Honor roll: Gold Dagger Award for Nonfiction

Each of these books has been nominated for a Gold Dagger Award for Nonfiction. They are ranked by honors received.

Book:The Devil in the White City

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America

Erik Larson

Two men, each handsome and unusually adept at his chosen work, embodied an element of the great dynamic that characterized America’s rush toward the twentieth century. The architect was Daniel Hudson Burnham, the fair’s brilliant director of works and the builder of many of the country’s most important structures, including the Flatiron Building in New York and Union Station in Washington, D.C. The murderer was Henry H. Holmes, a young doctor who, in a malign parody of the White City, built his “World’s Fair Hotel” just west of the fairgrounds—a torture palace complete with dissection table, gas chamber, and 3,000-degree crematorium. Burnham overcame tremendous obstacles and tragedies as he organized the talents of Frederick Law Olmsted, Charles McKim, Louis Sullivan, and others to transform swampy Jackson Park into the White City, while Holmes used the attraction of the great fair and his own satanic charms to lure scores of young women to their deaths. What makes the story all the more chilling is…[more]

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:Midnight in Peking

Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China

Paul French

Who killed Pamela Werner?

On a frozen night in January 1937, in the dying days of colonial Peking, a body was found under the haunted watchtower. It was Pamela Werner, the teenage daughter of the city’s former British consul Edward Werner. Her heart had been removed.

A horrified world followed the hunt for Pamela’s killer, with a Chinese-British detective team pursuing suspects including a blood-soaked rickshaw puller, the Triads, and a lascivious grammar school headmaster. But the case was soon forgotten amid the carnage of the Japanese invasion…by all but Edward Werner. With a network of private investigators and informers, he followed the trail deep into Peking’s notorious Badlands and back to the gilded hotels of the colonial Quarter.

Some 75 years later, deep in the Scotland Yard archives, British historian Paul French accidentally came across the lost…[more]

Book:Criminal Shadows

Criminal Shadows: Inner Narratives of Evil

David Canter

Dr. David Canter, Britain’s leading pioneer in the psychological science of criminal profiling reveals how vicious serial killers and rapists unconsciously cast shadows of their identity at the crime scene. The telltale patterns, when scientifically understood, can help police capture these brutal offenders.

Criminal Shadows leads the reader through Dr. Canter’s breakthrough profiling techniques, now adopted by a growing number of police forces throughout the world. A must read for anyone in the field of criminal justice.

Book:The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe

The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe

Charles Nicholl

In 1593 the brilliant and controversial young playwright Christopher Marlowe was stabbed to death in a Deptford lodging-house. The circumstances were shady, the official account—a violent quarrel over the bill, or “recknynge”—long regarded as dubious.

The Reckoning is the first full-length investigation of the killing, tracing Marlowe’s shadowy political dealings, his involvement in covert intelligence work, and the charges of heresy and homosexuality against him. There is critical new evidence about his three companions on that last day in Deptford and about the sinister role of the informer, Richard Baines. More important, The Reckoning is an enthralling revelation of the extraordinary underworld of Elizabethan crime and espionage, a “secret theater” in which nearly every historical figure familiar to us, from hack poet to Queen’s high minister, seems to…[more]

Book:Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number

Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number

Jacobo Timerman, Toby Talbot

The bestselling, classic personal chronicle of the Argentine publisher’s ordeal at the hands of the Argentine government—imprisoned and tortured as a dissenter and as a Jew—that aroused the conscience of the world.

Book:Anthony Blunt: His Lives

Anthony Blunt: His Lives

Miranda Carter

Once an untouchable member of England’s establishment—a world-famous art historian and a man knighted by the Queen of England—in a single stroke Anthony Blunt became an object of universal hatred when, in 1979, Margaret Thatcher exposed him as a Soviet spy.

In Anthony Blunt: His Lives, Miranda Carter shows how one man lived out opposing trends of his century—first as a rebel against his class, then as its epitome—and yet embodied a deeper paradox. In the 1920s, Blunt was a member of the Bloomsbury circle; in the 1930s he was a left-wing intellectual; in the 50s and 60s he became a camouflaged member of the Establishment. Until his treachery was made public, Blunt was a world-famous art historian, recognized for his ground-breaking work on Poussin, Italian art, and old master drawings; at the Courtauld Institute he trained a whole generation of academics and curators. And yet…[more]

Book:The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama Bin Laden

The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama Bin Laden

Anthony Summers, Robbyn Swan

Writing with access to thousands of recently released official documents, fresh interviews, and the perspective that can come only from a decade of research and reflection, Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan deliver the first panoramic, authoritative look back at 9/11.

For most living Americans, September 11, 2001, is the darkest date in the nation’s history. What exactly happened? Could it have been prevented? How and why did so much acrimony and bad information arise from the ashes of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a quiet field in Pennsylvania? And what remains unresolved? What is certain: Discord and dissent continue to this day.

Beginning with the first brutal actions of the hijackers aboard American Airlines Flight 11, The Eleventh Day tracks…[more]

Book:The Killer of Little Shepherds

The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science

Douglas Starr

A riveting true crime story that vividly recounts the birth of modern forensics.

At the end of the nineteenth century, serial murderer Joseph Vacher, known and feared as “The Killer of Little Shepherds,” terrorized the French countryside. He eluded authorities for years—until he ran up against prosecutor Emile Fourquet and Dr. Alexandre Lacassagne, the era’s most renowned criminologist. The two men—intelligent and bold—typified the Belle Époque, a period of immense scientific achievement and fascination with science’s promise to reveal the secrets of the human condition.

With high drama and stunning detail, Douglas Starr revisits Vacher’s infamous crime wave, interweaving the story of how Lacassagne and his colleagues were developing forensic science as we know it. We see one of the earliest uses of criminal profiling, as Fourquet painstakingly collects eyewitness accounts and constructs a map of Vacher’s crimes. We follow the tense and exciting…[more]

Book:Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde

Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde

Jeff Guinn

Forget everything you think you know about Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. Previous books and films, including the brilliant 1967 movie starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, have emphasized the supposed glamour of America’s most notorious criminal couple, thus contributing to ongoing mythology. The real story is completely different—and far more fascinating.

In Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde, bestselling author Jeff Guinn combines exhaustive research with surprising, newly discovered material to tell the real tale of two kids from a filthy Dallas slum who fell in love and then willingly traded their lives for a brief interlude of excitement and, more important, fame. Their timing could not have been better—the Barrow Gang pulled its first heist in 1932 when most Americans, reeling from the Great Depression, were desperate for escapist entertainment. Thanks to newsreels, true crime magazines, and new-fangled wire services that transmitted scandalous…[more]

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