CWA Dagger Award Winner – Sapere Books Historical

A few weeks ago I shared with you my thoughts on the CWA Dagger Award shortlist for Historical Mysteries. And tonight the winner will be announced!

And I managed to read several of them!

Snow by John Banville really didn’t work for me. Although it had a promising start, I was then completely thrown by a rather gross sex scene, after which I lost complete interest in the book in general. But seeing as I was listening to the audiobook and didn’t have time to start a new book anyway I decided to just keep going with it. Until we get into the head of a priest as he abuses and rapes a young boy…. I do not want to read/listen to his thoughts justifying that. So I DNF’ed this book.

Midnight at Malabar House is set in a (former) British colony which plays an important part to the plot and atmosphere. The mystery itself was fairly well done as well. However, I can’t say I really cared for the main character. Inspector Persis Wadia is the first and only woman on the police force… which is also her whole personality. She is always serious, tough and trying to prove herself worthy (and the best). She never seems the smile or show any kindness. She is her job, which is admirable, but I never really connected with her, or even cared for her all that much.

The Unwanted Dead is set in Paris just as the Nazi are starting their occupation there. We follow a police officer as he investigates the gassing of four refuge Jews. I was kind of hesitant about this at first… in the grand scheme of what was happening at the time this case seems kind of insignificant. But detective Eddie doesn’t care about the Germands in that he will not let them stop him from doing his job, which is to find the killer. Which I found very resectable of him and got me quite excited. I was very happy to get into a murder mystery where WW2 would only serve as background atmosphere. Sadly (for me) the whole case ended up having impact on the whole of the War and even Hitler himself made an appearance. I also didn’t really like following Eddie. He spends a lot of his time getting beaten up, or playing bodyguard to some stripper/singer. All in all it was a good book, but just not for me. Though I have to say the discussion of PTSD and its effect on a family were a very nice addition to the book.

I didn’t read The City Under Siege because the ebook was just too expansive. As in I am willing to pay that much on a physical copy of a book I know I will really enjoy… not on an ebook that I am not quite sure about anyway. Which is a shame because of all the books in the selection set during WW2, this one did actually look somewhat interesting.

Skelton’s Guide to Domestic Poisons was a bit of a different read. Instead of a detective we follow a barrister. So we are not looking for The solution, just for A solution to get the suspect free. In this case the suspect is a woman who is accused of poisoning her husband after years of abuse. So we find ourselves actually rooting for the possible killer. This different look at the whole things was actually really nice. I also very much enjoyed the whole writing style and atmosphere of the book. It felt homey. The characters don’t just discuss the case or important, character developing events. They also discuss what their wives packed them for lunch and what rare birds they saw on their walk over the weekend. It was just a really nice read whilst also having an intriguing plot.

The Mimosa Tree Mystery is the fourth book in its series, of which I picked up the first. Although you can apparently read The Mimosa Tree Mystery on its own, I did want to start with the first book in the series. And it was a really fun read. Set in 1936 Singapore, the colonialism and racism give this book an interesting stage. SuLin was a great main character, and the mystery itself was great as well. All the reviews state that the fourth book in this series is the best so far, and I am very excited to get to it.


I would be very happy if either Skelton’s Guide to Domestic Poisons or The Mimosa Tree Mystery were to win this. Of course I cannot say anything about The City Under Siege and I can see people would enjoy The Unwanted Dead, though it wasn’t a favourite of mine. But the other two shouldn’t even have made it to the shortlist in my opinion.


The Winner

So, those were my thoughts yesterday, and last night the winner was announced…

So Midnight at Malabar House won, which I can´t say I agree with. It was a decent book, and the political and cultural background in it was certainly interesting. But because of the main character I never really ended up having a great time with this book and for me it was only a 3* read. But I am happy for those who did enjoy this book better, and of course Vaseem Khan. This is the second year in a row a book set in India has won 😛


Hoping you are having a very successful day,

5 thoughts on “CWA Dagger Award Winner – Sapere Books Historical

  1. I do tend to find it interesting to compare which books win awards and which ones I think should have won. In this case, I guess at least the book that won had some redeeming qualities? It sounds like there were some good aspects to the book even if the main character was completely one-dimensional.

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    1. The book had a very interesting setting, just after the colonization of India. So there were some great political and racial discussions which the crime got tied in to. And a lot of talk about gender, seeing as the main character is the first female in her job and therefore constantly needs to prove herself. She just never gets a moment to relax from that role and just ‘be a person’

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      1. It does sound interesting, just like it maybe needed a scene or two to give the character more depth. I’m all in favor of cutting unneeded scenes, but making your main character more relatable is important.

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  2. So cool to read these before the award was given. I only do this for the Best Picture award for the Oscars but never thought of trying it for books hahah A bit sad that your choices weren’t picked though. I often think that politics is an easy +10 points for any nominee though hahaha

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve seen a few people do it, but most awards don’t fit my tastes at all. But this one kinda did… the setting of this book (and the racism) as well as the sexism are def what made the book win.

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