Last year when the CWA Ellis Peters shortlist was announced on 2 October I had already read two of the six books. I was comfortably able to read, review, and ruminate on the merits of the books, and even pick the eventual winner, Philip Kerr's If The Dead Rise Not.
This year I enquired in early September when the shortlist was going to be announced in order to get hold of the books. But the announcement was not made until the 14 October, which meant that as I had only read one of the six books I would have to obtain, read and review five books, some of them very thick, in just over two weeks.
Perhaps it was having my influenza jab a couple of days after the announcement, but I did not feel up to this challenge.
But I am planning to read the winner Revenger by Rory Clements, and possibly the runner up Heartstone by C.J.Sansom.
The other shortlisted books were:
To Kill a Tsar- Andrew Williams
The Anatomy of Ghosts- Andrew Taylor
Interestingly the judges mentioned several other books that almost made the short list including two which I had reviewed and I felt were certainties.
If the organizers want to raise the Ellis Peters award's profile they need to take a different approach in future.
The ideal time for an announcement of the shortlist would be 4-6 weeks before the award. This would allow time for those of us who enjoy our historical crime fiction to read, and discuss the books.
They might also consider providing ARCs of the shortlist to stimulate debate and probable future sales of the books.