Books up for the International Dagger 2013, first post

Now that the winner of the 2012 CWA International Dagger has been announced, we can turn to the titles that are eligible for consideration for the 2013 competition. Karen Meek of Euro Crime has created her usual essential post of the books that qualify, and has included a GoodReads feed of the titles, also. Both of these are updated as more titles are published or announced, so check back regularly to the Euro Crime post or sign up to the GoodReads RSS feed for alerts of new books as the year goes on.

The criteria for consideration are that the book must be translated into English for the first time, and published in the UK between June 2012 and May 2013. The award is shared between the author and the translator. There are, therefore, several eligible books already published, some of which I’ve even read (sometimes a few years ago, if the book was published in the US before the UK). These read and reviewed titles are:

Adler-Olson, J. Disgrace, tr Kyle Semmel (Denmark)
Dahl, A. The Blinded Man, tr Tiina Nunnally (reviewed as Misterioso, the US edition and title) (Sweden)
Enger, T. Pierced, tr Charlotte Barslund (Norway)
Eriksson, K. The Cruel Stars of the Night, tr Ebba Segerberg (review of the US edition) (Sweden)
Holt, A. The Blind Goddess, tr Tom Geddes (review submitted) (Norway)
Indridason, A. Black Skies, tr Victoria Cribb (Iceland)
Juul, P. The Murder of Halland, tr Martin Aitken (review submitted) (Denmark)
Larsson, A. The Black Path, tr Marlaine Delargy (review of US edition) (Sweden)
Marklund, L. Last Will, tr Neil Smith (review of US edition) (Sweden)
von Schirach, F. The Collini Case, tr Anthea Bell (Germany)

Most of these books have been most enjoyable to read, but for me so far there are two clear favourites, Last Will and Black Skies. A couple of the others are extremely strong candidates, but fall short of my definition of a “crime” novel in one or two ways. Karen, of course, has listed many more titles, either published or due to be published. I’ve prioritised these so hope to be reading next:

Fossum, K. In the Darkness (Norway)
Tegenfalk, S. Project Nirvana (on order) (Sweden)
Ceder, C. Babylon (Sweden)
Meyer, D. Seven Days (South Africa)
Miloszewski, Z. A Grain of Truth (Poland)
Theorin, J. The Asylum (Sweden)
Camilleri, A. The Age of Doubt (Italy)
Kaaberbol & Friis. The Invisible Murders (Denmark)
Marklund, L. Lifetime (Sweden)

There are several others that appeal to me (and some I shall not be reading), so I am sure I’ll be reading more than those listed above between now and March 2013.

All my posts on the International Dagger.
Petrona’s International Dagger page, which includes a list of all the past winners and a link to the lists of all the eligible titles from each year, with reviews of many of them.

International Dagger winner 2012

I am delighted to learn from Euro Crime that The Potter’s Field by Andrea Camilleri, translated by Stephen Sartarelli, has won the International Dagger for 2012. From the CWA website:

The judges said ‘Camilleri’s Montalbano novels show just how much can be achieved with familiar materials when a writer conveys the sense of life in a recognizable place. He combines characters, plots, and reflections on Italy’s particular social and political problems, with wry—but never bitter—satire. In this novel the late-afternoon shadows lengthen; Montalbano is feeling his age.’

I reviewed this novel (as well as most of the others in the series) for Euro Crime. From my review:

THE POTTER’S FIELD is an excellent book. All the familiar characters are here, but events have taken a darker turn. Salvo is feeling his age, and with reason is increasingly depressed about the state of his beautiful country and the way in which it is ruined by politicians and gangsters alike. The novel is more than a crime novel – though the plot is very clever and convoluted, because of the way Salvo decides to proceed with it – it is a meditation on getting older, on failing powers, and on the uncertain future we all face.

Read the complete review here.

Euro Crime: Andrea Camilleri’s books in reading order, with links to reviews of all the titles.

The 2012 shortlist for the CWA International Dagger:

Andrea Camilleri – The Potter’s Field tr. Stephen Sartarelli (Italy)
Maurizio De Giovanni – I Will Have Vengeance tr. Anne Milano Appel (Italy)
Asa Larsson – Until Thy Wrath be Past tr. Laurie Thompson (Sweden)
Deon Meyer – Trackers tr. K L Seegers (South Africa)
Jo Nesbo – Phantom tr. Don Bartlett (Norway)
Valerio Varesi – The Dark Valley tr. Joseph Farrell (Italy)

My own personal shortlist for 2012.

Already we are forced to think about 2103, as several books have already been published that must be strong contenders for next year’s award. Watch this space!

All my posts on the International Dagger awards.

Petrona’s International Dagger page – includes a list of each year’s winner with links to my reviews of each; a link to the shortlist for each year; and a link to Euro Crime’s comprehensive list of all the eligible titles for each year. A reader’s treasure trove.

International Dagger page, and statistics news

New page at Petrona.
I have created a page on this blog (underneath the header) to list the books that have won the CWA International Dagger award since its inception in 2006. In all but one case, I have read and reviewed the winning title, so I’ve included a link to that in the list. I have also provided a summary of the judges’ comments about each book, with a link to the CWA page for that year, so you can see the shortlisted books for that year, together with the judges’ views on them. For those who really are true collectors, I’ve also included links to the Euro Crime listings of all the eligible titles for each year from 2006 on – posts which include links to Euro Crime reviews of many of these books.

Amazon top 500 reviewer!
The other day, I achieved my longstanding goal of becoming a “top 500″ Amazon reviewer – an accolade that I believe means one’s reviews are more seriously regarded. I am not sure precisely how this ranking is calculated, but it is at least in part due to other readers marking one’s review as “helpful”. At time of writing, 87 per cent (597 of 684) of comments on my reviews are “helpful” (the rest are “unhelpful” votes, at least some of which will be from disgruntled authors and/or publicists!), so I’d like to thank everyone and anyone who has voted one of my reviews helpful, and hence propelled my reviews up the rankings. For those interested, here are my 200-plus reviews and nine “Listmania” lists of carefully filtered reading recommendations. Any further “helpful” votes are very welcome indeed!

Google plus and sharing
The icon “g+1″ appears on many blog posts (usually at the bottom) and newspaper articles now. If you’ve enjoyed reading an article, it is well worth clicking on the icon as this will increase the page rank given to the article by Google, and hence make it more visible in searches. You can just click on the icon, you do not have to have a G+ account or “share on G+” as prompted, a “+1″ is all that is needed to optimise for search. I have some time ago created a Google+ crime fiction page – when I like an article I add a link to that page and, in the persona of “crime fiction page” click on the “g+1″ icon there, as well (that’s two votes!). If you have a Google + account you can put the crime fiction page into one of your circles, then you can share your own or any other article (with the g+1 icon) to the crime-fiction page very easily. Google + may not have taken off as a social medium yet, but when it does, crime fiction is ready!
Google + crime fiction page.

International Dagger shortlist 2012

It is a little more than a month since I last posted my speculation about the shortlist for the CWA’s International Dagger award this year – an award which is given to a book published in translation in the UK for the first time between June 2011 and May 2012. Since that post, I’ve reviewed two more of the eligible titles, The Dark Valley by Valerio Varesi, tr Joseph Farrell, and Night Rounds by Helene Tursten, tr Laura Wideburg. Just as well, as it turned out, because The Dark Valley is on the shortlist, and I’d already read and reviewed the rest!

The shortlist, which was announced at Crime Fest on Friday 25 May, is here (click on book’s title for my review):

Andrea Camilleri – The Potter’s Field tr. Stephen Sartarelli Italy
Maurizio De Giovanni – I Will Have Vengeance tr. Anne Milano Appel Italy
Asa Larsson – Until Thy Wrath be Past tr. Laurie Thompson Sweden
Deon Meyer – Trackers tr. K L Seegers South Africa
Jo Nesbo – Phantom tr. Don Bartlett Norway
Valerio Varesi – The Dark Valley tr. Joseph Farrell Italy

I picked the books by Asa Larsson and Deon Meyer for my own suggested shortlist, but apart from those two I suggested four other titles:

The Caller by Karin Fossum, tr Kyle Semmel Norway
Dregs by Jorn Lier Horst, tr Anne Bruce Norway
Outrage by Arnaldur Indridason, tr Anna Yates Iceland
The Quarry by Johan Theorin, tr Marlaine Delargy Sweden
(hon mention) The Summer of Dead Toys by Antonio Hill, tr Laura McGloughlin (Euro Crime review pending) Spain

So which is my predicted winner? Based on my own predicted shortlist’s overlap with the real shortlist, it is going to be Until Thy Wrath be Past or Trackers. I find it impossible to choose between them, as they are so different: the former is a crime novel and the latter a thriller. So I am going to cop out and call it a dead heat!

All my posts on the International Dagger award.

About this year’s shortlist at the CWA website, including the judges’ reasons for choosing these titles.

The final straight and speculation on the 2012 International Dagger

It’s December since I last provided an update on my reading of books eligible for the CWA International Dagger award. Books published in translation in the UK for the first time between June 2011 and May 2012 are eligible, so long as the publisher submits them to the competition. (Only one book per author can be submitted.) Each year, I try to read a good proportion of these books and make my own predictions about the shortlist and eventual winner. (See here for all my posts on the topic.)

Of the list of 79 eligible titles (up from 55 from last year) for this year listed by Karen of Euro Crime (also at Goodreads when a cover image is available), I’ve read and reviewed 42 (click on title to see my review):

Kjell Eriksson – The Princess of Burundi, tr. Ebbe Segerberg (Sweden, my review from 2007 is of the US edition)
Asa Larsson – The Black Path, tr. Marlaine Delargy (Sweden, my review from 2008 is of the US edition)
Andrea Camilleri – The Track of Sand, tr. Stephen Sartarelli (Italy)
Arnaldur Indridason – Outrage, tr. Anna Yates (Iceland)
Camilla Lackberg – The Hidden Child, tr. Tiina Nunnally (Sweden)
Ernesto Mallo – Sweet Money, tr. Katherine Silver (Argentina)
Johan Theorin – The Quarry, tr. Marlaine Delargy (Sweden)
Jan Costin Wagner – The Winter of the Lions, tr. Anthea Bell (German, Finland setting)
Karin Fossum – The Caller, tr. Kyle Semmel (Norway)
Mons Kallentoft – Midwinter Sacrifice, tr. Neil Smith (@neiltranslator) (Sweden)
Anne Holt – Fear Not, tr. Marlaine Delargy (Norway)
Yrsa Sigurdardottir – The Day is Dark, tr. Philip Roughton (Iceland)
Asa Larsson – Until Thy Wrath be Past, tr. Laurie Thompson (Sweden)
Deon Meyer – Trackers, tr. K L Seegers (South Africa, language Afrikaans)
Hakan Nesser – The Unlucky Lottery, tr. Laurie Thompson (Sweden)
Marco Vichi – Death in August, tr. Stephen Sartarelli (Italy)
Jorn Lier Horst -Dregs, tr. Anne Bruce (Norway)
Thomas Enger – Burned, tr. Charlotte Barslund (Norway)
Sergios Gakas – Ashes, tr. Anne-Marie Stanton-Ife (Greece)
Claudia Pineiro – All Yours, tr. Miranda France (Argentina)
Stefan Tegenfalk – Anger Mode, tr David Evans (Sweden)
Gianrico Carofiglio – Temporary Perfections, tr Anthony Shugaar (Italy)
K O Dahl – Lethal Investments, tr. Don Bartlett (Norway)
Jo Nesbo – Headhunters, tr. Don Bartlett (Norway)
Sissel-Jo Gazan – The Dinosaur Feather, tr Charlotte Barslund (Denmark)
Roslund and Hellstrom – Cell 8, tr Kari Dickson (Sweden)
Kjell Eriksson – The Hand that Trembles, tr Ebbe Segerberg (Sweden)
Lene Kaaberbol & Agnete Friis – The Boy in the Suitcase, tr Lene Kaaberbol (Denmark)
Kristina Ohlsson – Unwanted, tr Sarah Death (Sweden)
George Arion – Attack in the Library, tr Ramona Mitrica, Mike Phillips & Mihai Risnoveanu (Romania) (Kindle edition)
Paulus Hochgatterer – The Mattress House tr. Jamie Bulloch (Austria)
Charlotte Link – The Other Child, tr Stefan Tobler (German, UK setting)
Mari Jungstedt – Dark Angel, tr Tiina Nunnally (Sweden)
Jo Nesbo – Phantom, tr Don Bartlett (Norway)
Hakan Nesser – Hour of the Wolf, tr Laurie Thompson (Sweden)
Andrea Camilleri – The Potter’s Field, tr Stephen Sartarelli (Italy) (review pending)
Keigo Higashino – The Devotion of Suspect X, tr Alexander O Smith with Elye Alexander (Japan)
Harri Nykanen – Nights of Awe tr. Kristian London (Finland) (review pending)
Maurizio De Giovanni – I Will Have Vengeance tr. Anne Milano Appel (Italy)
Antonio Hill – The Summer of Dead Toys tr. Laura McGloughlin (Spain) (review pending)
Jens Lapidus – Easy Money, tr. Astri von Arbin Ahlander (Sweden)
Kjell Eriksson – The Demon of Dakar, tr Ebba Segerberg (Sweden, my 2010 review is of the US edition)

I shall try to read a few more titles before the shortlist is announced on 25 May at Crime Fest, but several of them are not yet available in the UK. There will be some that I shan’t read, for reasons of time or taste.

So what would make up my personal shortlist? Assuming one is only allowed seven novels, I will plump for:

Karin Fossum – The Caller (Norway)
Antonio Hill – The Summer of Dead Toys (Spain)
Jorn Lier Horst – Dregs (Norway)
Arnaldur Indridason – Outrage (Iceland)
Asa Larsson – Until Thy Wrath Be Past (Sweden)
Deon Meyer – Trackers (South Africa)
Johan Theorin – The Quarry (Sweden)

Unfortunately, there is something of a Scandinavian bias, but that’s my honest opinion. It also reflects the proportion of books published in the UK during this year’s eligibility period. If I were allowed another couple, I’d choose Hour of the Wolf by Hakan Nesser (Sweden) and The Potter’s Field by Andrea Camilleri (Italy).

I have chosen these because they all work well as crime novels: several of the eligible books are not what I’d call “crime novels” but are “fiction with a crime in”. I have also excluded a few which I enjoyed reading very much but which I thought were let down by their plot resolutions. But it is a very strong year; I’ve really enjoyed reading almost all of these books – it’s a pity not to be able to include Anger Mode, Burned, All Yours or Ashes……or Sweet Money, Phantom or Dark Angel….tough choices!

See all my posts on the International Dagger.

The definitive post on the eligible titles at Euro Crime blog.

Other recent posts about this year’s eligible books are at The Game’s Afoot and Reactions to Reading.

More progress on reading books eligible for the 2012 International Dagger award

Books published in translation in the UK for the first time between June 2011 and May 2012 are eligible for the CWA’s International Dagger award, so long as the publisher submits them to the competition. Each year, I try to read most of these books and make my own predictions about the shortlist and eventual winner. (See here for all my posts on the topic.) I do not read those that seem to be sensationalistic, on religious/spiritual themes, or otherwise unappealing (one Swedish and one Libyan novel are out for me because of their themes of torture); because there isn’t time to read all the rest, I don’t read many of the purely historical titles.

Of the list of 75 eligible titles (up from 55 at time of my last post on this topic!) so far known this year listed by Karen of Euro Crime (also at Goodreads when a cover image is available), I’ve read and reviewed 26 (click on title to see my review):

Kjell Eriksson – The Princess of Burundi, tr. Ebbe Segerberg (Sweden, my review from 2007 is of the US edition)
Asa Larsson – The Black Path, tr. Marlaine Delargy (Sweden, my review from 2008 is of the US edition)
Andrea Camilleri – The Track of Sand, tr. Stephen Sartarelli (Italy)
Arnaldur Indridason – Outrage, tr. Anna Yates (Iceland)
Camilla Lackberg – The Hidden Child, tr. Tiina Nunnally (Sweden)
Ernesto Mallo – Sweet Money, tr. Katherine Silver (Argentina)
Johan Theorin – The Quarry, tr. Marlaine Delargy (Sweden)
Jan Costin Wagner – The Winter of the Lions, tr. Anthea Bell (German, Finland setting)
Karin Fossum – The Caller, tr. Kyle Semmel (Norway)
Mons Kallentoft – Midwinter Sacrifice, tr. Neil Smith (@neiltranslator) (Sweden)
Anne Holt – Fear Not, tr. Marlaine Delargy (Norway)
Yrsa Sigurdardottir – The Day is Dark, tr. Philip Roughton (Iceland)
Asa Larsson – Until Thy Wrath be Past, tr. Laurie Thompson (Sweden)
Deon Meyer – Trackers, tr. K L Seegers (South Africa, language Afrikaans)
Hakan Nesser – The Unlucky Lottery, tr. Laurie Thompson (Sweden)
Marco Vichi – Death in August, tr. Stephen Sartarelli (Italy)
Jorn Lier Horst -Dregs, tr. Anne Bruce (Norway)
Thomas Enger – Burned, tr. Charlotte Barslund (Norway)
Sergios Gakas – Ashes, tr. Anne-Marie Stanton-Ife (Greece)
Claudia Pineiro – All Yours, tr. Miranda France (Argentina)
Stefan Tegenfalk – Anger Mode, tr David Evans (Sweden)
Gianrico Carofiglio – Temporary Perfections, tr Anthony Shugaar (Italy)
K O Dahl – Lethal Investments, tr. Don Bartlett (Norway)
Jo Nesbo – Headhunters, tr. Don Bartlett (Norway)
Roslund and Hellstrom – Cell 8, tr Kari Dickson (Sweden)
Kjell Eriksson – The Hand that Trembles, tr Ebbe Segerberg (Sweden)

In my possession, to read:
Friis and Kaaberbol – The Boy in the Suitcase (Denmark)
Kristina Ohlsson – Unwanted (Sweden)
George Arion – Attack in the Library (Romania) (Kindle edition)

Not yet published and/or awaiting purchase:
Bernhard Jaumann – The Hour of the Jackal (Germany)
Petros Markaris – Basic Shareholder (Greece)
Gunnar Staalesen – Cold Hearts, tr. Don Bartlett (Norway)
Jussi Adler-Olsen – Disgrace (Denmark)
Valerio Varesi – The Dark Valley (Italy)
Camilla Lackberg – The Drowning (Sweden)
Helene Tursten – Night Rounds (Sweden)
Charlotte Link – The Other Child (German, UK setting)
Liza Marklund – Last Will (Sweden)
Mari Jungstedt – The Dark Angel (Sweden)
Jo Nesbo – Phantom, tr. Don Bartlett (Norway)
Guillermo Orsi – Holy City (Argentina)
Eva Joly & Judith Perrignon – The Eyes of Lira Kazan (French, Nigeria setting)
Hakan Nesser – Hour of the Wolf (Sweden)
Andrea Camilleri – The Potter’s Field (Italy)
Mons Kallentoft – Summertime Death (Sweden)

Maybe/maybe not:
Lars Kepler – The Nightmare (Sweden)
Keigo Higashino – The Devotion of Suspect X (Japan)
Hans Koppel – She’s Never Coming Back (Sweden)
Leif GW Persson – Another Time, Another Life (Sweden)

Even if I manage to read all of these, there will still be 20 or 30 titles I won’t have read by the time the shortlist is announced. And which, so far, would be my winner? Impossible to say, but for a shortlist I would so far vote for Asa Larsson’s Till Thy Wrath Be Past; Deon Meyer’s Trackers; Jorn Lier Horst’s Dregs; Arnaldur Indridason’s Outrage; and for the last two slots I could not decide between about six others. And the choice looks set to become even more difficult, given some of the tempting titles that are not yet published.

See all my posts on the International Dagger.

Euro Crime blog post listing all eligible titles.

Official CWA International Dagger page, containing synopses and articles about the 2011 winner and shortlisted books, as well as archives about past years’ awards.

Update on reading books eligible for the International Dagger 2012

June is the beginning of the International Dagger eligibility period, and I’ve never known anything like the past five months for a plethora of brilliant books being published. If it carries on like this until next May (when the publication window closes) it is going to be an impossible task to select a shortlist of even a dozen books!

Of the list of 55 eligible titles (so far known) this year listed by Karen of Euro Crime (also at Goodreads when a cover image is available), I’ve read 20 (click on title to see my review):

Kjell Eriksson – The Princess of Burundi, tr. Ebbe Segerberg (Sweden, my review from 2007 is of the US edition)
Andrea Camilleri – The Track of Sand, tr. Stephen Sartarelli (Italy)
Arnaldur Indridason – Outrage, tr. Anna Yates (Iceland)
Camilla Lackberg – The Hidden Child, tr. Tiina Nunnally (Sweden)
Ernesto Mallo – Sweet Money, tr. Katherine Silver (Argentina)
Johan Theorin – The Quarry, tr. Marlaine Delargy (Sweden)
Jan Costin Wagner – The Winter of the Lions, tr. Anthea Bell (German, Finland setting)
Karin Fossum – The Caller, tr. Kyle Semmel (Norway)
Mons Kallentoft – Midwinter Sacrifice, tr. Neil Smith (@neiltranslator) (Sweden, review submitted to Euro Crime)
Anne Holt – Fear Not, tr. Marlaine Delargy (Norway)
Yrsa Sigurdardottir – The Day is Dark, tr. Philip Roughton (Iceland)
Asa Larsson – Until Thy Wrath be Past, tr. Laurie Thompson (Sweden)
Deon Meyer – Trackers, tr. K L Seegers (South Africa, language Afrikaans)
Hakan Nesser – The Unlucky Lottery, tr. Laurie Thompson (Sweden, review submitted to Euro Crime)
Marco Vichi – Death in August, tr. Stephen Sartarelli (Italy)
Jorn Lier Horst -Dregs, tr. Anne Bruce (Norway)
Thomas Enger – Burned, tr. Charlotte Barslund (Norway)
Sergios Gakas – Ashes, tr. Anne-Marie Stanton-Ife (Greece)
Claudia Pineiro – All Yours, tr. Miranda France (Argentina)
Stefan Tegenfalk – Anger Mode, tr David Evans (Sweden)

On my shelf, to read:

Gianrico Carofiglio – Temporary Perfections (Italy)
K O Dahl – Lethal Investments, tr. Don Bartlett (Norway)
Jo Nesbo – Headhunters tr. Don Bartlett (Norway)

Waiting to be acquired or to be published:

Roslund-Hellstrom – Cell 8 (Sweden)
Friis & Kaaberbol – The Boy in the Suitcase (Denmark)
Kjell Eriksson – The Hand that Trembles (Sweden)
Bernhard Jaumann – The Hour of the Jackal (Germany)
Kristina Ohlsson – Unwanted (Sweden)
Petros Markaris – Basic Shareholder (Greece)
Valerio Varesi – The Dark Valley (Italy)
Camilla Lackberg – The Drowning (Sweden)
Charlotte Link – The Other Child (German, UK setting)
Liza Marklund – Last Will (Sweden)
Jo Nesbo – The Bat Man (Norway)
Mari Jungstedt – The Dark Angel (Sweden)
Lars Kepler – The Executioner (Sweden) (not as keen as all that to read this one)

The geographical distribution of these novels is: Sweden 14, Norway 7, Iceland 2, Denmark 1, Finland 1 (German author/language) – that makes 25 Nordic – Italy 4, Argentina 2, Greece 2, Germany 2, South Africa 1. If I get through all these books and nothing else more attractive is published in the interim, I may read The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino, which would add 1 for Japan. (By the way, on this sample size of 2 for Germany, it is odd that one is set in Finland and the other in England.)

The strong Nordic bias to this selection is partly because I have not included historical or (I hope) “slasher”-type novels on my “desperately want to read” list, and partly because the list reflects what is being published for the first time in English translation in the UK between 1 June 2011 and 31 May 2012 – that is, the market.

Which of these are my front-runners? That’s a very hard one. Indridason, Theorin, Larsson, Horst, Meyer certainly, with Gakas, Holt, Mallo and Enger a shade behind. Or maybe Fossum. Or Pineiro…..help! One thing is for sure, that of the 20 I’ve read, I would not say any of them is a dud. I’ve enjoyed the vast majority of them tremendously, and hope to continue feeling this way about the rest of the eligible titles as I read them.

Other recent posts speculating on the 2012 Dagger can be read at The Game’s Afoot and Crime Scraps.

See all my posts on the International Dagger.

Official CWA International Dagger page, containing synopses and articles about the 2011 winner and shortlisted books, as well as archives about past years’ awards.

First post on International Dagger 2012

Now that the dust has settled on the 2011 CWA International Dagger award, which was won by the thriller Three Seconds by Roslund-Hellstrom, tr. Kari Dickson, we can begin to look at 2012! The rules are that the novel has to have been translated into English and published in the UK between June 2011 and May 2012. Karen Meek keeps an updated list of all the eligible titles at Euro Crime blog, of which at time of writing there are 49 either published or due to be published in this time period. In addition to her blog post, Karen has also created a lovely carousel of book covers (see Euro Crime blog) based on a Goodreads list: this is available via RSS feed so if you subscribe you’ll be alerted each time she adds a new title.

I don’t suppose anyone manages to read all the eligible titles per year, but the judges do publish a shortlist of six or seven titles a couple of months before the winner is announced, so one has an opportunity to focus on the eventual winner via reading the shortlist, if one so wishes. I tend to read most of the eligible titles apart from the historical ones and those that seem to be slasher/torture/serial killer/graphic violence-oriented, which is not my cup of tea.

Hence, of the list of eligible titles this year, I’ve so far read eleven:

Kjell Eriksson – The Princess of Burundi tr. Ebbe Segerberg (Sweden, my review from 2007 is of the US edition)
Andrea Camilleri – The Track of Sand tr. Stephen Sartarelli (Italy)
Arnaldur Indridason – Outrage tr. Anna Yates (Iceland)
Camilla Lackberg – The Hidden Child tr. Tiina Nunnally (Sweden, review submitted)
Ernesto Mallo – Sweet Money tr. Katherine Silver (Argentina)
Johan Theorin – The Quarry tr. Marlaine Delargy (Sweden)
Jan Costin Wagner – The Winter of the Lions tr. Anthea Bell (German, Finland setting)
Karin Fossum – The Caller tr. Kyle Semmel (Norway)
Mons Kallentoft – Midwinter Sacrifice tr. Neil Smith (@neiltranslator) (Sweden, review submitted)
Anne Holt – Fear Not tr. Marlaine Delargy (Norway, review submitted)
Yrsa Sigurdardottir – The Day is Dark tr. Philip Roughton (Iceland)

And already on my shelf, to read soon:

Asa Larsson – Until Thy Wrath be Past tr. Laurie Thompson (Sweden)
Deon Meyer – Trackers tr. K L Seegers (South Africa, language Afrikaans)
Hakan Nesser – The Unlucky Lottery tr. Laurie Thompson (Sweden)
Marco Vichi – Death in August, tr. Stephen Sartarelli (Italy)

Waiting keenly to obtain copies when published in the UK later this year (ie definitely plan to read):

Thomas Enger – Burned (Norway)
Gianrico Carofiglio – Temporary Imperfections (Italy)
Claudia Pineiro – All Yours (Argentina)
Kjell Eriksson – The Hand that Trembles (Sweden)
K O Dahl – Lethal Investments tr. Don Bartlett (Norway)
Roslund-Hellstrom – Cell 8 (Sweden)
Jo Nesbo – Headhunters tr. Don Bartlett (Norway)
Friis & Kaaberbol – The Boy in the Suitcase (Denmark)
(Also Arne Dahl’s Misterioso, but this may not be eligible as the translation is a US edition, I believe – though I shall definitely read it either way).

There are other upcoming books in 2012 that I shall also read, including some to redress the Nordic bias to date, but this list is getting a bit long as it is so I’ll leave those until a future post. Any recommendations from the full list are very welcome if you care to leave a comment. All I can say at this stage is that based on what I have read so far, and of what I can see of the books I am planning to read, 2012 is going to be a very stiff competition!

See all my posts on the International Dagger.

Official CWA International Dagger page, containing synopses and articles about the 2011 winner and shortlisted books.

International Dagger winner 2011

Via various blogs, including the source of all wisdom on such matters, Euro Crime, I see that Three Seconds by Roslund-Hellstrom (Sweden) has won the CWA International Dagger award for 2011. This book would not have been my choice from the shortlist, my preference was Ernesto Mallo’s Needle in a Haystack (Argentina). However, crime fiction is a very varied genre, and the winner is of the thriller variety rather than the introspective one, which just goes to show that these things usually boil down to a matter of taste on the part of the individual reader. In this vein, the 2011 shortlist itself did not contain some books that I thought very good out of the eligible titles (most notably Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olssen (Denmark) which for me was the overall winner of translated crime novels this year, and Frozen Moment by Camilla Ceder (Sweden), a very impressive debut novel, which would be my runner-up) — though the six titles out of the seven on the shortlist that I’ve read were all at least “OK”.

The 2012 International Dagger promises to be a much tougher fight already, and it’s only July. I’ve read two superb novels from the eligible list, Outrage by Arnaldur Indridason (Iceland) and The Quarry by Johan Theorin (Sweden) which will be very hard indeed to beat. A look at the Goodreads carousel at Euro Crime blog containing all the eligible titles published so far also contains other books I’ve read by Camilleri, Sigurdardottir, Mallo and J-C Wagner – it is shaping up to be an excellent year!

My previous posts about the International Dagger, for 2011 and previous years, are collected here.

CWA International Dagger shortlist 2011and predicted winner

The shortlist for the CWA International Dagger was announced at CrimeFest in Bristol on Friday evening (click on title to see my review):

Andrea Camilleri – The Wings of the Sphinx tr. Stephen Sartarelli
Ernesto Mallo – Needle in a Haystack tr. Jethro Soutar
Jean-Francois Parot – The Saint-Florentin Murders tr. Howard Curtis
Roslund-Hellstrom – Three Seconds tr. Kari Dickson
Valerio Varesi – River of Shadows tr. Joseph Farrell
Fred Vargas – An Uncertain Place tr. Sian Reynolds
Domingo Villar – Death on a Galician Shore tr. Sonia Soto

The full list of eligible titles is at Euro Crime. Not all these titles will have been submitted for the prize by their publishers, but immediately it can be seen that the choices are independent ones: no Mankell, Fossum or Nesbo, who one might have expected to be automatic selections, and other well-known authors are omitted (eg Lackberg, Marklund and Sigurdardottir). Of the titles selected, I’ve read five and am currently reading An Uncertain Place by Fred Vargas, which I’m enjoying so far (more so than some of her previous novels). I am not sure if I’ll read The Saint-Florentin Murders, but will check it out.

Of the five I have read, any would get my vote for the winner (which will be announced at Harrogate crime festival in July). All five have many points to recommend them and a few to count against them – there is no perfect storm of a winner (such as is sometimes provided by Johan Theorin and Arnaldur Indridason, both past CWA winners in various competitions). My two favourites of the eligible titles, Frozen Moment by Camilla Ceder (tr Marlaine Delargy) and Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen (tr Lisa Hartford) did not make the shortlist (note, they may not have been submitted).

On balance I think my favourite is Needle in a Haystack by Ernesto Mallo. It’s got a solid, well-constructed crime plot, engaging characters, a social-political conscience and bags of tension. The ending is a real cliffhanger which has certainly continued to puzzle me. The Argentina setting makes the book distinctive from previous years, in which European titles have won.

I’d be happy for any of these excellent novels to win the prize, but the following explains why I prefer Needle in a Haystack.

Three Seconds: a scorchingly paced thriller, very exciting to read, but for me marred by an unsympathetic protagonist, unconvincingly convoluted political machinations, and some unlikely plot elements.
The Wings of the Sphinx: a charming, readable novel but not the greatest crime plot – Montalbano relies on the intuitive flash as usual.
Death on a Galician Shore: wonderful sense of place, atmosphere and traditional life, a well-put-together novel, and lovely family relationship between three men. The weakness is in the obvious crime plot, which lacks excitement or surprises. The byplay between the police characters is amusing but not as well done as it is in the first novel (Water Blue Eyes) in the series.
River of Shadows: again, a wonderful sense of place and atmosphere, particularly the river throughout and the old villages in the last section. The protagonist is both flat and not nice or nasty enough to gel (a hint of misogyny?), and though the plot is well constructed and suitably twisty, the action of the novel is too dependent on numerous trips between towns and repeated interviews.
An Uncertain Place: The only book on the shortlist by a woman. I have not finished this book yet and am enjoying it, but it is full of Vargas’s usual eccentricites and strange “cosy”/violent/academic assessment mix that makes me regard her novels as fables or allegories, rather than “proper” crime fiction. Also, she’s won the prize too often in previous years!

Well, I was right in my prediction last year (The Darkest Room by Johan Theorin) so I don’t expect to be so prescient two years running. Time will tell.

*Post updated. Here is the official announcement from the CWA, with an explanation as to why each shortlisted book was chosen.

All my previous International Dagger posts.