This is Crime Scraps post number 1,000!
Who do I think will win the 2010 CWA International Dagger?
The shortlist is a very strong and very varied collection of crime fiction from France, Iceland, Italy, South Africa, and Sweden [two books].
We can be sure of only one thing, that a male author will win for the first time, after three wins by Fred Vargas, and one by Dominique Manotti.
The six book shortlist:
"So I have a little niggle in the back of my mind about Badfellas, and the author choosing a Mafia snitch as the novel's hero. It is only a little niggle because Badfellas is such an amusing book.........."
"But Erlendur's search to find some answers to her suicidein Maria's tragic past uncovers some harsh realities......"
"Gripping and haunting are probably much overused terms when it comes to reviewing books, but each applies to this absolutely brilliant book."
"Andrea Camilleri gives us another superb portion of all the charming idiosyncrasies that make this series so enjoyable."
"If you like intelligent fast paced thrillers with violent denouements, and lots of interesting characters, then I can recommend Deon Meyer.
I wonder if South African crime fiction is going to be the main stream media's next big discovery."
"The four strands of the story come together in a satisfying climax and [minor spoiler alert] in a brilliant court room drama that had me shouting yes, yes, yes!"
"This brilliant novel is part ghost story, part detective story, and a really gripping thriller.
This is a beautifully constructed story with all the various threads and strands interwoven so cleverly, but as with most good crime fiction nothing is quite as it seems, and there are some unseen and unexpected twists at the end."
How do we choose a winner from six such enjoyable reads that are so different in style and content?
I will start by eliminating the two books, I consider to be the outsiders.
A violent black comedy which was extremely funny in places but tailed off towards the end. While Tonino Benacquista expanded the idea brilliantly this was still a story based on one slim joke, the "Sopranos" in rural France. It was not a complex book, and could not compare in this respect with the rest of the short list.
A very exciting tense thriller with a message about the future of South Africa and some sharp characterizations.
I rated this above Badfellas, but I think the International Dagger winner should be something really special, and apart from the freshness of the location, I did not consider Thirteen Hours to be "winning" material. This does not alter the fact that I will rush to read his next book.
[To be continued next week, when I will eliminate two more books, and decide on the final two contenders.]