Friday, November 05, 2010


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
Heresy- S.J.Parris
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.

They also mentioned Let The Dead Lie by Malla Nunn, a book I have not read yet, but has received fairly positive reviews by Bernadette at Reactions to Reading, and Maxine at Petrona.

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.


Blogger Bernadette said...

I agree wholeheartedly Norman. I don't understand why all awards don't operate that way as it would seem to offer such an extended publicity cycle. If bloggers and others start talking about the awards and the shortlisted books a few weeks before the event there is much more chance of people happening across a review or other media outlets picking up on 'the buzz'. It seems like a 'no brainer' to me. But then I am beginning to despair that the people running the book industry these days do indeed have no brain so perhaps it's not that surprising after all.

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Norman - You make some very well-taken points here! If short lists are available a few weeks sooner than they currently are, then there can, indeed, be more discussion of and attention given to the possible winners. Not only does this help book sales, but also, it's helpful to those who are new to a genre or sub-genre. The event itself also gets more attention, which can stimulate attendance.

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Kerrie said...

I think one of the problems is that so many of the award systems rely on "unpaid" labour and just don't have a professional approach to the whole thing. Certainly doesn't do much for the books that don't win. People then tend to read the winner only.

4:01 PM  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

All I know about here is Malla Nunn's sequel, "Let the Die Lie,"
which is an excellent book.

It is exceptional, in my view.

5:31 PM  
Blogger Maxine Clarke said...

I agree, Norman and everyone, it seems counterproductive to have an award and announce the shortlist so late that social media buzz cannot add to the buildup, not to mention the fact that book-review bloggers don't have time to read the books.

These prizes often seem rather disorganised.

I am glad Karen publishes all the international dagger eligible titles at the start of each annual period, to give the reader chance to get a head-start before the shortlist is announced! However, luckily the International Dagger does not suffer from this problem as I think there is a decent interval between the shortlist and the award announcement.

I have not read any of these Ellis Peters books, but I did like last year's (?) winner, whichever of the Laura Wilson's Stratton books it was. I've just finished the third, A Capital Crime, and very much like this series. Malla Nunn's is good too, but I think needs more work on the crime plot aspects. (The societal context and the characters are both fine.)

11:41 AM  

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