jews are being expelled from all German sporting organisations—a blatant example of discrimination.

Forced to resign as a homicide detective with Berlin’s Criminal Police, Bernie is now house detective at the famous Adlon Hotel. The discovery of two bodies—one a businessman and the other a Jewish boxer—involves Bernie in the lives of two hotel guests. One is a beautiful left-wing journalist intent on persuading America to boycott the Berlin Olympiad; the other is a German-Jewish gangster who plans to use the Olympics to enrich himself and the Chicago mob. As events unfold, Bernie uncovers a vast labour and construction racket designed to take advantage of the huge sums the Nazis are prepared to spend to showcase the new Germany to the world. It is a plot that finds its conclusion twenty years later in pre-revolution Cuba, the country to which Bernie flees from Argentina at the end of A Quiet Flame.

Book:The Dead of Winter

The Dead of Winter: A John Madden Mystery

Rennie Airth

The murder of a young Polish girl in wartime London puts John Madden on the trail of a ruthless hired killer

On a freezing London night in 1944, Rosa Novak is brutally murdered during a blackout. The police suspect she was the victim of a random act of violence and might have dropped the case if former police investigator John Madden hadn’t been the victim’s employer.

Madden’s old colleagues at Scotland Yard are working on it, but their scant clues lead them to Europe, where the ravages of the war halt their inquiries. Madden feels he owes it to Rosa to find her killer and pushes the investigation until he stumbles upon the dead girl’s connection to a murdered Parisian furrier, a member of the Resistance, and a stolen cache of diamonds.

With rich psychological insights and vivid historical details, this riveting third novel in the Madden series promises to expand Airth’s readership among discerning fans of crime fiction.

Book:An Empty Death

An Empty Death

Laura Wilson

Summer, 1944

After almost five years of conflict, London’s exhausted inhabitants, pounded by the menace of Hitler’s V1 bombs, are living in a world of dereliction. War-weary DI Ted Stratton is no exception, but he cannot help being drawn in by his latest case.

Called on to investigate when a doctor is found dead in Fitzrovia’s Middlesex Hospital, Stratton soon realizes that someone involved is not who they appear to be. Someone who has discarded their own identity and can move and kill freely.

Meanwhile Jenny, Ted’s wife, is working at the local Rest Centre, although her spirit of make-do is wearing thin. When a bombed-out woman appears at the centre, declaring that the man claiming to be her husband is an imposter, Jenny thinks that it must be due to shock. The reality, however, is much stranger and far more dangerous… …[more]

Book:The Information Officer

The Information Officer: A Novel

Mark Mills

Malta, April 1942—Max Chadwick is the military officer charged with managing information and maintaining morale on the tiny Mediterranean island, a strategic lynchpin in the war. Bombs rain from the sky at all hours of the day and night, as the Maltese and their British protectors fiercely cling to the rocky outcropping that is all that stands between the Axis and total dominance of the Mediterranean theater. When a Maltese woman is murdered, and evidence links her death to a British serviceman, Max is faced with the possibility that the fragile and crucial esprit de corps could shatter. Forced to keep his investigation a secret, Max sets out to unravel the mystery and unmask the killer. At stake is not only his only life and that of the woman he loves, but a conflict with far broader consequences.

Book:The Interrogator

The Interrogator

Andrew Williams

Spring, 1941. The armies of the Reich are masters of Europe. Britain stands alone, dependent on her battered navy for survival, while Hitler’s submarines—his ‘grey wolves’—prey on the Atlantic convoys that are the country’s only lifeline. Lieutenant Douglas Lindsay is amongst just a handful of men picked up when his ship is torpedoed. Unable to free himself from the memories of that night at sea, he becomes an interrogator with naval intelligence, questioning captured U-Boat crews.

He is convinced the Germans have broken British naval codes, but he’s a lone voice, a damaged outsider, and his superiors begin to wonder—can he really be trusted when so much is at stake? As the Blitz reduces Britain’s cities to rubble and losses at sea mount, Lindsay becomes increasingly isolated and desperate. No one will believe him, not even his lover, Mary Henderson, who works at the very heart of the intelligence establishment.

Lindsay decides to risk all in one last throw of the dice, setting a trap for his prize captive—and nemisis—U-Boat Commander Jürgen Mohr, the man who sent his ship to its doom.

Book:The Redemption of Alexander Seaton

The Redemption of Alexander Seaton

Shona MacLean

Is the young man merely drunk or does his tottering walk suggest something more sinister? When he collapses, vomiting, over the two whores who find him on that dark wet night, they guess rightly that he’s been murdered by poisoning. So begins this gripping tale set in the town of Banff, Scotland in the 1620s.

The body of the victim, the apothecary’s nephew, is found in Alexander Seaton’s school house. Seaton is a school master by default, and a persona non-grata in the town—a disgraced would-be minister whose love affair with a local aristocrat’s daughter left him disgraced and deprived of his vocation. He has few friends, so when one of them is accused of the murder, he sets out to solve the crime, embarking on a journey that will uncover witchcraft, cruelty, prejudice and the darkness in men’s souls. It is also a personal quest that leads Alexander to the rediscovery of his faith in God as well as his belief in himself.

Among her many strengths, Shona MacLean is brilliant at evoking period and place. You feel you are in those cold, dark, northern rooms, eavesdropping on her characters. You are totally involved in the rich, convincing world she has re-created.

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