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.

12 thoughts on “International Dagger winner 2011

  1. Expect the carousel to groan with more titles soon. Next week I’ll be doing the 2012 list – thought I’d wait until 2011 was announced.

    • There are plenty of tempting covers on there already Karen ;-). Looking forward to seeing more, the carousel is a great idea – thank you!!

    • Mine too, Norman, there are so many titles this year cf last. Mainly from Scandinavia, it seems, so far.

  2. Maxine – You would do this, wouldn’t you? Remind me of all sorts of wonderful books that need to be on my TBR list? ;-).
    In all seriousness, I agree with you that very often, taste is a defining factor in what readers think of as a good book. Of course there are more objective measures, but even a beautifully-written cosy will not appeal to people who don’t care for that sub-genre.

  3. Yes, personal preferences and taste do account for a lot in choosing great books. I used to wonder why some readers didn’t cheer about the same books I did, and then realized that it’s about personal taste. Take Stieg Larsson or Fred Vargas, even Donna Leon or so many other writers, and there are pros and cons. Even with co-reading mystery buffs, to whom I lend books, I have to keep track of who likes what genre, author, time period, etc. Most like Jo Nesbo’s Nemesis, Michael Connelly’s books and Sara Paretsky’s. Those who read Indridason like his books, too — although some folks like fast-paced, not introspective or plodding investigations.
    I had duly noted these recommendations on my TBR list. Since my library doesn’t have them or they cost a “ransom” at Amazon and now with territorial rights limiting Book Depository sales here, and even with Abe Books cost quite a bit, I’ll wait it out until paperbacks are available here or Abe Books has a lot of used copies and they’re less costly.
    This is becoming quite a juggling act — getting global crime fiction — what with libraries limiting budgets, changes in publishing, as mergers and acquisitions, with territorial jurisdictions on sales, it’s getting harder to obtain it. But we’ll find a way.

  4. I’m curious about Three Seconds but when I had it checked out from the library decided to take a pass as it wasn’t what I was in the mood for at the time. May watch for it in paper, though. Reading is such a subjective thing–it would be hard to decide on a ‘best book’ since that means so many different things to different readers–it also sounds like there is a certain amount of politics when it comes to choosing as well. But I do follow certain prizes because they spotlight some really good books–often books I might not otherwise try or be exposed to. Thanks for the heads up on the EC carousel of potential books for next year–I plan on keeping an eye on it as I am always looking for good reads!

    • 3 Seconds is in fact slightly Stieg Larssonish (unlike most of the authors he is compared to) in that it provides masses of details – eg about how drugs are smuggled and how you get things in and out of prisons. It also concerns political conspiracies in the Swedish police and political establishment. Where I parted company with it mainly was in the main character who I found unsympathetic, and the pasted-in schmaltzy US-cute-kid style wife/family. I was more interested in the dark, dark story of Ewart Grens, the policeman, via the powerful, searing Box 21 but we don’t get too much of him in this book. (There is at least one between Box 21 and 3 seconds that has not been translated).
      I would recommend box 21 rather than this – it’s much shorter but its ending made me very, very , very angry (for the right reasons if you see what I mean).

  5. Happily (?) I have been sick as a dog for the past 2 days and even now I am too weary to grizzle too much about this win. Of the six shortlisted books I read I thought it the weakest but i’m more than happy I got toread all the other books anyway. Now that I have two options for ebooks in addition to paper I will hopefully get to read more of the eligible titles for 2012 as the year progresses rather than having to wait until they are released here.

    • So sorry to hear this, Bernadette, I had noticed you were being rather quiet and thought you must be away or dealing with family matters. I didn’t think this one was the weakest, but not the best either. I think 2012 will be a richer year overall, from what I’ve seen of it so far.

  6. Because I am not a crime fiction buff, all titles draw a blank from my face… but I’m marking some of these titles down and I am interested with the one by Arnaldur Indridason. But Arnaldur won the dagger before and did you know if there are crime writers who won the dagger twice?

    I like to read something from Argentina so Needle in the haystack sounds good too. I’m slowly shifting to crime fiction (I replied to your comment on my blog about it being more thrilling, cut to the chase and gratifying) and when I do, a lot of the books you recommended will jump out from the page and added on my TBR! Thanks for the announcement post. 😉

    • hi JoV, yes, as well as Indridason winning twice (when translated authors were allowed to be considered for the main award, since he won twice they have been hived off to their own sub-award!), Fred Vargas, a French author, has won three times. I would highly recommend Johan Theorin if you have not come across him already, his first novel is Echoes from the Dead (won debut or similar Dagger), second The Darkest Room (won the Int Dagger last year) and his latest is The Quarry, also excellent.
      I also recommend Karin Alvtegen, a Swedish writer who produces varied novels (not a series). Try checking out Missing or Shadow.

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