In the world of British crime fiction and thrillers, there is no honour greater than the annual CWA/Cartier Diamond Dagger award. To see a list of previous winners of this coveted trophy – click here


As the name suggests, this coveted award is sponsored by Cartier, who have done so since its inception in 1986. The CWA committee selects writers nominated by the whole of the CWA membership. Nominees have to meet two essential criteria: first, their careers must be marked by sustained excellence, and second, they must have made a significant contribution to crime fiction published in the English language, whether originally or in translation. The award is made purely on merit without reference to age, gender or nationality.


We have been fortunate to have attended this event at London’s Savoy Hotel for a few years now, having met Lawrence Block and his wife in 2004, Ian Rankin in 2005 and Elmore Leonard last year. This year the winner was announced as John Harvey who is often quoted as ‘The Crime Writer’s Crime Writer’ – read more


We joined a plethora of British crime writers, editors, publishers, agents and the team from CWA and Cartier who were there to celebrate John Harvey’s award. We talked to such luminaries as H R F Keating [who I told how fond my father was of his Indian Inspector Ghote mysteries], Colin Dexter, Peter Lovesey [who enjoyed the photo I took of him which was put on the front page of Deadly Pleasures #50] , Robert Barnard [last years CWA Short Story winner] who thanked me for my support of his work and we chatted about the CWA event last year in Sheffield, Russell James, Stella Duffy, Phil Gooden, James Twinning, Lesley Horton, Natasha Cooper, Caroline Carver (whose new series will be written as C.J.Carver), Rebecca Tope, Laura Wilson, Zoë Sharp (excited about her forthcoming novel SECOND SHOT), Dreda Say Mitchell, Peter Guttridge,and Christopher Fowler, who I had a laugh with as I am a follower of his Horror as well as his Bryant and May Mysteries. It appears that Chris has sold up his film promotion business and is writing full-time since is finds it challenging now that he has more time, and needs to work at the discipline he had when he had less time!


We also got a chance to chat to Jon Wood of Orion who was very excited by Roger Jon Ellory’s latest novel, Beverly Cousins of Penguin who told me how excited she is about Nick Stone’s KING OF SWORDS and her impending move to Australia later this year, and congratulated Jane Wood who is about to join Quercus, Lizzie Hayes of Mystery Women, David Stuart Davies, critic and egal eagle Marcel Berlins, Thalia Proctor and David Shelly of Little, Brown, Richard Reynolds of the superb Heffers Bookstore in Cambridge, and Geoffery Bailey of London’s Pan Bookstore.


As is customary, the new CWA Chair Philip Gooden welcomed everyone and passed the microphone to the exiting chair Robert Richardson. Robert welcomed everyone, and then told us about his recent telephone call from a previous CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger winner – Sara Paretsky. Apparently, Sara had recently lost her Cartier Tie-Pin while going through airport security. She rang Robert and told him that the only thing she cherished more than this little piece of jewelry was her wedding ring and she wanted to see if CWA could arrange a replacement – naturally she’d pay. Anyway, Robert contacted Cartier and they made a replacement and sent it to her free of charge, and she was delighted at Cartier’s generosity and rapid response.


There has been a worrying rumour that Cartier were considering not renewing their long-term agreement with CWA to sponsor the Diamond Dagger Awards, so we were all interested, perhaps anxious would be a better word, when Monsieur Arnaud Bamberger, the M.D. of Cartier UK took to the microphone for his annual speech. There was hushed silence when he told everyone that Cartier had valued their relationship with the CWA but alas things change, he said lowering his eyes to the carpet. He continued stating that Cartier were looking at making some changes, and that one was not to renew their sponsorship of the Diamond Dagger Awards. But he shrieked, after he heard about the Sara Paretsky affair of the missing tie-pin, and how much she valued it, he personally changed his mind, and also so decided that Cartier should continue their long-term commitment. This was met with a great cheer from the assembled and some relief from the CWA Committee.


Monsieur Arnaud Bamberger continued with his customarily witty speech, this time focusing on the quotes that other writers had lauded on John Harvey. Most amusing was when Bamberger mentioned that both Harvey and last year’s winner Elmore Leonard had started their careers writing Westerns, and then he read out a quote from Leonard about Harvey’s work.  Bamberger insinuated (with his tongue firmly in his cheek), that perhaps Harvey’s lovely young wife should investigate further, because perhaps Harvey and Leonard were closer than they should be! The audience laughed out loud and Harvey blushed.


Then John Harvey took the microphone and said due to the heat, he’d keep his speech short.  Basically thanking everyone for coming to celebrate his award, he took time to thank Random House for their support and his family. Then Bamberger presented him with both the Dagger as well as the tie-pin and warned that if he lost the tie-pin, John had better think of a different excuse than Sara Paretsky had come up with.


We all raised our champagne flutes to congratulate John.  Mike has known John for many years, going back to when Harvey started off writing those Westerns, so he was especially pleased to see the award to go to such a great writer. If you’ve not read the work of this master writer click here - John Harvey and remember he’s a guest of honor at Bouchercon 2008 in Baltimore [9-12 October]

Click here to view the slide show



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