The 2011 CWA International Dagger Shortlist
I think we can simply dismiss:
The Parot overwhelms the reader with historical detail, and complex intrigue and is just too long. The Varesi had atmosphere, but I was not inspired by the character of the protagonist and the action was limited and repetitive. Of the remaining five books The Wings of the Sphinx by Andrea Camilleri is the eleventh of the twelve books translated so far into English by Stephen Sartarelli. I have read and enjoyed them all, and this Montalbano mystery is one of the best for some time, but I don't think it has that extra special factor that would make it stand out from the shortlist. Death on a Galician Shore by Domingo Villar is another very good police procedural, and with a combination of humour, social comment, and the interesting location it would be a worthy winner, but for the slightly one paced plot which lacks any twists and real surprises. An Uncertain Place by Fred Vargas, translated by Sian Reynolds, is another outstanding Commissaire Adamsberg investigation full of all the quirkiness, bizarre plots, and eccentric characters that have brought this French author three International Dagger wins. I loved it but surely we need a new face on the winner's rostrum, especially when there is another outstanding novel among the shortlist.
This book is a lesson for those authors who think you need to write 600 pages to produce a complex book.
One hundred and ninety pages of great narrative, and cleverly manufactured dialogue, have produced a novel that is a mini-social history of a rotten to the core Argentina, as well as being a very tense thriller.
There is no question in my mind that Ernesto Mallo, and Jethro Soutar, should win the 2011 International Dagger, but nothing would surprise me.