Whitaker and Ægisdóttir triumph in 2021 CWA Dagger awards

Whitaker and Ægisdóttir triumph in 2021 CWA Dagger awards

This year's Crime Writers' Association (CWA) awards has seen Chris Whitaker land the Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year, while Eva Björg Ægisdóttir has been awarded the New Blood Dagger for best novel by a first-time author. Michael Robotham, Vaseem Khan and Peter May also claimed titles.

The awards, which celebrate the best in crime writing, were announced during a live virtual ceremony on 1st July hosted by writer and critic Barry Forshaw with guest speaker Abir Mukherjee, who won last year’s CWA Sapere Books Historical Dagger for his novel Death in the East (Harvill Secker). Martina Cole (pictured below) also featured at the awards event as the recipient of the 2021 Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement, the highest honour in British crime writing.

Whitaker received the Gold Dagger for We Begin at the End (Zaffre,), described as "truly memorable" by the judges. It has been a Waterstones Thriller of the Month and sold in 17 territories, with screen rights snapped up by Disney.

Maxim Jakubowski, chair of the Crime Writers’ Association, said: "This year’s Gold Dagger shortlist featured remarkable books, but We Begin at the End is an astoundingly beautiful and moving achievement in storytelling. Chris’s talent shone through when we awarded him the John Creasey Dagger in 2017. It’s inspiring to see him now take Gold, and I’m delighted that the CWA judges recognised this now acclaimed author from the very start."

Ægisdóttir's debut The Creak on the Stairs (Orenda) was written in just nine months while the Icelandic author was working as a flight attendant and juggling being a mother. It was a bestseller in Iceland before being picked up in the UK by Orenda Books.

Michael Robotham, who won the Gold Dagger in 2015 and 2020, also won this year’s Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for best thriller, for When She Was Good (Sphere, Little, Brown Book Group). CWA judges praised the novel as "an urgent, poignant and terrifying thriller".

Vaseem Khan scooped the Sapere Books Historical Dagger for Midnight at Malabar House (Hodder & Stoughton), set in Bombay in 1949 and 1950, while the Dagger in the Library award voted by librarians went to Peter May. The Scottish author has become well recognised for his work both as a novelist and in film and television. Chair of the judges, Sue Wilkinson, said: "Peter May infuses his books with a real sense of place, whether it be China, France or the Hebrides. His books are tense, atmospheric and complex but always utterly absorbing."

The winners in full: 

Gold Dagger, Fiction

Chris Whitaker: We Begin at the End (Zaffre, Bonnier)

S A Cosby: Blacktop Wasteland (Headline, Headline Publishing Group) - Highly commended

Nicci French: House of Correction (Simon & Schuster) - Highly commended

Ian Fleming Steel Dagger

Michael Robotham: When She Was Good (Sphere)

John Creasy (New Blood) Dagger

Eva Björg Ægisdóttir: The Creak on the Stairs (Orenda), Translator: Victoria Cribb

Sapere Books Historical Dagger

Vaseem Khan: Midnight at Malabar House (Hodder & Stoughton)

ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction 

Sue Black: Written in Bone (Doubleday)

Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger

Yun Ko-eun: The Disaster Tourist, translated by Lizzie Buehler (Serpent's Tail)

Short Story Dagger

Clare Mackintosh: ‘Monsters’ in First Edition: Celebrating 21 Years of Goldsboro Books (The Dome Press)

Dagger in the Library

Peter May

Publishers' Dagger

Head of Zeus

Debut Dagger (for an unpublished novel)

Hannah Redding: Deception 

Fiona McPhillips: Underwater - Highly commended